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The study of Wang Changling’s seven-character quatrain Yang, Jing Huey 1993

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THE STUDY OF WANG CHANGLING’ SSEVEN- CHARACTER QUATRAINByJING HUEY YANGB.A., National Hsing Hua University, 1984A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of Asian Studies)We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIADecember, 1993© Jing Huey Yang, 1993In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)________________________—Department of 1241 c5*th e-sThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate Apr;I , , jqéLLDE.6 (2/88)1,ABSTRACTWang Changling, though not a major poet in Chinese literary history, is considered thegrand master of a major poetic form, giyan jueju. His achievement in gijue consists in hiscraftsmanship in writing the form and his contribution in establishing the aesthetic criteria forthe later generations to follow. In order to present Wang Changling’s poetic achievement inqijue, this thesis constructs a historical framework to examine the evolution of the gijue formfrom its beginning up to the poet’s times, focusing on thematics and formal techniques.Chapter I defines Wang Changling’s historical situation. Since only fragmentaryinformation is extant regarding the poet’s life, it is impossible to reconstruct his personalhistory in detail. Nevertheless, this liniited information is sufficient to place the poet within thehistorical framework of the gijue development. Wang Changling was active as a poet in thefirst half of the eighth century, and thus represents the mature stage of qijue developmentChapter II examines the definition and the origin of qijue. Following our knowledge ofWang Changling’s time, the discussion of this chapter focuses on the evolution of the poeticform from the mid-fifth century to the seventh century, the time before Wang Changling wasborn. During these two centuries, qijue and its prototype seven-character quatrains wereovershadowed by the then-dominant five character poems. Only a small number of qijue werecomposed, and most of these poems were written under the strong influence of the folk-songtradition and ornate palace-style poetry. Hence, most qijue in this time were written simply asa rhetorical exercise to show off the literary ability of the poets and their lords.Chapter ifi reviews critical opinion of Wang Changling’s gijue and offers my approachin examining his poems. Here I divide the critical comments of Wang Changling’s poems intwo categories: the canonization of his poetic accomplishment, and concrete observations abouthis poems. My approach is to examine Wang’s qijue in two ways, to identify the tradition heinherits from his predecessors, and further to analyze how he breaks away from the traditionand establishes his own unique style. The poet adopts themes and methods of description from112the poets of previous periods while demonstrating personal and emotional complexity throughthe poetic form, a feature which is absent in the works of his predecessors. He achieves thisby correlating imagery of nature and his personae’s feelings through the use of implications.Chapter IV interprets thirteen of Wang Changling’s qijue in the context of thetheoretical and historical framework of the previous chapters. It highlights the innovativepoetic techniques the poet employs when adopting both traditional and contemporary themesand using natural descriptive manner. Wang’s ability to use implications to convey thecomplexity of emotions and events makes his poems rich with inexhaustible meanings.Chapter V concludes that Wang’s achievement in the qijue lies in his ability to integratetradition with his own restrained style. Because of his success in the form, the aesthetic criteriafor qijue since his time have been those of emotional profundity and implication. Hence, WangChangling’s importance in qijue is not only due to his masterly craftsmanship in writing theform, but also because he opens up a new way of writing the form for later generations tofollow.TABLE Of CONTENTSCHAPTER ONE:BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF WANG CHANGLING 1CHAPTER TWO:THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE QIYAN JIJEJU 19CHAPTER THREE:THE CHARACTERISTICS OF WANG CHANGLING’S OIJUE 41CHAPTER FOUR:ANALYSIS OF WANG CHANGLING’S QIJUE 56CHAPTER FWE:CONCLUSION 86List of Abbreviations 89Bibliography 90Abstract ii1CHAPTER 1BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF WANG CHANGLINGI. IntroductionThe task of this chapter is to describe the life and social experience of Wang Changling.In order to understand the personal and historical background to his poetic achievement, threeprimary sources are particularly important for the research. The poetic anthology, IhHandsome Spirit of Mountains and Rivers (Heyue vingling ji 5j’ , hereafter,HYJ), edited in 753 when the poet was alive, records contemporary views of his lifeexperience and literary achievement.1 Two official historical records of the Tang dynasty, Qi1Standard History of the Tang (Jiu Tang shu t; hereafter, fl.) and New StandardHistory of the Tang (Xin Tang shu 4Ij $; hereafter, XTS), also briefly outline the poet’slife.2Since only fragmentary information exists regarding to the poet’s life, it is impossibleto reconstruct his personal history in detail. In order to achieve a basic understanding of WangChangling’s life, I shall focus on four major issues: the date of his birth, his official career, hisfriendship with other poets and his death.IL OriginBefore the twentieth century, we find no specific information regarding the poet’s birthyear. However, the modem scholar Wen Yiduo (1899-1946) and his contemporaries1Yin Fan *9 4 (c. 750) ed., Hevue yingling ji, in Tang ren xuan Tang shi A. 4.. *(1958, Shanghai: Zhonghua, 1978), pp. 98-99.2Liu Xu #‘J k (887-946) et al., Jiu Tang shu, juan 190 (reprint, Beijing: Zhonghua, 1975), p.5050; Ouyang Xiu J (1007- 1072), and Song Qi * (998-1061) et al., Xin Tanghu, juan 203, (reprint, Beijing: Zhonghua, 1975), p. 5780.2Lu Kanru k CZ *d, Feng Wanjun ‘ dated the poet’s year of birth as 698. The date isthus followed by most scholars.3Just like his birth year, Wang Changling’s origin, and his home county are alsounclear. Due to conflicting information in various sources, three places have beenproposed as the poet’s home town: Jiangning X- (present Nanjing), Taiyuan k (inpresent Shanxi province), and Changan * (in present Shaanxi province).4XTS indicates that the home town of Wang Changling is Jiangning.5 This theory isprobably based on the fact that some contemporary sources refer to the poet as “WangJiangning”. A good example of this tendency is found in a preface of a poem written by hisfellow poet Wang Wei Z (700?-760). The poem, “On the gathering at Monk Tanbi’scourtyard in the Green Dragon Monastery” (Oinglong Si Tanbi Shangren xiong yuan ji *+ .k A )L I c), is written about a friendly gathering in a Buddhist temple.6 In itspreface, Wang Wei writes the following:At that time, my elder brother, Jiangning the first... ordered me to compose apreface to [the poems we wrote on the occasion].3Although Wen Yiduo P. dated Wang Changling’s birth year as 698, he did notmention evidence or sources for his statement. See Wen Yiduo, “Tang shi cia xi re *.. ,“in Wen Yiduo quan ji k , edited by Zhu Ziqing et al. (1949, reprint,Kowlong: Nanguo tushu, 1976), vol. 4, p. 198. This date is also recorded in Zhongguowenxueshijianbian’1 I M,byLuKanruk1.trt, andFeng Wanjun(Shanghai: Kaiming, 1949), p. 59. The above two sources are quoted by Tan Youxue 4f 1 , in “Wang Changling xing nian kao Z * 4t. 4 ,“ Tang ren xing nian kao * A4? ‘ 4 (Sichuan: Renmin, 1981), p. 91.4me issue was raised by Wang Yunxi Z i. e. , in “Wang Changling de jiguan ji qi shiti shiFeb. 1962: 8; quoted by Tan Youxue, Tang ren xing nian kao, p. 118.5XTS, juan 203, p. 5780.6The preface of the poem is quoted by Fu Xuancong as a piece of evidence to indicate thatWang Changling is older than Wang Wei. This may no be the case since it is common socialcourtesy for a Chinese to address his associates as “older brother” regardless of their age as ameans to show his respect. The poem is recorded in Quan Tang shi , compiled byPeng Dingqiu * 3 (1645-1723), et al., juan 127 (reprint, Beijing: Zhonghua, 1979;hereafter, OTS), pp. 1290; quoted by Fu Xuancong $- in “Wang Changling shijikaolüe Z * 4 4,” Tang dai shi ren cong kao )e ft A t 4 (Beijing:Zhonghua, 1980; hereafter UK). p. 113. The passage is translated by the author.3In the above passage, we see clearly that Wang Wei refers to the poet as “Jiangning.” Twoother Tang scholars, Li Thao (c. 824) and Pei Jing .#L (c. 843) also called WangChangling “Wang Jiangning”.7 Some later scholars have accepted this theory, and haveconsidered the poet to be from Jiangning.8However, the anecdotal writer Xin Wenfang (fI. 1300) has challenged thistheory. He contends that Jiangning was the official posting in which the poet once served,instead of being his home town.9 The modern scholar Wang Yunxi Z 1. elaborates onthis theory by further suggesting that it was the fashion in the Tang dynasty to address poets bytheir official titles. For example, when listing the prominent poets during 7 10-730 in hisSupplement to the History of the Tang (Tang guo shi bu 1J k), Li Thao called Li Yong-“Li Beihai !- “ because Li once served as the magistrate of Beihai (in presentShandong province), and Du Fu Ih ‘ “Du gongbu 11 .1 1” since he was once honouredas a member of the Ministry of Works. Apart from the above source, Cen Shen 4 t (d.770), a poet, was known to his contemporaries as “Cen Jiazhou 4 * 1” since he onceserved as the prefect of Jiazhou.1°We can deduce from the above examples that Jiangning7Li Zhao ‘ (c. 824), Tang guo shi bu & , juan 3 (reprint, Shanghai: Gudianwenxue, 1957), p. 53; Pei Jing & (c. 843) “Hanlin xueshi Li gong mu zhi bei *,“ Oinding Quan Tang wen 4 * ., edited by Xu Song (1780-1848), juan 764 (reprint, Taipei: Huiwen, 1961; hereafter, QTW), pp. 10044b-10045b.8Two other sources suggesting Wang was a native of Jiangning: Ji Yougong t (c.1135), Tang shi ji shi jiao jian * , edited by Wang Zhongyong Z * , juan24 (reprint, Chengdu: Bashu, 1989), p. 631; Chen Zhensun I*. (d. 1261), Zhizhai shulujiIi 4$ * .,juan 19 (reprint, Shanghai: Guji, 1987), p. 559.9Although Xin * 1. .‘ suggests that Wang served as the magistrate of Jiangning district(Jiangning ling X- 5 ‘k), Wang’s post in Jiangning was most probably that of the districtassistant (Jiangning cheng 5x- 54). See a more detailed discussion in the latter part of thechapter. Xin Wenfang, Tang caizi zhuan * t ‘ *-, juan 2 (reprint, Shanghai: Zhonghua,1965), p. 22; quoted by Wang Yunxi, “Wang Changling de jiguan ji qi shiti shi de wenti,” inGuang ming ri bao.‘0Cen Shen had a literary collection edited in his time which was called Cen Jiazhou ji 4{ c. Although the collection has been lost, its preface, written by his contemporary Du Que£ (d. 799), exists. See Du Que, “Cen jiazhou ji xu 4 t * ,“ OTW, juan 459, pp.5933b-5934a. The source is quoted by Shi Moqing ... , Cen Shen yanjiu 44was most probably Wang Changling’s official title, not his home town.Instead of proposing Jiangning, Xin Wenfang suggests that Wang Changling was fromTaiyuan. His theory is probably based on U11. In this poetic anthology, the editor Yin Fanrefers to the poet as “Taiyuan Wang Changling.”11 However, it was a common practice forTang men to claim to be members of famous ancestral seats of distinguished families, orjunwang P In Wang Changling’s case, he might have claimed to be a member ofprestigious Wang clans such as Langya *- I or Taiyuan, without having an actual connectionto either of the two famous lineages bearing the name.12 Xin Wenfang’s suggestion isconfirmed by the modem scholar Fu Xuancong $ , who points out that in HYJ, poetsare commonly referred to by their junwang.13 Hence, Taiyuan is probably Wang Changling’sjunwang.14The third suggestion about Wang Changling’s home town is that it was the then capitalChangan. J.Th first refers to the poet as “Wang Changling from the capital” (Jingzhao WangChangling Z‘,15 Fu Xuancong strengthens the theory by pointing Out evidencein Wang Changling’s poems.16 For example, in the poem “Farewell to Li Pu heading to thecapital” (ei Li Pu zhi jing I ! t .t ), the poet states in the first line that he had lived inthe suburb of Changan early in his life:17(Taiwan: Shangwu, 1978), p. 26.lly Fan, HYJ, juan 2, p. 98.12For a detailed discussion of the matter, see Patricia Buckley Ebery, The Aristocratic Familiesof Early Imperial China (London: Cambridge University, 1978), p. 11.13The most obvious evidence is that the Tang anthologist Yin Fan refers to Chu GuangxiA 4& by his junwang as “Luguo Chu Guangxi * LJ “in HYJ while he includesChu in his other literary work Danyang Ji * P’ .c, a poetic anthology composed of works ofpoets from the same origin Danyang (in present Henan province). See HYJ, juan 2, p. 98;Danyang ji(reprint, Taiwan: Shangwu, 1975). The sources are quoted by Fu Xuancong, ,p. 108.-4Although Wang Yunxi suggests that Wang Changling is a native of Taiyuan, since we donot know the lineage of the poet, the poet’s actual relation to Taiyuan remains uncertain. SeeWang Yunxi’s theory in “Wang Changling de jiguan ji qi shiti shi de wen ti,” in Guang ming ribao.15JT , juan 190, p. 5050.t6The following discussion is based on that of Fu Xuancong. See Fu Xuancong, CK, pp.109-110.17QI, juan 143, p. 1448; the following line is translated by the author. The person suggested5My old home is in the west of Baling.Baling t is located in the east of Changan.18 The poet also discusses his original homewhen recollecting his early life before the official career in the poem “To Feng the sixth andYuan the second, when lodging at Senior Tao’s house in the Zheng District” (Zheng xian suTaotaigongguanzhongzengFengliuYuaner ‘1 ff k 4’t.):19Originally I lived at the foot of Lantian,Not because I wanted to fish or hunt.I took up farming because I had no other skills,Yet all the while I sought to gallop on the high road.(3-6)t4Lantian, W was a suburban district south-east of Changan.2° From these two poems, wemay surmise that the poet probably came from a suburb of Changan, or at least stayed thereduring his early life.In the above poem, Wang Changling reveals the poverty he experienced when he wasyoung; “I took up farming because I had no other sidlis.” That the poet lived in privation in theearly stages of his life is further indicated in his letter to an official named Li, then the Vicein the title of the poem, Li Pu, is unknown. There are two other versions regarding this name,one is Li Nanpu recorded by Wang Anshi Z G (1021-1086), and the other KangPu * t by an anonymous editor. See Wang Anshi ed., Tang baijia shi xuan 1., juan 5 (reprint, Taipei: Shijie, 1962), p. 5; Tang xie ben Tang ren xuan Tang shiA. 4. in Tang ren xuan Tang shi, p. 6.18Tan Qixiang # t ed., Zhongguo lishi ditu ji c (Shanghai: Ditu,1982), vol. 5, pp. 40-41.19QTS, juan 140, p. 1423; revised translation of Joseph Lee, Wang Changling (Boston:Twayne, 1982), pp. 7-8.20Tan Qixiang, Zhongguo lishi dim ji, vol. 5, pp. 40-4 1.6Minister of Personnel (libu shilang ).2 1 At the end of the letter, the poet mentionsthat taking the recruitment examination is his only chance to escape from the poverty of hiscurrent environment, which he describes as follows:Changling has long lived in poverty; therefore, I know a great deal aboutadversity...Whenever I think of doing my best yet am unable to support myfamily, I absently sit alone and am saddened with tears...Wang Changling may have written this letter before he became a government officer. Hence,the above passage indicates that the poet lives in poverty in his youth. Although we know littleof Wang Changling’s origin, the above discussion shows that the poet possibly grew up in thesuburb of Changan in a poor family.From Wang Wei’s calling him “Jiangning the first”, we know that Changling waspossibly the eldest son of his family, since “the first” refers to the birth order.22 We knowfew details of Wang Changling’s family. One of his family members is indicated in his poem“Farewell to Li Pu heading to the capital.”23 In the third line of the poem, the poet states thathe has a younger brother:My younger brother is still fishing and hunting in the neighbouring village.‘4tHere, Wang Changling indicates that he may have had at least one younger brother who ishunting and fishing at a village near Changan. Yet, the name of his younger brother is21Wang Changling, “Shang Li shilang shu ..h- * $ ,“ QTW, juan 331, pp. 4241a-4242a; quoted by Fu Xuancong, pp. 114-115. Fu Xuancong suggests that the content ofthe letter indicates that the Vice Minister Li was superintending the official recruitmentexamination, and thus the poet wrote the letter calling for his attention. Fu also suggests thatOfficer Li is Li Yuanhong t. (C. 725). If this theory is true, the letter may have beenwritten before 725, when Wang obtained his Presented Scholar degree (jjnshi . * ).22The line is contained in the preface of Wang Wei’s poem, “On the gathering at Monk Tanbi’scourtyard in the Green Dragon Monastery” (Oinglong Si Tanbi Shangren xiong yuan ji). SeeQI juan 127, p. 1290; see also p. 3 of this chapter.23QTS, juan 140, p. 1423; translated by the author.7unknown. In addition, four of his poems show that he might have had other relatives. Forexample, he addressed people such as Wang Yu 2. ‘WI and Wang Yue 2. as his youngerbrothers.24 Since it was common for men in the Tang dynasty to address their associates withthe same surname as “brother”, just as Wang Wei refers to Changling as his elder brother in thepreface discussed above, we cannot be sure how close the kinship of these people was to thepoet.ifi. Official CareerBorn as the eldest son of a poor family, Wang Changling managed to advance himselfto the status of a member of the prestigious elite through his literary talents. The poet startedhis political career by passing two examinations, one being the Presented Scholar (jinshi L*), and the other the Erudite Literatus (boxue hongci These twoexaminations are significant in two ways: first, they were the most prominent nationalexaminations of that time; secondly, the dates the poet passed them are the only specificbiographical evidence we have to reconstruct his biography.The Presented Scholar degree, often compared to the academic doctorate in the modernWest, emphasized talent in literary composition.26 In the early eighth century, the degree not24Fu Xuancong identifies four poems which suggest Wang may have had some relatives. Thefirst poem is “Presenting to my uncle, the magistrate of Tong zhou” (ang Tongzhou shijunbo .,h. L*. 1). The title of the poem suggests that the poet may have had an unclewho served at the same time as a State Magistrate (shijun 1*. ). This poem is recorded byKukai , Wenjing mifu lun jiao zhu . , edited by Wang Liqi 2.juan 2 (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue, 1983), p.120. Three other poems suggest thatWang may have had brothers: “Presented to the Censor, my older brother the seventh” (shangshiyu gixiong .J- ‘F+ øP 4 X. , in Wenjing mifu lunjiao zhu, p.120); “To younger brother Yu,the Censor when lodging at Bashang” (su Bashang ji shiyu Yu diOTS, juan 143, p. 1447); “To younger brother Yue from the West River” (Xi jiang ii Yue diOTS, juan 143, p. 1447). For a detailed discussion, see Fu Xuancong,p.l1525ji’S, juan 190, p. 5050.26Charles Hucker, A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China (California: StanfordUniversity, 1985), p. 167.8only provided a chance for a commoner to participate in further examinations for governmentrecruitment, but was a powerful indicator of social status.27 For example, a prime ministerXue Yuanchao 4 5 (622-683), once said that not having a Presented Scholar degree washis deepest regret in life.28 Wang Changling’s obtaining the Presented Scholar degree showsthat his literary abffity was widely acknowledged by his contemporaries.Conflicting information exists concerning Wang Changling’s passing the PresentedScholar examination. First of all, the sources give two different dates regarding the year inwhich the poet passed the examination. One is 726, given by Chen Zhensun tk (d.126 l),29 and the other is 727, recorded by Wang’s contemporary Gu Kuang (724-815).30 Since Gu Kuang lives at the same time as Wang Changling did, his record of the datemay be more credible than that of Chen Zhensun. Second, after Wang Changling passed thePresented Scholar examination, both XTS and JIB. suggest that the poet served in thegovernment.31 During the Tang, the Presented Scholar was an examination which qualifiedone for further recruiting examinations and could not, in itself, lead directly to an officialappointment.32 It is uncertain in what circumstances Wang Changling did serve in thegovernment right after he passed the Presented Scholar examination, as indicated by bothofficial history records.27For a detailed discussion of the jinshi examination, see Tang dai keju yu wenxue 1 *f. 1 by Fu Xuancong (Shanxi: renmin, 1986; hereafter pp. 162-164.28Lju Su ‘3 * (fi. 742-755), Sui Tang jiahua F , juan 2, Baibu congshu jichengt $ (reprint, Shanghai: Gudian wenxue, 1957), p. 17; quoted by Fu Xuancong,WX, p. 142.29Chen Zhensun, Zhizhai shulu jieti, juan 19, , p. 559.30Gu Kuang “Jiancha yushi Chu gong ji xu ØP {*. c * ,“ QTW, juan528, p. 6805a; quoted by Fu Xuancong, £K, p. 116.31There is conflicting information about the post Wang Changling served in after he passed thejinshi examination. In J, he is recorded to have served as an editor of the Imperial diary inthe Palace Library (mishusheng jiaoshu lang $ 4 $ ); in XTS, he is recorded tohave served as the assistant in the same institute (mishu lang $ P). In the Tang caizizhuan, however, he is recorded as to be posted as the commandant of Sishui (SishuiiJ- ). See JI, juan 190, p. 5050; XTS, juan 203, p. 5780; Tang caizi zhuan, juan 2, p.22.32Fu Xuancong gives a detailed discussion of the regulation of the national examinations of theTang in WX, p. 492.9Unlike the Presented Scholar examination, the examination of Erudite Literatus wascertain to have an effect on appointment to a government post.33 The Erudite Literatusexamination was held for men of extraordinary literary talents. The examination was heldregularly by the Ministry of Personnel as a means of recruitment, and occasionally it was thesubject of the Decree Examination (zhike 4iJ F), held irregularly to promote the talents of allliterary men in or Out of officialdom. The latter type of examination was hosted by theemperor, and held in the imperial hail with the aid of high ranking officials; it was consideredby people in the Tang dynasty to be one of the most prestigious examinations one could take.In his poem, “A Carefree Song” (fang ge xing *. 