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Arrowhead that is screwed in stone

Posted March. 12, 2021 07:38,   

Updated March. 12, 2021 07:38


Military commander Li Guang during the Han Dynasty instilled fear in the heart of the Huns in the northern region who were out for the center of China. The commander was nicknamed by the Huns a general flying through the skies like a bolt of lightning. Sima Qian’s “Historical Records” describes an anecdote about him, saying, “Hunting in the forests, Li mistook stone as a tiger and shot an arrow, which flew like wind to go deep through the stone. He came closer to see what he shot. Once again, he tried shooting it but failed to bore a hole through the stone.” Whereas the historian maintains a plain tone to describe Li’s archery skills and strength, the poet ponders upon maximizing the dramatic effects of his heroic aura.

Given that the word “surprise” is adopted to portrait the bushes rustling along the wind, not only the commander but also readers of this poetry must have be frozen in a spine-chilling moment. The poet seems to use a sophisticatedly clever trick to add tension to the scene by describing where the end of the arrow is bored not on the spot but early next morning. Likewise, the poet writes that the arrowhead is screwed in the edge of the stone, not in the center, seemingly intending to highlight the commander’s masterful archery skills. Given that the poetry skips the scene of Li trying drawing a bow several times, the author may want to make sure that he always looks like a dignified and extraordinary figure. A high level of his connotative and implicit skills allows him to transform historical facts into a new piece of arts, making it all the more delicate and exquisite. This poetry shows a great example of how literary embodiment differentiates itself from historical records.

Lu Lun’s “Beyond the Border Tunes” consists of six lyrics in a series. "The Border” in the title means a frontier area of the nation. Li Bai and other poetry masters sing of lonely and barren border lands, soldiers’ days in solidarity and their homesickness, titling their verses "Beyond the Border Tunes,” “At the Border Fortress” and “Joining the Army,” all of which are in line with one another in terms of their themes and narratives.