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Chinese poem illustration: 行路难 其一/ Journey Is Difficult, Number One by Li Bai

Part1:

YouTube above not applicable? watch full video at Bilibili: 行路难 1

A title borrowed from Musical Department(乐府) of Han dynasty, normally depict the hardness on the road. The harsh road simulate the hardship of one’s career path or life. Even today, journey is still frequently used as a comparison to career path, or the pursuit of lifetime.

With references to a former poet Bao Zhao(鲍照) roughly 300 hundred years ahead of him, Li Bai wrote 3 poems with this title. The 3 poems was written in different time period most probably. For this poem, there are two conjectures about the writing time.

By digging into the poem and Li Bai’s life background, I made my conjecture on writing time, you can have yours as well.

Part 2:

YouTube above not applicable? watch full video at Bilibili: 行路难 2

Part2 continues illustration since the 4th pairs of sentence 闲来垂钓碧溪上.

With all the poem illustrated, I give out the reason why this poem was mostly likely written during Li Bai’s 30s, before being summoned by the emperor.

At the very end, the other 2 poems with this title 行路难 was posted but not illustrated. In my own opinion, the 1st and 2nd was written during Li Bai’s 30s and the 3rd was most likely written when Li Bai was with the emperor. You can use the methodology know the person, know his background(知人论世) to analysis the possible writing time and make your own conclusion as well.

行路难 其一
李白

金樽清酒斗十千,玉盘珍羞直万钱。
停杯投箸不能食,拔剑四顾心茫然。


欲渡黄河冰塞川,将登太行雪满山。
闲来垂钓碧溪上,忽复乘舟梦日边。


行路难!行路难!多歧路,今安在?
长风破浪会有时,直挂云帆济沧海。

其二

大道如青天,我独不得出。 
羞逐长安社中儿,赤鸡白雉赌梨栗。


弹剑作歌奏苦声,曳裾王门不称情。
淮阴市井笑韩信,汉朝公卿忌贾生。


君不见昔时燕家重郭隗,拥篲折节无嫌猜。
剧辛乐毅感恩分,输肝剖胆效英才。
昭王白骨萦蔓草,谁人更扫黄金台?
行路难,归去来!

其三

有耳莫洗颍川水,有口莫食首阳蕨。
含光混世贵无名,何用孤高比云月?


吾观自古贤达人,功成不退皆殒身。
子胥既弃吴江上,屈原终投湘水滨。


陆机雄才岂自保?李斯税驾苦不早。
华亭鹤唳讵可闻?上蔡苍鹰何足道?


君不见吴中张翰称达生,秋风忽忆江东行。
且乐生前一杯酒,何须身后千载名?

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