Discussions on “Time” from the Past – Part 2: Ancient Chinese Showed Appreciation for Time in Poetry
(Clearwisdom.net) Ancient Chinese people cherished time, which was revealed in their pursuit for the truth and the Dao, the cultivation of one's mind, the establishment of one's virtue and longevity, and a long-term view of the world. This frame of mind was closely related to traditional Confucian and Daoist beliefs. The Classic of Poetry manifested the thoughts and actions of man's love and respect for life, reflecting a strong appreciation for time and a sense of belonging.
One of the poems in the Classic of Poetry states: “Virtuous gentlemen, do not pursue ease and comfort. Respectfully fulfill your duties and appreciate righteous actions. When the gods hear this, they will bestow on you prosperity and good fortune.” That is to say, a virtuous gentleman who diligently cultivates his moral character will receive good fortune.
Poet Qu Yuan, in the Songs of the South, also wrote on the subject of “appreciating time.” He expressed deep concerns for the country and the people, and showed a strong sense of social responsibility and historic mission. He repeatedly said that life is short, and the journey is quick. And when seeking the Dao, one should cultivate one's morality with the hope of some success. But the only fear is that time does not wait for anyone. He repeatedly used the word "fear," which strongly expressed the poet's appreciation for time, and a sense of urgency set by time constraints.
During the Han Dynasty, a famous folk-song style poem called “Chang Ge Xing” explained the concept of “time” using metaphors. For example, it used a young sunflower to explain the changes of the four seasons, and compared a running river to the fleeting nature of “time.” The poem reminded people to seize the moment, and encouraged them to work hard while they are young and not wait until old age to have regrets.
Wen Jia, from the Ming Dynasty, wrote a famous poem called “Tomorrow's Song.” This poem mentioned “tomorrow” seven times. Its purpose was to remind people to cherish time and not waste it, and to accomplish things today and not wait until tomorrow.
Wen Jia also wrote “Today's Poem.” He wrote that many things in the world can be obtained by hard work or can be recovered, but only “time” is difficult to keep. To live life to the fullest, one should cherish the present, because it will never come back. Wen Jia used common words and fluent language to explain the value of life, and urged people to not waste their youth and spend their time idly.
These famous ancient philosophies and words about life alerted and inspired generations of Chinese people. They encouraged them to not give up, taught them to pursue their ideals, and helped them understand the meaning of life and the value of life. Righteous and virtuous people, please do not slack off! Seize every moment, cherish life, seek the truth, establish virtue, and accomplish the most meaningful and valuable things in life, so that those precious fleeting moments become part of eternity.