41), Wang Changling describes anexamination scene in the following lines:34An imperial decree seeks out men from the marshes;In humility, I offer my stratagems.Dignitaries are as many as stars in the sky;Greeting me are ministers and generals.(11-14)41The scene depicted in the above four lines matches our knowledge of the zhike examination.Interestingly, in the same poem, the poet describes the fact that he passed the examination andbecame an official;Luckily I am acknowledged by the superior.Thus able to shed my commoner’s dress.Now I sing a carefree song,33Fu Xuancong, WX, p. 138-147.34QTS, juan 140, p. 1442; revised translation of Joseph Lee, Wang Changling, pp. 6-7.10To ease my frustration in seeking a political career.(17-20)9AThe fact that an official appointment was a direct result of the examination further confirms ourknowledge of the nature of the zhike examination. However, the relation between thisexamination and the Erudite Literatus Wang passed is uncertain.According to The study of the List of Degree Holders (Deng ke ji kao 4),Wang Changling passed the examination of Erudite Literatus twice: once in 731, and again734. Yet, as its footnotes show, these two dates are based on different sources; the formerdate is quote from Biography of Tang Geniuses (Tang caizi zhuan *‘ a-), while thelatter date is based on It is quite uncommon, though possible, for Tang men to havepassed this examination twice.36On the other hand, since the present editions of Tang caizi zhuan and fl. do not havethe date of the examination, Chen Zhensun’s Zhizhai’s Annotation of Bibliography (Zhizhaishulu jieti 1, $ P.) seems, in fact, to be the only original source quoted by Xu Songspecifying the date of the examination as 734•37 In addition, while stating nothing on the dateof 731, Xu Song records the specific work Wang Changling wrote for the examination in theyear of 734, ‘Writing after “The prose poem on the East Pavilion” of Gongsun Hongkai’(Gongsun Hongkai dong ge fu 2 iI’ M ).38 The evidence above shows that the35Xu Song k 4 (1780-1848), Deng keji kao 4 (Taipei: Jingsheng wenwu, 1972),p. 482 and p. 494 ; quoted by Fu Xuancong, £K, p. 120.36According to IS, Xiao Xin (c. 731) passed the Erudite Literatus twice. See Liu Xu,ITS, juan 146, pp. 3961-3962; mentioned by Fu Xuancong, X, p. 495.37Liu Xu, JI5., juan 190, p. 5050; Xin Wenfang, Tang caizi zhuan, juan 2, p. 22; ChenZhensun, Zhizhai shulu jieti, juan 19, p. 559.38Xu Song, Deng ke ji kao, juan 8, p. 494. Wang Changling’s prose poem is recorded inQTW, edited by Xu Song, juan 331, pp. 4239a-4239b.11poet may have taken the Erudite Literatus examination at least once, perhaps in the year 734.Because of his literary talent, the poet was able to pass the two prominent nationalexaminations, and start his official career. His first two official posts were perhaps Editor ofthe Imperial Diary (jiaoshu lang t $ ), and the commandant of Sishui (Sishui iZt; Sishui is in present Henan province). However, his literary talent did not help himsucceed in his official career. Throughout his life, he was never able to serve in any importantpost. Instead, for obscure reasons, the poet was demoted later in his life.W. Wang’s Demotion and His Friendship with Other PoetsAccording to the extant poems written by Wang Changling and his fellow poets, thepoet seems to have had an active life in terms of associating with poets of his time. Famouspoets such as Li Bai, Meng Haoran, and Cen Shen are among those whom Wang Changlingexchanged poems with.39 Some of these poems are especially important to the study of hisbiography. Since little information regarding Wang’s political career remains, most of thesurviving sources are poems written by himself and his fellow poets. In accordance with thecontents of these poems, I shall discuss, in the following section, Wang’s banishment as wellas his association with contemporary poets.All of the three original sources extant, XTS, IIS., and HYJ, indicate that WangChangling was demoted several times in his political career. However, the cause of thedemotions, their frequency, and the places of banishment are uncertain. I shall discuss here39The following is a list of eight contemporary poets that appeared in the title of WangChangling poems in QI:Liu Shenxu J (QTS, juan 140, p. 1428);LiQi !i , Qi Wuqian** (QTS, juan 140, p. 1427);CenShen (QI, juan 140, p. 1425);Cui Guofu (Q, juan 140 p. 1425);Wang Wei Z (QTS, juan 142, p. 1441);Li Bai (OTS, juan 143, p. 1449);ZhangJiuling 4JL* (OTS,juan 141, p. 1437).12three possible places to which Wang may have been demoted: Lingnan 4 iV (around presentGuangdong and Guangxi provinces), Jiangning, and Longbiao L (in present Hunanprovince).Wang Changling’s demotion to Lingnan was recorded in the title of a poem written byhis fellow poet, Meng Haoran * (689-740). The title of the poem “Seeing off WangChangling to Lingnan” (song Wang Changling fu Lingnan ia, L * 4 i) suggestsWang Changling once made a trip to the south.4° In the poem, Meng states that this particulartrip is the result of demotion:You are already burdened by a chronic illness;Now additional troubles come from ogres and demons.(7-8)According to these two lines, Wang Changling seems to have suffered from ill-health when thebanishment occurred, and the banishment seems to have been caused by false accusations.Because Meng Haoran died in the year 740, this poem must have been written before thatyear.41 Hence, Wang Changling’s demotion to Lingnan occurred most probably before theyear 740. In this farewell poem, Meng also touches upon his friendship with WangChangling:For several years we shared brush and ink-slab;From this night on we shall live apart.(9-10)40Peng Dingqiu, QTS, juan 160, p. 1661; translated by Joseph Lee, Wang Changling, p. 13.41Wang Shiyuan . * (c. 740) states the date of death of Meng Haoran in his preface forMeng Haoran’s literary collection. See “Meng Haoran ji xu * * ,“ QTW, juan 378,pp. 4855b-4856b. Also see Meng Haoran shi ji jiao zhu . * * * , edited by LiJingbai f ‘ (Sichuan: Bashu, 1988), p. 555. The discussion is based on Tan Youxue’s,Tang ren xing nian kao, p. 106.13The friendship between the two poets, according to the modem annotator Zhan Ying ) ,may have started between 720 to 730 during the time at which Wang Changling took thenational examinations.42 Their friendship seems to have flourished over time, since apart fromthe above poem, Meng Haoran wrote three poems recording his outings with Wang Changlingand celebrating their friendship.43 During the last days of Meng Haoran’s life, Wang waswith him in his home in Xiangyang t 1ê (in present Hunan province).44The next possible location of Wang Changling’s banishment is Jiangning. WangChangling may have served in Jiangning, as we discussed in the previous section regarding hishome town. The date of this demotion is uncertain.45 According to two poems by hiscontemporary, the poet Cen Shen, Wang’s serving in Jiangning was possibly a demotion. Thefirst is “Seeing off Wang Changling to Jiangning” (song Wang da Changling fu Jiangning i.L1c, Z-):46Facing the wine we are speechlessFeeling lost, I bid you farewell.Not appreciated in this great age,42Zhan Ying , suggested that Meng, at the age of forty, went to the capital and met WangChangling. See Zhan Ying, “Li Bai shi wen xinian *. 4 ,“ in Li Bai shi lun congi **t(Beijing: Zuojia, 1957), p. 9.43mese three poems by Meng Haoran are: “Seeing off the Editor Wang the first” (song Wangdajiaoshu 1 L *.. $ , QTS, juan 160, p. 1642); “Sitting in an inn in the evening thinkingof the Editor Wang the first when I first travel out of the Pass” (chu chu Guan luting ye zuohuai Wang da jiaoshu 2 i l * . f. Z *.. $, OTS, juan 160, p. 1637);“Together with Wang Changling having a banquet in the house of Wang, the Taoist prist” (Wang Changling yan Wang Daoshi fang L t * , QTS, juan 160, p.1622).44Accorcling to Wang Shiyuan, Wang Changling visited Meng Haoran at his home inXiangyang in 740. Meng had just recovered from a skin disease of his back. During Wang’sstay, Meng had a relapse from eating seafood and died in the same year. See Wang Shiyuan,“Meng Haoran ji xu,” QTW, juan 378, pp. 4855b-4856b.45Two scholars, Zhan Ying and Tan Youxue, proposed two different dates for this demotion,739 and 742 respectively. However, both dates are speculative, neither scholar giving solidevidence. See Zhan Ying, Li Bai shi lun cong, pp. 2 1-23; Tan Youxue, Tan ren xing nian kao,pp. 106-108.46QTS, juan 198, p. 2032-2033, revised translation of Joseph Lee, Wang Changling, p. 20.14In vain, you study literature as your hair turns grey.Taking up post where rivers and lakes abound,You are going to travel on water thousands of miles away.The notables are crowded in the imperial palace,You alone heading to the other side of the Huai River.(1-8)The tone of voice of the above lines manifests the then young poet Cen Shen’s sympathytowards Wang Changling. After expressing his sadness at the farewell occasion, Cen statesthat Wang Changling’s literary excellence has not helped his official career. While otherofficers are close to the political centre, Wang has been appointed to a far away post inJiangning. According to the content of the poem, we see that Wang’s heading to Jiangning isdue to demotion.Wang Changling’s frustrated political career and his demotion to Jiangning is furtherconfirmed in another poem written by Cen Shen. Two lines in the poem, “A letter to WangChangling the first when seeing off Xu to Jiangning to visit his parents after obtaining thejinshi degree” (song Xuzi zhuodi gui Jiangning bai gin yin ji Wang da Changling iY.L k *), clearly indicate that Wang’s post to Jiangning was ademotion:4747The title of the poem is in QTS, juan 198, pp. 203 1-2032.15Brother Wang is still demoted,And is constantly encircled by disturbance.(37-38)The “disturbance” seems to be the central theme in Wang Changling’s political career since hisearlier demotion to Lingnan. After his demotion to Jiangning, Wang Changling was againbanished.The third location of Wang’s banishment was Longbiao (in present Hunan province),where he served as the local commandant (Longbiao wi*IL 4 ).48 The cause of thisbanishment, according to Yin Fan, was due to his controversial personal behaviour.49Again,the reasons for misconduct remain obscure. In addition, the description of the event in XTSsuggests that Longbiao wi was the last post Wang Changling served in before his death.Two poems confirm Wang’s demotion to Longbiao. One is written by Li Bai(70 1-762), “Hearing Wang Changling’s demotion to Longbiao, I send this poem from afar”(wen Wang Changling zuoqian Longbiao yiao you ciii 1*).50 The title alone shows that Wang Changling’s demotion did indeed occur. Thisdemotion is further substantiated by one of Wang Changling’s own poems “Picnicking inLongbiao”(Longbiao ye yanDo not think that we are singing the sad tune of exile;for mountains and the bright moon have never failed our expectation.(3-4)48çi’ is perhaps the earliest original source to specify that the poet was banished to Longbiaoas commandant. See XTS, juan 203, p. 5780.49According to Yin Fan, Wang Changling’s banishments seem to have been caused byscandals related to his own misconduct. However, the precise nature of Wang Changling’smisconduct is unknown. See Yin Fan, UX,I, juan 2, p. 99.SOQTS, juan 172, p. 1769.51QTS,juan l43,p. 1447.16While Wang Changling was unsuccessful in his political career, his poetic talent washighly regarded by his contemporaries. He was honoured as “the master of poetry” in histime.52 A good example of this is Yin Fan’s including sixteen of Wang’s poems in his poeticanthology jrj. Not only does the amount of Wang Changling’s poems surpass that of otherpoets in this collection, but his poetic style is highly praised by Yin as a feature that makes thepoet the successor of the great poets of the third century.53 In his introduction to the poet, YinFan ends his description of Wang’s life with the last banishment. It is thus likely that WangChangling was alive when the anthology was edited in 753.V. His DeathAccording to XTS, Wang Changling was killed during the An Lushanrebellion (755-757). An Lushan, a Turkish general in command of the imperial forces in thenorth-east, rebelled in 755. Because of the seriousness of the disturbance, the emperorXuanzong * (reign 7 13-755) was forced to abandon the capital Changan and abdicate fromthe throne.Some time after the An Lushan rebellion started, Wang Changling set off fromLongbiao to join his family in Jiangning. Before he reached home, he was killed by a militarycommander Luqiu XiaoWang Changling’s death seems to have evoked sympathy from his contemporaries.XTS records at the end of the poet’s biography that when Lüqiu was about to be executed fordereliction of duty, he pleaded for mercy because he had a family to support. The executionerreplied, “And who will take care of Wang Changling’s family?”5452jj Yougong, Tang shi ji shi jiao jian, juan 24, p. 631.53Richard Bodman, “Poetics and Prosody in Early Medieval China,” Ph.D. Dissertation,Cornell University, 1978, p. 49.54XTS, juan 203, p. 5780.17The date of Wang Changling’s death is uncertain. However, Lüqiu Xiao is recordedto have died in 757•55 If XTS is correct, the death of Wang Changling would have occurredbetween 755, when the An Lushan rebellion started, and 757, when Luqiu Xiao died.VT. SummaryIn above discussion, we have established the framework of Wang Changling’sbiography, and described some of his experiences. The information might be gathered togetherin the summary below.Wang Changling, or Wang Shaobo L P IL lived approximately from 690 to 760.He was perhaps the eldest son in a poor farming family in a suburb of the capital city,Changan. Around 726, the poet passed the prestigious national examination of PresentedScholar. Within eight years, he had passed another examination, the Erudite Literatus. Thesetwo examinations enabled him to serve in his first two official posts, possibly as editor in theImperial Library, and commandant of Sishui. However, his later political career was markedby a series of demotions. Places he was most probably exiled to were Lingnan, Jiangning, andLongbiao. Finally, he died some time before 757, during the An Lushan rebellion.Despite his misfortunes in politics, Wang Changling flourished as a poet. Before hedied, he was considered one of the best poets of his age by his contemporaries. However, itwas his qiyan jueju poems J (i.e., seven character quatrain; hereafter qijue) whichhave been highly acclaimed by critics and readers of later generations. Before examining his55The place where Wang Changling was killed is uncertain since Luqiu Xiao’s posting isunknown. Three different locations where Lüqiu may have served have been suggested bydifferent sources. IS indicates that he served as the prefect (ithi ‘) k..) in Hao zhou(in present Anhui province); Zizhi tongjian i.. , on the other hand, states that he wasthe magistrate of Qiao Jun P (in present Henan province), while according to Hu Sanshin. - (1230-1302), the editor of Zizhi tongjian, Luqiu may have been the prefect of Bozhou { (in present Anhui province). See XTS, juan 203, p. 5780; Sima Guang I(1019-1086), Zizhi tongjian, edited by Hu Sanshin, juan 220 (reprint, Beijing: Guji, 1956), p.7039.18qijue poems, we shall first take a look at the development of this particular poetic genre beforehis time, in order to delineate the background against which his literary achievement can beunderstood.19CHAPTER TWOTHE DEVELOPMENT OF THE OJYAN JUEJUBEFORE WANG CHANGLINGI. IntroductionDuring the Tang dynasty (6 18-905), the development of the gijue reached its pinnacle.The critic Song Luo * (1634-1713) observes the excellence of the gijue in the Tangdynasty as follows:Poetry when it came to the gijue of the men of Tang achieved the utmost infineness and beauty.1)-LI4tJAs Song indicates, there are many excellent gijue works produced in the Tang dynasty.Among them, many of Wang Changling’ s poems have been acknowledged as the classic.Since during the Tang dynasty, the development of the gijue went through severaldifferent stages, our focus of this chapter shall center on the development of the gijue beforethe eighth century, when Wang Changling became active as a poet. By establishing thehistorical framework of the development of the gijue before Wang made his contribution, wecan understand the significance of Wang Changling’s achievement in the gijue form.The following discussion is followed by chronological order. Three principle issuesare the focus of this chapter: the definition of the poetic form gijue, the origin and prototype ofthe form, and the manner in which it developed before Wang Changling’s time.lSongLuo*(1634-1713),Manangshoushi 3L2+ inQing_shihua’,edited by Ding Fubao T 4Y (1874-1952) (reprint, Shanghai: Guji, 1982), p. 419.20II. The Definition of the OijueThe gijue is a sub-genre of the juejxi, and is defined by two poetic elements, giyan-tt (seven-character) and jieju ‘J, four-line poetic form. Two theories regarding theorigin and history of the jueju form have been proposed by critics over the centuries.2 Thefirst view, represented by Fu Yuli 14- 4 (1304-1343), regards jueju as a shortened formwhich is “cut off’ from the tone-regulated eight-line verse, (lüshi 1$ n’). This theory is basedon his observation that the two forms share similar tonal and grammatical structures.3 Thesecond theory, expounded by Wang Fuzhi -. . t (1619-1692), however, challenges theabove theory by suggesting that jueju takes shape long before lüshi and can be traced back tothe short old-style poetry of the second century.4According to the first theory, the jueju would have appeared during the seventh century2The following discussion of the two opinions regarding gijue is based on the article “jueju” byRichard Bodman and Shirleen Wong, in The Indiana Companion To Traditional ChineseLiterature, edited and complied by William H. Nienhauser (Bloomington: Indiana UniversityPress, 1986, hereafter, ICTCL), p, 687.3As Fu points out, the basic elements of jueju consist of either parallel couplets or non parallelcouplets, both of which are essential in the lüshi form, whose basic structure is to have onenon-parallel couplet at the beginning of the poem and one at the end with two parallel coupletsin the middle. See Fu Yuli 14!- 4 , Shi fa yuan liu * $i t (reprint, Taipei: Guangwen,1973), p. 38. Quoted by Luo Genze 1J. , in Zhongguo gudian wenxue lunji t’ IJ c(1962, Beijing: Renmin wenxue, 1982), pp. 28-29. The modern scholar Wang LiI 1 henceforth rigidly defines the term jueju as those five or seven-character quatrains whichadhere to the standards of regulated tonal patterns and discards the unregulated ones. SeeWang Lil 1 , Hanyu shilü xue (Shanghai: Jiaoyu, 1979), p. 41.Wang’s theory, in my view, fails to define the poetic genre of jueju. Besides theregulated ones, non-regulated quatrains composed after the Tang Dynasty have also beenconsidered jueju by most anthologists. For example, when the Song anthologist Hong Mai*. compiled the jueju in Tang, he included both the regulated and non-regulated poems andonly grouped them according to the number of the characters, i.e. five-character and seven-character. See Hong Mai(1 123-1202), Wan shou Tang ren jueju i A. .7 (reprint,Taipei: Changge, 1986). The same categorization is also seen in another poetic anthology,Tang shi pin hui , edited by Gao Bing 4 (1350-1423), in Siku quanshuzhenben liuji * 4 *4’. (reprint, Taipei: Shangwu, 1976).4Wang Fuzhi I k t (16 19-1692), Jiangzhai shihua 4 - 4’ , juan 2, in Qing shi hua*2# ,edited by Ding Fubao, p. 18.21when the term “lüshi” came into use.5 However, this theory is contradicted by the fact that theterm jueju appears earlier than lüshi. In the sixth century anthology The New Songs of theJade Terrace (Yu tai xin vong . 