Alone, the wild goose refuses food and drink,
his calls searching for the flock.
Who feels compassion for that single shadow
vanishing in a thousand distant clouds?
You watch, even as it flies from sight,
its plaintive calls cutting through you.
The noisy crows ignore it:
the bickering, squabbling multitudes.
-----------------------“Lone Wild Goose” by Du Fu
A Tang poem, wrtten in 700s A.D by Du Fu, one of the most famous poets, who has been called as the "Poet-sage".
Well there is a background story for the poem. The Chinese always admired wild migrating geese because they are free and majestic; also represents companionship and teamwork, as they organize among themselves the formation of the shape of “一” or "人". They are like wolves, companionship is everything, and the poet Du Fu thinks so too.
This poem was written at the time of the An Lushan Rebellion during the Tang dynasty, which had a dreadful impact on the Tang dynasty. Du Fu was one of the poets who had seen the glory and downfall of Tang. Before he ran away from the war he lived in Chang'an, Tang's capital city, also the most gorgeous and populated city. After the war it was just a death zone.
This poem is written after the war. Du Fu used the widely-recognized symbol of the migrating goose to represent himself. He saw himself as a goose, with companions, family and friends lost or separated during the war. In fact, this is a personal poem that expresses the poet's loneliness.
My mother once said that the greatest poet of all time is Li Bai, and then Du Fu, who can only come after. Du Fu might be the "poet sage", but Li Bai is the "poet transcendent". Why that? Because Du Fu spent the last years of his life in unrest (running from war, that is), and therefore his poetry is always filled with such sorrow and concerns of the mortal life. The highest he will go is to become a sage, exceeding every other poets there is, except Li Bai, who had seen through the meaninglessness of mortality, and sought for a realm of pureness of art and literature, as well as the heart.
Now that's the background story, not really the complete reason why I did this. One day when I was thinking I came up with the phrase "lonely goose" in my head; it sounded really familiar. When I researched for it I encountered Du Fu's poem, and though I took the poem very differently than what was intended (obviously cause I have never been through war, and can't be the judge of anything), I still had a decent imagery in my head.
At the same time I found photographs of a piece of Han-dynasty clothing researched and remade by someone from the Hanfu community, and its shape blew my mind---That dress had the most beautiful shape I had ever seen, with long and baggy sleeves forming these long and deep wrinkles that looked like carefully planned sculptures...they are like...the art of wrinkles! (I don't even care if that doesn't make any sense anymore) And so I really want to put those wrinkles in the form of a painting....
The birds in the corner are wild ducks. Because in the original poem it says wild ducks. I'm not sure why they translated it as crows, probably sounds better I guess. But believe me they are supposed to be ducks.