Peach Blossoms of Shangri-La

Peach Blossom Shangri-la (Tao Hua Yuan Ji)
By Tao Yuanming [1]

During the Taiyuan era [2] of the Jin Dynasty [3] there was a
man of Wuling [4] who made his living as a fisherman. Once
while following a stream he forgot how far he had gone. He
suddenly came to a grove of blossoming peach trees. It lined
both banks for several hundred paces and included not a
single other kind of tree. Petals of the dazzling and
fragrant blossoms were falling everywhere in profusion.
Thinking this place highly unusual, the fisherman advanced
once again in wanting to see how far it went.

The peach trees stopped at the stream’s source, where the
fisherman came to a mountain with a small opening through
which it seemed he could see light. Leaving his boat, he
entered the opening. At first it was so narrow that he could
barely pass, but after advancing a short distance it suddenly
opened up to reveal a broad, flat area with imposing houses,
good fields, beautiful ponds, mulberry trees, bamboo, and the
like. The fisherman saw paths extending among the fields in
all directions, and could hear the sounds of chickens and
dogs. Men and women working in the fields all wore clothing
that looked like that of foreign lands. The elderly and
children all seemed to be happy and enjoying themselves.

The people were amazed to see the fisherman, and they asked
him from where he had come. He told them in detail, then the
people invited him to their home, set out wine, butchered a
chicken [5], and prepared a meal. Other villagers heard
about the fisherman, and they all came to ask him questions.
Then the villagers told him, “To avoid the chaos of war
during the Qin Dynasty [6], our ancestors brought their
families and villagers to this isolated place and never left
it, so we’ve had no contact with the outside world.” They
asked the fisherman what the present reign was. They were
not even aware of the Han Dynasty [7], let alone the Wei [8]
and Jin. The fisherman told them everything he knew in great
detail, and the villagers were amazed and heaved sighs. Then
other villagers also invited the fisherman to their homes,
where they gave him food and drink. After several days
there, the fisherman bid farewell, at which time some
villagers told him, “It’s not worth telling people on the
outside about us.” [9]

The fisherman exited through the opening, found his boat, and
retraced his route while leaving markers to find this place
again. Upon his arrival at the prefecture town he went to
the prefect and told him what had happened. The prefect
immediately sent a person to follow the fisherman and look
for the trail markers, but they got lost and never found the
way.

Liu Ziji [10] of Nanyang [11] was a person of noble
character. When he heard this story he was happy and planned
to visit the Shangri-la, but he died of illness before he
could accomplish it. After that no one else ever looked for
the place.

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Translator’s Notes
[1] Chinese nature poet, c. 365-427. This prose story is
one of the poet’s most well-known works.
[2] 376-396.
[3] 265-420 (actually two sequential dynasties, the
“Western” and the “Eastern”).
[4] A place in present-day Hunan Province.
[5] “…set out wine, butchered a chicken”: A stock phrase
meaning to entertain a guest lavishly.
[6] 221-206 B.C.
[7] 206 B.C. to A.D. 220.
[8] A.D. 220-265.
[9] The villagers would just as soon keep their existence
secret.
[10] A retired scholar of the Jin Dynasty.
[11] A place in present-day Henan Province.

This translation is based on the SiKuQuanShu text with
editorial emendations and punctuation by the translators. It
was done by Rick Davis (Japan) with help from David Steelman
(Taiwan).

Allegory of the Cave

The Republic: BOOK VII

Socrates – GLAUCON

And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened
or unenlightened: –Behold! human beings living in a underground den,
which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the
den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs
and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before
them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads.
Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between
the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see,
if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which
marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the
puppets.

I see.
And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts
of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone
and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are
talking, others silent.

You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.

Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or
the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite
wall of the cave?

True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they
were never allowed to move their heads?

And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would
only see the shadows?

Yes, he said.
And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not
suppose that they were naming what was actually before them?

Very true.
And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the
other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by
spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow?

No question, he replied.
To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows
of the images.