4 # ), jeju is used to describe the five-character four-line poems.6Although its term appeared in the sixth century, the jueju did not become anindependent poetic form until the Tang dynasty. It is during the Tang period that the jueju hasfully developed to its defined form. Hence, scholar of the later generations define jueju as thefour-line verse written after the year of 618, the establishment of Tang.7The form of jueju consists of three basic elements. First, the poem has to be written infour lines, each with the same number of syllables. Secondly, because Chinese is a tonallanguage, jueju is governed by a set of tonal regulations. In addition, the rhyming pattern alsoplays an essential part in the form of jueju.As indicated above, jueju has to be written in the four-line form. According to syllablesin each line, jueju can be further classified into two categories, five syllable jueju and seven-syllable jueju. Since in the sixth century, only a few five-syllable quatrains were called jeju,the seven-syllable quatrain may have been included in the jueju genre only after the TangDynasty due to its sharing a four-line format with five-syllable jueju.8The tonal pattern is one of the fundamental elements of regulated jueju. Since the fifthcentury, the ancient Chinese language has been classified into four tonal patterns: level (ping1L, rising (shang ..), departing ( -i-), and entering N ).9 This tonal variations play5According to JI, the term “lüshi” appeared in the seventh century. See JI, p. 5056.6Xu Ling (507-5 83) comp., Yu tai xin yong jianzhu .. annotated byWu Zhaoyi ..- flS , juan 10 (reprint, Beijing: Zhonghua, 1985), p. 469. For a detaileddiscussion of the sources and the content of the poems realted to jcju during this period, seeLuo Genze, pp. 3 1-37.7See the discussion in SM Fengyu , Li Bai shi de yishu chengjiu - ‘ 3 411(Taipei: Da an, 1992), 282-283.8This discussion is based on Wang Yunxi . i , “Qiyan shi de fazhan yu wancheng -4:: t2(1956): 70.9The latter three tones, rising (shang .3. ), departing ( -i-), and entering (tu N) are further22an important part in the make up of the jueju.10 Based largely on the differences in thevariation of tonal pattern in jueju works, later scholars generally divide jueju into two majorcategories: modern style for those which match the regulated tonal pattern, and ancient style forsome of those which do not.1’ To complicate matters even further, some gijue poems thatbelong to the modern style yet do not precisely accord with the regulated tonal pattern are calledawkward-sounding style (j 4* *1) poems.12Thirdly, a jçju has to contain a single rhyme which appears at the end of every even-numbered line.13 The rhyming syllables in regulated jueju are usually in the level tone.14This feature of rhyme regulation is particularly important for the seven-syllable jcju. Thefolk-songs before the seventh century usually rhyme at the end of every line, and sometimeseach couplet has different rhyming sounds.15 The rhyming regulation of jjiçju separates thegrouped together and are called “deflected tones ze sheng D.. .“ The terminology is adaptedfrom ICTCL, p. 684. For a detailed discussion of the phonology in this period, see Wang LiHanyu yinyun xue (1956, Beijing: Zhonghua, 1957), pp. 9 1-92.10Using “-“ to represent the level tone, “1” to represent the deflected tone, and ““ to indicatethat both tones are accepted, we show in the following table the four regulated tonal patterns ofjueju:types seven-syllablefive-syllable1.2. *11--11-3. *11 *.ll4. *1l....According to Shen Zufen tê, the standard qijue poem is restricted to four combinationsof the four tonal pattern: 1234, 4234, 2412, 3412. See Shen Zufen, Tang ren qijue shi qianshi4 4’&4(Shanghai: Guji, 1981), pp. 12-13.11The four modern style poetic forms are: five-character regulated eight-line verse (wuvanlüshi .& t #* ); seven-character eight-line verse (qiyan lüshi -t t * + ); five-characterquatrain (wuvan jueju & J ); qiyan jieju. The distinction between the “modern style”and “ancient style” (guti shi * *t 4) is that the former imposes strict regulations on tonalpattern and rhyme scheme. See Shi Zhecun 4-, Tang shi bai hua 4 4’(Shanghai: Guji, 19871, p. 82.12This classification is adopted from Guo Xiliang’s r . Gudai Hanyu * ‘ft(Tainjin: Jiaoyu, 1982, pp. 1080-1086), and is strictly linguistic in perspective. Shen Zufenalso divides qijue into sirnilar categories. See Shen Zufen, Tang ren qijue qianshi, pp.12-17.i3Jn qijue, as Wang Li points out, the first line usually rhymes with the other two lines.However, there are few exceptions. See Wang Li, Hanyu shilü xue, p. 39.‘4Guo Xiliang, Gudai Hanyu, p. 1077.‘5Shen Zufen, Tang ren qijue shi qianshi, p. 4. For a parallel discussion in English see Zhou23form from the four-line verses in seven-syllable meter in ancient folk-songs.Being a sub-genre of jueju, gijue encompasses the same criteria. The term gijue onlyrefers to seven-character quatrains written after 618, the year when the Tang Dynasty begins.The form has to be written in four lines, with seven characters in each line while following therule that a single rhyme must appears at the end of every even-numbered line. Although theqijue shares some similar composition characteristics with the five-syllable jueju, it has its ownorigin and unique course of development.ifi. The Origin of the QijueTracing back the origin of gijue, some scholars suggest that proto-qijue appeared asearly as the mid-fifth and sixth centuries.16 Because these poems do not fit the strict definitionof gijue, especially in terms of time of composition, we shall call them seven-characterquatrains hereafter. In the following, we shall examine some of the poems written in theseven-character quatrain form during this period.In the sixth century, the seven-character quatrain was “used to designate short songstanzas, and so constituted a sort of yuefu [ie. folk-songs] with no formal restrictions impliedother than line and stanza length.”17 Because of their close connections to folk-songs, thestructure of the seven-character quatrains of the sixth century followed the regulations ofspecific musical tunes.18The earliest seven-character quatrain considered a possible ancestor of the qijue is “TheZhengfu, “The Nature of the Quatrain from the Late Han to the High Tang. “The Vitality of theLyric Voice, edited by Shuen-fu Lin and Stephen Owen (Princeton: Princeton UniversityPress, 1986), p. 301. In addition, Wang Li suggests that most of the modem style qijue uselevel tones for rhymes, only a few exceptions, while most of the ancient style qijue usedeflected tones for rhymes. See Wang Li, Hanyu shilU xue, p. 40.16See Wang Yunxi, “Qiyan shi de fazhan yu wancheng,” pp. 66-67.‘7james Robert Hightower, Topics in Chinese Literature (revised ed., Cambridge: HarvardUniversity Press, 1971), p. 69.‘8Suzuki Torao * *. , “Zekku sogen ,“ Shina bungaku kenkyu (new ed.,Tokyo: Kobundo, 1967), p. 168.24String Melody on Autumn” (gin si ‘un ). 19 This poem shows a close associationwith the folk-song in its musical title, as well as in its content:In the lingering chill of Autumn, the wind brushes over the river.Through the bleak scene covered by the white dew run the waves of DongtingLake.Missing you, when the light shines on the tree top and now the light hasdisappeared,Still, I sadly gaze without avail into the indistinct distance.7 *&4aIThis poem is written in the fifth century by the poet Tang Huixiu * *.. It isconsidered to be proto-gijue, since its rhyming pattern is identical to that of gijue. This poemfeatures rhymes at the end of the first line, the second line and the fourth line, all using a leveltone word.2° In terms of its content, the subject matter of this poem is a forlorn woman andher longing for love. The plain diction and the fact that the poem’s theme is love both indicatethe influence of contemporary southern folk-songs. The simplicity of the poem is shown in itsimagery. The first two lines set the scene of the poem and express its central image ofcoldness. The first line points out the chill of autumn. The image “white dew” in the secondline parallels “autumn” in the first line, and reinforces the coldness of the surroundings.Dongting Lake is in present Hunan province. The external “chill” caused by the season isrelated in the second couplet to the internal bleakness of a deserted woman. The third linedescribes the woman missing her love both during the day and by night. The last line portraysthe persona’s desperation in longing for her love so that, even when night falls and there ist9The title is also written as “Song of Meditation in String Melody” (ge si ‘un ) intai xin yong, juan 9, p. 450.20Wang Yunxi, “Qiyan shi de fazhan yu wancheng,” pp. 66-67.25nothing that can be seen, she is still looking out and hoping that her love will come back.The folk-song quality in terms of title, form, and theme in seven-character quatrainsremained consistent in the sixth century. A good example is the “Song of the Perching Raven”(wuqi qu i ) by Xiao Gang 1 T1 (50355l).21 The title of the poem suggests itsorigin in the folk-songs of present Hubei province, which are called the Western Songs (xi quii ).22 Xiao’s “Song of the Perching Raven” consists of four seven-character quatrains.These four stanzas tell a story of “a wandering male and his love adventure.”23 The firststanza describes a traveller who decides not to cross the Yellow River. In the second, he goesinto a city to find a place to stay. In the third stanza, the man meets a prostitute in a brothel,and in the last stanza, they spend the night together. For the sake of conciseness, I will onlyanalyze the style and theme of the first stanza:24Of lotus the boat is made, the ropes are silk.The Big Dipper is athwart the sky: the moon sinks low.At the ferry crossing of Caisang, you are obstructed by the Yellow River.25So afraid you seem of the stormy waves, so long you tarry at the crossing.21The English translation of the title is adopted from Hans H. Frankel, The Flowering Plumand The Palace Lady (New Heaven: Yale University, 1976), p. 139.22This poem is placed in the “xi qu “category by Guo Maoqian *(fl. 1300), inYuefu shiji , juan 48 (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1979), p. 695. An explanation of xi quis contained in the preface of the title, see Yuefu shiji, juan 48, p. 689.23Hans Frankel, The Flowering Plum and the Palace Lady, p. 139.24Revised translation of Arthur Waley, Translations From The Chinese (New York: Alfred A.Knopf, 1941), p.106.25The second word of the line was written as “jj“ instead of “ng 4r” by the anthologistGuo Maoqian. Following Guo Maoqian’s version, Arthur Waley translated the line as: “It’s atthe ferry I’m plucking lilies, but it might be the Yellow River-.” Ding Fubao ‘T ‘f (1874-1952) disputes Guo’s version of the poem and suggests that the “li” is a mistake of “Sang.”“Caisang du tou *. ‘L “thus indicates Caisang Jin *.. * * in present Shanxi Province.See Guo Miaoqian, Yuefu shiji, juan 48, p. 695; Ding Fubao ed., Quan Han Sanguo JinNanbei chao shi 4 .... IJ *9 2’ (reprint, Taipei: Yiwen), p. 1109; for ArthurWaley’s translation, see Translations From The Chinese, p. 106; for the location of CaisangJin, see Zhongguo lishi diming cidian q’ IJ --, edited by Fudan daxue lishiyanjiu suo 3c. .. Yt )I (Jiangxi: Jiaoyu, 1986), p. 524.26As the first stanza, this quatrain serves as a prelude to the story. The single objective ofthe poem is to narrate a situation in which a traveller is afraid of crossing the Yellow River inthe early morning. Its subject matter, its close association with the music as is indicated by itstitle, and the story it tells enable the poem to be composed without any serious purpose.The simple style of the folk-songs is apparent in this poem in terms of its descriptivemanner and its diction. First, the imagery of the poem is consistently detailed and concrete.When describing the boat in the first line, the poet focuses on the details of its manufacture,and the impression it gives him. When pointing out the time, he specifies the position of thestars and moon in the sky. The location and the cause of the event are also written in a specificand straightforward manner. The specific description of concrete objects that exist only in thematerial, external world makes the poem simple, impersonal, and close to oral tradition.Secondly, the poem is written in colloquial language without any allusions. The onlymetaphor in the poem is in the first line where the poet uses “lotus” and “silk” to describe theboat his hero travels in. These two images effectively add a romantic tone to the poem, andmake it closer to the folk-song tradition. This poem is also considered a palace-style poem(gongti shi ‘ *t ‘) for three reasons.26 First, its author Xiao Gang, also known as theEmperor Jianwen of Liang -1i. * (reign 549-55 1), was the leader of palace-style literarycircle. Second, its lack of personal involvement by the poet and focus on romantic imagery,and well-chosen diction, clearly emphasizes aesthetic beauty over meaning. Third, theentertaining nature of this poem, which includes its adoption of the folk-song theme and thestory telling style indicate that this poem belongs to the then dominant palace-style of poetry.2726For a detailed definition of palace-style poetry, see Lin Wenyue ‘W . , “Nan chao gongtishi yanjiu- ,“ Wen shi zhe xuebao . ... ‘ ., 15 (1966): 407-408.27These three features are based on the analysis of the palace-style poetry by Lin Wenyue,“Nan chao gongti shi yanjiu,” pp. 410-411.27Palace-style poetry has two major items of subject matter: the description of a fair ladyand the celebration of the formal occasion.28 Although most of the seven character quatrainscomposed at this time are written concerning the fair lady, we still can find, however, theseven-character quatrains written about public occasions. The poet Yu Jianwu’s 1k-(487-55l) highly ornate “Ode to the candle light reflection on the water on the third daywhen serving at the royal banquet” (san ii shiyan yong qushui zhong zhu ying .. El ff(7]L ‘P ) exemplifies a seven-character quatrain on the theme of the formal occasion:29[Its] layers of flame and fringes of flowers may be compared to a fragrant tree.Both the blowing of the wind and the movement of the water can hardly stop it.When the spring branches sweep the banks and bring its shadows upward,Still it frets at not being able to encircle the guests crossing amidst the light.Similar to qijue, this poem rhymes at the end of the first, the second, and the fourthlines. However, the rhyming words are in deflected tones, a feature that Wang Li suggestsquite common before the seventh century but unusual afterwards.3°Written for a royal banquet as the title suggests, the poem wittily uses various images todescribe the reflection of the candle light. The first line illustrates the beauty of it by making asimile comparing the shape of the candle flame to that of a flowering plant. The “fragrant” hererefers to the scent of flowers. The second line reveals the nature and the strength of thereflection, which wind and the water cannot disturb. It sets up an invincible image for thereflection of the candle light.The third line, however, shifts the focus from the reflection to the motion of the trees,28Lin Wenyue, “Nan chao gongti shi yanjiu,” pp. 408-409.29Ding Fubao, Ouan Han Sanguo Jin Nanbei chao shi, p. 1347.30See Wang Li, Hanyu shilü xue, p. 40,28“sweep the banks and bring forth the shadows.” With such a scenic image, the poet cleverlyreveals the only “enemy” of the reflection, the trees. When trees are between the light and thewater, they extinguish its reflection on the water. Under this circumstance, the poethumorously personifies the reflection in the closing line to presents a vivid sense of its plightand its perseverance. As the last line portrays the frustration and expectation of the reflection,the poet creates an image that captures a new aspect of the reflection. As the shadows of thetrees move back and forth, little bits of the light shed on the water on and off through thebranches. This image of the water glistening with the reflection of flickering of light is themain focus in this line. Besides this image, the last line also presents a beautiful scene inwhich the guests at the party travel on the glistening water because of the on and off thereflection of the candle flame.The ornate diction and the well-designed imagery show that this poem is far from thefolk song tradition of the previous two poems. However, like the other two poems discussedabove, this poem also features concrete and detailed descriptive manner, makes no use ofallusion, and has an entertaining theme.In general, in the sixth century, few poets wrote the seven-character quatrain, whichmay be due to the fact that the dominant poetic form during this period was the five-characterpoem. Among the few seven-character quatrains extant, however, some appear to have asimilar rhyming pattern to that of qijue. This similarity confinns the theory that the qijue mayhave been derived from the seven-character quatrain of the fifth and sixth century. The fact thatmost of the seven-character quatrains before the seventh century were composed for musicshows the strong influence of the folk-song tradition upon this poetic form. Furthermore,because most seven-character quatrain poets of this time belong to the palace-style poeticwriting circle, these quatrains exhibit a strong emphasis upon craftsmanship of the style whichstresses the detailed description of the material object with almost no allusion employed. Theirsubject matter focuses on portraying the love affair and the fair lady, and few are written on thethemes of celebrating public events.29TV. The Development of the Qijue in the Seventh CenturySince the five-character poem continued to dominate Chinese poetic writing in theseventh century, we can only find a few qijue poems extant from this period.31 Examiningthis limited number of qijue works, we can see that the tonal pattern of the poetic genre wasbeing finalized.32The subject matter of the qijue at this time largely focused on celebrating the public events.Although the occasional theme was one of the subjects that belonged to the palace-style seven-character quatrain from the previous century, it was not popular until the seventh century.Indeed, in the early seventh century, the subject matter of love and the fair lady almostcompletely disappeared, and the dominant theme became the celebration of public events.The dramatic change of theme can perhaps be attributed to the emperor Tang Taizong(reign 6 18-627) and his courtiers.33 During this period, the Tang court consciously opposed3liZiyu * has analyzed the poetic works in the QTS. The statistics are based on theworks of those poets who are recorded with at least one jj in the OTS. Quoted by ShenZufen, Tang ren qijue shi qianshi, p. 20. The following table is a list of information from theanalysis relevant to my topic.poetic form 618-7 12 7 13-756 (Year)five-character ancient style (wugu) 633 1795five-character eight-line verse (wulü) 823 1651five-character jueju (wujue) 172 279seven-characterjj (qijue) 77 472From the table above, we see that the dominant poetic form of the early Tang was the five-character poem. Compared to the large number of five-character poems, the number of qijuewas comparatively small.32Chen Yixin examines the tonal patterns in qijue works of the seventh century, and finds thatthe works of the poets of early times, such as Wang Bo I h, Lu Zhaolin it 411, and LuoBinwang I do not match the standard tonal pattern. Only poets who are active afterthem have written the qijue works that fit the standard tonal pattern. Chen Yinxin J!s fl‘tSheng Tang qijue chuyi 24’ 2 ,“ Lun shi za zhu 24’ (Beijing: BeijingDaxue, 1989), pp. 121-122.33The following discussion of this subject is partially based on Qixin “u, “ZhenguanShifengjiqiyanbian i1 2#&Jt- ,“Guangmingribao.)3E ., 18 Jan.1983: 3.30the “palace style poetry,” which was obsessed with describing women and love. Instead, theyproposed the standard of propriety (zheng .iE.) and elegance (y, *) in literature, emphasizingits political function of celebrating the public event. Burton Watson states the nature ofoccasional poems at this time in the following passage:The major poets, nearly all of them bureaucrats, were required to write theirshare of public poetry, to celebrate imperial outings and auspicious occurrences,[and] to bid farewell to departing fellow officials.34This change of content turned poetry into a literary sport which bureaucrats played at socialgatherings, writing assigned topics in specified rhyme schemes. A good example is the poem“Snow In the Palace Yard, Composed on the Imperial Command” (yuan zhong ‘iu xue ying zhi‘L ‘P I. 2 +1) by Song Zhiwen * r (c. 650-7 13 ):The Fairy Carriage from the Purple Palace is descending in the early morning:The blue banner stands near the Terrace of the Spring Lookout.I did not know that snow had fallen in the Palace yard this morning.It seems as if the trees have blossomed last night.This poem is written on the occasion of an imperial outing. The first line depicts theemperor coming out of his residence and into the yard early in the morning. “The FairyCarriage” is a euphemism for his majesty’s carriage, and “Purple Palace” for the imperialpalace. The second line describes the scene of the Terrace of Spring Lookout (wang chun tai4 ).36 The “blue banner” signifies the location of the emperor, since when the emperor34Burton Watson, Chinese Lyricism (New York: Columbia University, 1971), p. 131.35QTS, juan 53, p. 656; revised translation of Tang Zichang, Poems of Tang (California: T.C.Press, 1969), p. 115.36The exact location of the terrace is unknown. According to this poem, however, it would beclose to Changan.31arrives, his banner is placed at that location. After depicting the emperor’s presence andcompleting the first part of the assigned subject matter, the imperial garden, the poet focuses inthe latter part of the poem upon another subject matter, the snow. In order to describe thebeauty of the snow scene, he cleverly makes an analogy comparing the snow in the garden tothe flowers on the tree.Many early Tang gijue writers wrote most of their poems about formal occasions.Wang Bo *h (c. 650-676), probably the earliest Tang poet to write in the gijue form, forexample, wrote all his works on public occasions.37 His “Parting on an Autumn River” (qjjiang songbie .k Z.. ‘) is an example of the emphasis upon propriety and elegance at thattime.Early I met early autumn in a strange land,By a river pavilion the bright moon was carried on by the river’s flow.I had known that the stream’s passage onward wounds thoughts of parting,But look now how the ford trees hide the boat you leave on.38I4The poem sets a theme of parting and expresses personal feeling towards the event.Like Xiao Gang’s “Song of the Perching Raven”, this poem contains no allusions, and is37Although three poets earlier than Wang Bo are recorded to have written seven-characterquatrains, these works are controversial. The poet Xu Jingzong 1 (592-672), claimedby the anthologist Gao Bing, was the earliest poet who wrote gijue. However, the same poemis recorded as lüshi in QTS. See Gao Bing, Tang shi pin hui, juan 46, p. 1; QTS, juan 35, p.467. Another poet Yu Shinan i 1*i (558-638) has a poem but is recorded as written in theSui Dynasty, and thus cannot be considered as qijue. See QTS, juan 36, p. 476. Shangguanyi ..L 4& (608-664) is also recorded to have written a qijue, but according to the footnote inQTh it may also have been written by Yuan Wanching 3 fl (?