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A review of the poem for wei pa in retirement by tu fu

Auden on the death of one of the greatest of English poets, W. He was expressing in part the universal truth that the individual works of a poet are surrendered irrevocably in death into the common possession, not only of admirers of course but also of critics who will explain and may even explain away.

Fear of silence, of final extinction through being unread, perhaps lurks behind many of those famous utterances by Western poets of confidence in immortality. For Chinese poets it should have been different. From the very beginning, from the time of the songs of the Book of Songs itself, poetry was for use and reuse by other poets.

As the tradition lengthened, it should have been quite apparent to any who could gain even a modest place within it that they had good expectation of immortality.

  1. He did not, so far as I can see, derive a living Tu Fu from his poetry and so Tu Fu remained for him the stereotype of the biographies and anecdotes.
  2. The poetry lived for him but the poet did not. I offer these selected examples as practical evidence that Su Shih at least felt no opposition between Tu Fu and Li Po but rather had a ready tendency to think of the two in combination.
  3. When grass is tall it makes sheep and oxen sick.

At the same time, the greater their place in the tradition, the greater the extent of reuse of their words and the greater the possibility, it might seem, of their becoming still more literally than Mr Auden intended, their admirers. It is one on which others and even I myself have consumed some ink. It is also a topic that inevitably invites generalization in pursuit of which one may lose sight of the differences imposed by time and individual poets.

Since this lies beyond my present achievement, I have taken what I hope may be a meaningful sample and treated this in as full a manner as possible. At least one feature which may have some general relevance to the Northern Sung period seems to have emerged from this examination, a tendency to use the words of a composite Li Po-Tu Fu source.

There was no opposition between the two poets themselves. I have not seen my friend Li for a long time; His feigned madness is truly pitiable. All the men of the age wish to kill him; My thoughts are only of love for his talent. Brilliant are his thousand poems; Ruinous is his single cup of wine. I Have Not Seen. We should perhaps only remark that Su Shih in writing his last line would expect every reader to recognize it as a quotation of Tu Fu.

Did it concern him at all that his quotation had lost the tone of the original? Though it is the second quatrain which mainly concerns us, I include the first also for the sake of context.

Official documents always vex us with every anxiety at once; A jar of wine now must make us break into smiles. I greive that now I am still in the mire, But urge you not to pole back the wine boat.

In blue slippers and linen stockings I can go from now on. Su Shih again changes the tone and even the sense in borrowing the words. So he untied his golden tortoise and exchanged it for wine with which we might take our pleasure.

In sad yearning for him I wrote these poems. Before he loved the thing in the cup;[ 14 ] Now he is dust beneath the pines. Thinking how his golden tortoise[ 15 ] was exchanged for wine Makes tears soak my kerchief. The man has died, leaving his old home behind, Where vainly lotus flowers grow.

As I recall this, vague as a dream, It grievously wounds my feelings. In current editions of Li Po these two poems are followed by a quatrain Again in Remembrance I would like to go east of the River[ 18 ] But with whom could I raise a wine-cup?

  1. How can it be limited to north or south? My whip was not recklessly used, Only when I saw them lagging, I whipped them.
  2. Distantly I think of Priest Cho Who white-headed lodged among doctors and diviners.
  3. Jade agaric, also called jade field herb, was planted by Tung-wei seven or eight years ago. Did it concern him at all that his quotation had lost the tone of the original?

On Chi-shan there is no old Ho, So I pole back the wine boat. I want to retire but the notes of the cithern gradually die away. When shall I wear my spring clothes at the Rain-dance altar? Late, I have become aware that letters are truly a minor skill; Early, I knew that riches and honour were triggers of danger.

When I shed tears for you, do you know? The whole poem is in fact put together with quotations, beginning with a rather unusual type of quotation in the first two lines.

“The Good Lines of the World are a Common Possession”: A Study of the Effect of Tu Fu upon Su Shih

Su so uses it and his second line alone would be in no way remarkable. I do not know where the clear mirror Found the autumn frost. Writing is a minor art And not to be honoured like the Way. How can it be heard again? Complete knowledge of the circumstances would possibly enhance our understanding of this poem, without such knowledge it remains a piece, skilfully put together out of quotations which his readers must have been expected to recognize, of self-exhortation to eschew the pursuit of office and embrace the safety and ease of retirement.

This self-exhortation was perennial with Su Shih and many other poets who followed the official career normal for men of their class. They were as little likely to be serious as were Western poets in counselling against the pursuit of romantic love. Once I lived among the fields And knew only sheep and oxen. The boat moved unaided; the banks went by of themselves. I lay, reading a book; the ox was unaware. In front were a hundred sheep That heeded the crack of my whip like a war-drum.

