Li Po Tu Fu Comparison of Li Po and Tu Fu’s Poetry During the Tang Dynasty, Li Po and Tu Fu have reigned the literary world with their poetry. Their writing techniques and themes in their poetry allow them to stand out amongst other poets at the time. With the unique aspects and images these poets write about, they distinguish the similarities between themselves and contain different intensities in their poetry. While Li Po has a more relaxed tone to his poetry, Tu Fu deals with the serious aspects of life such as war, poverty, and suffering. Li Po’s writing style is conventional and contains no new innovations. Much of his poetry contains older styles such as lu-shih, chueh-chu, and especially the ku-shih.
Li Po also tends to look upon the past more than the future. In his poem, ” At Su Terrace Viewing the Past”, Li Po states, “Old gardens, a ruined terrace, willow trees new .. and now there is only the west river moon, that shone once on a lady in the palace of the king of Wu.” Throughout this poem, Li Po shows a longing for the past, the longing of that lady who lived in that palace. Now he is looking back upon the past and the wonderful experiences he had. Although Li Po suffered through exile and complicated political connections, he rarely expresses his grief through his poetry.
Usually, his poetry contains the happier aspects of life and avoids being too personal and less revealing on his inner emotions. Perhaps one of the more notable aspects of his writing is his fondness of nature, especially with mountainous landscapes and celestial scenery. In the poem, “Poem #19 in the Old Manner”, Li Po expresses the beauty of nature. “West ascending Lotus Flower Mountain, far far away I saw the Bright Star maid; with pale hands she plucked lotus blossoms; with airy steps she walked the great clear void,” the poem continues combining the mountain landscape and the heavenly body of the “Bright Star maid”. Alcohol became another common theme of Li Po’s poetry. “Scholar Tan-ch’iu! Bring the wine and no delay! For you I’ll sing a song- be pleased to bend your ears and hear; bells and drums, foods rare as jade- these aren’t worth prizing; all I ask is to be drunk forever, never to sober up!” This excerpt from the poem “Bring the Wine”, is only one of the many hundreds of poems that portrays Li Po’s love of wine and its affects.
“I take my wine jug out among the flowers to drink alone, without friends. I raise my cup to entice the moon. That, and my shadow, makes us three”, is an excerpt from his “Drinking Alone” poem. It displays his love of wine and the enjoyment of the beauty of the moon. Tu Fu’s poetry illustrates more serious topics and contains more serious themes. It contains more creation, tu-tsao, and his writing styles have a modern twist to them. He also brought the chin-t’i form to popularity, making it a poetic statement. One characteristic of Tu Fu poems is that he incorporates and parallels two totally different topics together.
For example, in his poem “River Stop” Tu Fu parallels the river and clouds to his heart and his mind. “Rivers flow- my heart doesn’t try to keep up; clouds remain- slow as my imagination.” Tu Fu also condenses and distorts his poetry, which leaves his poetry ambiguous and open to suggestion. However, this may be one of the reasons why Tu Fu’s poetry is harder to interpret or to understand. “Freeing the Boat” exemplifies this aspect. “Green- I hate to see the hilltops passing; yellow- I know that citrons are on the way.” The colors represent his emotions towards the problem, or perhaps the colors are the colors he sees.
Yet, this poem can be opened to interpretations of the reader. Li Po expresses Taoist beliefs, while Tu Fu portrays Buddhism through his compassion of the small motions of nature such as ripples on a pond, or the wings on a bird. Tu Fu states “where mud is soft the swallows fly; where sands are warm the mandarin ducks doze.” He pays attention to the little things that many readers don’t notice, which opens readers to a different perspective. Along with the natural aspect of his poetry, Tu Fu opens up his emotions and insight through his poetry. It can be noted that Tu Fu particularly writes about women and their grief.
One good example of his fondness of women is in his poem “The Lovely Lady”. In this poem, the main character is a woman who had lost everything, yet she was strong enough to uphold her dignity. “The lady picks a flower but does not put it in her hair, gathers juniper berries, sometimes a handful. When the sky is cold, in thin azure sleeves, at dusk she stands leaning by the tall bamboo.” He also write other poems that displays his affections towards his wife and the pain she suffered with him. Tu Fu uses his literature to attack social injustice and the corruption of the government.
“Song of Beautiful Ladies” depicts his attack on social injustice in a descriptive and enchanting way. He disguises his insults with vivid and illustrative words. “The snow of willow catkins blankets the white flowered reeds” refers to an officer who used his position to gain power and wealth. Because his cousin was the emperor’s favorite concubine, he used this power against others and for himself. It took me a long time to interpret the works of Tu Fu and the depth his poetry displayed.
Not only does he distort his poetry, much of his poetry is vague and ambiguous, which leaves everything open for interpretation. Li Po takes a more direct approach, it can be said that he is much more simple minded than Tu Fu. I find it ironic, however, that these two poets were such close friends. Perhaps, you could say “Opposites attract”. In general, for my leisure, I would read Li Po due to the directness and the delight his poetry brings.
Yet, Tu Fu’s poetry gives me something to contemplate and requires a lot of thought. I find his poetry much more intriguing and worthwhile to read. For me, both poets can be enjoyed, pending on the mood of the reader and the desire to think! Philosophy Essays.