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SELECTIONS FROM DREAMS OF TAO AN

by Zhang Dai (1597 - 1679, Ming Dynasty)
English translation: Miao Guang

PREFACE TO DREAMS OF TAO AN (EXCERPT)

Looking back upon my life, all the ostentatious prosperity and extravagance have now become as transient and ephemeral as fleeting clouds. Everything across these fifty years has all ended as dreams. Now that the millet in the dream is cooked*, and the cart has already returned from the ant hill**, how will such days be spent? As I look back into the past, I shall write down all that I remember, and then take them to the Buddha and repent. Could this be a dream? I fear that a dream may not be a dream, yet still a dream. What a foolish man! Now that I am about to have a big awakening, I shall show off my unskilled ability in putting things in words. Perhaps it is just another moment of somniloquy.


DREAM SEEKING AT WEST LAKE (EXCERPT)

The moonlight poured over the river, swallowed by the waves, absorbed into the air by the surge of the water, spraying the sky white. What an utter surprise! By the time I sailed across over to Jinshan Temple, it was already well into the second watch of the night. Passing by the Dragon King Hall and into the Main Shrine, all were still and silent. Leaking through the bamboo forest was the moonlight that was snowy white.


APPRECIATING SNOW FROM THE PAVILION AT THE CENTER OF THE LAKE

Icy twigs, white fog, sky, clouds, mountains, and water;these are all but a line of white. Silhouettes on the lake are nothing but a trace of the embankment. The pavilion at the center spot of the lake, a small leaf of boat, and a handful of people─a few dots. Nothing else.

── from Tao An Meng Yi (Dreams of Tao An)

* Refers to Huangliang Yimeng (Yellow Millet Dream).
** Refers to Nanke Yimeng (Dream of Nanke).