My whip was not recklessly used, Only when I saw them lagging, I whipped them. In the lowlands grass and trees grew tall.

  • When Su Shih takes these two complete lines and incorporates them in a poem of his own, what is his intention?
  • In a strange district I met an old friend And my first joy relieved my feelings;
  • All the insects, shut in their holes, do not break from hibernation; Every tree, when spring comes, fails to burst its buds;
  • Jade agaric, also called jade field herb, was planted by Tung-wei seven or eight years ago;
  • I lay, reading a book; the ox was unaware.

When grass is tall it makes sheep and oxen sick. So we bestrode the valleys, making for the hills. My sinews grew strong with clambering. With mist cape and rain hat I went under the long woods. I regret that I have not long been an old man of many oxen.

All the commentators identify the reference of the penultimate line. It after all stands out as requiring explanation.

A review of the poem for wei pa in retirement by tu fu

To write poems and compose fu in the northern window,[ 32 ] A myriad words are not worth a cup of water. Fish-eyes will also smile at us And claim to be the equal of bright-moon pearls.

Su is not here simply taking over words but an accompanying connotation also. In spite of the fact this this poem dates from 1093 when he was back in high office in the capital in one of the ups of his political life, his thought led him at the conclusion of this poem to decry both the literary and the political life probably in his case it is not possible to separate them and sigh over his failure to pursue the life of the farmer.

This would, I think, make the transition to the Li Po quotation difficult. This life follows the Ten Thousand Things;[ 37 ] Where can one escape the dust and filth?

The picture which Tu Fu viewed obviously depicted the haunts of immortals. Seen in this way, the poem becomes once again an exhortation to retirement from political life and can be read as a consistent whole.

I offer these selected examples as practical evidence that Su Shih at least felt no opposition between Tu Fu and Li Po but rather had a ready tendency to think of the two in combination. Some caution may be necessary in defining the view of literature of Su Shih or other writers from such citations. In poetry it is the same case. The creative power of Su Wu, d.

Thus the lofty air and remoteness from Wei-Chin on have also declined. After Li and Tu poets continued to appear. Though there are in some cases distant echoes, their talent does a review of the poem for wei pa in retirement by tu fu match their intention. Only Wei Ying-wu c. In discussing poetry, he said: In eating and drinking we cannot do without salt or plums, yet excellence is always a matter of more than saltiness or bitterness.

I thrice repeat his words and grieve over them. It was a conception in no way individual to Su in the Northern Sung period. Since the two masters Su and Mei died, Heaven and Earth are silent, repressing the sound of thunder. All the insects, shut in their holes, do not break from hibernation; Every tree, when spring comes, fails to burst its buds.

Surely there must be all manner of birds learning their cries, But their cries go unheeded all day long. Giving play to their brushes, they showed a lively brilliance; Under their brushes Creation gave off a radiance. In the past Li and Tu vied to break convention; Unicorn and phoenix startled the age. Only there is writing to illumine sun and stars; Its force soars above the hills, ever brilliant.

Wise and foolish from old have all shared one end; The lofty vainly leave a name for later generations. The children of Hsiang-yang all clapped their hands; Everyone[ 49 ] vied in singing the Nickel Horsehoe. Tu Fu can take a single section of Po and surpass it by his skill. It is in the free flow of genius that Tu cannot equal him.

  • How should she turn her back and weep in grief for spring?
  • By the time she was dressed in her Golden Chamber, it would be almost evening; And when tables were cleared in the Tower of Jade, she would loiter, slow with wine.

This is after all a comparison, a not unusual one, of the technical skill of Tu Fu, with the free-ranging imagination of Li Po. His elegance has long been silent, But in my thoughts I see the man.

With Tu Fu, prince of poets, Who in the future can compare? In life he was always in extremity; After his death he was to be prized by a myriad generations. If his words can be handed down to posterity, No man is ashamed of low rank and poverty. In speaking of a combined Li Po—Tu Fu source, I have not meant in any way to imply that Su Shih could, as it were, not tell the two poets apart. He had very obviously a close familiarity with the works of both.

There was a special stimulus of place and age for the poem. In the preface to the poem he writes: The priest Hu Tung-wei showed me a rubbing of a stone carving which had been cut by his master Cho Chi. Chi possessed the Taoist arts and his moral purity surpassed others. Now he has died.

  • Yet who can achieve his skin, his bone?
  • And when heaven and earth resumed their round and the dragon car faced home, The Emperor clung to the spot and would not turn away From the soil along the Mawei slope, under which was buried That memory, that anguish;
  • The boat moved unaided; the banks went by of themselves.

I too am forty-nine suiand moved by it, I followed the rhymes.