A message from Paul van Els:
Recently, a widely beloved Leiden University teacher of Classical Chinese, Burchard J. Mansvelt Beck, passed away. He introduced many generations of students to the Mencius, the Analects, and other texts. He also translated into Dutch the Laozi and the Four Canons of the Yellow Emperor, and wrote an introduction to Confucianism. I wrote a (rather lengthy) obituary to honor the memory of this special teacher, which also includes a list of his publications. Please see here.
Very moving and beautiful, thanks, Paul! Well-written obituaries are rare, but this one is very good. One regrets never having had the opportunity to meet him.
Dear Paul van Els,
Thank you for making Burchard’s obituary available.
Would you be so kind as to inform me of the title of the poem of Bai Juyi relating to the death of his infant daughter. I’m afraid that I’m only able to read it in English.
Thanking you in anticipation.
Thanks Heather. Here is the poem:
Remembering Golden Bells
Ruined and ill—a man of two score;
Pretty and guileless—a little girl of three.
Not a boy—but still better than nothing:
To soothe one’s feeling—from time to time a kiss!
There came a day—they suddenly took her from me;
Her soul’s shadow wandered I know not where.
And when I remember how just at the time she died
She lisped strange sounds, beginning to learn to talk,
Then I know that the ties of flesh and blood
Only bind us to a load of grief and sorrow.
At last, by thinking of the time before she was born,
By thought and reason I drove the pain away.
Since my heart forgot her, many days have passed
And three times winter has changed to spring.
This morning, for a little, the old grief came back,
Because, in the road, I met her foster-nurse.
Bai Juyi (772-846), translated by Arthur Waley