The Shepherd’s Boy

The Shepherd’s Boy
by Aesop

There was once a young Shepherd Boy who tended his sheep at the foot of a mountain near a dark forest. It was rather lonely for him all day, so he thought upon a plan by which he could get a little company and some excitement. He rushed down towards the village calling out “Wolf, Wolf,” and the villagers came out to meet him, and some of them stopped with him for a considerable time. This pleased the boy so much that a few days afterwards he tried the same trick, and again the villagers came to his help. But shortly after this a Wolf actually did come out from the forest, and began to worry the sheep, and the boy of course cried out “Wolf, Wolf,” still louder than before. But this time the villagers, who had been fooled twice before, thought the boy was again deceiving them, and nobody stirred to come to his help. So the Wolf made a good meal off the boy’s flock, and when the boy
complained, the wise man of the village said:

“A liar will not be believed, even when he speaks the truth.”

Welcome

Contributors to Issue 2:
Bob Carlton, Christopher Woods, Al Ortolani, Jack C. Buck, Seth Jani, Anne Britting Oleson, Richard Luftig, t. w., Ray Scanlon, David He, Ali Znaidi, Couri Johnson, Tyler Pruett, David C. Kopaska-Merkel, Gill McEvoy, Marguerite G. Bouvard, James Keane, W. Jack Savage, Johannes S.H. Bjerg, Kenneth Salzmann, Darrell Black, Daniel Davis, Jimmy Pappas, Jeffrey Zable, Karie Fugett, Marc Alexander Valle, Ernesto P. Santiago, Josh Brown, Matt Dennison, Darrell Petska, Rachel Nix, John Reinhart, Helen Buckingham, Nikki Boss, Maureen Kingston, Phil Slattery, Ross White, Bradley Babendir, Matthew Fort, Ariadna Shugaevsky Ocone & Ann Quinn, Tom Montag, Kasha Nystrand, Daryl Muranaka, Richard King Perkins II, Joann Grisetti, Anna Lowe Weber, Jinapher J. Hoffman, Chella Courington, DM O’Connor, Robert Del Mauro, Doug Hawley, Ernest Williamson III, James Croal Jackson, Mark Jackley, James W. Morris, Matthew Smart, Dawn Claflin, Cathryn Shea, Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois, Jono Naito, Shari Crane, Sandee Woodside, Dave Read, Matt Hollingsworth, Barry Blitstein, John K. Webb, Mark Danowsky, Kim Peter Kovac, Sylvia Riojas Vaughn, Darrell Lindsey, Maria S. Picone, Jacob M Fisher

Contributors to Issue 1:
Shari Crane, James Stark, David Gialanella, Zain Saeed, Charles Bane Jr., Doug Hawley, Darrell Petska , Anne Burgevin, Ram Krishna Singh, Bukusai Ashagawa, Norman Wm. Muise, Chella Coutington, Corey D. Cook, Neil Ellman, Almila Dukel, Thomas Zimmerman, Ann Quinn, Tom Sheehan, Katarina Boudreaux, Jane Blanchard, M.J. Iuppa, Trina Gaynon, Keenan Darnay Clarke, Joan McNerney, Claire Booker, Ryan Meyer, Duane Locke, Tom Holmes, Corey Mesler, R. Gerry Fabian, Sylvia Riojas Vaughn, Doug D’Elia, William Doreski, Nick Kocz, Gary Beck, John Grey, Steve Klepetar, James Croal Jackson, Ally Malinenko, Askold Skalsky, Johannes S.H. Bjerg, W. Jack Savage, Denny E. Marshall, Maria S. Picone, Clyde Liffey, William Cass, Andrew J. Hogan, David Chase, Isaac Feuerman

Our First Issue

We are currently accepting submissions to the first issue of Beechwood Review, Beechwood Review 1. Please see submissions guidelines before submitting. I will release the first issue of Beechwood Review on June 1, 2015.

I will publish Beechwood Review 1, in three formats. One, web format; I will post the work of my contributors on this website, on a rolling basis. Two, I will publish a free readable ebook on this site, using ISSUU. And three, I will create a print version of the book to sell on demand.

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