Ezra Pound and Du Fu: Gazing at Mt. Tai

Kent Su


Confined to a six-by-six-foot outdoor steel cage, Ezra Pound saw a series of mountain hills from a few miles to the east of Pisa. The poet compared one of these small 800-metre hills to the sacred Chinese Mt. Tai, which becomes the most common geographical name in The Pisan Cantos. Pound’s poetic summoning of this particular mountain is related to the fact that Mt. Tai is historically and culturally connected to the philosophy of Confucius, who personally ascended the mountain several times. Pound, as a devout Confucian disciple, closely follows the philosophical doctrines and attempts to mentally trace the footsteps of Confucius. This paper will argue how Pound’s poetic evocation of the mountain shares a striking similarity to an eighth-century Chinese poem called “Gazing at Mt. Tai,” which was written by the famous literatus - Du Fu 杜甫(712 – 770 ). In spite of living in two completely different eras and countries, Pound’s and Du Fu’s reference to Mt. Tai demonstrates the confluence of their poetic spirits. Neither of them ascended mountain personally. They instead made use of their poetic imagination to follow the paths of Confucius and perceived the mountain as an earthly paradise, one which represents tranquillity and serenity away from the moral and physical corruption of the external world.


Ezra Pound; Du Fu; Comparative literature; Mt. Tai; Confucius

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijclts.v.5n.4p.60


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