Li Bai and Du Fu, two of China's most famous poets, both traveled the Road to Shu and wrote poems describing its perils. Li Bai's poem, entitled, “The Road to Shu is Difficult,” is very well-known and usually quoted whenever the road is mentioned. After describing the dangers of traveling the plank roads (which he calls “sky ladders and hanging bridges,” ) he continues: And those who hear the tale of it turn pale with fear. Between the hill-tops and the sky there is not a cubit’s space; Withered pines hang leaning over precipitous walls Flying waterfalls and rolling torrents…thunder in a thousand valleys. He concludes that, “It would be easier to climb to Heaven than walk the Szechwan Road."
Du Fu traveled this road during this same period, but not under the best of circumstances as he was fleeing to Chengdu from a rebellion in northern China. He wrote twenty poems describing the hazards of his trip, but most of them have not been translated into English. One that has, entitled "The Wooden Road [zhandao] of the Flying Immortal's Ridge," contains the lines: The boards and railings high among the clouds Are firmly propped and supported on the rocks. Thin woods seem to nestle obliquely in the countless gullies; Rushing torrents now and then gleam out of misty shadows. A pale sun fades above the narrow ravine, A long wind howls through it. Only after we have halted at the bottom of the valley, Do we realize we have traversed frightening heights.
[Li Bai poem from Arthur Waley, The Poetry and Career of Li Po, 1950, p. 40. Du Fu poem from William Hung, Du Fu, China'a Greatest Poet, 1952, p. 159.]