Arty-farty literati

Arty-farty literati
Chinese poets liked to party.
Drinking tea with Yixing potters;
boiling spring fresh healthy waters;
doodling poems on unfired pots
and calligraphy in empty spots on brush-art scrolls of mountain scene.

With wine in one hand, the other green leaf tea to alter states and find the muse.
Only simple tools they’d use: writing paper, brush and flute;
a zither or perhaps a lute, in quest of quiet contemplation,
of intellectual cultivation and spiritual eccentricity;
a hermit’s elegant simplicity.

Climbing mountains, wandering far, sleeping under sky and star;
from teabowls they would sip the Ways of poets from earlier days:
of Confucian thought, and Zen and Dao.
They wrote tea books, and this is how tea art journeyed to other lands.
To Korean scholars in Buddhist hands,
and to Japan where poets fecund the ritualised tea ceremony shunned;
writing verse in Chinese script while steeping leaves, not powder whisked.

With teapots and poems, brush art and wit,
at raven-like desk they’d sit and paint a looking-glass of thought;
an inner freedom, for those who sought.
Thus sencha came to be the tea of radicals and thinkers free.
And arty-farty literati the whole world over now can party.
With china cup and tea to sup, creative powers go way up!

And here YOU are, reading THIS…
your judgement must have gone amiss.
Go sip some wine and drink some tea
and write your OWN Tea Poetry!


One of my Tea Poems written after a couple of years of reading books on the literati of China, Korea and Japan. I couldn’t resist making reference to Lewis Carroll’s “Alice Through The Looking Glass” which I was also re-reading at the time. His inclusion of a koan about a writing desk in the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party appeals to me… 
Ar-tea Far-tea Litera-tea was published under my nom-de-plume of Camellia Cha, in her book Curiosi-tea, Absurd Publications 2009.

About anne norman

musician, shakuhachi player, author, poet, tea lover...
This entry was posted in poems, poets & writers I admire, Tea Poems and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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