-689?). See OTS, juan 40,p. 508.38QTS, juan 56, pp. 683-684; translated by Stephen Owen, The Poetry of the Early Tang(New Haven: Yale University, 1977), p. 129.32written in an objective and descriptive manner. However, this poem is different from the gijueof the sixth century in many ways. It shows not only a change of theme from that of love to asocial event, but also a change of mood from a feminine, romantic, and objective tone to amasculine, proper, and personal one.Although its tonal pattern does not match that of regulated gijue, the poem has therhyming pattern and couplet structure that match gijne standards, and may thus be calledancient style gijue. Consisting of a non-parallel couplet followed by a parallel couplet, thepoem is noticeable in terms of its use of antithesis and parallelism.39 In the first couplet, anon-parallel one, the poet employs repetition, the same word appearing in an identical positionin the first two lines, creating parallelism. In the second couplet, the poet composes a syntacticparallelism in which the two lines have an identical grammatical structure. The parallelism isfurther enhanced by the poet’s repeated antithetical use of the water and the land in eachcouplet.In Wang Bo’s time, the concept of gijue was not yet fully developed. When themodem scholar Chen Yixin * i& analyzes the gijue of Wang Bo and his contemporaries,he concludes that their works do not yet conform to the regulated tonal pattern.40 Furtherevidence to support the theory that the concept of gijue was not yet established then is the factthat Wang Bo refers to his gijue work as “mixed style” (ti 41 fI ).41 Evidently, the termjueju was not yet fully applied to the form during this period. Hence, even in the mid-seventhcentury, the form of gijue was still at an early stage of development.Most of the gijue works in the seventh century seem to have been composed in the WuZetian era (reign 68470l).42 During this period, the majority of works were composed39The following analysis of the poem is largely based on that of Stephen Owen. See StephenOwen, The Poetry of the Early Tang, pp. 129-130.40Chen Yixin, Lun shi za zhu, pp. 122-123.41Wang Bo wrote two gijue under the title of “The Mixed Style on Thinking of a Friend in acold night” (hanve huai you zati .1 .t *), QTS, juan, 56, p. 684.42Chen Xiuqing J!. divides Tang poetry during the seventh century into two periods,the Taizong period and the Wu Zetian period. See Chen Xiuqing, “Chu Tang shitan zoufeng# ) 11 ,“ Zhongvang ribao ‘P El ., 1 Dec. 1959: 8 and 8 Dec. 1959: 8.33according to imperial command for formal state occasions (yingzhi shi 1 $1 # ).43 It was inthis atmosphere that the tonal requirements for gijue assumed their final shape. Three poets,.iI. Ifr d .3.1. .‘Shen Quanqi i- iL vi (c. 650-713), Song Zhiwen, and Du Shenyan- a (c. 640) areprobably the earliest poets writing verses that correspond to the regulated gijue form.’While perfecting the formal aspects of qijue, these poets expand the parameters of theform’s subject matter by adding more personal and serious elements to the stereotypical contentof the seventh century court verse. Shen Quanqi’s “Mang Mountain” (mang shan i1 zii), forexample, demonstrates his attempt to integrate craftsmanship and philosophical contemplation:On North Mang Mountain the tombs and graves are ranged,For all time, a thousand autumns facing Luoyang.Every day and night, songs and bells ring out within the walls;On the mountain we hear only the sound of wind in the pines.45‘kP ElMang Mountain, as Stephen Owen points out, is a traditional burial spot close toLuoyang city in present Henan province.46 Since its subject matter is closely associated withdeath, the poem presents the mountain by neatly juxtaposing concrete, mortal imagery such astombs, and pines with the mountain’s timeless existence. However, when the poet sets off themountain against the antagonistic images of noisy, joyful, lively Luoyang city he creates43For a detailed discussion on the subject yingzhi shi, see Stephen Owen, The Poetry of theEarly Tang, pp. 256-273.44As Chen Yixin points out, the qijue poems written by these three poets; Shen Quanqi, SongZhiwen, and Du Shenyan; all match the regulated tonal pattern. See Chen Yixin, Lun shi zapp. 121-122.juan 97, p. 1055; revised translation of Stephen Owen, The Poetry of the Early Tang,p. 348.46See Stephen Owen, The Poetry of the Early Tang, p. 349. This discussion is based on hisanalysis.34another layer of meaning which is greater than mere description of the mountain itself: thecontrast between life and death. Hence, in the guise of objective description of its subject, thepoem expresses the poet’s contemplations on “the foolishness of human life in face of theinevitability of death.”47Du Shenyan, in his poem “On Crossing the River Xiang” (du Xiang jiang $t IL1 ii..),expresses, in a rigid structure of antithesis and parallelism, his nostalgia for the capital whenrelocated to the south.48On the long spring day amid groves and gardens I grieve for travel past,But this spring the birds and flowers grieve for the frontier.Alone, I yearn for capital as I hide out in the South,I am not like that River Xiang whose waters flow ever northward.ElOn a structural level, this poem is a classic example of parallelism, consisting of twoparallel couplets. In each couplet, the syntactic structure in the first line parallels that of thesecond line. Each parallel syntactic unit in the couplet contains two antithetical images. Thisrhetorical technique of parallelism and antithesis, also applied in Wang Bo’s “Parting on anAutumn River,” shows a popular aesthetic principle of verse in the seventh century.Nevertheless, unlike the other qijue works of Du’s time, which deal only with concrete47Stephen Owen, The Poetry of the Early Tang, p. 349.48QTS, juan 62, PP. 739-740; revised translation of Stephen Owen, The Poetry of the EarlyTang, p. 337. Regarding Du’s relocating to the south, the poet is recorded to have been exiledtwice in his official career: the first time to Ji thou t 11 (in present Jiangxi province), and thesecond time to Feng thou )ii (in present Vietnam). The critic Shen Deqiant i (1672-1769) suggests that this poem was written when Du Shenyan was exiled to Feng zhou. Seethe poet’s biography in J.I, juan 190, pp. 4999-5000; for Shen Deqian’s comment, see Tangshi bie cai ) # 1, by Shen Deqian, juan 19 (reprint, Hong Kong: Shangwu, 1961), part4, p. 110.35subject matter, this poem expresses the abstract emotion of nostalgia. Expressing the theme ofreminiscence, the poet calls up the past and grieves over the present. Hence, all the imagery ofthe present in the poem is subjectively associated with the past by the narrator. Emotion isrepresented by the diction, such as “sorrow” (j ), “agony” (chou ), and “pity” (liajit4). Consequently, the impersonal objective voice common in most qijue is replaced bypersonal revelation.From the above two poems, we see Shen’s philosophical contemplation and Du’spersonal emotions break new ground in the use of the qijue form. In the late seventh century,as poets began to integrate personal statements and other serious issues into the form, thethematic scope of qijue enlarged. It was during this time that poems describing things(yongwu ti $1), poems depicting a popular courtly-style poetic subject, made their firstappearance in the qijue form in the seventh century. Guo Zhen t (d. 713) is perhaps thepioneer of this change, consciously employing this particular subject matter in the qijue form.However, unlike the yongwu poems of the palace style, which were written only as rhetoricalexercises, his seven yongwu qijue are written using allegory and complex symbolism, whichin a witty and direct manner present the image of “the unappreciated man of virtue.”49 “A WellIn the Wilds” (ye jing 4F) is one such poem:Even though no one draws from it, its taste is fresh and clear,Its chill soaks the cold sky and the orb of the moon.But if they had dug it beside some important highway,For its lord, it might serve to aid the men who come and go.5°49Stephen Owen, The Poetry of the Early Tang, p. 292.5OQTS, juan 66, p. 758; translated by Stephen Owen, The Poetry of the Early Tang, p. 292.36Like most qijue of the seventh century, “A Well in the Wilds” features a strongstructure of parallelism without the use of allusion. Unlike Yu Xin’s “Ode to the candle lightreflection on the water on the third day when serving at the royal banquet” discussedpreviously, this poem cleverly develops its imagery not only to describe its subject matter, awell, but to evoke an allegorical implication. The gustatory image in the first line illustrates theexcellent properties of the well, while the picture of the loneliness in the second depicts itsdesolation. The assumption of its hypothetical relocation in line four introduces kinaestheticimagery, using diction such as “for” (wii) and “to save” (jj, *). The use of personificationin the last line, and its conjunction with the previous imagery, reveal an analogy between thewell and a man of virtue. Hence, the various objective descriptions of the well symbolize thepoet’s subjective contemplation of the situations in which a man of virtue stands.At the end of the seventh century, two folk-song style qijue with love themes werewritten, in contrast to the formal, highly ornate occasional works. One is attributed to QiaoZhizhi 4 a (d. 697), and the other Wu Zetian. This gijue poem, “Breaking off a WillowBranch” (he yangliu 4fr ê N1’), illustrates the sorrow of an abandoned wife:5’How lovely the bare willow branch of spring is.I pick one and hold it in my delicate hand.My beauty like the branch shall wither.How can I expect you to favour me alone forever.The title of the poem not only is the name of a folk-song, but also represents a51QTS, juan 81, p. 878; translated by the author. Besides this poem, the poet is recorded tohave written three quatrains titled “The agony of Lüzhu” (LUzhu yuan * ‘) in four juejupoems by the Song anthologist Hong Mai. See Hong Mai, Wan shou Tang ren jueju, juan 1,12a. The same poems are, however, recorded as one poem with the same title in OTS. SeeQTS,juan 81, p. 878.37customary farewell gesture to a departing friend practised since the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.) As Hans Frankel notes,The plucked willow branch was believed not only to have the power to delaythe friend’s departure but also to lure him back if sent to him while he wastravelling.52The willow branch in this poem not only suggests the woman’s being abandoned but alsosymbolizes the transience of the woman’s beauty and the man’s love. However, despite thefact that this poem is written on the theme of love, the tone of the female voice is objective anddistant in manner. This effect arises from the use of concrete imagery throughout the poem,and from the poem’s deductive structure. The first line depicts a willow branch, and thesecond adds the physical connection between the persona and the branch. The second coupletfurther associates the beauty of the persona to that of the branch in terms of their transientexistence, and then develops a deductive conclusion regarding the woman’s fate of beingabandoned. There is no great implication of emotions to enhance the objective nature of thedescription. With such objective description and logical deduction, the poem is onlydescriptive, providing a general picture of a fact.Contrary to the well-controlled, distant poem, “Breaking off a Willow Branch”, WuZetian’s folk-song style gijile, “The Woman called Ruyi” (ruyi niang ka * ê) focuses on theemotional outburst of a deserted wife:53Watching the red turning green my thoughts run wild.Pallid and disoriented just from missing you.If you do not believe that lately I have been often in tears,Just open the chest and examine the vermilion skirt.*k52Hans Frankel, The flowering Plum and the Palace Lady, p. 96.53QTS, juan 5, pp. 5 8-59; translated by the author.38riThis poem employs an amazingly simple and colloquial approach to illustrate a youngwoman’s longing for her love. Expressed as the monologue of a young woman, the poemestablishes its theme directly in the first couplet. The first line begins with the image of thenature through the persona’s eye. Nature’s colours change from red (the flowers) to green (theleaves) indicating the progressing of time, with spring passing into summer. The time changesuggests that the persona has been alone for a while. Yet, the change of season only makes thepersona anguish. The second line directly gives reason for the persona’s disorientated state ofmind, her lovesick. The exaggeration of the persona’s physical appearance qiaocui(literally means “pallid”) and zhiii . A (literally means “dismemberment”) creates an image ofthe woman’s grieving over loss of love.In line three, the narrator shifts the focus from describing herself to engaging adiscourse with the audience. The dialogue, setting by an interrogative sentence challenging anydoubts about her agony, effectively involves readers to the persona’s agonizing situation. Inaddition, the image of tears further conveys her sufferings and prepares readers for the strikingimage in the last line, the “vermilion skirt” (shiliu qun 4 ). The image in the closingline, that one can find traces of tears on the “vermilion skirt”, strengthens the persona’sirrepressible grief of the loss of her love describing throughout the poem.The monologue style, exaggerating expressions, and contrasting colors of the poemcreate a youthful and vital image of the forlorn woman. Moreover, its colloquialism andinterrogative device reflect a natural and spontaneous atmosphere close to that of a true folksong and real-life emotion.39V. SUMMARYAlthough it originated in the mid-fifth century, the gijue took its precise form during thesixth and seventh century. A primitive form of this poetic genre may have appeared in the mid-fifth century and was more frequently seen in the sixth century. These quatrains wereobviously at an early stage of development because their tonal patterns did not accord withwhat would later be the regulated form. At this earlier time, the form, without its own name,showed a close connection to the contemporary folk-song in terms of themes and manners ofexpression.Since literary trends focused on the palace style poetry, which emphasize precise anddetailed description, the seven-character quatrains of the sixth century were characteristicallydescriptive in a skilful and detailed manner. From the few seven-character quatrains extantfrom the sixth century, we can see that their themes mainly focused on the folk-song subjectmatter of female love and sentiment. They were objectively descriptive and rarely used literaryallusions. Most of them had strong and entertaining story lines, and were written in a musicalstanza form.In the seventh century after the establishment of the Tang dynasty, the seven-characterquatrain finalized its tonal pattern, was termed “qijue” and, was treated as an individual poeticgenre. Along with the change in form, its subject matter also changed drastically. Sinceelegance and propriety became the major concern in composing the form during this time, thetheme of love and sentiment was totally replaced by the celebration of the formal occasion. Theqijue became a rhetorical exercise produced by courtiers and their lords. In terms of style, theywere a continuation of those of the six century.On the whole, the qijue of the seventh century share some characteristics found in theirpredecessors. They are generally objective, descriptive, impersonal, and composed only forthe purpose of entertainment. They are simple and direct, providing general descriptionswithout complex literary associations or profound implications. Besides the above qualities,40these gijue show more elaborate craftsmanship in prosodic structures in their use of antithesisand parallelism.After the mid-seventh century, during the era of Empress Wu, the number of gijueworks significantly increased. The form reached a crucial stage of its development in twoways: its tonal pattern was finalized, and its thematic scope expanded. Tonal pattern, a newconcept developed in the six century was applied to the gijue by Shen Quanqi and his fellowpoets.54At the same period, expansion of thematic scope started. New themes, apart from justeulogizing the ruler or official events, appeared. The range of the themes was basically revivedfrom that of the sixth century, which include the poems on things (yongwu), and the imitationof folk-song with a theme of woman and love. This is the time when some poets showedinterest in exploring the gijue form, and this is also the time when the poet Wang Changlingwas born.A .. . .k,L LI. ill ... .. .. . j-‘Ji Yonpc. w, Tang shi de ymge í o’ , Tang shi yanjlu lunji i j(Hong Kong: Chongwen, 1971), p. 194.41CHAPTER THREETHE CHARACTERISTICS OF WANG CHANGLING’S OIJUEI. IntroductionDuring the last decade of the seventh century, we see increasing popularity of qijueamong poets. Because of the efforts of pioneer poets such as Wang Bo, Shen Quanqi, DuShenyan, Qiao Zhizhi, qijue in the seventh century had finalized its tonal pattern, whileembracing the then-dominant standards of propriety and elegant style, and the theme ofcelebrating formal public events. Because the dominant poetic form of this century was still thefive character poem, few qijue were written.1 In this literary environment, the poet WangChangling was born.Wang Changling was perhaps one of the most productive poets writing qijue poems inhis time. Approximately 74 of his qijue survive today.2 The number of qijue he wrote issignificant because it not only almost equals the total, approximately 77, composed by hispredecessors in the seventh century, but also makes up a substantial proportion of all of theqijue written in his time.3 In fact, the poet is one of two poets who wrote more than seventyqijue.4 On the other hand, Wang’s qijue constitute more than one third of the total number ofhis 181 extant poems.5 Since the dominant poetic form in the eighth century was the five1According to SM Ziyu’s statistics, in the 7 13-765, the total number of five-character poems isapproximately 4054, which is triple the total number of seven-character poems, 1301. Amongthese poems, only 77 of them are written in qijue. See Shen Zufen, Tang ren qijue shi qianshi,p. 20.2The figure is based on the record in QTS, juan 143-144, pp. 1443-1452.3The total number of qijue written by his contemporaries was approximately 472. Both figuresof the seventh century and the Wang’s time adopt the statics made by Shi Ziyu, see ShenZufen, Tang ren qijue shi qian shi, p. 20.4Among his contemporaries, Wang Wei wrote 24 qijue (OTS, juan 128, pp. 1306-1308),Meng Haoran wrote none, and only Li Bai wrote more than Wang Changling, 80 in total. Thenumber of Li Bai’s qijue is based on figure given by Shi Fengyu, Li Bai shi de yishu chengjiu,p. 288.5mis figure is based on the number in QTS, juan 140-143, pp. 1420-1452.42character poem, most of his fellow poets had only a small proportion of gijue in their poeticcollections.6 Thus, the large number of Wang Changling’s qijue, and the fact that they makeup a substantial proportion of the entire collection of his poetry are particularly noticeablefeatures of his poetic career.The poet’s devotion to gijue is further shown in his achievement in the form. WangChangling has most impressed readers throughout the centuries by the aesthetic beauty of hisqijue poetry. The success of these literary works has made him one of the most recognizednames among qijue poets. In the following, we shall examine Wang Changling’scraftsmanship in writing qijue in two ways. In order to understand how readers of latergenerations received his works, we shall first take a look at critics’ views of his versethroughout history. Equipped with a general knowledge of his poetry outlined by those critics,we will then move on to a discussion of the characteristics of Wang’s qijue in relation totradition, as well as his personal innovations.II. Critics’ Views of Wang Changling’s QijueWang Changling is probably the earliest poet to be widely acknowledged by critics ofmany generations because of his qijue works.7 Critical comments regarding his qijue workscan be divided into two categories: first, the canonization of his qijue works, and second,impressions regarding their poetic quality.A. CanonizationWang Changling was considered a master of poetic writing by contemporary critics.6Compared to a total of approximately one thousand poems, Li Bai’s eighty qijue make uponly a small proportion of his entire poetic writing.7Comments upon Wang Changling’s and other poet’s qijue works can be found in Tang renjueju ping zhu A , edited by Liu Baishan i J. and Fu Shousun ‘(1980, reprint, Hong Kong: Zhonghua, 1986), pp. 303-367.43Critical comments can be traced back as early as the eighth century, when the poet was stillalive. Critic and anthologist Yin Fan, for example, claims that Wang Changling, as a poet ingeneral, is a successor of the great poets of the sixth century.8 Critic Liu Kezhuang4 (1187-1269) notes that the poet was called “the emperor of poetry” (shi tianzi) by his fellow countryman.9 Both accounts show the honour and fame as a poet WangChangling received in his time.Many critics, further, focus on the pre-eminent stature of Wang Changling’s gijuepoems. The anthologist Gao Bing 1(1350-1423), for example, marks his high esteem forWang Changling by calling him “the master of orthodox gijue”J0 Another critic, WangShithen L (1526-1590), calls Wang’s gijue “divine works” (shen pin I’ ).1 1Some critics compare Wang Changling’s gijue works to those of Li Bai, and suggestthat both poets are the masters of the genre. Ye Xie (1627-1703), for example, voiceshis opinion of the two poets in the following statement:12For giyan jueju, Li Bai and Wang Changling are the best throughout the time.8Yin Fan, U, juan 2, p. 98. Richard Bodman notes that the high regard Yin pays to WangChangling in his poetic anthology Jii.