Manual 21st Century Chinese Poetry, No. 5

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Sort order. Feb 08, Duncan rated it really liked it. The first set of poems from a new quarterly journal published to introduce readers to modern Chinese poetry. A number of poets are represented here. Other contexts include music such as Gregorian chants , formal or diplomatic speech, [13] political rhetoric and invective, [14] light-hearted nursery and nonsense rhymes , threnodies to the deceased and even medical texts.

Classical thinkers employed classification as a way to define and assess the quality of poetry. Notably, Aristotle's Poetics describes the three genres of poetry : the epic, comic, and tragic, and develops rules to distinguish the highest-quality poetry of each genre, based on the underlying purposes of that genre.

Aristotle's work was influential throughout the Middle East during the Islamic Golden Age , [17] as well as in Europe during the Renaissance. In addition to a boom in translation, during the Romantic period numerous ancient works were rediscovered. The Classic of Poetry , often known by its original name of the Odes or Poetry is the earliest existing collection of Chinese poems and songs. This poetry collection comprises poems and songs dating from the 10th to the 7th century BC. The stylistic development of Classical Chinese poetry consists of both literary and oral cultural processes, which are conventionally assigned to certain standard periods or eras, corresponding with Chinese Dynastic Eras, the traditional chronological process for Chinese historical events.

The poems preserved in written form constitute the poetic literature. Furthermore, there is or were parallel traditions of oral and traditional poetry also known as popular or folk poems or ballads. Some of these poems seem to have been preserved in written form. Generally, the folk type of poems they are anonymous, and may show signs of having been edited or polished in the process of fixing them in written characters.

Besides the Classic of Poetry , or Shijing , another early text is the Songs of the South or, Chuci , although some individual pieces or fragments survive in other forms, for example embedded in classical histories or other literature. The development of modern poetry is generally seen as having started at the beginning of the 20th century and extends into the 21st century.

The use of verse to transmit cultural information continues today. Many Americans know that "in , Columbus sailed the ocean blue". An alphabet song teaches the names and order of the letters of the alphabet; another jingle states the lengths and names of the months in the Gregorian calendar. Some writers believe poetry has its origins in song.

Most of the characteristics that distinguish it from other forms of utterance—rhythm, rhyme, compression, intensity of feeling, the use of refrains —appear to have come about from efforts to fit words to musical forms.

On World Poetry Day, 3 Chinese Poets You Might Not Know

In the European tradition the earliest surviving poems, the Homeric and Hesiodic epics, identify themselves as poems to be recited or chanted to a musical accompaniment rather than as pure song. Another interpretation is that rhythm, refrains, and kennings are essentially paratactic devices that enable the reciter to reconstruct the poem from memory. In preliterate societies, these forms of poetry were composed for, and sometimes during, performance. But its songs are believed to range in date from the beginning of the Zhou dynasty to the time of their compiling.

General characteristics

The Five Classics have been held in high esteem by Chinese scholars since the 2nd century bce. For a discussion of the Yijing and Shujing , see below Prose. The poems of the Shijing were originally sung to the accompaniment of music, and some of them, especially temple songs, were also accompanied by dancing. In all subsequent periods of Chinese literary history, new trends in poetry were profoundly influenced by music. Most of the poems of the Shijing have a preponderantly lyrical strain whether the subject is hardship in military service or seasonal festivities, agricultural chores or rural scenes, love or sports, aspirations or disappointments of the common folk and of the declining aristocracy.

Apparently, the language of the poems was relatively close to the daily speech of the common people, and even repeated attempts at refinement during the long process of transmission have not spoiled their freshness and spontaneity. In spite of this, however, when the songs are read aloud and not sung to music their prevailing four-syllable lines conduce to monotony, hardly redeemed by the occasional interspersion of shorter or longer lines.

If there ever was an epic tradition in ancient China comparable to that of early India or the West, only dim traces of it persist in the written records. The Shijing has a few narrative poems celebrating heroic deeds of the royal ancestors, but these are rearranged in cycles and only faintly approximate the national epics of other peoples.

One cycle , for example, records the major stages in the rise of the Zhou kingdom, from the supernatural birth of its remote founder to its conquest of the Shang kingdom. These episodes, which, according to traditional history, cover a period of more than 1, years, are dealt with in only about lines.

Other cycles, which celebrate later military exploits of the royal Zhou armies, are even briefer. The Shijing exerted a profound influence on Chinese poetry that, generally speaking, has stressed the lyrical rather than the narrative element; a dependence more on end rhymes for musical effect than on other rhetorical devices; regular lines, consisting of a standard number of syllables; and the utilization of intonation that is inherent in the language for rhythm, instead of the alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables as is the norm in Western poetry.

The high regard in which this anthology has been held in China results both from its antiquity and from the legend that Confucius himself edited it. It was elevated in bce to the position of a major classic in the Confucian canon. Their effect is thus rather plaintive, and they lend themselves to chanting instead of singing. Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River, and his tragic death, no less than his beautiful elegies, helped to perpetuate the new literary genre.

In contrast to the poems of the Shijing, which had few successful imitators, the genre created by Qu Yuan was cultivated for more than five centuries, and it also experienced later revivals. Both grew by accretion and, according to a very doubtful tradition, were edited by Confucius himself.

21st Century Chinese Poetry | Issue No. 5

Neither can be considered literature, but both have exerted influence on Chinese writers for more than 2, years as a result of their inclusion in the Confucian canon. Neither of the philosophers wrote extensively, and their teachings were recorded by their followers.

By about bce , writing materials had improved, and a change in prose style resulted. The records of the discourses became longer, the narrative portions more detailed; jokes, stories, anecdotes , and parables, interspersed in the conversations, were included.

Journal of Chinese Literature and Culture

Thus, the Mencius , or Mengzi , the teachings of Mencius, not only is three times longer than the Analects of Confucius but also is topically and more coherently arranged. The same characteristic may be noticed in the authentic chapters of the Zhuangzi , attributed to the Daoist sage Zhuangzi , who as stated in the epilogue of the Zhuangzi. Although his writings are inimitable and unique, they seem circuitous and innocuous.

Although his utterances are irregular and formless, they are unconventional and readable…. The first example of the well-developed essay , however, is found neither in the Mencius nor in the Zhuangzi but in the Mozi , attributed to Mo Di, or Mozi , a predecessor of Mencius and Zhuangzi, whose singular attainments in logic made him a forceful preacher. His recorded sermons are characterized by simplicity of style, clarity of exposition, depth of conviction , and directness of appeal. The prose style continued to be developed by such outstanding philosopher-essayists as Xunzi and his pupil, the Legalist Hanfeizi.

The work, 60 essays in 26 sections, summarizes the teachings of the several schools of philosophy as well as the folklore of the various regions of China. Chinese literature Written By: Howard C. See Article History. Read More on This Topic. Facts Matter.