In this brilliant historical envisioning, Li He creates the persona of a bronze immortal and imagines the perspective of a statue. He surely was drawing upon Li Bai’s recreation of poignant scenes from the past, as in the “Song of the Roosting Crows,” but his use of the statue goes well beyond Li Bai.
1. The first line is dense with implications. Why introduce Emperor Wu of the Han by referring to Maoling, his burial tumulus? Why then call emperor Wu “young Master Liu”? How does this shape the persona of the statue?
2. What does the second line mean? Why are there no traces? Can a statue hear things humans cannot?
3. Why is it a “Han moon” that the Wei officials attempt to bring out of the palace?
4. The line “If Heaven had feeling, Heaven too would grow old” is very famous, but what does it mean? Does the statue, in the end, take the perspective of Heaven?
5. What is the effect of the objective closure in the final couplet? Does it illustrate the view enunciated in the couplet before it?
(The answers for each question don’t need to be too long, around 3-4 sentences)
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