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Thinking of Bai Li at Qin City

Du, Fu (712 A.D.-770 A.D.)

Cool wind blows from the border fortress 1.
How are you doing?
When will the wild goose arrive 2?
Rivers and lakes rise in autumn 3.
Literary talents are enemies of fate.
Demons 4 like people's faults.
You should throw your poems into the Mi-lo River 5
Because only the aggrieved soul there understands your suffering 6.




1 The border fortress refers to Qin City.

2 The wild goose is supposed to bring Du Liís letter.

3 This line implies that life is a difficult journey. It is a broad and realistic view. Ci-ming Li said, "The sky of Chu conjures one's sorrow and autumn waters remind one of a friend." This statement points out the function of these two lines of Du's poem is to express his feelings. Interpreted in this way, these two lines foreshadows the rest of the poem.

4 Demons refer to the crafty officials in the emperor's court who slandered Bai Li.

5 The Mi-lo River was located northeast of present day Xiang-yin County in Hunan Province. It was where Yuan Qu weighed himself down with stones and jumped in.

6 The aggrieved soul refers to Yuan Qu. Qu committed suicide by jumping into the Mi-lo River because his King distrusted him and sent him into exile. When Du wrote this poem, Li was in exile due to unjust punishment. Both Li and Qu suffered the same type of grievance, so no one could fully understand Li except Qu. Both of them pursued their ideals, and fought against evil and darkness. They are considered the greatest poets of romance in the history of Chinese literature.