The orchids which grow in a secluded valley on the lower reaches of theYangtze River do not have the beauty of the flutter of blossoming branches, but they have an air of elegance and literary dignity. Their fragrance is exuded whether there are people to appreciate them or not, and the frost does not wither them; the orchid truly bears the name “Gentleman of Flowers.”
兰花，生长在长江中下游深山幽谷之中，没有花枝招展的艳丽，却有淡雅高洁、质朴文静的气质，不为无人而不芳，不因清寒而萎缩，故有 “花中君子 ”之称。
The story goes that when the poet Qu Yuan (屈原) was banished by King Huai of Chu due to the machinations of the king’s evil ministers, he took his beloved orchids and bamboo-strip books, and set up a school on Fairy Mountain. One day, the Orchid Goddess of Fairy Mountain, while floating on a cloud, happened to pass a thatched cottage. Inside, Qu Yuan was teaching a class, vigorously promoting righteous conduct for the Kingdom of Chu. The goddess stood outside the window quietly listening, particularly impressed by the poet’s deeply-felt patriotism. She knew that Qu Yuan had always loved orchids, so before she left she endowed three orchids which Qu Yuan had planted under the window with supernatural power.
One week later, Qu Yuan dragged his weak and sickly body to the school to teach another class. This time, the theme was how evil men had brought ruin to their country and people. Qu Yuan became so emotionally enraged that blood gushed out of his mouth and splashed on the orchids outside the window. The pupils were so upset at this that they had to wipe tears from their eyes.
Early the next morning, the students were astonished to discover that the three orchids had become a huge cluster. When Qu Yuan breathed the fresh odor of the orchids, he became healthier. The students were overjoyed and inspired by the orchids, and they together planted more orchids all around the school.
Marvelous to relate, on the very first day these orchids produced sprigs, on the second day soft buds, and on the third day branches and leaves. On the fourth day, the buds began to sprout, and on the fifth day each one put forth new stems! Qu Yuan led his pupils to plant orchids by a local stream and in mountain gorges. Soon, the hills and valleys were filled with the scent of orchids. The farmers of the area smiled, and said, “Twelve mu (One mu equals 0.7 of a hectare) of land is called one wan. It seems that Master Qu has planted three wan with orchids. We should call this place Orchid Land.”
After that, three wan of orchids expanded to six wan, and then from six wan to nine wan, and the stream below Fairy Mountain got the name “Jiuwan (nine wan) Stream.” The orchids growing beside Jiuwan Stream increased in number year after year, and filled Western Ling Gorge with their heady perfume. Their fragrance was wafted as far as Guizhou, and perfumed half the sky over the Kingdom of Chu!
In the end, Qu Yuan left the mountains, nurturing a burning desire to serve his country in his breast. But, much to the surprise of the local people, on the first day of the fifth month by the lunar calendar that year, all the orchids, which had been growing so luxuriously by Jiuwan Stream and around Zhilan Village suddenly withered and died, leaving behind only a faint hint of their fragrance – like sighs and tears. The villagers had a sense of foreboding and unease, as if something untoward had happened to Master Qu. Sure enough, two days later there came the dire news that Qu Yuan, overwhelmed by a sense of grievance, had thrown himself in the Miluo River, and died. He had sacrificed himself for his country. The people were filled with grief, and the Orchid Goddess of Fairy Mountain wept till her eyes were swollen.
Qu Yuan wrote many poems throughout his life in praise of orchids. In his master piece Li Sao, we find a poem in which the orchid is called, “Fragrant Plant Beauty,” signifying his patriotic, pure and high-minded character, and because Qu Yuan’s qualities were so much like those of the orchid, people in ancient times honored him as the “Orchid God.”
屈原一生有无数诗句吟颂兰花，赞美兰花。他的代表作《离骚》独创的 “香草美人 ”意象，代表屈原的爱国深情和独立高洁的人格。屈原就像兰花一样高洁坚贞，古人由此也尊他为兰花花神。