[ manifests itself in two ways; one is Yin’s defining thepoet as a successor of poets of the sixth century in the preface, and the other is the including ofmore poems by Wang than by any other poet. See Richard Bodman, “Poetics and Prosody inMedieval China”, pp. 48-49.9Liu Kezhuang J’i k. (1187-1269), Houcun shi hua gianji & *t ., in Houcunshi hua & It (reprint, Beijing: Zhonghua, 1983), p. 199. A similar observation ismade by Xin Wenfang when he notes that Wang was called “the master of poetry” (shijia fuzik. f) by his contemporaries. See Xiii Wenfang, Tang caizi zhuan, juan 2, p. 22.lOIn Tang shi pin hui, anthologist Gao Bug lists 806 gijue poems by 174 poets of the Tangdynasty, among whom he only considers two poets “the masters of orthodox gijue 4 #Z ,“ Wang Changling and Li Bai. See Gao Bing, “Tang shi pin hui xumu *,“ in Tang shi pin hui, vol. 1, p. 35.11Wang Shizhen . * (1529-1590), Quan Tang shi shuo 4 ‘ , in Congshujicheng chubian t $ 4r * (4 (reprint, Shanghai: Shangwu, 1936), p. 3. A similaropinion is expressed by critic Ye Xie (1627-1703), Yuan shi wai pianjuan 4, in Yuan shi, Qing shi hua, edited by Ding Fubao, p. 610.12Ye Xie, Yuan shi wai pian, juan 4, in Qing shihua, p. 610. A similar comment made by thecritic Hu Yinglun ‘)O £) (155 1-1602). See Hun Yinglin, Shi so nei bianf (4, juan 6,in Shi so* (reprint, Shanghai: Guji, 1979), pp. 105, 116.44All the above comments indicate the prominent stature Wang Changling’s gijue held inChinese poetic critics’ minds. From this consistent critical acknowledgment, we see thatWang’s gijue poems are esteemed as masterpieces of the poetic genre throughout Chineseliterary history. The critic Song Luo expresses his admiration of Wang Changling in thefollowing passage:[Among the gijne poets of the Tang dynasty,] Li Bai and Wang Changling arepreeminent above the rest. Wang was even esteemed as “the emperor ofpoetry”. Yang Shen [1488-1559] once said, “There is not a single piece ofWang’s qijue that is not excellent.” It is indeed well said.13tI4:“*LIk .“*.This is the comment that I think best describes the Critics’ canonization and shows theprominent stature Wang Changling enjoys throughout history.B. Comments On Wang’s CraftsmanshipWhile canonizing Wang Changling’s qijue , some critics also note the masterlycraftsmanship displayed in his poetry. These critics praise his qijue works for three feature:melodiousness, enigmatic complexity and emotional impact.The musical quality in Wang’s poetry was noticed by his contemporaries, and hasformed a topic of discussion for later critics. The critic Yin Fan, for example, comments on thepoet’s masterly techniques in making sound manifest. First, Yin suggests that a characteristicof Wang’s poems is that the voice in his poems “ascends to a somewhat loftier height” (sheng4.) and as a result, the poems “startle the ear and surprise the eye” (jing er hai mu14 This dramatic sound effect is further noted by critic Hu Yinglin13Song Luo, Man tang shuo shi, in Qing shi hua, P. 419. A similar opinion is expressed byWang Fuzhi Z k.. See Wang Fuzhi, Jiangzhai shihua, p. 19.14Yin Fan, HYJ, p. 99; translated by Richard Bodman, “Poetics and Prosody in Medieval45(1551-1602) when expressing his admiration of some of Wang’s qijue works. Someof Wang’s qijue about women and frontier soldiers, Hu notices, possess a “leisurely, gentle,and graceful” (yourou wanli fL-’) musical quality, which accords with their theme,and makes the poems compelling.15 Oijue of the Tang dynasty is closely related to music, ascritic Li Chonghua states:Qijue are the musical lyrics of Tang.16Hence, Hu Yinglin’s comment that Wang’s poems are “wonderfully matched to musical tunes”confirms the opinion of critics since the Tang that one of the major aesthetic achievements ofWang Changling’s qijue is their musical quality.17The complexity of Wang’s poems has also been noticed by critics over the centuries.For example, describes the density and intricacy in his poetry in the following statement:[In his poems] the thought is meticulous and the theme is clear.18The critic Lu Shiyong k (1089-1153) further explains the complexity of Wang’s qijueby making an analogy to the landscape:Among poems, there are the difficult and the easy... Among the wonders of thedifficult poems, there is the style which evokes a stream winding through layersof mountains... Wang Changling’s jueju are the difficult among the difficult.19China,” p. 49.15Hu Yinglin, Shi so nei bian, juan 6, p. 117.6LiChonghua-t4 (1089-1153), Zhenyi zhai shi hua . in Oing shi hua, p.925.17The Chinese text of the term is mipo xie xiao shao * t . See Hu Yinglin, Shi so neihin, juan 6, p. 110. For a detailed discussion of the relation between qijue and music, seeWang Deyu L , “Lun Tangdai de shuqing geci * 11 ,“ Wenxueping1un* 2(1981): 127-128.‘8flS, juan 190, p. 5050.‘9Lu Shiyong Shi jing zong lun Lidai shi hua xu bianby Ding Fubao (reprint, Beijing: Zhonghua, 1983), p. 1418; quotedby Li Yunyi ii , Wang Changling shi zhu L (Shanghai: Giji, 1984), p. 204.46.• •The critic Zhong Xing ‘t (15 74-1624), further sheds new light on Wang’s complex gijuestyle. Zhong focuses on the implicitness in Wang Changling’s qijue:Wang Changling’s qijue is most intriguing for its stating nothing explicit.However, before one finishes reading [his poems], what is beyond the wordsand before the eyes can be conceptulized and visualized; yet it still remainsineffable.20The ineffable quality of Wang Changling’s qijue, in my view, results in rich meaning, and alsogenerates strong emotional impact.One feature that many critics notice is the intense emotion expressed in Wang’s qijue.The spirit of the emotion manifested in Wang’s poems centres on grief and sorrow. The criticHu Yinglin, for example, describes Wang’s poetry as “reaching the acme in expressingemotions (yan qing zao jj .).“21 Another critic Shen Deqian 5) (1673-1769)further identifies the feeling expressed in Wang’s poems as “well-hidden distress” (shen qingyou yuan ? ).22The above critical comments are helpful in informing us of the critical success of WangChangling’s qijue throughout Chinese literary history. Commenting on the poetic quality ofthese qijue, critics express admiration for their melodiousness, intricate elusiveness and theintense emotional impact they have upon readers. These comments provide a generalimpression of Wang Changling’s qijue, but they fail to examine in detail the elements in WangChangling’s poem which contribute to the above impression. Furthermore, although they claim20Zhong Xing ‘t , Tang shi gui * *S,juan 11, p. 16, Special Collection (Asian Libraryof University of British Columbia).21Hu Yinglin, Shi so nei bian, juan 6, p. 119.22Shen Deqian , Tang shi bie cai, juan 19, part 4, p. 116.47Wang is the master of the poetic genre, these critics do not explain what makes him stand outfrom his predecessors.In my opinion, the success of Wang’s qijue poems comes from both the qijue traditionhe inherits from the previous two centuries as well as his own innovations in the genre. Onlyby examining Wang Changling’s qijue poems in the light of the literary history of qijue canwe identify his blend of tradition and innovation which expresses his uniqueness. In order tolimit my research, and to give consistency to the thesis, I shall regretfully leave out musicalaesthetic achievement in Wang’s writing and instead focus on his writing style and theme inqijue. In the following, I shall explore the characteristics of Wang’s qijue in general, andexamine their relation to the tradition in the sixth and seventh centuries.III. The Traditional Aspect of Wang Changling’s QijueWang Changling demonstrates in his qijue poems his ability to adopt the traditionestablished by his predecessors. His poems share similarities with those of the seventh centuryin terms of tonal pattern, and the themes of propriety and elegance. On the other hand, hispoems also dramatically diverge from the rigid, formal style of that time. Some of thedifferences are due to Wang’s adoption of the style of the sixth century. Indeed, consideringthe significant differences in theme and technique between the qijue of the sixth and seventhcentury, Wang Changling seems to have included the best aspects of both centuries whencomposing his qijue.48A. Wang’s Qijue in Relation to those of the Sixth CenturyThe most significant feature both Wang Changling and poets of the sixth century shareis the theme of woman. Some of Wang’s most celebrated gijue pieces are centred on womenfrom the imperial palace, noble boudoir, or ordinary families, commonly subjects of the palacestyle poetry and the folk-songs of the sixth century. Of all historical figures, Lady Ban, or Banjieyu ‘(, a deserted concubine of Emperor Cheng of Han Dynasty ‘‘ (reign 32-7B.C.), seems to be Wang Changling’s favourite subject.Lady Ban was the chief favourite of the Emperor Cheng for ten years. Whensupplanted by a younger rival, Zhao Feiyan , Ban requested to be allowed to retire tothe Changxin Palace as a maid of the empress dowager. Known for her literary talents, LadyBan composed several literary works in her retirement.23 The tragedy of Lady Ban and herliterature attracted the attention of many poets of the sixth century, and was one of the mostpopular poetic motifs during that time.24Nevertheless, Wang Changling is perhaps the earliest poet to use the traditional subjectmatter of Lady Ban in the qijue genre.25 The poet seems to take special interest in theabandonment of Lady Ban. There are seven qijue on this particular subject attributed to Wang,and each of them explores a different emotional aspect of Ban’s abandonment.Besides adopting the motifs of the sixth century, Wang’s qijue also integrate the themeand style of sixth century poetry. In the sixth century, it was considered fashionable forliterary men to write imitations of folk-songs. As discussed in the previous chapter, theadoption of folk-song element was an aspect of the then popular palace style poetry. WangChangling wrote qijue imitating folk-songs portraying common working women, a traditional23Ban Gu L (32-92), Han shu bu zhu$ edited by Wang XianqianZ.(l842-l9l8),juan 97 (reprint, Beijing: Zhonghua, 1983), pp. 3983-3988.24Lin Wenyue, “Nan chao gongti shi yanjiu,” p. 428.251n Yuefu shiji, there are seven poems recorded with the title of “Agony of Changxin”(Changxin yuan 1’ ?) written by poets of the sixth century. All of the poems are writtenas five-character poems. See Guo Maoqian, Yuefu shiji, juan 18, pp. 626-628.49folk-song theme. His “Song of Lotus Plucking” (cai han gu t€ . ), for example, takes asubject popular as a folk-song topic among poets in the sixth century.26 In another qijue poem“The Silk-washing Maiden” (wan sha flu ‘ *), the poet imitates the colloquialisms as wellas the style of the folk-song.27Most of Wang Changling’s qijue make central use of dramatic atmosphere. Wang’sdramatic themes include historical events like Lady Ban’s story. Consciously orunconsciously, the poet creates drama through various subjects and themes. This kind ofdramatic quality can be traced back to qijue written in the sixth century, such as the “Song ofthe Perching Raven” discussed in the previous chapter.Another trait which Wang Changling inherited from the sixth century was itsobjectively descriptive manner. From Xiao Gang’s imitation folk-song “Song of the PerchingRaven” (wuqi qu ) to Yu Jianwu’s highly ornate “Ode to the candle light reflection onthe water on the third day when serving at the royal banquet” (san ri shiyan yong qushui zhongzhu ving * ]C ), the imagery in most of the qijue written in the sixthcentury is of concrete, ordinary objects from everyday life.28 Wang Changhing, too, integratesthis kind of realistic description of concrete and ordinary objects into his qijue poems. As aresult, like the works of his predecessors, Wang’s qijue feature a sense of realism.In short, some of Wang Changling’s qijue works include themes, stylistic imitation offolk-songs, dramatic effects and a realistic and concrete descriptive manner, all of which comefrom poems of the sixth century. The latter two features, the modern scholar Fang Rixi -Ij suggests, are factors that distinguish Wang’s works from those of Li Bai.29 Apart fromusing features of the works of the sixth century, however, Wang Changling also impressivelywas under the title of “Jiangnan nong “ in Yuefu shiji, juan 50, p. 734.27As suggested by Professor Chia-ying Chao Yeh, “The Silk-washing Maiden” does notfollow the regulated tonal pattern. It is an ancient style qijue. Its status as qijue isunquestionable for this poem is listed in the qijue category by the Song anthologist Hong Maiin his Wan shou Tang ren jueju, juan 17, p. 2a.28For a detailed discussion of these two poems, see chapter 2 of this thesis, pp. 10-14.29Fang Rixi , “Li Bai Wang Changling qiyan jueju zhi bijiao3(1986): 16-22.50integrates some of the best poetic qualities of the seventh century into his qijue writings.B. Wang’s Oijue in Relation to those of the Seventh CenturyOne of the major achievements in the seventh century regarding qijue was the regulationof the tonal pattern. Wang Changling follows this regulation of the tonal pattern in most of hisqijue poems and, as indicated by many critics discussed above, masterfully elaborates thethematic atmosphere through careful tonal arrangement.Wang Changling also uses subject matter that was most popular in the seventh century.These subjects include the celebration of social outings, and war on the frontier. The lattersubject, although it had a long poetic tradition since the Han dynasty, was popular in theseventh century because of current events.30 Since the beginning of the Tang dynasty,Chinese government faced repeatedly military confrontations from its neighboring countries,such as Turks and Tibet. Many scholars served as secretaries for the army and henceexperienced the hardships of frontier life. Moreover, the poem about the frontier was made thetest subject for some government recruitment examinations.3’ Although this subject was apopular one for poetry, no qijue were written about it before the mid-seventh century. WangChangling’s seven “Campaign Songs” (cong jun xing R 4i) may be among the earliestpieces to integrate this subject matter into the qijue genre.32The standards of propriety and elegance in literature proposed in the seventh century30m1s idea is discussed by He Changqun in his “Lun Tang dai de bian sai shi1I*,” Zhongguo wenxue yanjiu 4 IJ edited by Fu Donghua$ L and Zheng Zhenduo (1934, reprint, Hong Kong: Longmen, 1968), pp.1067-1075.31As He Changqun points out, Shen Quanqi wrote a five-character poem on the frontiertheme, titled “Writing on the test subject “Heading to the frontier” (beishi chu sal &IQTS, juan 96, p. 1034). For a detailed discussion, see He Changqun, “Lun Tang dai de biansai shi,” in Zhongguo wenxue yanjiu, p. 1067.32The anthologist Gao Bing considers Wang Han L * (c. 720), a poet of the seventhcentury. Hence, Wang Han’s qijue with frontier themes “Song of Liang zhou” (Liang zhou cit) may have been written before Wang Changling. See Gao Bing, Tang shi pin hui,juan 46, pp. lOa-lOb.51had a great effect upon Wang Changling’s writing. The best example of this effect lies in hisqijue on women. Unlike the sixth-century poems’ frequent association of the subject matterwith eroticism, Wang’s focus on serious exploration of emotional perspectives of hischaracters through standards of propriety and elegance.In summary, Wang Changling inherits from seventh-century poetry the tonal pattern,the theme of social issues, and a serious approach to poetic writing. Because of theseelements, his qijue show a balance between entertainment and serious contemplation.IV. Wang Changling’s Innovation in the Qijue GenreWhile integrating the poetic tradition into his qijue poems, Wang Changlingsuccessfully breaks away from the restrictions and formality of the genre which come with thetradition. The poet explores a wide range of subject matter in his qijue, such as thecelebration of public events, partings, social gatherings, scenes or music, the frontier, thepalace lament, and the imitation of the folk-song. In his works, Wang manages to both writetraditional qijue themes with broader application, and to integrate traditional subject with otherverse-genres into qijue.The most noticeable innovative approaches Wang Changling’s qijue exhibit are inpoetic technique, treatment of themes, and poetic style. More specifically, Wang’s qijue workspossess three major characteristics: a theme centred on the emotion of the persona, correlationbetween the external world and inner feelings, and the technique of identification byimplication.A. The Emotion of the Persona as the Central ThemeAlthough Wang Changling’s qijue share their dramatic effect with poems of the sixthcentury, they also differ fundamentally from these poems. Unlike the poets of the sixth52century, who simply used their poems to tell stories, and to develop plots, Wang Changlingoften implicitly alludes to a well-known dramatic event to engender the emotional state of hispoetic persona. In fact, his poems focus on the spirit of the persona rather than his or herappearance.The poet is particularly interested in exploring themes involving human suffering.Although this subjective theme is new in the gijue genre, it is deeply rooted in the Chinesepoetic tradition. The poetic theorist Zhong Hong M (c. 518) considers subjectivity to be theessence of poetry in his Shi pin *At festive gatherings he turns to poetry to express his feelings of intimacy; atseparations he expresses his grief in verse. The exiling of the minister of Chu,the Han concubine taking leave of the palace, or skeletons spread out over thenorthern wilderness, or the soul flown away among the tangled grasses, orspears carried to the far-flung regions, the spirit of combat flooding theborderlands, the traveler on the frontier with clothes too thin, the lady in herchamber with tears run dry, or the scholar-official who gives up his office andtakes leave of the court with no thought of ever returning, or the woman whowins favour by the raising of a brow, and topples a kingdom with a meresecond glance--all these things touch the heart and stir the soul. How else canone give vent to these feelings than by expressing them in poetry? How elsecan one give free reign to his emotions than through the Long Song?33Centred on the personal emotion of the poetic characters, many of Wang’s gijue stretch theimagination to create feelings which “touch the heart and stir the soul.” Many of his gijue onthe folk-song theme are written about the persona’s suffering. This subjectivity in expressingtroubling emotion enables Wang’s gijue to be more than merely entertainment pieces. It also33zhong Hong (c. 501), Shi pin zhu ‘, edited by Wang Zhong L (reprint,Taipei: Zhengzhong, 1969), p.17; translated by Chia-ying Yeh and Jan Walls in “Theory,Standard and Practice of Chung Hung’s Sh’i p’in,” Studies in Chinese Poetry and Poetics,edited by I. R. Miao (San Francisco: Chinese materials Center, 1978), vol. 1, p.52.53provides a medium for the poet to voice his insight on issues that also deeply affect his readers.B. The Correlation Between the External World and Inner FeelingsThe poetic device Wang Changling employs in his gijue to put the emotion of hispersona in the spotlight is his transformation of his realistic description of the external world toreflect the inner state of his persona. For example, when describing abandoned concubinesand deserted wives, the poet elaborates the setting to parallel or contrast with the sadness of hispersona. Whether Wang describes the long night in the cold and decaying autumn in most ofhis qijue portraying Lady Ban, or the bright day of spring in poems about deserted wives, thepersona’s state of mind always relates to the