The Poet Lin Bu Wandering in the Moonlight

The Poet Lin Bu Wandering in the Moonlight


late 1400s

Du Jin 杜堇

(Chinese, 1446-c. 1519)

Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper

Image: 156.4 x 72.4 cm (61 9/16 x 28 1/2 in.); Overall: 286.4 x 99 cm (112 3/4 x 39 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1954.582



A figure with a staff walks at a leisurely pace in deep concentration. This is the image of the Northern Song poet Lin Bu, a hermit withdrawing from prestigious government services to retreat by the West Lake in Hangzhou. He was known for having a plum tree as his spouse and a crane as his child. The ideal described by Lin Bu in his poetry sparked the cultural imagination of the people of the Northern Song dynasty.

Du Jin’s poem in this painting reads:
Accompanying the moon, his walk slowed to leisurely pace.
This was all the more fitting as he was merely half awake.
Having composed the line of sparse sound and chilled fragrance,
T’is time to ask: Was the plum blossom aware of its own essence?

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