The Ballad of Lu Mountain 1 Sent to Censor Lu 2

Li, Bai (701 A.D.-762 A.D.)

As a matter of fact, I am the Madman from Chu 3.
I sing the song "Phoenix" to ridicule Confucius 4.
I carry a cane decorated with green jade
When I say farewell to the Yellow Crane Tower 5 in the morning.
I seek gods on the Five Great Mountains
And do not care about how far away they are.
I have loved to visit great mountains all my life.
Lu Mountain rises high beside the constellation Sagittarius 6.
The clouds around the Nine-layer Screen 7 spread like embroidered silk.
The shadow of the mountain falls on the clear lake 8, which reflects green light.
Twin mountains 9 stand tall in front of the Golden Gate of the Palace 10.
The Milky Way 11 is hanging from the Three Stone Beams 12.
It looks at the waterfall on the Incense Burner Mountain in the distance.
The winding cliffs and the mountain peaks, which tower layer upon layer, rise to the sky.
The green reflections and red clouds are illuminated by the morning sun.
The birds cannot reach the mountain peak where the skies of Wu 13 are limitless.
I climb high to gain a grand view of the Middle Kingdom.
The mighty river flows far and wide, and never returns.
The yellow clouds a thousand miles long are drifted by the wind.
The nine waterways of white waves rush down the snow mountain.
I love to sing for Lu Mountain.
My fine spirits rise due to the beautiful mountain view.
Peering into the Stone Mirror at leisure refreshes my mind.
The path where Poet Xie 14 traveled has been covered by green moss.
I have taken the elixir of life 15 and lost interest in worldly affairs.
Being even-tempered and good-humored,
I have accomplished the first stage of godhood.
I see a god riding on a colorful cloud,
With a lotus in hand, on his way to the Jade Capital 16.
Having a heavenly appointment with Han-man 17 at the ninth level of the sky,
I would like to invite Lu 18 to visit Heaven 19 together with me.

1 Lu Mountain was located south of present day Jiu-jiang City in Jiangxi Province. It was said that during Emperor Wen's reign in the Zhou dynasty, Su Kuang and his six brothers built a "Lu" (thatched cottage) on this mountain. Later, they became gods and left the mountain. The cottage they left behind led people to call the mountain "Lu Mountain".

2 Censor Lu was Xu-zhou Lu.

3 The Madman from Chu refers to Tong Lu from the State of Chu of the Spring-fall Period. His alternative name was Jie-you. During King Zhao's reign, Lu feigned insanity in order to avoid accepting the king's job offer. This was because the politics in Chu were corrupt. His contemporaries called him the Madman from Chu.

4 The chapter titled "Wei-zi" in The Analects says that when Confucius arrived at the State of Chu, Tong Lu wrote a song to ridicule him. It said, "Phoenix! Phoenix! What a decline of virtue! Let bygones be bygones. However, you can still control your future. The only thing that can happen to a politician today is disaster. That is all! That is all!" He was trying to discourage Confucius who wanted to realize his political ideals no matter how much corruption prevailed. Li was so disappointed with corrupt government that he disagreed with this viewpoint of Confucius.

5 The Yellow Crane Tower was built on the Yellow Crane Jetty in the vicinity of Wu-chang Bridge (a section of the Yangtze River Bridge in Wu-han City). It was said that Wen-wei Fei rested in this tower before he rode a crane and rose to Heaven.

6 The ancient Chinese astronomers considered the constellation Sagittarius to be directly above Xun-yang City. Lu Mountain was northwest of Xun-yang City. This was the reason why Li says, "Lu Mountain rises high beside the constellation Sagittarius."

7 "Nine-layer Screen of Clouds" is the name of a mountain peak, also called Screen Pyramid. It is northeast of Wu-lao (wu means five and lao means ancient) peak of Lu mountain.

8 The clear lake refers to Po-yang Lake.

9 "Twin mountains" refers to the Incense Burner Mountain and the Twin Swords Mountain.

10 The Golden Gate of the Palace was the name of a huge rock. The rock was also known as Stone Door. A waterfall flowed through the Stone Door.

11 The Milky Way refers to a waterfall.

12 There was a three-stage spring to the left of the Nine-layer Screen. The spring fell in three steps and looked like the Milky Way hanging from stone beams. Therefore, people called the beams "Three Stone Beams".

13 During the Three Kingdoms Period, Lu Mountain belonged to the Kingdom of Wu. Therefore, people called the skies here "the skies of Wu".

14 Xie refers to Ling-xun Xie of the Southern dynasty. He had also visited Lu Mountain.

15 The elixir of life symbolizes the immortality of Li's poetry.

16 The Jade Capital refers to the heavenly palace of the Taoist God.

17 Han-man refers to the unknown and enormously mysterious. The chapter titled "Lessons from the experiences of Tao" in Huai-nan-zi says, "On Meng-gu Mountain Ao Lu saw a man dancing with the wind. He wanted to talk at length with him, but the man said, 'I have an appointment with Han-man beyond the ninth level of the sky and cannot stay here for long.' Then he jumped into the clouds."

18 Ao Lu was a native of the State of Yan during the Warring State Period. After Emperor Zheng conquered China, Lu was appointed to the position of "Great Scholar". Lu was ordered to seek the fountain of youth. He set out for the sea, but never came back. Here "Lu" refers to Li's friend, Censor Lu.

19 Heaven refers to either Lu Mountain or the world of imagination.