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Shawn Joyce

Li Po & Tu Fu
The poems “Sitting alone by Ching-t’ing Mountain and “spending the night
in a tower by the river” have similarities and have been compared regularly
in studies of Li Po and Tu Fu. Both these poems display intense feelings
of the moment, although the emotions differ extremely. Both writers use
specific adjectives to capture a specific mood.

Li Po paints a picture of a serene, peaceful utopia, where
everything is happy and satisfied. He uses words such as solitary, calmly,
and alone. He states, “We look at each other and never get bored.”This
is such a simple statement, yet demonstrates and intense feeling of
contentment and relaxation. On the other hand, Tu Fu writes about a similar
situation of watching nature. His words are harsh, strong and negative
displaying resentment and boredom. Phrases that show these feelings
include: frail cloud, lonely moon topples and cliff edge.

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The main difference between the two poets is the idea of control over
one’s place within the universe. Li Po regards the cloud as being solitary-
-he himself is not. Tu Fu on the other hand, sees himself as being alone.

Tu Fu feels insignificant in the world–the final stanza shows him
lamenting about not being able to make a difference. While Li Po is at
peace with what is around him, Tu Fu seems daunted by the natural world–
the wolves, the lonely moon being toppled in the waves. The ‘visible
darkness’ that he senses in the first line has covered his soul–he is not
able to enjoy life. He must constantly attempt to change things.

If I had to choose one of these poems to base my own life philosophy
it would have to be Li Po’s “Sitting Alone by Ching-t’ing Mountain”. It
seems he thinks people today worry too much about the world around them
because the earth and the people on it have survived this long without
them, and it will continue once they are gone. To be truly happy, one must
be secure with the idea that they are really rather insignificant to the
universe, but still have a sense of peace and wonder with the world. To
truly enjoy what is around you and accept it and flow with it can be a very
enlightening experience, however, it is selfish and immoral to disregard
personal responsibility to our surroundings. To make a difference in the
world is not something that can be done, according to Li Po, because the
world will change again in a few million years and no one will care about
what you’ve done. I agree that each of us has to make what we can of our
own lives, to seize the day and live while we can, as long as it doesn’t
disrupt the world.


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