Art/ Collection/ Art Object

近代 戲改晏殊詞句以贈相如 對聯
Poetic Couplet for Xiangru

Artist:
Lin Yutang (Chinese, 1895–1976)
Date:
Dated 1968
Culture:
China
Medium:
Pair of hanging scrolls; ink on paper
Dimensions:
Image (Each): 45 x 9 3/16 in. (114.3 x 23.3 cm)
Classification:
Calligraphy
Credit Line:
The Lin Yutang Family Collection, Gift of Hsiang Ju Lin, in memory of Taiyi Lin Lai, 2005
Accession Number:
2005.510.4a, b
Not on view
In this pair of hanging scrolls, Lin Yutang transcribed a famous couplet from a poem by Yan Shu (991–1055), a high-ranking official and major poet of the Northern Song period (960–1127). It reads:

No matter what, flowers die.
As if they once knew me, swallows return.

(trans. by Shi-yee Liu)

Written in Lin's typical informal manner, the calligraphy achieves an overall effect of easy grace with little regard to the articulation of individual strokes.

Lin Yutang dedicated this work to his third daughter, Xiangru (Hsiang Ju). The third character in the second line of the poem, xiang, corresponds to the first character of his daughter's given name; Lin cleverly personalized his gift by replacing the matching third character of the first line in the original poem, nai, with the second character of her name, ru, thus embedding her name within the fabric of the couplet. Lin's ingenious tampering with a well-known text shows the playfulness in his personality and his affectionate thoughtfulness for family members.
Inscription: Artist’s inscription and signature (3 columns in semi-cursive script)[1]

No matter what, flowers die.
As if they once knew me, swallows return.

In the winter of the wushen year [1968], [Lin] Yutang wrote this for Xiangru [Hsiang Ju Lin].

無可如何花落去,
似曾相識燕歸來。

戊申冬日語堂贈相如。

Artist’s seal

Lin Yutang 林語堂

[1] Documentation from Shi-yee Liu, Straddling East and West: Lin Yutang, A Modern Literatus: The Lin Yutang Family Collection of Chinese Painting and Calligraphy, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007, no. 3, p. 29.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Bridging East and West: The Chinese Diaspora and Lin Yutang," September 15, 2007–February 10, 2008.

Related Objects

The Pond-Bamboo Dwelling

Artist: Lin Yutang (Chinese, 1895–1976) Date: dated 1958 Medium: Album leaf; ink on paper Accession: 2005.509.17 On view in:Not on view

On Man and Nature

Artist: Lin Yutang (Chinese, 1895–1976) Date: dated 1971–1972 Medium: Album leaf; ink on paper Accession: 2005.509.19 On view in:Not on view

Ci Poem by Su Shi

Artist: Lin Yutang (Chinese, 1895–1976) Date: dated 1968 Medium: Album leaf; ink on paper Accession: 2005.509.18 On view in:Not on view