material surroundings.Although description of the exterior world was well developed in qijue before Wang’stime, his predecessors often applied it only with decorative purpose. Wang Changling,however, takes the technique a step further, using it not only as a means to create a sense ofreality, as his predecessors did, but also as a means of reflecting the narrator’s state of mind.By presenting concrete imagery of external settings and the persona’s movement, the poetcreates complex emotions within his persona.C. Identification by ImplicationAlthough he makes the emotion of the persona central in his qijue, Wang Changlingrarely uses any subjective emotional diction directly. Instead, the poet describes the externalworld in detail. The means to bridge the gap between the inner feelings of the persona and thesolid external world for Wang Changling is his use of implication.In most of Wang’s poems, the identities of characters are usually revealed throughimplications suggested by their surroundings. In order to achieve this goal, the poet elaboratesthe connotative meaning of concrete imagery. When portraying the abandonment of Lady Ban,54for example, Wang focuses on describing the season, the interior setting of her room, and heractions. All this imagery seems to be very far from the theme of the poem. Yet, by usingmaterial objects, such as the unrolled bead curtains to suggest her isolation, and colourlesspillows her loss of favour, the poet succeeds in making grief the central theme of the poem.34The technique of implication enables the poet to turn all the objects in his poems into symbols.Everything in Wang Changling’s qijue is not as simple as it seems, and even the theme itselfmay also be treated as a symbol. Because the poet refrains from stating directly his intention,his poems are thus open to many interpretations, which, in return, add to the richness of eachpoem.Perhaps the most important characteristic of Wang Changling’s qijue, the technique ofimplication, unites the simplicity of content with the complexity of meaning. By theinteraction of the three key elements in his poetry, Wang is able to pack complex symbols,realistic imagery, poetic techniques, and grammatical patterning into a very few lines withoutsacrificing depth of thought, thus breaking away from the explicit, straightforward style ofqijue written by his predecessors.V. ConclusionWang Changling’s success in qijue has been acknowledged by many critics over thecenturies. Although these critics show their admiration of Wang’s works, their comments arefragmentary and fail to provide an overall picture of Wang Changling’s achievement in theqijue genre.In light of the historical development of qijue, Wang Changling’s major achievement inhis qijue poetry can be characterized in three ways. As a productive writer of qijue, the poetbroadens the thematic scope of the genre that existed before him. Second, he successfullyintegrates the traditions of the poetic genre from the sixth and seventh centuries, traditions that34For a detailed discussion of the poems on the subject of Lady Ban, see next chapter.55superficially are not compatible with each other. Third, the poet creates a new style of qijuewriting when exploring deeply his character’s emotion with his unique poetic techniques. As aresult, his qijue poems are rich with intricate layers of meaning and profound emotion, whilepresenting the appearance of an objective description of the material world.We not only can identify the techniques and theme the poet takes from the past, butmust also see the innovation he contributes to the qijue genre. Only by examining Wang’sqijue in a historical context can we further our understanding of his contributions to qijuedevelopment.56CHAPTER FOURANALYSIS OF WANG CHANGLING’S OL[UEI. IntroductionWang Changling has approximately 74 gijue poems extant. They are written on twomajor thematic categories, the occasional and folk-song. More than half of Wang’s gijue,approximately 45 of them, are written on formal occasions, which include partings and socialgatherings. The minority are largely poems of the folk-song theme; approximately 27 poemswith this theme are attributed to Wang Changling. Among these folk-song poems, at leastseventeen of them are written about women, including eight on imperial concubines, a themewhich is also called the palace lament, six on noble ladies, and three on peasant maidens. Thisgroup of poems is diverse in content, for the poet tends to write differently according to thedifferent identity of the woman. Besides the theme of women, the poet also wroteapproximately ten poems about frontier soldiers, mainly dealing with their hardship on thebattlefield.Wang Changling also wrote a few poems on subjects other than the above twocategories. For example, he wrote one poem about contemplating ancient ruins, and severalother poems about his religious practice, Taoism. However, these poems are less well-knownto readers.Because of the limitation of my thesis, I will confine my choice of poems to the twomajor thematic categories, occasional and folk-song. Most of his critically acclaimed works arealso written on these two themes. The thirteen poems discussed in the following chapter, fouroccasional and nine folk-song, are some of the works I think best represent Wang’s poeticstyle. Through detailed examination of Wang Changling’s gijue, I hope to further display hisachievement in integrating tradition with his own innovative poetic spirit and technique.57II. Occasional QijueAmong Wang Changling’s occasional qijue, with the exception of one written for aformal state occasion,1 the dominant theme relates to personal events, such as celebratingfriendship at partings or gatherings. Consequently, most of these occasional qijue poemsconvey the poet’s personal thoughts or feelings through objective subject matter.Wang’s critically acclaimed ijue “At Hibiscus Inn Parting With Xin Jian” (Furong lousong Xin Jian . 4*.4-) shows the poet’s tendency to relate the subject matter of aparting event to personal revelation:2(First of Two)Cold rain all along the Yangze enters Wu by night.3At dawn, farewell to my guest! The Chu mountain stands alone.Tell Luoyang friends and relatives who ask you how I am:“The crystal-like interior inside a jade vase.”—Because of the setting of the poem and its content, scholars generally agree that thispoem may have been written when the poet was demoted to Jiangning.4 The Hibiscus Inn1”The Royal Wedding In the House of Xiao, the Emperor’s Son-in-law” (Xiao fuma zhaihuazhu in QTS, juan 143, P. 1446.2OTS, juan 143, p. 1448; revised translation by Richard Bodman, in “Poetics and Prosody inMedieval China,” p. 33.3mis version is according to Li Yunyi, in Wang Changling shi zhu, p. 159. In QTS, there isanother version which reads,“Cold rain covers the sky and enters the lake by night.”See QTS, juan, 142, p. 1448.4See Fu Shousun, Qian shou Tang ren jueju 1 (Shanghai: Guji, 1985), p.96.58(furong lou was located in the Danyang district of present Jiangsu province.5Richard Bociman explains the geographical setting of this poem in the following passage:From Danyang it is only a short way to Yang Zhou where the Grand Canalmeets the Yangze, so we may easily imagine that Xin han would have followedthe Grand Canal north and west along its entire length to Luoyang. BothJiangning and Zhenjiang are in the ancient region of Wu, while the border ofChu and the nearest mountains are both towards the south and west.6The above information not only provides a precise setting for Wang Changling’s poem but alsoshows the closeness between Jiangning, to where the poet was once demoted, and Zhenjiang,where the parting takes place. Because of the geographical closeness of the two cities, thepoem may have, as critics suggest, been written when Wang was demoted to Jiangning.In this poem, Wang Changling uses the occasion of a farewell to vindicate hisinnocence and honour in his political career. The first couplet gives a general survey of thescene of the event. Feelings of regret at parting are manifested through the correlation of thesetwo lines. During the night before the two protagonists part, it is pouring rain on the YangtzeRiver. Immediately after the depiction of the night, the second line starts with the scene of earlymorning, and brings forward the theme of parting. The drastic change of time from night today suggests the brief moment the two friends share before parting. The objective descriptionof overwhelming weather in the first line becomes associated with the emotional content ofoverwhelming sadness because of the event of parting, and suggests the sleepless night thepoet and his friend spend together. The word “alone” in the second line signifies both arealistic description of a mountain and the poet’s solitary feelings after parting from his friend.7Within the first couplet, the poet displays imagery of the external world, and, through thecorrelation of this scene and the parting event, he subtly creates a sense of intimacy between the5Zhongguo lishi dimin cidian, pp. 387-388.6Richard Bodman, “Poetics and Prosody in Medieval China,” p. 40.7The interpretation is adopted from that of Richard Bodman. See Richard Bodman, “Poeticsand Prosody in Medieval China,” p. 40.59two friends.The transformation of the external imagery to reflect the narrator’s inner feelings isfurther deepened in the second couplet. In the third line, the protagonist asks his friend Xinhan to be a messenger to his friends and relatives in Luoyang, Xin’s destination. Serving as atransition, this line uses a dialogue to reinforce the established close friendship between the twofriends from the first couplet, while preparing for the shift of focus in the conclusion.Instead of giving a straight answer to the question set up by the third line, the final lineconsists of an enigmatic image of a jade vase with a crystal-like interior. This image, accordingto the modem scholar Shi Zhecun, alludes to a didactic prose poem, “Prose Poem on a CrystalVase” (bing hu fu *4 *) by Wang’s contemporary, Yao Chong t (650-72 1).8In the preface to the prose poem, Yao uses the image of a crystal vase as a symbol for abureaucrat who performs official duties in an honest manner:9The crystal vase is the epitome of purity and cleanliness. When a gentlemanfaces it, he will never forget its purity. [The vase] is thoroughly transparentwithout blemish, so clear and empty that one can see its bottom. Among theofficials who are clear and plain (candid), are there any comparable to this?Hence, to embrace a crystal-clear purity inside and possess a jade-likesmoothness outside is the crystalline virtue of a gentleman.8See Shi Zhecun, Tang shi bai hua, pp. 172-173. A more conventional explanation regardingthe source of the allusion is that the image alludes to a line from the imitation of folk-song byBao Zhao (421-446), “Songs of White Heads” (bai tou yin fi iI*):I am as pure as ice in a jade bowl.See Yuefu shiji, juan 41, pp. 600-601.Written in the voice of an abandoned wife of Han Dynasty, Zhuo Wenjun 4., the linedescribes her spotless virtue. See Fu Shousun, Oian shou Tang ren jueju, p.96. Although themeaning of the above two sources are similar, Yao’s prose poem seems to me to be probablythe one Wang alludes to for three reasons. First, since Yao Chong died in 721 before WangChangling obtained his Presented Scholar degree, “bing hu fu” must have been written beforeWang’s poem was composed. Second, some of Wang’s contemporary poets also write on thesubject matter in a way which is consistent with Yao’s theme. Third, the theme of Yao’s prosepoem is coherent with that of Wang’s poem.9QTW, juan 206, pp. 2637a-2637b; quoted by Shi Zhecun, Tang shi bai hua, p. 172;translated by the author.60*tf4IfBy using the connotations of the solid, yet enigmatic, image of a crystal interior, thepoet implies his faithfulness and personal purity. Symbolically, Wang is saying to Xin Jianand his friends in Luoyang, “despite the accusation and demotion, my innocence and purity incharacter are still as fresh and unsuffied as ice and jade.” The enigmatic allusion, in contrastwith the direct description of the previous three lines, slows down the poetic pace with itsallusion in order to draw full attention to the poem’s message of the poet’s self vindication ofhis innocence against accusations of misconduct. Furthermore, the revelation of such apersonal issue enhances the close friendship between the two friends established in theprevious lines.Correlation between the external world and the feelings of the narrator provides anotherintriguing perspective on this parting event in the second stanza of the poem:(Second of Two)’°South of the Danyang City is the dark autumn sea.North of the Danyang City are the deep clouds of Chu.Bidding you farewell on top of the high tower, I am not able to get drunk.In the heart of the cold silent river is the bright moon.10QTS, juan 143, p. 1448; translated by the author. The tonal pattern of this poem does notaccord with the standards of the regulated pattern, and hence is not regulated style gijue.However, its identity as gijue is supported by the fact that the Song anthologist Hong Mai listsit in the gijue category. See Tang ren wan shou jueju, juan 17, p. 4a.61Writing on the same theme as that of the previous poem, the poet successfully avoidsredundancy by focusing on describing his feelings of loneliness and sorrow because of theparting. The first couplet depicts information regarding the surroundings, the location, and thetime and weather: a gloomy autumn day in Danyang City. The third line expresses the subjectmatter of poem, the farewell event and an objective description of the poet’s state of being.The poet’s being “not able to get drunk” may impiy that no matter how much he drirks, he istoo sad to get drunk, or, alternatively, that he is careful not to get drunk on this occasion. Thedouble meaning of his sobriety, along with the “high tower” at the beginning of this linetransforms the objective description of the first couplet into a subjective view of the poet.Hence, the images “deep” and “dark”, as well as the autumn season in the first couplet not onlydescribe the objective scene, but also reflect the narrator’s melancholy mood.Indeed, the poet’s sobriety reinforces his melancholy mood and his loneliness, andenables him to see his surroundings, which are illustrated in both the first couplet and the lastline. The last line presents an image of the moon reflected in the centre of the Yangze river.Due to the syntactic structure of the phrase, semantic ambiguity exists:silent cold river bright moon heartii ii hn jiang ming yia dnZjx- JThe ambiguous position of the word “heart” (sin. suggests the line may be interpreted intwo different ways, either “My heart is like the bright moon in the cold silent river”, or “In theheart of the cold silent river is the bright moon.” As a descriptive item, the moon indicates achange of time from the first couplet, from day to night. Structurally, the concrete and graphicimagery echoes the objective description at the beginning of the poem, and thus provides asense of completion and coherence. On the other hand, as an answer to the cause of thesobriety explored in the third line, this conclusion, a seemingly anticlimactic understatement,takes on the significance of the purity and solitude of the settings in relation to the poet’s innerworld. By the techniques of nuance and implication, the poet transforms the external world62into a reflection of his personal feelings towards the parting, and achieves a sense of fullnessand depth in terms of structure and theme in this poem.The following qijje is another example of the poet imposing his personal testimony onoccasional subject matter, in this case, a drinking gathering:Drinking at the House of Li the Fourth, the Granary Director11On this frosty day, you keep me for a drink for the joy of our old friendship.12By the silver candle and the golden stove, the night is no longer chilling.If you ask me my thoughts after we parted by the Wu River.Green mountains, bright moon, I see in my dream.-iijRecording a drinldng gathering with his old friend Li the Fourth, the poet expresses thecarefree lifestyle which he desires. The first couplet introduces the setting of the event withsimple imagery. The first line describes a cold autumn day on which the poet is invited by hisold friend Li to drink at his residence. The feeling of close friendship is reinforced in thesecond line, which suggests that because of the warm and happy gathering, the cold weatherdoes not seem to exist.The simple descriptive manner continues in the last couplet as the poet skillfully adds acommentary on his own life. The third line carries on the sense of intimacy established in thefirst couplet and prepares for the poet’s self-revelation in the last line. The “Green mountainand bright moon” represent a carefree, reclusive lifestyle that contrasts with the poet’s current11QTS, juan 143, p. 1447; translated by the author. Li’s identity is unknown. See Li Yunyi,Wang Changling shi zhu, p. 154.l2jn OTS, there is another version which reads,“On this frosty day, after you invite me, we enjoy our old friendship.”63political career. Instead of making an explicit statement, the poet transforms an objectivedescription of the external world into a metaphor to convey the lifestyle to which he is lookingforward.A similar kind of transformation of the external world also creates the aesthetic beautyin Wang’s gijue describing a musical piece ‘Listening to the Exile’s “Water Melody” (lingliuren shui diapzi L A. * T ):13A lone boat, a slice of moon facing the maple woods--Entrusted to the music of the zither is the traveler’s heart.Mountain shades in thousands and ten thousand sheets of rain.As the last chord fades, the tears fall.*4&4LThe title of the poem sets its melancholy mood. The music “Water Melody”, composedby Emperor Yang of the Sui dynasty f* * (reign 605-616), is said to be one of the saddestmusical pieces.14 The status of the music player, an exile, suggests misfortune. Thecombination of the title and player thus prepares the reader for sorrow.In the first couplet, the poet transforms the sad music and the misfortune of the playerinto symbols to express his own implicit personal grief.15 Three concrete images from theexternal world--a lone boat, the dim moon, and maple woods--juxtaposed in the first line,signify two layers of meaning. Literally, the images work as a setting, giving the picture of anobjective scene of an autumn evening when the narrator is traveling alone by boat.13QTS, juan 143, p.1447; revised translation by Joseph J. Lee in Sunflower Splendor, editedby Wu-chi Liu and Irving Yucheng Lo (Bloomington: Indiana University, 1990), p. 100.14Fu Shousun, Oian shou Tang ren jueju. p.98.5Critics generally agree that Wang Changling was exiled at the time when he wrote this poem.Fu Shousun suggests that it was written when the poet was demoted to Longbiao while LiYunyi proposes that it was written when Wang was heading for Lingnan. See Fu Shousun,Qian shou tang ren jueju, p. 98; Li Yunyi, Wang Changling shi zhu, p. 156.64Symbolically, the scene signifies the poeCs desolation while traveling alone. By stating thetraveler’s effort to dispel his loneliness by music, the poet connects the external world, thetraveler’s feelings, and the music.These two layers of meaning are further developed in the second couplet. The graphicdescription of the gloomy weather and the geographical landscape, layers of mountains andheavy rain, echoes the double meaning of the first line, the concrete setting, and the abstractprojection of the narrator’s desperation at his segregation from home.The poem concludes when the music ends. “Shou yu” 4k 4 (literally, to collect or toend) has the effect of gathering all the symbolism derived from the objective scene of theprevious three lines into a forceful metaphor of feelings. It indicates the end of the music, aswell as the gathering of feelings of isolation created by the scene of rain and mountains,making them part of the sadness. Since the poet does not specify to whom the “tears” belong,the rich implications of the “tears” may be associated with the sorrow of the player, the agonyof the listener, and the sympathy, pouring rain, from heaven. Hence all the imagery of theexternal world in this poem not only works as an objective setting for the poem, but alsoexpresses the solitary feelings of the narrator, as well as his emotions evoked by the music.Most of Wang Changling’s farewell qijue poems focus on stating his personal feelings.They are thus quite unlike poems expressing eventful narration that we see in the seventhcentury. At that time, poets would write farewell qijue in a formal fashion and strictly focus onthe event itself. Wang’s poems, however, fuse all their objective description to project thepoet’s personal feelings towards the event, and thus generate rich layers of meanings throughmasterful use of implication. The complex yet intriguing messages of Wang’s qijue are evenmore prominent in his poems written using the other one of his two common examples ofsubject matter, the folk-song theme.65ifi. Folk-song OijueSome of Wang Changling’s most critically acclaimed gijue are those with a folk-songtheme. The poet was not the first to write following a folk-song theme. As mentioned in theprevious chapter, the folk-song theme was popular among poets of the sixth century.Nevertheless, Wang Changling may be one of the earliest poets to write folk-song themes inthe gijue genre.16Besides being an early example of gijue poems on the folk-song theme, WangChangling’s group of folk-song gijue is particularly interesting because it is open to variousand sometimes contradictory interpretations. The modem scholar Burton Watson comments onthe poet’s motivation in using the folk-song theme, offering insight into the rich interpretationsgenerated by Wang’s poems:Such imitations [of folk-songs} generally had two purposes. One was toexpress the kind of anger and spirit of protest that had moved the unknownauthors of the original ballads and hopefully in this way to gain the ear of theauthorities... A second purpose that motivated the poets was the desire to trytheir hand at a larger variety of subjects and styles than those offered by theordinary occasional poetry of the times, to test their imaginative power andliterary skill by setting aside their own voice and speaking in that of, say an oldsoldier, a starving peasant, a forsaken wife, or a pampered lady of the harem. 