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Monday, February 1, 2010


最近,我的初级汉语学生要阅读李白的“夜思”。我写了一篇文章介绍唐朝与李太白的生平。研究此题目时,我自己发现不少新的消息。原来,我认为李白出生于中国中部,可是一些参考说它是现代哈萨克或别的中亚国家出生的。当然,这并非重要的问题,因为在几元后第八世纪,这些地方为唐朝中国的领土。可是,如果现代希腊又名诗人Kavafis是埃及出生, 古代中国名实力太白出生于哈萨克也没什么大罪恶。


可是,学生们同意李百过世的传说是郎忙的故事。 一天晚上,李白在长江水上与朋友们又夜会。 李白喝醉时,他看月亮影子散光在水上,怕月亮落于水里。李白想拯救月亮,低头抱月亮的影子,就落于水里淹死。我记得自己当大学生提股市的时候,我认为李白是傻瓜。但现在,比较老了,多了解实情,我现在了解为什么这样的传说会发展。


Recently, my Elementary Chinese students have begun to read Li Bai's "Ye Si". I wrote them a short blurb to introduce the Tang Dynasty (618-903 A.D.) and the life of the poet. Researching the topic, I myself discovered a few things. For instance, I had long supposed that Li was born somewhere in central China, but found out that his actual birthplace is probably in what is now Kazakhstan or Kyrgizia. Maybe this isn't that important, since China's borders have changed quite a bit during 4,000-plus years of history, but it was an interesting factoid nonetheless. Well, if Cafavy, one of modern Greece's great poets, could be born in Egypt, what is wrong with one of China's ancient poets being born outside the current borders of his country?

Although I'm teaching High Schoolers, I found there's a lot they don't know. I've had to explain "concubine", "eunuch", dynasty, and a few other things. Many also have little concept of how the borders of an important nation may shift over time.

Still, the students agreed that the traditional legend of Li Bai's death was quite a romantic tale. It holds that while partying on a boat on the Chang Jiang, Li got quite drunk (as was his wont), saw the reflection of the moon in the river, and thought the moon itself had fallen in. Thinking he ought to rescue it, he bent over the gunwhale and fell headfirst into China's mightiest waterway--and drowned. I admit that as a college student, I thought Li Bai a fool when I first heard this story. But with age, I've come to appreciate the poetic quality of the legend.

The history of Tang China is a rich period in human history. it featured artists, poets, great emperors, officials, beauties, eunuchs, rebels, and everything that makes history interesting. I hope my students warm to the subject, too!


  1. Interesting legend indeed. There's something about Chinese culture that appeals to me.

    I added your blog to my list of updated blogs on the sidebar.


  2. Thanks, Charlie. There's a lot about Chinese culture that appeals to me, too!