Comparing the Similarities and Differences Between the Most Influential Poets in the Tang Dynasty, Li Bai and Du Fu

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Li Bai and Du Fu are greatest and most influential poets in Tang Dynasty. Both of them have political experiences that inflect their poem styles in a great impact. Li Bai, whose literature name is Qinglian Jushi, is a romanticism poet. He left his home at a young age hoping to gain recognition for his talents. However, the process was not as smooth as what he thought. There is an anecdote about Li Bai. When he was young, he was sent to a private school for education, but he was not a hard-working boy at that time.

One day on his way to home, he saw an old lady near the river rubbing a thick iron stick trying to make it into a thin needle. The old lady was tired and got full of sweat on the face. Li Bai laughed thought this was stupid and impossible to do. Then the old lady replied: nothing will be impossible as long as we put effort into it.

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So the thick iron stick could be a needle as long as we work hard. Li Bai was quite surprised by what the old lady said. Since then, he has become diligent and hard-working. This experience influenced him a lot that he is able to become a great poet when he is older. Du Fu, who is considered as realistic poet, is another great poet in Chinese literature. He was crowned as “sage of poetry” by later generations. He had the same experience as Li Bai did.

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And, unlike Li Bai, Du Fu was raised as a Confucian whereas Li Bai was raised by Daoism. And his family is quite interesting because it was once prominent scholar-officials but is declining when he is born. His grandfather. who has influenced Du Fu in his poems. is also an important poet in the early Tang Dynasty.

Although both of them had a great impact in Chinese literature, they have some similarities and differences through their lives to their poems. Lots of Li Bai’s poems recount his own life, social realities and the nature views. For instance, in the poem called “Climbing West of Lotus Flower Peak”, he describes: ”Amongst the grandeur of Hua Shan. I climb to the Flower Peak. and fancy I see fairies and immortals carrying lotus in their sacred white hands.” I can imagine the scene Li Bal describes: he is climbing with joy, stopping fora while and seeing the views all around him, and then keep climbing to the Flower Peak. And the lotus falling to the ground makes it like a fairyland. 80 Li Bai sees fairies carrying lotus in their white hands. Also as I noticed. Li Bai knows that he got a lot of innate talents. and he never refused to show it as long as he had the chance.

There is one famous poem called “Bring in the Wine.” where he writes “Since heaven gave the talent. let it be employed, Spin a thousand pieces of silver, all of them come back.” I can feel that at the time writing this poem. he was not quite successful and well-known of his talents. But he keeps optimistic and generous by saying that if he has the talents, there will eventually be one day that people can see them and therefore, they can be used. Du Fu. same as Li Bai, had difficulties achieving his political goals as well, and failed the imperial examination twice, But he experienced a rebellion in his own country and, was arrest and detained, At that specific period, many of his poems tend to be concerning and missing his country. He wanted to help but there is no chance. In his poem “Spring View”, he expressed his feeling towards his home: ”The country is broken, though hills and rivers remain,” “Family letters are worth ten thousand pieces, I scratch my head, its white hairs growing thinner.”

The tone is depressed in a way of missing his country, his home, and his family. But he knows that the country was already ruined by the rebellion. And he could not go back anymore. It is sad that the hills and rivers still remain but the people are not the same anymore. And his white hairs grow thinner and whiter because he was worrying so much about his country. As a result. he leaves his patriotism and passion spirit to the later generation and got admired and respected by. Both of them have entered political career for not a long time. Li Bai was appreciated by the Emperor Xuan Zong. He was always asked to write a poem occasionally.

Once, he was invited by Emperor Xuan Zong to a party along with other officials in the imperial gardens. But since he loves wine a lot, he got drunk eventually. Then he was asked to create a poem in the public. Due to the situation where he was not aware of, he commanded Gao Lishi, who is a spoiled eunuch of Emperor Xuan Zong, to take off his shoes, which the eunuch felt embarrassed by. Yet Li Bai broke some rites of the royalty. Since then, he was demoted. He stayed in Chang An, the capital of the country at that time, for only three years. Later, Anshi Incident occurred, and Li Bai became a helper of Prince Li Ling who, later failed in the battle. As a result, Li Bai was demoted again to a region called Ye Lang, where is in Guang Zhou today. Du Fu, on the other side, was selected as a registrar of the Right Commandant’s Office in the Crown Prince’s Palace. Although it was a quite low position among all of the levels of politics, it was a start of his career and rn the sorrng or 765 Dll Fu and hrs family sailed down the Vanglze. apparently with the intention or making their way back there.

They traveled slowly held up by hrs telehealth (by tnrs trrne he was suffering from poor eyesrght. deafness and general old age rn addition to hrs previous ailments) Tlrey stayed ll] Kulzhou (now Bardrcheng. Chongqing) at the entrance to the Three Gorges lor almost two years lront late sprlng 766 rnrs perrotl was all Fll‘s last great poetic llawerlllg, and here he wrote and poems rrt hrs dense, late style, ln autumn 766 Ed Maolln became governor or the reglon he supported Du FLA (manually and employed nrrn as hrs unolllclal secretary. After quitting his political career, Du Fu left to Cheng Du where he had lived for along time‘ He built a quiet cottage, in where he lived with his familyjoyfully, yet extremely poorly In the year of 744A.D, Li Bai met Du Fu. Li Bai is several years older than Du Fu and, at that time, Li Bai was already quite famous as a poet. They quickly became good friends who have same passion of reacting poems. Though they have different poetic styles, they appreciate each other for their respective talents and personalities.

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Comparing the Similarities and Differences Between the Most Influential Poets in the Tang Dynasty, Li Bai and Du Fu. (2023, May 07). Retrieved from

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