17The implicit style of Wang Changling gijue enabled him to show his strength in both theseaspects. As a result, his gijue on folk-song themes have evoked various associations by criticsthroughout the centuries.Wang Changling concentrated on two major folk-song themes: the forlorn lady and thefrontier soldier. Both themes existed long before Wang Changling’s poetry. Poems on16n Yuefu shiji, many of Wang Changling works are listed as the first gijue written with folk-song titles.‘7Burton Watson, Chinese Lyricism, p. 55.66forsaken concubines had a long tradition in Chinese poetry since the Han dynasty, and thetopic was one of the most popular in the palace style poetry of the sixth century.’8 The themeof the hardships of soldiers also has a long poetic tradition which begins in The Book OfSongs (Shi jing 4’ i.These topics, however, also referred to historical events in the eighth century. In WangChangling’s life time, Lady Yang t was favoured by Emperor Xuanzong. This eventmay have inspired the poet’s choice of the palace lament as a topic. The frontier theme, on theother hand, reflected the constant battles over territory between the Tang government and itsneighbors, such as Tibet and Turks.’9 Emperor Xuanzong * (reign 7 13-755) wasespecially aggressive in his frontier policy. Because of this military ambition, Xuanzong wasmost commonly compared to the Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty * (reign 140-87B.C.) by his contemporaries. Hence, because of the similarity drawn between past and presenthistorical events, Wang’s imitations of the folk-song transform traditional themes to expressthe historical reality in which the poet lives.A. Writing on WomenThe first two poems we examine belong to a group of five poems written on the themeof Lady Ban, the forsaken courtesan of the Emperor Cheng of Han.Autumn Songs Of the Changxin Palace(First of Five)20By the golden well the autumn leaves on the pawlonia turn yellowThe beaded curtain is not rolled up and the frost comes at night.18Ljn Wenyue, “Nan chao gongti shi yanjiu,” pp. 427-429.-9There is a detailed discussion of the Tang empire’s frontier confrontation with its neighboursand the changes in its policies by Zhang Qun$ 4. See Zhang Qun, Tang shi .. (1963,rejrint, Hong Kong: Longmen, 1978), pp. 80-97.2UQTS, juan 143, p. 1445; revised translation of Stephen Owen, in The great age of Chinesepoetry (New Haven: Yale University, 1981), p. 102.67Censers for her robes, pillows of jade without colour.2’She lies, listens, while from the South Palace the clear dripping of the water-clock stretches on.22W ‘1* 1A ‘‘JOn the surface, this poem sketches an objective external scene, Lady Ban’s sleeplessautumn night. However, through the nuance and connotation of diction and imagery, all theexternal, objective imagery is transformed into an intricate theme that reflects the persona’sisolation and immobility.The first couplet depicts an outdoor setting, a richly-coloured garden scene in the fall.A “Golden well,” a well with a finely-decorated metal fence, is often associated with theimperial court yard. “The autumn leaves on the pawlonia turn yellow” suggests the change ofseason. The image of an “unrolled curtain” suggests being cut off from the outside world.The “frost comes at night” reinforces the sense of the season, while implying a time changefrom day to night. In short, the first couplet has two layers of meaning: literally, it depicts asetting, and symbolically, it depicts the persona’s chilling isolation.In the second couplet, the poet shifts the focus to the interior scene, and examines thepersona herself. “Censer” is a symbol representing the receiving of imperial love, as describedin the Dong Gong Jiushi L t 44 * :2321The diction “xun long “is recorded as “jinlu t (golden stove)” in Yuefu shiji, juan43, p. 631.22j OTS, the diction “South Palace” (nan gong i ‘) is also written as “inside the palace”(gong zhong ‘I’).23The text in Dong Gong Jiushi .L 44 * was quoted by Tai ping yu lan zk 1P ,edited by Li Fang 1(925-996) et aL, juan 711 (reprint, Beijing: Zhonghua, 1960), p.68When the crown prince takes a concubine, she is given five censers, twopainted ones for handkerchiefs, three for quilts and three for clothes.Hence, “censer” and “jade pillow” are personal items that are not only precious in value butalso signify the concubine’s status. These two items’ being “without colour” implies their lossof value and beauty, and most importantly, the loss of imperial favour. These unappreciatedtreasure further parallels the persona’s feelings of abandonment. The final line focuses onrelating the persona to her surroundings. The static image of Lady Ban, and her lying awakeall night, is reinforced through contrast with the progress of time. Moreover, the presence ofBan, her immobility and insomnia, elucidates the inexpressible melancholy mood of desertionand isolation implied by the previous three lines. The stretching out of time, contrasting withthe sleeplessness of the lady in the poem, has the effect of “carrying the persona into the chillisolation and old age associated with autumn”.24 In short, the poem transforms the cold of theautumn, and the bleakness of the Lady’s room into a reflection of the bleakness of thepersona’s inner world.In the following poem of the same title, the poet presents another side of Lady Ban’stragic fate:(Third ofFive)25She grasps her broom, for at dawn the Golden Hall opens,26And now with her round fan she paces up and down.27Her jade-white face is no match for that glossy winter ravenThat still carries the daylight from the Palace of Brilliant Sun.3169a.24Stephen Owen, The great age of Chinese poetry, p. 102.2SQTS, juan 143, p. 1445; translated by Richard Bodman, “Poetics and Prosody in MedievalChina,” p. 34.26jn QIS, the diction “Golden Hall” (jin dian ) is also written as “Autumn Hall”(qiu dian27The diction “together” (gong ) is also written as “for a short while” (zhn 4) in QIS.69fl4fl!I t4P4*W ElThis poem approaches the forlorn Lady Ban from the perspective of her daily chores asa maid in the Changxin Palace. Through objective description of Lady Ban’s actions, the poetpresents her agony at having fallen from imperial favour.The first line starts with Lady Ban’s life as a maid, showing that she cleans the palacein the morning. The image of cleaning alludes to Ban’s own prose poem, mourning her ill-fated life, in which she describes her desire to retire to the Changxin palace:28I shall serve in the East Palace,As a minor staff member of the Changxin.I shall sweep between the curtainsUntil the day I die.(31-34)Although the first line of Wang’s poem is written in a plain and quiet manner, its allusion of thepersona’s tragic fate creates a strong sense of abandonment in the poem. The second linedescribes the lady’s moments of leisure after cleaning. The image “round fan” alludes to Ban’spoem, “Song of Agony” (yuan ge xing ‘ 4k 41 ).29 In this poem, Lady Ban makes an28Ban Gu, Han shu buzhu, juan 97, p. 3986; translated by the author.29Zhaoming wen xuan 3 . 1 , compiled by Xiao Tong * (501-53 1), edited by LiShan- 4, juan 27 (reprint, Taipei: Wenhua tushu, 1975), p. 379. The Chinese text reads,Q-t, Qa70analogy between her fate and that of a fan discarded at summer’s end. The sense ofabandonment in Wang’s poem is further enhanced by the diction “together” (gong 4). Thisdiction, paradoxical in relation to the solitude of the lady, deepens a sense of loneliness byimplying that the round fan is now her only companion. In short, the poet cleverly useshistorical allusion to transform the poem’s objective description into a reflection of thepersona’s tragic, desolate fate.The transformation from reality to the reflection of emotion by implication is againmasterfully performed in the second couplet. The third line sets up a paradoxical comparisonbetween the dark raven and the lady’s beautiful face. The obvious contrast between theugliness of the raven’s dark colour and the beauty of the lady’s face is inverted when the uglysurpasses the beautiful. This compelling irony is made clear in the last line when the poetdescribes objectively the movement of the raven. On the surface, the last line depicts a ravenflying towards the Changxin Palace from the east, carrying the light from the morning sun.The time of this line, daybreak, completes the “dawn” of the first line. However, the ironiccomparison of the beauty with the raven becomes logical through the interaction of the punsand connotations of the term “zhaoyan U and “j El .“ The former word means both“the brilliant sun” as well the palace Zhao Feiyan lives, “Zhaoyang dian U i”, while thelatter means “daylight” and signifies imperial favour, since “sun” is a common euphemismreferring to the emperor. Hence, an objective and ordinary external scene is transformed toreflect the complex agony of abandonment felt by Lady Ban.In the above two poems, the poet uses a description of the objective, external world asa vehicle to portray the emotional state of the persona. Through the technique of implication,the poet creates a correlation between the external world and the persona’s agony as anunappreciated beauty. Furthermore, the abandoned palace lady in Wang’s qijue may symbolize?1*k,‘Nt171the poet’s own fate as suggested by Burton Watson in the following passage:3°All hope of happiness for the palace lady.. .hung upon the chance that she mightattract and hold the ruler’s favour,.. .Otherwise she was doomed to a life ofdespair, deprived of all the normal consolations of family, friends, and freedomof movement. The Tang men wrote of her because her plight sincerely movedthem, and because, being themselves candidates for public office and hopeful ofrecognition for their talents, it was in some ways so like their own.Indeed, Wang’s writing on the agony of the unappreciated beauty may symbolize the agony ofall men, including the poet himself, who are talented yet unappreciated by the governmentThe motif of unappreciated beauty appears in another folk-song qijue, “The Silk-washing Maiden” (wan sha flu *). This time, the poet portrays a peasant girl:Who lives by the Qiantang River?The maiden by the river looks better than flowers.When King Wu was alive, she could not come out;Now, publicly she washes silk.As an imitation of a folk-song, this poem combines simplicity of diction and imageryand complexity in theme. The first couplet simply expresses the colloquial style of the folk-song tradition. The poem starts with an interrogatory line to introduce the persona and thesetting of the poem. The second line points out the persona. “Quansheng *“ is acontemporary colloquial expression meaning “far better than.”32 The first two lines seem to be30Burton Watson, Chinese Lyricism, p. 115.3lj, juan 143, p. 1446; translated by the author. Although this poem is not recorded in theYuefu shiji, the title is. There are two five-character quatrains recorded with this title. See GuoMaoqian, Yuefu shiji, juan 80, pp. 1128-1129.32Zhang Xiang k Ifl, Shi ci qu yuwen huishi. (Taiwan: Zhonghua,72an objective and vivid description of a beauty of the South.The second couplet changes the focus from depicting the girl in the scene to the poet’spersonal contemplation about the situation of the persona. In the third line, the poet associatesthe girl’s beauty with Xi Shi (d. B.C. 470), a historical beauty found by King Goujianof Yue by the Roye Creek P . while she was washing silk. He sent her toKing Fuchai of Wu.Y- . k, with the intention of distracting him with her beauty and thenwreaking vengeance upon him for a previous humiliation.33 The last line sets the two womenapart through the fact that the maiden at present is still washing silk. The word “publicly”(gongran ), hinting at both the joy of freedom and regret at being unappreciated by thecurrent king, is the key to the creation of ambiguity in this line. Wang’s clever implication ofthe narrator’s bitter-sweet emotion associated with unappreciated beauty turns the simple folktheme into intriguing symbolism.Apart from creating complex symbolism, Wang Changling also uses his technique ofimplication to simply depict a scene. A good example is the poem “Song of Lotus Plucking”(cal lian qu 4 .. i ):3’1(First of Two)Lotus leaf and silk skirt of the same colour and shade;To either side of her face the lotus blossoms.Blending into the lotus pond, nowhere is she seen;Only her songs reveal that she is coming near.1973), p. 162.33Zhao Ye Flu. (fi. 40-80), Wu Yue chunqiu .- L 4k, juan 5, Congshu jicheng chubian,v.3698 (reprint, Shanghai: Shangwu, 1937), p. 187.34QTS, juan 143, p. 1444; revised translation of Tang Zichang, Poems of Tang , p. 126.73Originating in the sixth century, this poem’s theme is to depict the beauty of a lotus-plucking lady.35 In this poem, Wang, using the voice of an observer, depicts the beauty of aworking woman by connecting the persona with her environment.The first couplet focuses on the similarity between the lotus plant itself and the lotus-picking maidens. The first line associates the colour of the lotus leaves with that of the dressesof the maidens. The big round shape of the lotus leaves changes according to the sun andbreeze, providing a vivid comparison to the movement of a skirt. By introducing the colourunity of the first two images with the verb “j “(literally meaning “to cut and sew”), thepoet personifies the lotus plants and creates a pleasant intimacy and unity between the plantsand the maiden. By the implication of the juxtaposition of the two images, “lotus leaf’ and“silk skirt”, the poet introduces the setting and the persona in harmonious visual imagery. Thesecond line further compares the lotus blossoms to the maiden. “Fu rong “, anotherword for lotus blossoms, is used here to avoid redundancy and enhances the beautiful scene.When describing the maiden’s moving closer to the plant, the poet uses a personified verb“xiang “to suggest that the plant is drawn to her. It suggests the warm welcome from thelotus to the maiden as the plant makes way for her. On the other hand, the flower may be ametaphor to describe the beautiful color of maiden’s cheeks, which is similar to the flower.The third line enlarges the scene from the plants to the whole pond. The persona andher surroundings are merged through the effect of her entering the pond. Because of theresemblance between the plant and maidens established in the first couplet, the poet is thus ableto unite the two. “Luan ru *L .N.” (literally meaning “to enter in disarray”) creates two layersof meaning, one describing the motion of the maiden entering the pond, and the otherexpressing the bewilderment of the narrator when witnessing the scene. By introducing theimage of the pond, the poet cleverly shifts the focus to a larger environment which includes35Before Wang Changling, He Zhizhang 31’ (659-744) is the only poet recorded to havewritten one poem under this title in the gijue. See Guo Maoqian, Yuefu shiji, juan 50, p. 733.74both the plants and the maidens. The phrase, “no where is she seen” (kan bu jian * Treinforces the harmony between the persona and the plant, and at the same time effects asuspension of meaning through the confusion of the visual scene. Having closed off the visualimages, the poet evokes the woman’s presence by means of auditory language in theconcluding line. Her voice, while further enhancing the harmonious picture of nature andhumanity, sets her apart from the plants. Thus, the poet creates a beautiful picture of singing inthe air. By the use of “shi jue 1 “(literally meaning “to sense only then”) the poem revealsthe presence of the narrator. In this poem, the poet evokes the sublimity of a lotus-pluckingscene and an intriguing plot through his use of implication.Implication is again the major technique Wang Changling uses to portray a desertedwife in the following poem:The Song of the Green Chamber(First of Two)36A white home, a gold saddle, an outrider to the Emperor Wu.A hundred thousand flags and pennants bivouac at Changyang palace.On the high balcony a young woman sets her zither a-twangAs she watches far-away dust rise toward Jianzhang palace.This poem employs the contemporary folk-song theme of a lonely wife whose husbandis away.37 The poet portrays two protagonists in this poem: one is an imperial guard of the36QTS, juan 143, p. 1445, revised translation of Joseph Lee, Wang Changling, p. 107.37mis poem is recorded in Yuefu shiji under the category of “yuefu zati 4 “ in thexin yuefu ci ).“ See Guo Maoqian, Yuefu shiji, juan 91, p. 1279.75Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty, and the other, his lonely wife. By juxtaposing the two, eachin his or her own setting, the poet uses the traditional theme as a vehicle to implicitly criticizesome imperial policies.The first couplet sets the time as the Han Dynasty, and portrays the majestic appearanceof the hero. “A white horse, a gold saddle” alludes to a poem of the sixth century, whichportrays a splendid soldier heading for the battlefield.38 The second line sets the location ofthe poem: Changyang Palace of the Han Dynasty was a place for imperial hunting.39 Byplacing ten thousand military troops, supposedly for use in war, in the imperial hunting palace,the poet implicitly expresses his disagreement with the extravagance of the ruler in his huntingpursuits.The second couplet dramatically shifts the focus to the wife of a soldier. The desolatechamber imagery contrasts with the imposing sight of the imperial hunting palace, and creates asolitary image of the woman. This sense of solitude is further enhanced by the image of ayoung woman playing the zither. This image in Chinese poetic tradition is commonlyemployed to suggest loneliness.40 The last line relates the two protagonists by portraying adistant picture seen by the young wife. The seemingly objective image “the rolling dustrunning towards the imperial palace, Jianzhang” in fact reflects the remote distance of the wife38The line has its long tradition in the poems on the folk-song theme. It can be traced back tothe first line in the poem “On White Horse” (baima pian i s ) written by the poet Cao Zhi* I (192-232):“The white horse adorned with the gold saddle”This poem is written about a person who should think of serving his country instead ofindulging himself in personal pleasure. See Guo maoqian, Yuefu shiji, juan 63, pp. 914-915.This poem started a tradition in which most of the poems written with this title start with asimilar line. The poet Shen Yue (441-5 13) adopts the theme and the title, and starts his poemwith the line:“The white horse and the purple-gold saddle”to portray the majestic imagery of the frontier soldier. See Yuefu shiji, juan 63, pp. 9 16-917.39me Changyang palace was built in the Qin Dynasty (246-207 BC) and was renovated in theHan dynasty (BC 206-24 AD) for imperial pleasure. See San fu huangtu ..- MII * , juan 2,Congshu jicheng chubian (Shanghai: Shangwu, 1936), p. 14.40For a similar image to portray a lonely woman, see Wang Changling’s own poem “Woesfrom the Green Tower” (ging lou yuan It.