Yangtse River
Inspiration for Poets and Painters

Thanks to stunning beauty of nature Yangtse River run through Three Gorges was an inspiration for Chinese poets and painters. Today it amazes tourists taking epic Yangtze River cruise and visiting Three Gorges Dam.

Page 2

Yangtse River in poetry   

     Since the beginning of time mighty Yangtse was the favorite theme for poets, painters, novelist.....

For some the area of Three Gorges was a birthplace and homeland to which they dedicated their whole lives.

For others, just “passing by” - Three Gorges was an unforgettable place for long cherished in their memory.

And for most of those having chance to be there even once in their lifetime, it was a place where unleashed wild power of nature has been competing for attention with the scenery of stunning beauty….

Place of inspiration, place where the imagination could easily take over the reality…..

Qu Yuan (living around 300 BC) considered as the most prominent poet of Chinese Romanticism was born in Lepingli next to Xiling Gorge (Zigui County). His poems with many of them dedicated to Yangtze are widely respected throughout the world.

Yangtse River at sunset

Yangtse River: Sunset in Three Gorges....

     Li Bai (701-762 AD) regarded as one of the greatest poets of China’s Golden Age wrote the following poem when sailing down the Yangtze River through the area of Three Gorges.

(The poem reflects Li Bai's emotions leaving the town of Baidicheng after being freed from politically motivated imprisonment).

....This morning, I depart the town of Baidi engulfed by vibrant clouds.

I return to far away Jiangling within a single day!

From both banks, the steady sound of shrieking monkeys fills the air.

Our little boat has already carried me past thousands of hilltops.....

Translated by Wikisource

Yangtze River

Yangtze River

Yangtze River

full size: 1.82MB 1.64MB 1.84MB

Yangtse River: Scenery of Three Gorges....

     But frankly, who could better express feelings touching the soul of traveler crossing Wu Gorge if not Li Bai:

A Song Of Pure Happiness II

There's a perfume stealing moist from a shaft of red blossom,

And a mist, through the heart, from the magical Hill of Wu

The palaces of China have never known such beauty

Not even Flying Swallow with all her glittering garments.

Source: http://www.chinajnbook.com/reading/reading/ts1.htm

Yangtse river - three lesser gorges

Secluded places in Lesser Three Gorges....

     Similarly many other literary men from the Pantheon of Chinese Poetry like Du Fu, Liu Yuxi, Fan Chengda … left their immortal poems behind, some engraved in beautiful Chinese calligraphy on the cliffs along the Yangtse River.

But it may be surprising to learn that one of meaningful poems about Yangtze was written back in 50’s by Chairman Mao Tse-Tung (Zedong).

      It is not well known, but Mao received good education in classical literature and his early poems are highly regarded even by today’s scholars.

The inspiration for the poem came after his swim in the waters of Yangtse.


Barely have I drunk the waters of Changsha,
Now I am eating fish in Wuchang.
I swim across the great Yangtse River
And see the sky of Chu unfolding before me.
I care not whether the wind blows or rain falls.
This is better than sauntering in quiet courtyards.
Today I enjoy my leisure.
Confucius stood on the water, saying:
"All things pass away."

The masts are swaying,
The fishes and snakes are silent,
The great achievement rises before my eyes,
The bridge flying north and south,
Making a pathway over sky and waters.
We shall change the stone walls of the West River
And Wushan's clouds and rains.
A smooth lake will appear over the high gorges.
The spirit of these hills should not be startled
How the world has changed.

(Translated by Robert Payne, “Poems by Mao Tse-Tung”, Literary Review, 2:1 (1958:Autumn) p.82)

Reading the poem you may realize that in a way Mao predicted construction of the dam (Stone Walls) on Yangtze in the area of Three Gorges.

Regardless of how today one can judge Mao’s achievements and failures, we can say that on top of being good romantic poet he was also an excellent swimmer…..

Frankly swimming across Yangtze is not a joke….

Yangtze River

Yangtze River

Yangtze River

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Yangtze River

Yangtze River

Yangtze River

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It is hard to stay indifferent in front of such wonders of nature....

Yangtze River

Yangtze River

Yangtze River

full size: 3.58MB 1.76MB 2.15MB

It is "exotic" China, yet it looks so familiar, so close to our western homelands....

Yangtze River

Yangtze River

Yangtze River

full size: 3.35MB 3.51MB 3.20MB

Yangtze River

Yangtze River

Yangtze River

Yangtze River

full size: 2.07MB 3.59MB 3.25MB 3.86MB

Yangtse River (Shennong Brook gorges): Rainy and foggy climate makes it a fertile land for plants, paradise for animal species (especially yellow monkeys and birds) and difficult territory for humans.

Yangtze River

Yangtze River

Yangtze River

full size: 3.16MB 3.41MB 2.62MB

Idyllic, sometimes surreal landscape of Shennong's gorges....

    It seems that these days Mao does not have many followers swimming across the Yangtze River. Instead, there are plenty of tourists taking cruise between Chongqing and Yichang along the fabulous area commonly called San Xia (Three Gorges).

The 4 days/3 nights trip along the 410 miles (660km) stretch of Yangtze usually includes the following attractions (in downstream order):

  • Yangtze cruise through Three Gorges;
  • exploration of “Lesser Three Gorges” on Daning River and/or similarly beautiful Shen Nong Xi gorges along the Shennong Brook;
  • shore excursions to Fengdu (Ghost City) and Baidicheng (White King City),
  • Three Gorges Dam (Tour of the Visitor Center with view on the dam and “passage” through the ship-locks …)

It seems that good starting point for the tour of Three Gorges is the 3 Gorges Dam. Let's face it - if not this dam, many secluded places along the area of Three Gorges won't be accessible to public....

To see this engineering marvel challenging the wild brut force and power of the Yangtse River please select the link:
Three Gorges Dam - next (page 3)

...or if you want to go back to the Yantze River's sources please follow the link:
Yangtze River

But before you leave this page lets' watch the majestic Yangtze while listening the beautiful musical composition "Ode to Yangtze River"....

If you enjoyed this visit, then please share your experience with friends :-)

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