Rivers in Chinese literature

Rivers have always been a powerful destructive force in China - flooding has killed millions and destroyed farmland. It seems to me, however, that rivers in Chinese literature and art are not seen as threatening or dangerous. Tang poems that mention rivers do so to note their beauty or to use them as a jumping-off point for philosophical musings. Paintings of rivers are usually celebrations of their beauty, not depictions of their dangers. Why is this? In other cultures where dangerous rivers are a daily fact of life, the danger of rivers is frankly seen as a common theme in their literature. Why not in China? Or am I just not well-versed enough in Chinese literature?

well now, I would not claim to really know much about this… But if you have ever traversed China overland and had the chance to compare her tummy to her tush, so to say…

…the first thing you will observe, especially in the West of China, is the beauty of her rivers… You can swim in her rivers, anywhere in the mountains in July… Even high up in Tibet, when the locals won’t touch the water, you can still jump in freely and clean off the crud…

I would venture to speculate that if there is any purpose of rivers in Chinese literature, it would be used to associate with the need to escape one’s predicament and mortal bondage… To jump into the river as an easy and effective means of suicide would also rate highly among denied poets and lovers who just can’t get that elusive murderess out of their skulls…

let’s go swimming tonight!

:help: