Peter Firebrace's Poem on Sun Simiao and Pediatrics
The following is a poem that my dear friend, master poet and musician, and Chinese medicine practitioner and teacher Peter Firebrace wrote as a preface for my translation of the first part of Sun Simiao's writings on pediatrics (Vol. 5, part 1, published by Happy Goat Productions as "Venerating the Root, Part One"). If you are curious about the content of that book and don't want to buy it, here is a brief summary.
Venerate The Root!
A mini-version of Sun Simiao’s Qian Jin Fang chapter 5
Venerate the root! says Sun Simiao
Women and children first, that’s my kind of dao!
Follow the art of yang xiao, nurturing the small
Get the beginnings right, so they stand up straight and tall!
Yes, ten months have passed since the moment of conception
But life’s still fragile at its inception
Take good care now! Pay more attention, not less!
Nurture the young to avoid untimely death!
The Yijing, the Shijing, they all say the same thing!
There’s nothing more important than getting off to a good start
Treatment of children is an essential part of a doctor’s art!
In the small child the force of qi is still feeble
But you can help it along with herbs, moxibustion and needles!
So I’ve been listening, I’ve been gathering, collecting all the wisdom I can!
And I’ve set it all down to share with you
Theory, diagnostics, advice, effective treatments too
To help that little baby become a healthy woman or healthy man!
Normal development unfolds through bian zheng, transformation and steaming
That gets the qi and blood growing, flowing, thriving and streaming!
This steaming heat and transforming rising qi
Come in definite phases, so let them be!
Keep the baby calm and rested, not a lot of people crowding around
Stay with them and observe them, that’s how the answers can be found!
I’ll tell you what’s normal, I’ll tell you what’s not
Heat’s OK, but not if the ears and buttocks are hot!
Then I’ll give you the treatments you need to use
To bring them back to health, so the child you don’t lose!
By the newborn’s 288th day
Nine transformations and four steamings will have passed their way
For unresolved heat and phlegm, remember the Purple Pill, Zi Wan!
And in seasonal warmth complications, use the Black Powder, Hei San!
But don’t be reckless with acupuncture, moxibustion or medicinals
Understand what’s a normal process and what’s pathological!
Directly after birth, keep the baby’s mouth and tongue clean
Carefully wipe away any muck and blood to be seen
Check the newborn’s not silent, take care cutting the cord
Cold, wind and dirt getting in, they can ill afford!
Take care of their delicate skin, when you’re wrapping and swaddling
But expose them to mild, warm weather too!
They won’t withstand wind and cold with too much molly-coddling