Jia Dao

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Seeking the Master but not Meeting by Jia Dao

Beneath a pine I asked a little child. / He said the Master went to gather herbs. / Alone was he upon this mountainside, / The clouds so deep he knew not where he was.
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Jia.

Jia Dao (traditional Chinese: 賈島; simplified Chinese: 贾岛; pinyin: Jiǎ Dǎo; Wade–Giles: Chia Tao) (779–843), courtesy name Langxian (浪先), was a Chinese poet active during the Tang dynasty. He was born near modern Beijing; after a period as a Buddhist monk, he went to Chang'an. He became one of Han Yu's disciples, but failed the jinshi exam several times. He wrote both discursive gushi and lyric jintishi. His works were criticised as "thin" by Su Shi, and some other commentators have considered them limited and artificial.[1]

According to Dr. James J.Y. Liu (1926–1986), a professor of Chinese and comparative literature, Jia’s poem The Swordsman "seems...to sum up the spirit of knight errantry in four lines."[2][3] The Swordsman is as follows:

For ten years I have been polishing this sword;
Its frosty edge[4] has never been put to the test.
Now I am holding it and showing it to you, sir:
Is there anyone suffering from injustice?[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Renditions Magazine
  2. ^ a b Liu, James J.Y. The Chinese Knight Errant. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967 (ISBN 0-2264-8688-5)
  4. ^ Extremely sharp.


Pine, Red, and Mike O'Connor. The clouds should know me by now: Buddhist poet monks of China. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1999. Includes selection of dual-language poems.