According to Wang Guoan’s 王國安 commentary, this poem was written in the autumn of 817, when Liu Zongyuan learned that his friend Wei Heng, an otherwise unknown figure, was also exiled. In this letter to his friend, Liu Zongyuan recalled his rather horrible experience of Liuzhou. I do feel sorry for him. His worries about his new life, as suggested by the poem of last week, are materialised and encapsulated in this poem to Wei Heng. The new experience (though unpleasant) seems to have given him new inspiration. With the unusual imagery and wording (such as the ulcer nailing to his bones), this poem shows how creative Liu Zongyuan was in elaborating his pain and misery. As this poem is longer than the ones I’ve blogged about so far, I’ve tried to present it in a different way, leaving my explanatory notes and additional comments next to the poem. In order to keep the formatting and columns, I uploaded my text as pictures, so it might take a while to load...
Some modern examples of malan houses near Guilin, Guangxi. Photos from Li Changjie 李長傑 ed. Guibei minjian jianzhu 桂北民間建築 (Vernacular Architecture in Northern Guangxi; Beijing: Zhongguo Jianzhu Gongye Chubanshe, 1990).
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