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Tang Dynasty

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Topics: Marriage, Wife, Poetry, Moon, Anger
1. The first thing I noticed that was similar in the writings of these three poets was they all wrote about nature. Wei, for example, mentions nature in every poem that I read. He writes “Ancient trees, the last withered willows.” in Meng Wall Cove (Line 2) and “Man at leisure, cassia flowers fall. The night still, spring mountain empty. The moon emerges, startling mountain birds: At times they call within the spring valley.” in Bird Call Valley. Bo writes, “I raise my cup to invite the moon. He and my shadow and I make three.” in Drinking Alone with the Moon (Lines 3-4) and also “Peach blossoms flow downstream, leaving no trace- And there are other earths and skies than these.” in Question and Answer in the Mountains (Lines 3-4). Fu mentions, “Gems of dew wilt and wound the maple trees in the wood:” from Autumn Meditation (Line 1). Another similarity I found was the writing of feeling alone or saying goodbye to loved ones. Wei writes “And inquire where you are going. You say you did not achieve your wishes” in Farewell (Lines 2-3). Bo writes, “I drink alone, no friend with me.” in Drinking Alone with the Moon (Line 2). He also has poems titled Farewell to a Friend and In the Quiet Night, which leave me with a slight sadness. Fu writes “The bleached ungathered bones lie year on year. New ghosts complain, and those who died before Weep in the wet gray sky and haunt the ear.” in Ballad of the Army Carts (Lines 34-36). There are also ways that the works of the poets are significantly different. For example, the longest of Wei’s poems are only eight lines while the majority of Bo and Fu’s poems are significantly longer. Wei also has more poems about nature like Meng Wall Cove, Deer Enclosure, Sophora Path, Lake Yi, Bamboo Lodge and Bird Call Valley. Bo’s work seems to be more about everyday life things with poems like Drinking Alone with the Moon, The Road to Shu is Hard, Bring in the Wine, Listening to a Monk from Shu Playing the Lute and Question and Answer in the Mountains. He also is the one who writes the most about wine. Fu seems to have some of the longest and also saddest poems. In Moonlit Night he says “In Fuzhou, far away, my wife is watching The moon alone tonight, and my thoughts fill with sadness for my children, who can’t think Of me here in Changan; they’re too young still. (Lines 1-4). In Autumn Meditations he uses words like forlorn and solitary, which help to paint a gloomy picture. In the last line of the poem he writes, “Chanting, peering into the distance, in anguish my white head droops.” (Line 65). This is a line to me that just pulls at your soul in a haunting way. One thing that I noticed that differ Wei from Bo and Fu is that they both write of battle: Bo in Fighting South of the Rampants and Fu in Ballad of the Army Carts. This makes me wonder if Wei’s world was not much touched by battles and war or if he just did not feel the need to write about them. 2. The first similarity that I noticed between the King and his brother, besides their bad taste in women, was their rage. While I am sure anyone who would happen to walk in on their spouse with someone else would send them into a rage, it was more about the way they handled and used that rage. When Shahzaman caught his wife with the cook he first struck them both with his sword and “Then he dragged them by the heels and threw then from the top of the palace to the trench below.” When faced with his own wife’s lack of loyalty, Shahrayar demanded his wife be put to death. He “went to her himself, bound her, and handed her over to the vizier, who took her out and put her to death.” He then took his sword and “killed everyone one of his slave-girls and replaced them with others.” He also “swore to marry for one night only and kill the woman the next morning, in order to save himself from the wickedness and cunning of women,”. Granted this story takes place in a much different time and culture, it still seems extreme to me. Shahrayar seems to be much more a leader figure than Shahrazad, which I’m sure comes down to the older versus younger brother. It was Shahrayar who came up with the idea to leave, “Let us leave our royal state and roam the world for the love of the Supreme Lord. If we should find one whose misfortune is greater than ours, we shall return. Otherwise we shall continue to journey through the land, without need for the trappings of royalty.” Shahzaman replies, “This is an excellent idea. I shall follow you.” Then it was Shahrayar who decided they should return home after meeting the maiden held prisoner by the demon, “Brother, let us go back to our kingdoms and our cities, never to marry a woman again.” With their intense anger at betrayal and little brother following big brother mentality, they seem like people from present day. It is the way they go about handling their anger, however, that reminds me I am reading a story written in a different place and time.

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