A Thought on the Life of a Poet in Tang Dynasty



On 11/21, Sunday afternoon, on the way to the Whole Food store, I shared this following with my daughter. I asked her if it was a good topic for an entry here. “Yes, of course,” said she.

That morning I read a writing on a famous poet in Tang Dynasty, Bai Juyi (772–846) in his senior years, which was, to put it mildly, characterized by a lack of constraint in his dealings with women. I am sure this is not something he could brag about. And I am surprised that people still remember it.

My daughter knows Bai Juyi from the above poem and pipaxing. She was a bit shocked at learning this part of the poet’s life. Indeed, people might have this or that harsh words on the loose behavior in his life, yet his talent and his unsurpassed accomplishments, peerless in Chinese literature, earn him a unique place in history of Chinese poetry. All this enables him to shine through the thick dust of history and continue to glow for the thousands of years to come. History has always been rather generous to individuals of extraordinary achievements.

In one sense, you can apply the same to our daily engagement either at work or at school. You may be doing the same thing as everybody else, but it is your talent, special skills, outstanding character, if you so possess, that distinguish you from the crowd and that make you last longer than your mere transient presence. Otherwise, you are out of mind even before you are out of sight. Think of it when you go about your daily life.

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