Gongsun Da 公孫達

During the Ganlu era,[1] Gongsun Da of Renchen died in office at Chen Prefecture. When they were about to prepare him for burial, his sons, together with the prefectural clerks, numbering several dozen people, were approaching the funeral scene when his five-year-old son began to speak in tongues, sounding just like his father. He scolded the people gathered for only weeping, and then called out to all his sons as a further warning. His sons and the rest were unable to control their grief, so he comforted and encouraged them:

The fortune of the four seasons,

Still has beginning and end.

Human life may be cut short,

Who can avoid this fate?

If the tongue makes a thousand words,

All should accord with the hidden meaning.

His sons questioned him again: “Nothing is known of any who have died. The intelligence of Your Excellency is a unique exception. Are there deities and spirits?” He replied: “The matter of spirits and deities is beyond your knowledge.” He then requested paper and brush, and he wrote. Having filled the page with meaningful poetry, he tossed it to the ground and died.

From Lieyizhuan.

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), vii, 316.2499:

公孫達

任城公孫達。甘露中。陳郡卒官。將斂。兒及郡吏數十人臨喪。達五歲兒。忽作靈語。音聲如父。呵衆人哭止。因呼諸子。以次教誡。兒等悲哀不能自勝。及慰勉之曰。四時之運。猶有始終。人修短殊。誰不致此。語千餘言。皆合文章。兒又問曰。人亡皆無所知。唯大人聰明殊特。有神靈耶。答曰。鬼神之事。非爾所知也。因索紙筆作書。辭義滿紙。投地遂絕。出列異傳

[1] The Ganlu 甘露 era could refer to either 53-50 BCE, 254-59 CE, 265-66 CE, or 359-64 CE.

Zhou Yuanshu 周元樞

Zhou Yuanshu was from Suiyang, and served as Secretary-General to Pinglu, residing in the official dwelling at Linzi. One night, when he was about to go to bed, he suddenly heard the sounds of a great many horses and heavy baggage carts. Knocking on his door he sent someone out, who reported: “Li Sikong waits to call on you.” Yuanshu thought through the people he knew, but this was not among them. He therefore concluded: ‘He must be somebody from my home region I do not yet know.’ He then went out to see the guest, invited him to be seated, and asked politely where he had come from. The reply came: “I come to make my home at this very place, and have not yet anywhere to stop, so seek to dwell in this residence.” Yuanshu was shocked, and asked: “Why come here?” He replied: “This is our former home.” Yuanshu said to him: “I came here on an official post, and the house has long been passed down as a government residence. When did the gentleman live here?” The other replied: “I lived here once in the Kaihuang era under the Sui.” (i.e., 581-601 CE) Yuanshu said: “In that case, must not the gentleman surely be a spirit?” He said: “Yes, indeed. The regional officials have permitted me to establish a shrine here, and therefore ask the gentleman simply to move on.” Yuanshu could not agree, and said: “People ought not to mix with spirits. Can it really be that I am about to die, and the gentleman can therefore bully me? Even if that is so, there are no grounds for handing over this residence to the gentleman. Even were I to die, I should still make my case against the gentleman.” He therefore summoned his wife and children, and told them: “I am going to die. Place plenty of paper and brushes in my coffin, as I am going to engage in a disputation with the gentleman Li.” They provided wine to drink, and the pair made several hundred toasts, their speech growing ever more stern. The visitor seemed about to depart, but stayed back, and, after a long time had passed, a servant came and spoke: “A message for the lady from Sikong. Secretary Zhou is emotionless. How can one dispute with such a person? He invites catastrophe.” At this the visitor then said farewell and departed. They showed him to the door, and he then suddenly vanished. Yuanshu remained in good health.

From Jishenlu.

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), viii, 353.2796:

周元樞

周元樞者。睢陽人。為平盧掌書記。寄居臨淄官舍。一夕將寢。忽有車馬輜重甚衆。扣門使報曰。李司空候謁。元樞念親知輩皆無此人。因自思。必鄉曲之舊。吾不及知矣。即出見之。延坐。請問其所從來。曰。吾亦新家至此。未有所止。求居此宅矣。元樞驚曰。何至是。對曰。此吾之舊宅也。元樞曰。吾從官至此。相傳云。書寄之公署也。君何時居此。曰。隋開皇中嘗居之。元樞曰。若爾。君定是鬼耶。曰。然。地府許我立廟於此。故請君移去爾。元樞不可。曰。人不當與鬼相接。豈吾將死。故君得凌我耶。雖然。理不當以此宅授君。吾雖死。必與君訟。因召妻子曰。我死。必多置紙筆於棺中。將與李君對訟。即具酒與之飲。相酬數百盃。詞色愈厲。客將去。復留之。良久。一蒼頭來云。夫人傳語司空。周書記木石人也。安可與之論難。自取困哉。客於是辭謝而去。送之出門。倏忽不見。元樞竟無恙。出稽神錄

Jia Bizhi Swaps Heads In A Dream 賈弼之夢中換頭

One night, Jia Bizhi dreamt of a person, his face extremely brandy-nosed and hideous in appearance, who addressed Bizhi, saying: “Thinking of exchanging this; would that be alright?” Within the dream he made a slight show of agreement. On awaking, he approached a mirror and received a great fright, as he saw the person from his dream there. His retinue and family all fled on seeing him. He took up a brush in each hand and set down on paper all the strangeness affecting him, all in a logical order. [4] After he had explained it, his relatives came to believe too.

