To Li Bai

To Li Bai

Autumn winds part ways, two hearts in a longing gaze,
Drifting aimlessly like thistle down, through the world in a blaze.

Forgone the quest for the divine, a shame for the alchemist Kong,
Every day with fervor, drinking and singing, days recklessly prolong.
With such bravado and spirit, for whom do you roam and strive?


This poem was written in the autumn of 745 A.D., when Li Bai was repelled by a traitor, away from the capital, wandering in Qilu, and meeting Du Fu. Li Bai also wrote the poem “Send Du Erfu off at Dongshimen of Lu County” in the autumn of this year. The poem goes: “The flying pengs are far away from each other, and all the cups in your hands.” It reveals the poet’s affection for parting. This can be referred to with the sentence “Autumn comes to care about Shang Piaopeng” in Du’s poems. Li Bai was rewarded with gold, and when he and Du Fu were lucky enough to meet in Shandong, because they had the same ups and downs, they were like-minded.

On the surface of this poem, it seems that Du Fu is advising Li Bai: you should devote yourself to alchemy and seeking immortality like Taoist Ge Hong, don’t drink and sing, and waste your time. He left in a flick of his sleeves and became a wanderer. Although he drank and sang all day long, he was not appreciated by the ruler in the end; although he was ambitious, how could he be the roost? Although he has the talent to help the world, how can he display it? In addition to admiring Du Fu, he was full of emotion and feeling of embarrassment spontaneously arose. So he expressed his resentment in writing, and even used rhetorical tone to ask questions that seemed to be complaining but were actually unfair. His emotion is not only for Li Bai, but also for himself.

This poem highlights a character of madness, showing a character of pride. Proud and unrestrained, this is Du Fu’s portrayal of Li Bai. In Qijue “To Li Bai”, the demeanor, bone strength, and bearing of madness and pride are highlighted, showing Li Bai’an’s spirit of being able to smash his brows and bend his waist to serve the powerful, which is the poetic eye and essence of this poem. It is not only in line with Du Fu’s other poems singing about Li Bai, but also vividly reveals Li Bai’s character and temperament.

This Qijue is melancholic, with ups and downs and ups and downs. The rhetorical tone in the last sentence pushes the whole poem to its climax. When Qian Qianyi commented on this poem in the early Qing Dynasty, he only commented on the sentence “flying and domineering”, and ignored the rest. A young man who kills several people with his hands, so he is domineering and domineering. It is like a cloud of flying in his life. The old annotations are all absurd.” (“Qian Zhu Du Poems” Volume 9) is to praise Li Bai from a new angle and side The heroic spirit, and highlight the “flying and domineering” flying. Qiu Zhaoao commented: “Flying, the appearance of floating. Domineering, the meaning of strong beams. Examination of “Shuowen”: Hu, the tail. Domineering, Judas jumping and dodging the tail.” (One of the volumes of “Detailed Notes on Du Poems”) Although the words are marked with characters and the words with words, in “To Li Bai”, it is used to symbolize Li Bai’s bold and unrestrained spirit.

This poem is concise and to the point, with endless charm. In order to strengthen the rhythm and momentum of the whole poem, “drinking” is used against “crazy song”, and “flying” is against “domineering”; Two by two relative. This forms a flying atmosphere, further highlighting Li Bai’s arrogance and wildness.



Du Fu

Du Fu (February 12, 712-770), courtesy name Zimei, nicknamed Shaoling Yelao, No. 1 Duling Yeke and Duling Buyi, was a realist poet in the Tang Dynasty. His works are famous for their grand social realism. The Du Fu family is a branch of the Jingzhao Du family. During the Tang Dynasty, the Jingzhao Du family called themselves Duling people. He used to be Zuo Shiyi and Wailang, a member of the Ministry of Inspection and Engineering, and later lived in seclusion in Chengdu Thatched Cottage, known as Du Suyi, Du Gongbu, Du Shaoling and Du Thatched Cottage in the world.


Image: MidJourney/DALL-E 2