Climbing Stork Tower

“Climbing Stork Tower” (登鸛鵲樓), by the Tang-dynasty poet Wang Zhihuan 王之渙 (688–742):

The white sun nears the mountains, burns out;
The Yellow River enters the sea, flows on.
If you desire to see the full thousand li,
Then ascend one more story of the tower.

The sun sets in the west; the river flows east. The speaker in the tower sees all of this. He sees the gradual descent of the sun, and the moment when its last bright sliver disappears behind the dark horizon; he sees, when he turns his back, the river glimmering in the fading light, and its diffusion into the sea. He knows that if he stays there for the night the sun will arise from this end, over the ocean, casting long shadows in the other direction. But now the sun has just set. He knows that more awaits him if he climbs. From those new heights he will see the sun again, shining forth from behind the mountains, before it plunges once more into the darkness.

March 2019