Li Qing-zhao's Epilogue to "Records on Metal and Stone" is very sad. It starts out actually rather happy, with her and her husband enjoying the books and scrolls and everything else they had collected, but then it turns sour and tragic. It's interesting (and effective) that she keeps track of what books she had left, and eventually ended up with so little of it left. The "downfall" (for lack of a better word) coincides with that of her life. It reminds me of a show on A&E called "The Collectors" (if i remember correctly). There were people on that show with 234,423,981 someodd pez dispensers or every Cocoa Puff box ever created, and they'll pay thousands of dollars for another piece to add to the collection.
Han Yu's essay is extremely weird to read as a 21st century american, because Buddhism has never been a big deal here. I'm used to reading essays codemning the Catholic church for being greedy or angry at Fundamentalists for pushing their religion into public policy. Never, however, have i read anything that was anti-Buddhist.
Thesis: "Consideration of these cases leads us to understand that the Buddha does not merit devotion."
This essay (and maybe all memorials?) is written directly at the emperor: "Your Majesty". You don't see that much in western essays. It's always "The King did this" or "The president as done this" and so on. Very rarely is it so blatant "President Bush, you sir, are a failure. And so is your religion." (Which is kind of like what this essay is)
I think the 6th paragraph is the most important of the essay. It basically just says that Buddhism is not Confucian, and therefore is not right for China.
Han Yu is just not a happy man in this section. He's quoted again in "A Theory of Heaven," comparing people to nasty destroying insects. He comes around at the end finally to say that the good will eventually be rewarded and the bad punished. But it sure takes him a while (a disgusting while, really) to get there.
I like Liu's response. Everything just is what it is, but those who harm will find that they're just hurting themselves in the long run.
The first paragraph of Bo Ju-yi's letter is very .... melodramatic.
"Even now every time I recite them, it still makes me throb." Is that supposed to say... sob... or .... My heart throbbed? Or...How does
Anyway, I kind of like the feeling of the stream of conciousness as the letter goes along, and he just goes on to write a poem because it just came to him right then. It really does give a good feeling of the moment.