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Hill

| 2020-01-16
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)
This character usually refers to a hill or a mountain. The earliest form of this character appeared in the scripts of the Shang Dynasty as a pictogram, in the shape of three peaks joined together. 
 

 

钟山只隔数重山 
zhōng shān zhǐ gé shù chóng shān 
Zhong shan refers to a mountain in present-day Nanjing. Zhi means “only” and ge means “having spaces between.” Shu chong shan means “several mountains.” This term indicates that Mount Zhong is right there beyond a few hills. 
 
This is a line from the poem, “Mooring at Guazhou” by Wang Anshi (1021–86) a poet and politician during the Song dynasty. “Between Jingkou and Guazhou a mere strip of water lies;/ Only a few hills away lies Zhongshan./ Spring breezes have once more greened the land south of the river,/ When will the bright moon see me home again?” Jingkou was an ancient city located at present-day Zhenjiang in Jiangsu Province. Guazhou was an ancient town located in the south of present-day Yangzhou in Jiangsu Province. 
 
The first half of the poem depicts Wang standing on the port of Guazhou looking south across the river. Since the Yangtze River’s width is from about 1,000 to 1,600 feet, “a mere strip of water,” which seems to refer to a short stretch of river, indicates that the ferries across the river are very fast. Zhongshan, or Mount Zhong, was regarded as Wang’s hometown because he had lived there for a long time since 1037. The word “only” indicates that Wang knows that Zhongshan is very near, revealing his longing for his hometown. 
 
The last half is the most famous part of the poem. Wang used the adjective “green” as a verb to highlight the amazing power of the spring breeze—to bring color to nature again. It is believed that implicit in this line is Wang’s views of his political aspirations. Wang emerged from a rising new group of southern bureaucrats with a strong utilitarian bent, who challenged their more conservative colleagues from the north. After the succession of Emperor Shenzong in 1067, Wang achieved a powerful rank close to the throne and launched a multifaceted program of reform to expand economic growth. The coming spring in the poem symbolizes his confidence in and expectations for his reform. The last line may imply his longing to live in his retreat after he succeeds in his reforms. 
 
edited by REN GUANHONG