The second time I visited the Xianyan Mountain, I was staggered by the green of Plum Rain Pool.
Plum Rain Pool is at the foot of a waterfall, the lowest of the three waterfalls on Xianyan. If you come near to the mountain, you hear the gurgle and plash, and looking up see a belt of sparkling white water edged by two moist black borders. First, we reached Plum Rain Pavilion. This stands opposite the waterfall, and seated beside it you need not raise your head to see the whole cascade. At the foot of the pavilion is the deep Plum Rain Pool. The pavilion stands on a projecting rock with nothing above or below it, like an eagle poise in the sky with outstretched wings. Mountains on three sides form a semi-circle round it, making you feel as if at the bottom of a well. it was a hazy autumn day when we went there. Fleecy clouds floated overhead, and rich green oozed from the moisture on the face of the rock and on the clumps of grass. The waterfall seemed unusually clamorous too. It plunged down like a smooth length of whole material; then it was irrevocably torn into silken tatters large and small. And as it charged past the sharp-edged rock, foam like chips of jade spattered wildly. This spatter of brilliant, scintillating foam looked from a distance like a shower of minute white plum petals fluttering slowly down. They say this is the origin of the name Plum Rain Pool. But I think it would be more accurate to compare the foam to willow seeds. For when a breeze springs up and the specks scatter with the wind, they look even more like willow down. Suddenly a few drops sprayed against our warm breasts, piercing our clothes at once and disappearing forever.
The flashing green of Plum Rain Pool was beckoning to us, and we set out to seize its elusive splendor. Clutching the grass and grasping jagged rocks, we cautiously made our way down, till dipping our heads to pass through a low stone gate, we came to the edge of the broad, deep, emerald pool. The waterfall was so close I could have touched it, but already I was oblivious to it. My heart was dancing with the green of the pool. That intoxicating hue was spread out like a huge lotus leaf, the whole of it a quite fantastic green. I wanted to throw out my arms and embrace it – but this was a wild impulse. When I stood at the water’s edge and looked over the pool, it still seemed a fair expanse. This smooth-spread, compact green is utterly charming. It undulates and ripples like the folds of a young wife’s skirt; it palpitates like a maiden’s heart when she first falls in love; it glimmers as if coated with oil, soft and light as the white of an egg, reminding you of the silkiest skin you ever touched. It is unmixed, too, with any dust or dregs, remaining one whole sheet of enchanting turquoise, a single, translucent colour – yet one you cannot see through! I have noticed how the green willows sweeping the ground at Shichahai Park in Beijing seem too pale and gosling-yellow, and how the high, dense “green wall” near Hupao Temple at Hangzhou seems too solid with its endless green grass and foliage. For the rest, the waves of the West Lake are too bright, while those of the Qinhuai River are too dark. Then what can I compare you to, my darling? What comparison can there be? This pool must be very deep to produce this remarkable green, as if a fragment of the deep blue sky had melted here to make this exquisite colour. You intoxicating green! If I could make a girdle out of you, I would give it to that graceful dancing girl so that she could whirl and flutter with the wind. If I could a make a pair of eyes out of you, I would give them to that blind girl who loves singing, so that she could have bright eyes and perfect eyesight. I cannot bear to leave you – how can I leave you? I stroke and caress you as if you were a girl of twelve or thirteen. I carry you to my lips, as if I were kissing her. Would you like me to give you a name? What about Girl Green?
The second time I visited Xianyan, I was staggered by the green of Plum Rain Pool.
February 8, 1924