"The Glorified Outcasts: a study of 'A Farewell' and 'Drifting on the Lake' by Wang Wei"

Essay by denverlaxgirlHigh School, 11th gradeA, December 2003

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A Farewell

I dismount from my horse and drink your wine.

I ask where you're going

You say you are a failure

And want to hibernate at the foot of Deep South Mountain

Once you're gone no one will ask about you.

There are endless white clouds on the mountain.

-Wang Wei

Drifting on the Lake

Autumn is crisp and the firmament far,

especially far from where people live.

I look at cranes on the sand

and am immersed in joy when I see mountains beyond

the clouds.

Dust inks the crystal ripples.

Leisurely the white moon comes out.

Tonight I am with my oar, alone, and can do


yet waver, not willing to return.

-Wang Wei

So many of the world's great geniuses, poets, writers, and philosophers have been outcasts, but perhaps this simple fact was what they used to rise above the masses, instead of below them.

In Wang Wei's poems "A Farewell" and "Drifting on the Lake," we see two speakers who consider themselves outcasts of society. However, where one speaker despairs in it, the other uses it to lift himself up.

When reading these two poems in succession, one's first impression is how similar the two poems are. In both poems, the reader is struck with a sense of some loneliness, solitary, and even very subtle notes of remorse. The tone of both poems seems to be one of some seriousness. In both poems, the author, Wang Wei, seems to be trying to allude to loftiness and "being above" something, as is evident in his word choices of "clouds" and "mountains" in each of them. There is also, in each poem, a character that feels himself to be distinctly cut off from all of mankind. In "A Farewell," the character who...