Page:A history of Chinese literature - Giles.djvu/163

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151
TS'UI HAO

He wrote a poem on the Yellow-Crane pagoda which until quite recently stood on the bank of the Yang-tsze near Hankow, and was put up to mark the spot where Wang Tzŭ-ch'iao, who had attained immortality, went up to heaven in broad daylight six centuries before the Christian era. The great Li Po once thought of writing on the theme, but he gave up the idea so soon as he had read these lines by Ts'ui Hao:—

"Here a mortal once sailed
 up to heaven on a crane,
And the Yellow-Crane Kiosque,
 will for ever remain;
But the bird flew away
 and will come back no more,
Though the white clouds are there
 as the white clouds of yore.

Away to the east
 lie fair forests of trees,
From the flowers on the west
 comes a scent-laden breeze,
Yet my eyes daily turn
 to their far-away home,
Beyond the broad River,
 its waves, and its foam."


By general consent Li Po himself (A.D. 705–762) would probably be named as China's greatest poet. His wild Bohemian life, his gay and dissipated career at Court, his exile, and his tragic end, all combine to form a most effective setting for the splendid flow of verse which he never ceased to pour forth. At the early age of ten he wrote a "stop-short" to a firefly:—

"Rain cannot quench thy lantern's light,
Wind makes it shine more brightly bright;
Oh why not fly to heaven afar,
And twinkle near the moon—a star?"