Mr Li, Mr Chan & Mr Wong's works 015 (2)
李白 早發白帝城

朝辭白帝彩雲間 , 千里江陵一日還  ;

兩岸猿聲啼不住 ,  輕舟已過萬重山!

己巳 (1989) 中秋前夕  倬雲仁弟清賞  黃維琩

順德黃氏 (朱紋方印)  欣園八十以後所書 (白紋方印)


I departed the city of Bai Di in the morning, in the midst of vibrant clouds.

Sailing thousands of miles to Jiang Ling, all in a day’s trip.

From both banks, the monkeys cried non-stop and

The little boat has already carried me passing thousands of hilltops !

This poem was written while Li Bao was sailing back down the Yangtze River (長江), through the Three Gorges, on his way to Jiang Ling. He was suddenly a free man again having been pardoned on his way to exile, and expressed his joy in this poem. Some scholars suggested that Li Bao poetically mocked his enemies and detractors as the cries of the monkeys.  He had survived through many hardships just like the boat sailing past thousands of hilltops.

Li Bai (701 – 762)( 李白 ) also known as Tai Bai (太白) is called the ‘Immortal Poet’ or ‘Poet Transcendent’ (詩仙).  He was a Chinese poet acclaimed from his own days to the present as a genius and romantic figure who took traditional poetic forms to new heights.  Around one thousand poems attributed to him still existed today.  He never took the civil service examination. In his mid-twenties, about 725, Li Bai began his days of wandering, left Sichuan and sailed down the Yangtze River to Nanjing.  He then sailed up the river and to many other places like the Yellow River.  In 742, Emperor Xuan Zong (玄宗)(Li Longji 李隆基) summoned Li to the court.  The Emperor was so impressed with Li’s scholarly expertise and poetry gave him a post at the Hanlin Academy (翰林院). However Li always got drunk and offended the Emperor’s beautiful and beloved Yang Guifei (楊貴妃) and Gao Lishi (高力士), the most politically powerful eunuch in the palace. Within two years, Li was sent away from the Imperial court.  Li Bai continued to wander far and wide for the next ten years, writing poems.

At the end of 755, the An–Shi Rebellions (安史之亂) burst across the country. The Emperor eventually abdicated and fled to Sichuan.  Crown Prince Li Heng (李亨), a son of Xuan Zong was declared emperor by the army and became Su Zong (肅宗).  

Prince Yong (永王)(Li Lin李璘), another son of Emperor Xuan Zong, tried to occupy the region south of the Yangtze River and establish a separate regime. Li Bai was asked to serve as his advisor (幕僚). Prince Yong was later defeated and killed. Li Bai was captured and sentenced to death. Guo Ziyi (郭子儀), the powerful army general  intervened. Li Bai’s death sentence was converted to exile to Ye Lang (夜郎), present day Gui Zhou (貴州). On his way to exile near Wu Shan (巫山) in 759, news of his pardon caught up with him.  He turned to go back down the river to Jiang Ling (江陵), passing through Baidicheng (白帝城) where he wrote the poem “Departing from Baidi in the Morning“.

His socio-political protest was reflected by some of his poems at that time. He wished to serve the country by suppressing further disturbances from the An-Shi Rebellions. However in 762, at the age 61, Li became critically ill and died.

Professor WONG Wai Cheong (黃維琩教授)(1902 – 1993) was a well-known Chinese literature scholar and Calligrapher. Coming from a highly educated family, Mr Wong graduated from Guangzhou Zhongshan University (中山大學) with degrees. He was both a lawyer and a certified accountant and he held senior positions in the Guangzhou government. Mr Wong migrated to Hong Kong around the 1950s and taught at various secondary and tertiary education institutions. His contributions to Chinese education were significant. He had publications of his own poems and lecture notes. This piece of running script was written specially for Patrick in 1989 before Patrick migrated to Sydney. It is one of Professor Wong’s last masterpieces before he passed away in January, 1993.

Further readings :

陳耀南 (2006) 唐詩新賞 三聯書店(香港)有限公司 ISBN-13 : 978 962 04 2531 8

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