Dear Mr. Stolkin:
Thank you for your message. I find your project inspiring: on one of my first trips to China, back in the mid 1980s, I set out to retrace the steps of a Spring and Autumn period aristocrat who for various reasons had to “go walkabout” before returning to lead his state. It was a rewarding trip.
With the Li Bai poem, the first problem is to update Pound’s romanization. Pound, and maybe Fenellosa before him, chooses to transcribe the proper nouns in the poem as pronounced in Japanese. In Japanese, 長干 is pronounced Chokan, but in Chinese it is Changgan, while Pound’s Chofusha is Changfengsha.
You can trace your proposed route by entering “Anqing, Anhui, China” in the search buffer in Google Earth and looking downstream to the river bank south of Nanjing, Jiangsu. Nanjing is about 150 miles northeast of Anqing, though getting there on foot along the bank of the Yangzi River will mean a considerably longer walk.
Historical geography is a complicated discipline, and place names tend to move around the map as the centuries pass. Further, Li Bai was quite deliberately imitating a kind of folk song and therefore was likely more concerned with achieving an appropriate rustic tone than with the details of location. Still, this could be a great trip.
David Schaberg 史嘉柏
Dean of Humanities
Professor, Asian Languages & Cultures