Chinese poetry

Chinese poetry is poetry written, spoken, or chanted in the Chinese language. While this last term comprises Classical Chinese, Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Yue Chinese, and other historical and vernacular forms of the language, its poetry generally falls into one of two primary types, Classical Chinese poetry and Modern Chinese poetry.

Poetry has consistently been held in extremely high regard in China, often incorporating expressive folk influences filtered through the minds of Chinese literati. In Chinese culture, poetry has provided a format and a forum for both public and private expressions of deep emotion, offering an audience of peers, readers, and scholars insight into the inner life of Chinese writers across more than two millennia. Westerners also have found in it an interesting and pleasurable field of study, in its exemplification of essential contrasts between the Western world and Chinese civilization, and on its own terms.

Classical Chinese poetry includes, perhaps first and foremost shi (詩/诗), and also other major types such as ci (詞/词) and qu (曲). There is also a traditional Chinese literary form called fu (賦/赋), which defies categorization into English more than the other terms, but perhaps can best be described as a kind of prose-poem. During the modern period, there also has developed free verse in Western style. Traditional forms of Chinese poetry are rhymed, however the mere rhyming of text may not qualify literature as being poetry; and, as well, the lack of rhyme would not necessarily disqualify a modern work from being considered poetry, in the sense of modern Chinese poetry. For example, lines from I Ching are often rhymed, but may not be considered to be poetry, whereas modern verse may be considered to be poetry even without rhyme. A cross-cultural comparison to this might be the Pre-Socratic philosophical works in ancient Greece which were often written in verse versus free verse.

The earliest extant anthologies are the Shi Jing (诗经)and Chu Ci (楚辞). Both of these have had a great impact on the subsequent poetic tradition. Earlier examples of ancient Chinese poetry may have been lost because of the vicissitudes of history, such as the burning of books and burying of scholars ( 焚书坑儒) by Qin Shihuang, although one of the targets of this last event was the Shi Jing, which has nevertheless survived.

The elder of these two works, the Shijing (also familiarly known, in English, as the Classic of Poetry and as the Book of Songs or transliterated as the Sheh Ching) is a preserved collection of Classical Chinese poetry from over two millennia ago. its content divided into 3 parts: feng(风,folk songs from 15 small countries,160 songs in total ), ya(雅,Imperial court songs,subdiviede in daya and xiaoya,105 songs in total)and song(颂,singing in ancestral worship, 40 songs in total).This anthology received its final compilation sometime in the 7th century BCE. The collection contains both aristocratic poems regarding life at the royal court ("Odes") and also more rustic poetry and images of natural settings, derived at least to some extent from folk songs ("Songs"). The Shijing poems are predominantly composed of four-character lines( 四言), rather than the five and seven character lines typical of later Classical Chinese poetry. The main techniques of espression( rhetorics) are fu(赋,Direct elaborate narrative),bi(比,metaphor) and xing(兴,describe other thing to foreshadowing the main content).

In contrast to the classic Shijing, the Chu Ci anthology (also familiarly known, in English, as the Songs of Chu or the Songs of the South or transliterated as the Chu Tz'u) consists of verses more emphasizing lyric and romantic features, as well as irregular line-lengths and other influences from the poetry typical of the state of Chu. The Chuci collection consists primarily of poems ascribed to Qu Yuan(屈原) (329–299 BCE) and his follower Song Yu, although in its present form the anthology dates to Wang I's 158 CE compilation and notes, which are the only historically reliable source of both the text and information regarding its composition. During the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220AD), the Chu Ci style of poetry contributed to the evolution of the fu ("descriptive poem") style, typified by a mixture of verse and prose passages (often used as a virtuoso display the poet's skills and knowledge rather than to convey intimate emotional experiences). The fu form remained popular during the subsequent Six Dynasties period, although it became shorter and more personal. The fu form of poetry remains as one of the generic pillars of Chinese poetry; although, in the Tang Dynasty, five-character and seven-character shi poetry begins to dominate.

This page was last edited on 18 March 2018, at 00:22.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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