The Story of the Old Drunkard Tower

  The prefecture of Chu is surrounded with hills on all sides. The wooded ravines of the south-west peaks are particularly beautiful. Lo, there is Lang Ya Hill shrouded in deep, luxuriant blue. After a few miles’ walk in the mountains, the murmur of a stream will gradually come within hearing—that is the Brewing Fountain poursing down between two peaks. By turning round the peak along a bending path there appears a tower standing like a perching bird above the fountain –that is the Old Drunkard Tower. Who built the tower? A Buddhist monk, the Wise Immortal. Who gave it the name? The Prefect refers to himself. The Prefect comes to drink here with his guests. Only a little drinking will make him drunk; and being the eldest he therefore calls himself the old drunkard. The old drunkard is not interested in the wine, but in the hills and rivers. The joy of hills and rivers, found in the heart, mingles itself with the wine.

  To illustrate, the sunrise dispersing the mists over the woods, and the return of clouds dimming the caves below the rocks—this is the alteration of light and shade, which represents the morning and everning in the mountains. Sweet smell emitting from the fresh wild grass; luxuriant shades made by the fine trees; the high, clear skies, windy and frosty; rocks standing out of receding water—these are the changes of the four seasons in the mountains. Going out in the morning and coming back in the evening, one finds each of the four seasons has its different scenery, and the pleasure is inexhaustible.

  As for the carriers on the road, the wayfarers taking rest under the trees, some shouting ahead and some score hehind, and others bent with burdens going to and fro without a break—these are visitors from Chu itself. To angle at the stream where the stream is deep and the fishes are fat; to brew the fountain water into wine where the water is delicious and the wine is clear; and with mountain game and wild vegetable placed before him in a confused manner—that is the Prefect at banquet. The pleasure of revelry is music neither of string, no of bamboo. The shooters hitting the marks; the chessplayers scoring vitory; winecups and counters mixed together; and people sitting down and rising up with much noise—the guests are happy and merry. And amidst the crowd a man with a sallow face and white hair, being hardly able to stand firm—that is the Prefect made drunk.

  Soon the sun touching the mountain, and the shadows of men being scattered in confusion—the Prefect, followed by his guests, is going back. In the shades of the groves warbling is heard up and down—the birds are enjoying themselves after the departure of the visitors. The birds enjoy mountains and woods, but understand not the pleasure of men; and men enjoy the pleasure of following the Prefect in excursion, but they know not what pleasure the Prefect enjoys. He who shares their pleasures in drunkenness, and when awake can relate it in writing—this is the Prefect. Who is the Prefect?—Ou-yang Hsiu of Lu Ling.