‘ ), OTS, juan 143, pp. 1445-1446.76from her husband. The image of a forlorn wife thus reinforces the poet’s ridicule of theextravagance of the imperial hunting trip.In this poem, the poet conveys his disagreement with the policy of imperial hunting byskillfully juxtaposing objective description of the external world in which the two characterslive, without explicitly stating his opinion. This restraint of style enables Wang to deliver hiscriticism through the effect of juxtaposition. He presents two realities and appears to invite hisreaders to ponder their relationship. As a result, critics have different interpretations of thepoem, some suggesting that the theme is to portray the pride and joy of a lady, while othersthink the poem has an allegorical content which implicitly criticizes government corruption.41Wang Changling’s restrained style of using objective imagery which has implicationsbeyond the material world enables him to express his anti-war attitude in the next poem on afolk-song theme of women’s suffering:A Young Wife’s Sorrow42The young woman of the house, unaware of her longing;Finely dressed, she goes up to the tower one day in spring.Suddenly seeing the colour of willows by the roadside,She regrets letting her man go after titles.41me former suggestions see Wang Fuzhi, Jiangzhai shihua, juan 1, p. 4. The latter see PanDeyu .R (1785-1839), Yangyizhai shihua 4 ‘ *- 4’, in Qing shihua xubian * *q (reprint, Taipei: Yinwen, 1985), p. 2025.42QTS, juan 143, P. 1446; revised translation of Joseph Lee, Wang Changling, p. 107.Although this poem is not included in the Yuefu shiji, its subject matter is that of the folk-songpoems. My knowledge of the folk-song theme is based on an analysis by Hans Frankel. SeeHans Frankel, “The Development of Han and Wei yuefu as a High Literary Genre,” in IhVitality of Lyric Voice, pp. 253-286.77Adopting the folk-song theme of the lonely wife whose husband is away at the war, thepoet portrays the agony of the endlessly waiting young wife. Through the careful arrangementof objective imagery, the poet uses description of the outer world to conveys his concern aboutsocial issues.The first couplet gives an objective description of the youthfulness of the persona. Thefirst line depicts a young wife at an age innocent of sorrow. The image “finely dressed, shegoes up to the tower” reinforces the youthful picture of the persona by showing her response tothe season of spring. By portraying the persona’s appearance and her movements, the poetcreates an objective observation of the character.The second couplet shifts from objective description to the character’s personalemotions, using the connotations of external imagery. On line three, the adverb “suddenly”,with its implication of the unexpected, evokes a dramatic change in the objective mood, andprepares for the concluding line. By using the connotation of a concrete feature of the externalworld, the “willow”, as the key to the persona’s inner feelings, the poet cleverly develops histheme. As noted in the previous chapter, the willow in the Tang was a symbol for parting.The implication of parting, along with the suddenness, shifts the focus from thepersona’s appearance to the theme in the last line, the persona’s regret in being alone. Thephrase “go after titles” suggests the husband goes to war in hope of promotion to the nobility.It reflects the constant wars against other nations, and the fact that some people joined the armyin hope of advancing their political careers. In this circumstance, many wives were left alone,living in solitude. The verb “regrets” implies the character’s loneliness. The persona’s imageof agony, which contrasts with that of freedom from care in the first couplet, renders theobjective description ironic by suggesting the forlorn state of the lady.Thereafter, the poem intricately presents a young bride wasting her youth in loneliness,while she should be enjoying innocence and happiness. Through his observation regarding alonely young wife, the poet interweaves description with criticism of the war policies of hiscontemporary government.78B. The Frontier ThemeThe second major theme in Wang Changling’s folk-song gijue is war. WangChangling wrote approximately nine poems on this subject. All of them focus on the hardshipsof the soldier’s life on the frontier.43 In most of these poems, the poet expresses hisopposition to military policy. In his famous “Campaign Songs” (cong jun xing t ft), forexample, Wang adopts an old folk-song theme of the Han Dynasty, the hardship of thesoldier’s frontier life, to explore various aspects of current frontier life as well as expressinghis thoughts on frontier policy. Wang Changling is recorded to have composed a group ofseven poems with the same title. Since these poems do not have a sequential order, and, in myview, should be treated individually, the number given before each poem is merely for theconvenience of identification.44(First of Seven)45West of the city, beacons are high on top of hundred-feet towers.At dusk, I sit alone in the autumn sea wind.46The Qiang flute’s melody “Moon of Mountain Gate” still plays.How can I think of the one grieving in her golden chamber, thousands of milesaway43Here I leave out the second of two poems “Heading for the Frontier” (chu sai 114 ; OTS,juan 143, p. 1444) because the very same poem is also recorded to be written by another poet,Li Bai, with the title of “Campaign Song” (cong jun xing 4L ft), QTS, juan 184, p. 1876).44These “Campaign Songs” are recorded in the Yuefu shiji under the tune of ping diao quin the category xianghe geci 4LJ k. Among Wang’s seven poems of the sametitle recorded in the QTS (juan 143, p. 1444), only the first, second, and fourth are recorded inthe Yuefu shiji (juan 33, pp. 487-488.)45QTS, juan 143, p. 1444; revised translation of Tang Zichang in Poems of Tang (San Rafael,California: T.C. Press, 1969), p. 123.46There is another version in the Yuefu shiji which reads,“At dusk, I climb up [the tower] alone.”See Guo Maoqian, Yuefu shiji, juan 33, p. 487.47The version in Yuefu shiji reads,79This poem describes a soldier’s longing for home. The first three lines depict theobjective reality of the setting while setting the central mood of the poem, loneliness. The“beacons” and “hundred-feet towers” in the first line economically sketch the frontier warscene and its tension. With climbing motion up the tower, the second line sets the time andintroduces the narrator. The fusion of time signals shown by “dusk” and “autumn”, and theobjective description of the narrator’s sitting alone create a sense of loneliness. The contrastbetween the war scene of the first line and the solitary image of the persona in the second lineenables the poet to detach the narrator from his reality, the war, and present his lonelinessthrough his natural surroundings. This is thus a brief solitary moment which the characterexperiences during the battle.The sense of solitude further becomes a sense of isolation as the auditory imagery ofthe flute melody is presented in the third line. “Moon of Mountain Gate” is a musical pieceabout the agonizing parting of lovers.48 Hence, by introducing the piece of music, the poetimplies the reason for his protagonist’s sorrow--the soldier’s longing for home and his loverwhich transforms the material surroundings into a reflection of his loneliness. In the context ofhomesickness, the objective war scene of the first line suggests the soldier’s weariness withconstant battle, his climbing up the high tower implies his gazing homewards, and the cold andloneliness associated with the autumn, wind and the hero’s physical existence reflects the“Who can ease the one grieving in her golden chamber, thousands of milesaway!”See Guo Maoqian, Yuefu shiji, juan 33, p. 487.48See the introduction with the title “Guan shan yue” in Guo Maoqian’s, Yuefu shiji, juan 23,p. 334.80bleakness of his inner world.Centering his poem on a mood of sorrow, the poet abruptly shifts his focus in theconclusion from the lonely soldier to his forlorn wife. Instead of continuing the imagery ofpersonal sadness built up in the previous three lines, the poet concludes with another aspect ofloneliness, a scene thousands of miles away from the soldier, in which his wife is agonizingthrough missing her love. Such change of direction from the soldier to his love, which isconsistent with the objective description in the previous three lines, reinforces the deep andsolitary sorrow of the narrator. The last line, though it moves away from the hero, implies thesoldier’s powerlessness to comfort his love’s lonely heart, and thus in turn reveals his agonyof homesickness.By the interaction of the war and the soldier’s loneliness, the poem reveals thenarrator’s weariness with the constant wars. The inner reflective reality and restrained stylemakes the poem rich in emotion and conveys the poet’s critical attitude towards the then currentfrontier policy which kept soldiers from home. The poet explores another aspect of thesoldier’s longing for home in the following gijue poem of the same title.(Fourth of Seven)49Long clouds from the Sea of Kokonor darken the mountain of SnowThe lone fortress I gaze at far away is the Jade Gate Barrier.50Yellow sands, a hundred battles have pierced our golden armour-If we do not smash Kroraina we never shall go home.5149QI., juan 143, p. 1444; revised translation by Stephen Owen, The great age of Chinesepoetry, p. 107.50In QTS, the “Jade Gate Barrier” (yu men guan 11 MI) is also written as “Goose GateBarrier” (yan men guan 11 MI). See QTS, juan 143, p. 1444.51The diction “zhong “is also written as “jjng i”; both words in English mean “after all.”81Dealing with the subject matter of a soldier’s longing for home, this poem is dense withcomplex messages regarding the poet’s criticism of the endless frontier wars of his time.The first couplet depicts objective reality. The “Sea of Kokonor” is in present Qinghaiprovince, while the “mountain of Snow” and “Jade Gate Barrier” are both located in presentGansu province. Moreover, the “Jade Gate Barrier” was considered in the Tang to be theborder of China’s interior.52 By juxtaposing three distant locations in the first couplet, thepoet gives reality to the setting while inviting associations with a massive yet desolate frontierscene. The phrase “I gaze far away” introduces the narrator, and transforms the objectivedescription of reality in the first couplet into a scene that is subjectively perceived by itsbeholder. Hence, the adjective “lone”, in the narrator’s eye signifies not only the objectiveisolation of the fortress, but also his own loneliness. The first couplet, therefore, not onlydepicts the geographical location of the poem to give it a touch of realism, but also reflects thenarrator’s inner feelings of desolation and loneliness towards the frontier life.The second couplet is a commentary from the voice of the narrator, the soldier. Thephrase “a hundred battles have pierced our golden armour” suggests the danger, hardship, andthe length of time the narrator has endured on the frontier. Furthermore, it also conveys thesoldier’s weariness with battles. Not only the golden armour, but also the enthusiasm of ayoung soldier has worn out. The revelation of such weariness reinforces the desolate feelingsof the soldier in the first couplet. This building up of the soldier’s longing for home is thusintensified by the message of the final line:If we do not smash Kroraina we never shall go home.There are two layers of meaning within this line. On the one hand, it appears to be anambitious vow from the soldiers. Regardless of the hardship of the frontier life, the52For a detailed discussion regarding the geographical location and related symbolism of theJade Gate Barrier, see Dai Shijun * * 1. “Lun sheng Tang biansai shi de fanzhan jingshen2(1985): 77.82determination to have a glorious victory creates a brave, energetic, and majestic image for thesesoldiers.53 On the other hand, this line may also be interpreted in an opposite way asrepresenting the soldiers’ desperate feeling of never being able to return home. Continuing theprevious mood of longing, this line suggests that, regardless of how many battles the soldiershave fought, and how much hardship they have endured, without conquering Kroraina, aneighboring country of China of the Han Dynasty, they can never go home. The final linediscloses the narrator’s desperation at the endless battles and his uncertainty about goinghome.54 The coexistence of these two layers of meaning, the soldiers’ longing for home andtheir ambition to conquer another country, creates an irony which makes the poem rich withintricacy and complexity.The powerlessness of the soldier in this poem implicitly raises the poet’s criticism ofthe frontier policy of his time, and probably reflects society’s suffering because of the frontierpolicy. In the following poem, the poet, though writing on another traditional folk-songtheme, deals with the same subject matter, the hardships of the frontier life, from a historicalperspective.Over the Border55The moon goes back to the time of Chin, the gates of Great Wall to the time ofHan,Our troops marching ten thousand miles out have yet to return.56If the Lightning General of Dragon City were present,He would not allow the Hun cavalry to cross Mount Yin.53This comment is suggested by the modern commentator Liu Baishan. See Tang ren juejuping zhu, edited by Fu Shousun, p. 26.54See Shen Deqian, Tang shi bie cai, juan 19, part 4, p. 117.55QI, p. 1444; revised translation of Tang Zichang, Poems of Tang, p. 125.56This line in Chinese is also written as “wan ii zheng fu shang wei huan A. .t ,“ and both lines share a similar meaning. See QI, juan 148, p. 1444.83The title “Over the Border” indicates that the theme is adopted from the folk-songs ofthe Han dynasty about soldiers heading to the frontier for war.57 By using a traditional theme,the poet contemplates the historical background to the current wars against continuing foreigninvasions. However, unlike the previous poems, both couplets in this poem are commentaries.The first couplet is a commentary on the historical continuity of constant war. The poetbegins the poem with an objective description of the frontier scene, while relating its presentexistence to the past. The moon in the sky is the same moon as in the Qin Dynasty, while thefortress is still the same as that of the Han. By relating the objective scenery of the present tothat of the ancient dynasties, Qin and Han, the poet not only presents a historical fact, butcreates an image of unending war. The “Qin” and “Han” coordinate with each other to developthe concept of “ancient”, and fuse with the present scene to build an image of changelessnessand stillness. By stating that the external world is the same from the past to present, the poetmaps out a historical framework for his first comments. Through establishing a changelessfrontier scene, the poet shifts his focus to the never-returned soldiers, and completes hiscomment. “Ten thousand miles” suggests the remoteness of the frontier, while the imagery ofthe unreturned soldiers echoes the long-lasting tragedy endured by the families of the troops.By fusing its depiction of time, place and people, the poem intricately reveals the poet’santagonistic attitude to the current war.In the second couplet, the poet contemplates a solution to the endless historical tragedy.By a conditional sentence which alludes to a competent general of ancient times, the poet subtlyinsinuates the incompetence of present-day military commanders. The phrase “LightningGeneral” alludes to the famous Han general, Li Guang - & (d. 119 B.C.). General Li57This poem is recorded in the category hengchui guci 4 of the Han in Yuefu shiji,juan 21, p. 321.84gained his fame for dealing the Huns a crushing defeat at Dragon City, and henceforth theirperiodic incursions into North China stopped.58 The Huns nicknamed him “LightningGeneral” for his miraculous skill and speed in military operations.59 The implication of theconditional sentence in this couplet is that the present dynasty, lacking a general of Li Guang’sstature, has an ineffective border defense. A further implication is that since the competentcommanders of ancient times no longer exist, the intruders cannot be stopped, showing theincompetence of current military commanders. Hence, the buried theme, that of incompetenceof current commanders, reinforces the tragedy in the first couplet, since the soldiers stillcannot return home, and the country still has to spend a lot of manpower on the frontier.Through juxtaposing two historical observations, the poem reveals the poet’sfrustrations regarding the current frontier policy and the military commanders.IV. ConclusionFrom the above discussion, we see that unlike his predecessors, Wang Changlingencompasses various subject matter in his qijue. His qijue poems embrace both the occasionaltheme from the seventh century and the spirit of the folk-song that belongs to the sixth century.In most of his works written in the folk-song manner, Wang integrates themes which aretraditionally used in other poetic genres. Besides using traditional subject matter, he alsowrites of contemporary themes.One of the most noticeable features of Wang’s gijue is their unconventional approachto the theme. Unlike most of his predecessors, who wrote qijue only to describe theappearance of an event, the poet centers his attention on exploring the feelings of his personae.The emotions the poet seems to be particularly interested in are those concerning suffering and58”Dragon city” (long cheng *1 *), as Shi Zhecun suggested, was the capital of the Tartarsconquered by General Wei Qing * (d. 106 BC) of Han, and here refers to the headquartersof foreign intruders in general. Shi Zhecun, Tang shi bai hua, p. 148.59Ban Gu, Han shu buzhu, juan 54, pp. 2443-2444.85abandonment. While employing the dramatic plot and concrete descriptive manner of hispredecessors, Wang Changling turns the material world into a vehicle to reflect the complexinner emotions of his characters. This transformation from the outer world to reflect innerfeelings enables him to implicitly include his opinion on the issues that evoke the feelings.86CHAFFER EWECONCLUSIONWang Changling was a poet active in the first half of the eighth century. At a timewhen gijue was not widely written, Wang was perhaps the earliest poet to consciously devotehimself to writing the form. In fact, the poet is one of the most productive gijue poets of histime. Furthermore, the poet enjoys a great success in qijue writing that, because of them, hehas been esteemed as the master of the form by critics over the centuries. In my view, WangChangling’s success in gijue is due to his integrating the gijue tradition with his innovativepoetic style. Hence, the best way to understand Wang Changling’s qijue is to examine them inthe perspective of the qijue tradition.Qijue did not take its final form until the seventh century, although the prototype sevencharacter quatrains can be traced back to the mid-fifth century. From the fifth century to theseventh century, since the dominant poetic form was the five-character poem, few poets wroteqijue. In the evolution of the seven-character quatrain to the qijue, the form went through twomajor thematic periods, those of folk-song, and the celebration of the public occasion. Duringthe sixth century, because the dominant aesthetic taste in poetry stressed precise and detaileddescription, the seven-character quatrains were written in a detailed manner following folk-song themes. The same descriptive manner persisted in the seventh century. The majorinnovation in qijue of the seventh century was the establishment of the modern-style regulatedtonal pattern. Otherwise, qijue in the seventh century, apart from changing thematically fromromantic poetry to occasional verse, remained similar to their predecessors in terms of simple,descriptive form with little use of allusion.Wang Changling played an important role in writing eighth century qijue. First of all,he is probably the earliest poet to devote himself to qijue writing, even though the form was notpopular. Secondly, in his qijue poems, he not only inherited the poetic techniques developedby his predecessors, but he also transformed them to accommodate his own purpose. Wang’s87use of detailed descriptive techniques enabled him to create a sense of realism in his poems.His choice of themes were similar to previous poets. Two major themes he wrote about are thefolk-song themes and celebrating the public occasion. His qijue poems, like those of hispredecessors, use little allusion and are mostly based on concrete events, which makes thepoems more accessible.However, Wang Changling created a new way of qijue writing by combining traditionand his own unique style. Unlike his predecessors, the focus of his poems stresses thecomplex emotion of the character evoked by an event instead of simply describing the eventitself for description’s sake. Focusing mainly on the complex emotion of human suffering,Wang’s poems turn the concrete and objective description so often used in the sixth andseventh centuries into a vehicle to mirror the emotional state of their characters. Through thecontrast or parallelism of carefully chosen imagery, Wang not only creates a sense of realism inhis poems but also uses implication to reflect the inner emotion of his characters. Because oftheir highly suggestive nature, and because of the complex emotions they imply, his poemsinvite many possible interpretations.The complexity in Wang Changling’s qijue not only exists in the theme but alsomanifests itself in his descriptive manner. The paradoxical existence of both clear and objectivedescription of the outer world, and obscure, subjective emotional intensity is the key to WangChangling’s success in qijue. The imagery in his poems seems to objectively present an imageof the material world just as a camera does. Yet through his arrangement of the objects, Wangimplies the complex emotions of his personae. The controlled tone of voice and descriptivemanner makes the uncontrolled emotional turmoil and complexity more obvious. This contrastallows the poet to express strong emotions in a restrained manner. The contrast betweendistant objectivity, and personal, emotional intensity makes the poem intriguing and invites thevarious interpretations. By focusing on emotion, the poet interweaves a contemporary spiritinto the historical events he alludes to, and thus transforms traditional material to express hisopinion regarding current issues. The paradoxical elements of his qijue, presenting past and88present, emotion and distance, objectiveness and subjectiveness, result from WangChangling’s merging of the qijue tradition with his own innovative craftsmanship and spirit.In short, Wang’s success in qijue is in his ability to apply his unique poetic techniqueand serious ideas to its content, while embracing tradition. Through such an expansion oftheme and technique, the qijue is no longer confined to mere entertainment. Focusing on theconcrete and accessible events, he creates intricate and inexhaustible messages. Since WangChangling, the aesthetic taste in qijue emphasizes subtlety and profundity in expressingemotions. 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