Li Bai and Fenghuangtai (Phoenix Terrace)

As a fmous poet in the Tang Dynasty, Li Bai lived in Jinling (Nanjing) seven times in succession from the 13th year under Kaiyuan reign (725 A.D.) to the second year under Shangyuan reign (761 A.D.). Intoxicated with five-kilometer Qinhuai as the confluence of all scenic spots of the Six Dynasties, he often strolled here, leaving behind many nice poems. In his “A trip to Changgan”, he made a specious and moving description of local customs and habits of ancient Changganli with such verses as “A boy riding on a bamboo horse, playing green plums by the bed ” and “Living at Changganli, a boy and a girl play innocently together.” “Green plums and a bamboo horse” and “A boy and a girl are innocent playmates in childhood”, which have become idioms for people in following generations to describe childlikeness, are still used today. Waguan Pavilion, Phoenix Terrace (Fenghuangtai) and Sunchu Tower in the west of Xiaochanggan were famous scenic spots even in the Tang Dynasty and the Song Dynasty. Li Bai wrote a series of nice poems in this area. Among them, his five-verse and seven-verse poem named “Ascending Phoenix Terrace in Jinling”  is not only a representative poem eulogizing Qinhuai sceneries and objects, but also one accompanied by allusions about this poem. While visiting Huanghe (yellow crane)Tower in Wuhan, he gave up the intention of writing a poem when he saw a poem of top quality entitled “Huanghe Tower” by Cui Hao. Then, he wrote a poem named “Phoenix Terrace” in Jinling, becoming a poetic masterpiece known throughout the ages. This poem has provided evidence for people in following generations to investigate Fenghuangtai (Phoenix Terrace) as a historic spot. Mao Zedong, the late chairman of the People’s Republic of China, once copied this poem in his own handwriting.


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