Huai Su's home was in ChangSha.
From his youth, he adhered to buddhism.
When he wasn't studying scriptures or meditating,
he was particularly inclined towards brush arts.
He just regretted he was yet unable to roam afar seeing the ancients' masterpieces.
His perception was still extremely shallow.
So he shouldered his pack, and took up his cane.
He traveled west to the capital.
He paid respects to the famous officials of the time,
acquiring diverse new experiences.
Lost texts, unavailable books,
could be found there.
Opening his heart,
his intentions were unfettered.
Silk letters from their fish-shaped boxes
were all besmeared with ink dots or margin notes,
but distinguished gentlemen did not find them disturbing.
Penal Official Yan belonged to a calligraphy sect.
Highly developed calligraphy,
liquid crystal discernment,
(His) praise (was added) by the final lines (of Huai Su's work).
Also the High Minister Lu Xiang
and the minor ritual official Zhang ZhengYan
had composed a song
in which they said,
"A gentleman is Huai Su,
a hero among monks,
of firm resolve,
and open heart,
a dedicated sage of the cursive style.
Collecting many years of experience,
From the Long River to the 5 Mountain Ranges
his name has become well-known."
Thus the historian Wei GongBu
also saw the power of his brushwork and insisted it would achieve greatness.
The current ritual official honorable Zhang said
he admired its lack of inhibition
roaming freely everywhere.
Many connoisseurs came together to compose songs in its praise,
going about (their sleeves) overflowing with the rolls.
So the cursive style
began in the Han Dynasty.
began to spread its wonder
up to Bo Ying
who especially excelled in its beauty.
After (Wang) Xi and Xian (Zhi),
Yu and Lu both inherited
their mouths' instructions and their hands' directions,
until the official Zhang Xu of Wu Jun.
Although his disposition was peculiar,
he surpassed all before and after,
and was a model of precision,
an indisputable master.
(Yan) Zhen Qing from his youth traveled frequently.
and learned many lessons.
He taught through calligraphy.
When aptitude is weak,
and one has so much to overcome,
unable to earnestly practice
and is yet unable to succeed
trying to think of a single word,
what could make it return?
Just look at the master's works
the extraordinary lines,
and it's as if the past were before you again.
Through the teacher's personal bestowing of excellence
quickly gain the epitome of excellence.
The guest at the head of the class,
what would be done without him?
Sighs are insufficient.
The best I can do is write this as the the head for some series.
The rest would never end;
The bookshelves would overflow.
Their style could be described
as ritual official Zhang has said,
"A rushing snake on the run, a poisonous snake powerful in its seat.
the sounds of torrents and whirlwinds fill the room."
The aristocrat Lu said,
"At first, I suspected light smoke and trembling old pines.
then it was like mountains opening on 10000 peaks."
Wang Yong of Yong Zhou said,
"Winter monkeys drinking water shake the dry vines.
Strong men lifting mountains extract the sturdy iron."
The Daoist Zhu Yao said,
"Under his pen, one only sees the flow of arousing electricity.
The finished characters scare coiled snakes to flight."
Speaking of disposition,
thus, Judge Li Zhou has said,
"(Seeing) Old Zhang Xu's works,
the people of the time called him Strange Zhang.
(Seeing) contemporary Huai Su's works,
we surely call him Crazy Monk.
If crazy inherits from strange,
who can argue?"
Venerable Zhang also said,
"Old He of Ji Mountain was hardly known;
Strange Zhang of Wu Jun is already known throughout the North. (不面=北方)"
Judge Xu Yao said,
"Aspiring to new wonders without rules,
classic thin streaks half devoid of ink.
When drunk trusting his hand for a few lines,
while his sober writing can't compare."
Judge Dai ShuLun said,
"Heart guiding the hand, the power becomes miraculous.
Strange forms become appropriate.
Everyone wants to ask where these wonders come from.
Huai Su himself says he really doesn't know."
thus Judge Dou Ji has said,
"White walls, long corridors, dozens of rooms,
with the slightest inclination,
a few sudden loud shouts
the walls are filled with thousands of characters."
Venerable Dai also said,
"Galloping brush, rapid ink, waves of rushing horses,
the filled room gasps at the blinding speed."
Eyes are foolish.
My cousin, the aristocrat Wu XingQian also composed a poem saying,
"The far-roaming heron has no companion before him
The lonely cloud lives in the great void.
Craziness comes easing earthly concerns.
In drunkenness, gaining integrity."
All these words have encouraged me.
Their knowledge is profound.
Certainly this humble writer can hardly admit such praise.
It would only be embarrassing.
In the 54th year of the Imperial calendar, in winter,the 28th day of the 10th month.
Much thanks to Liu YiRu 劉怡如 at ChengGong University 成功大學 in Tainan 台南 for herdiligence in researching background facts and multiple interpretations of many lines,and her patience in putting up with my persistent quibbling. This translationwould not have been possible without her help.