Shen Zhou exemplified literati painting with his blending of poetry and painting, the arts of words and images. Many of Shen Zhou’s paintings include poems of his own – many also include poems composed by friends.
The painting below is one of Shen Zhou’s most famous. The scholar alone in nature seems to be looking out not over a chasm of rocks and clouds, but directly at the poem that Shen Zhou has placed before him. The poem reads as follows:
White clouds sash-like
wrap mountain waists,
The rock terrace flies in space
distant, a narrow path.
Leaning on a bramble staff
far and free I gaze,
To the warble of valley brook
I will reply, whistling.
(Translation from Indiana University.)