The Landscape Guide

Chinese house and garden

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If there is a piece of open ground beside or behind the dwelling that might be used for a garden, this not only gives occasion for enjoyment, but also forms a pleasant frame for the house. One digs a pond, lets in water and collects stones with which to build up a mountain. One makes a gate where the guests are welcomed, and from here one opens a way to the inner dwelling-rooms.
The bamboos are tall and the trees luxuriant, the willows are dense and the flowers brilliant. Even if the spot does not cover more than five mou, one may nevertheless, like Wen Kung,  feel happy in solitude. There are to be found plants for the four seasons, and one may walk with Hsiao-yü.
On the morning of the birthday of the flowers and on the evening of the festival of the full moon one sits with one’s family and drinks wine that has been fetched from the supply ‘behind embroidered draperies’. The guests are assembled to participate in poetic competitions, and those who have no time to complete their poems must empty the cups as a punishment, as was the custom in Chin-ku. In this way innumerable poems are written, and one may imagine oneself to be in the land of the immortals.
The couch is partly occupied by books and a ch'in (table harp). When rain and fog veil the bamboo grove, all boundaries disappear. If one may thus find quietude indoors, why should one then go farther away from home? The house has the character of Hsieh T’iao’s noble dwelling. Halfway up the mountain one hears Sun T’eng’s  sharp whistle. When one goes out to search for blossoming plum trees one rides upon an old hack. When sitting in company with one’s mistress one melts snow for tea-water.

As long as the body still lives in this world one should not look around with green and white (i.e., critical) eyes. One can, true, create something that will last for a thousand years, but one cannot know who will be living in a hundred years. It is sufficient to create a spot for pleasure and ease, which envelops the dwelling with harmonious stillness.