22(236)
The reflection of the spirit of the age on the current philosophy of life was one dedicated to the breaking of all shackles in search of freedom and naturalism. We might use famous poem written by Tu Fu on the “Eight Immortals of Drinking” as a mirror in this regard:
飲中八仙歌 杜甫
知章騎馬似乘船,眼花落井水底眠;
汝陽三斗始朝天,道逢麴車口流涎,
恨不移封向酒泉。左相日興貴費錢,
飲如長鯨吸百川,銜杯樂聖稱世賢。
宗之瀟灑美少年,舉觴白眼望青天,
皎如玉樹臨風前。蘇晉長齋繡佛前,
醉中往往愛逃禪。李白一斗詩百篇,
長安市上酒家眠。天子呼來不上船,
自稱臣是酒中仙。張旭三杯草聖傳,
脫帽露頂王公前,揮毫落紙如雲煙。
焦遂五斗方卓然,高談雄辯驚四筵。

23(237)
This distinguished company, as we can readily see, was representative of high society; a prince royal, a prime minister, a Buddhist, a Taoist, poets and artists. On appearance, the conduct of this group seemed decadent, but decadence, in their case, was actually a protest against accepted rules and customs and a manifestation of a new kind of naturalism as expressed in a life philosophy.

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The first of these eight immortals, Ho Chih-chang (659-744), was a leading figure in T’ang literature whose biography is worthy of our notice. A native of scenic Kueichi, close to Hangchow, he had enjoyed an immense reputation since young manhood. As he climbed up the hierarchical scale he succeeded in retaining his unconventionality. According to the Old T’ang Dynastic History (Chiu T’ang Shu), besides being romantic in nature and gifted in humorous discussion, he became even more untrammeled toward the end of his life, visiting out-of-the-way lanes and cities and scribbling rolls of poetry after intoxication.
賀知章(659-744)是飲中八仙第一人,是唐代文學的領頭人之一,他的生平也值得我們注意。賀知章生於風景秀麗的會稽,在杭州附近,年輕時候就已享有極大的名聲。由於他爬上了達官階級,得以成功地保持獨特的一面。依照舊唐書的記載,除了天性浪漫、談吐幽默之外,他一直到晚年幾乎都能無拘無束地拜訪街坊小巷、小城市,而且在喝醉酒時完成了許多創作。
Although he seldom revised his writings, his first drafts, were all readable. In 744, as he was suffering fits of dizziness, he memorialized the throne for permission to become a Taoist and to return to his native district where he would donate his own mansion as a Taoist temple. The emperor responded not only with permission but also with poems to bid him farewell. As he departed from the capital all dignitaries from the crown prince down saw him off. He died not long after his return home, in his eighty-sixth year. His life was a reflection of the age in that such an unconventional figure had commanded the profound respect of society at large, indicating that he had lived in a society of extreme liberalism made possible by the termination of authoritarian Buddhism and yet unhampered by anything like the new Confucianist Puritanism that was to rise in the eleventh century. It is, therefore; no coincidence that the remnants of Ho’s poetry, which was not carefully preserved, were indications of the liberal movement in poetry and its tendency to approximate the natural speech of everyday language.
回鄉偶書
少小離家老大回,鄉音無改鬢毛衰。
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