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi, 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 上1.3-4 (Tale 23)

賈弼之夢中換頭

賈弼之夜夢一人,面貌極齄醜,謂弼之曰:「思以易之,可乎?」夢中微有所諾。及覺,臨鏡大驚,一如夢中見者。左右家人見之,皆奔走。其所異者,兩手各執一筆,書之於紙,俱有理例。[4] 徐說之,親戚然後乃信。

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi, 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories) in Du yi zhi, Xuanshi Zhi 獨異志,宣室志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories, Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination), edited by Zhang Yongqin 张永钦 and Hou Zhiming 侯志明 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983)

Moonlight Traces An Immortal 月影仙跡

Wang Tinggui was from Luxi, in Ancheng. His courtesy name was Minzhan, and he was a student of the imperial university, having passed the highest examinations. He once took leave of Hu Dan’an with a poem on the latter’s demotion to Xinzhou. Gui [?who? Qin Hui (1090-1155)?] heard of this and was angry, demoting him too. When Gui died, he was summoned to court once more, appointed Academician in the Cabinet for Promotion of Literature, but resigned the post and returned to live in seclusion in his home village, travelling around and resting at Mengcao Convent. In late spring, when the roseleaf raspberry was in full bloom, it was almost dawn when the waning moonlight illuminated a figure, seemingly dressed like a lay Buddhist, and who addressed a vegetable-washing servant, saying: “Please give us a poem; Lü Dongbin is coming to see you.” The servant said: “It is still early.” When the servant went in to announce this, Wang straightened his robe and hurried out, but could see only the moonlight outlining the form of a person on the ground. He kowtowed and bowed to them, but then there was nothing to be seen. He later amended the scrolls around the convent gate to read:

Moonlight traces immortal vestiges

Fragrant blooms bring spirit to the writing-brush.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.133 (Tale 233):

月影仙跡

安成盧溪王庭珪,字民瞻,太學生(明刻本無「生」字。)登第。嘗以詩送胡澹庵貶新州。檜見而怒,例遭貶。檜死,召還朝,除敷文閣學士,致仕,歸遯丘園,遊息于夢草庵。莫春荼䕷盛開,天將曙,殘月照人,偶有衣白衣人來,與洗菜僕曰:「請與敷文說,呂洞賓來相見。」僕曰:「尚早。」及僕入語,王攬衣急出,但見月影,一人在地,遂扣而拜之,不復可見。後改庵前門帖云:「月影印仙迹,花香供筆靈。」

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

Immortal Lü Composes Fu 呂仙賦詞

The Phoenix Pavilion Bridge is thirty li north of Ancheng. One day, Immortal Lü (Lü Dongbin, 796-) sat on top of it, protecting those crossing the bridge and brewing fine tea to give to them. The immortal asked for paper and brush and wrote out a poem:

As the sun sets the sound of birdsong multiplies,

A fragrant wind fills the road and caresses the blooms.

Travellers on the way ask me to brew fresh tea,

Cleansing to leave heart and mind pure and untrammeled.

Unable to face the cares of this world,

The dreaming soul winds around the furthest corners.

The banks at Phoenix Pavilion Bridge are my home,

I am greatly absorbed by the moonlight tonight.

As he wrote these characters he flew and danced, and where he is now nobody knows.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.129-30 (Tale 225):

呂仙賦詞

鳳停橋,在安成之北三十里。一日,呂仙坐其上,守橋道人煎佳茗供之。仙索紙筆書一詞云:「落日數聲啼鳥,香風滿路吹花。道人邀我煮新茶,盪滌胸中瀟洒。世事不堪回首,夢魂猶繞天涯,鳳停橋畔即吾家。管甚月明今夜。」字畫飛舞,今不知所在。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

Saving Flies Averts Death 救蠅免死

Long ago in the capital was a master winemaker; every day flies would fall into his water and wine and he used pieces of dry ash to save and revive them. After several years like this, those lives saved were extremely numerous. One day, his having been implicated in a crime, the presiding officials wished to execute him, and the office clerk took up his brush to write out the judgement, when a fly took hold of the brush head. He drove it away and dipped the brush again, but it happened once more. In the beginning they thought it a coincidence, but after the third and fourth time began to suspect that there might be some injustice, so questioned and investigated anew. They had not yet made their decision when an amnesty was suddenly announced, so he was pardoned and returned. That fly, the smallest of insects, has little knowledge or dedication, [119] but the creator of things employed it purely in order to reward the winemaker’s good heart.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.118-19 (tale 206):

救蠅免死

昔日京師有一酒匠,每日於酒及水內浸死蠅,用乾灰救之即生,如此數年,所活者甚多。一日,偶被罪,當官欲行刑,府官執筆書判,有一蠅抱筆頭,逐去之,再點筆,復如是。初以為偶然,其至三四次,疑有冤抑,再閱審問,未決間,忽遇大赦,得免罪而還。夫蠅至微之蟲,何識而致, [119] 不過造物用之,以報酒匠之善心耳。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).