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Li Shangyin : the poetry of allusion Yu, Teresa Yee-Wah 1990

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L I SHANGYIN: THE POETRY OF ALLUSION By TERESA YEE-WAH YU B.A., The U n i v e r s i t y o f Hong K o n g , 1973 M.A., The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , 1977 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES ( A s i c i n S t u d i e s ) We a c c e p t t h i s t h e s i s a s c o n f o r m i n g t o t h e r e q u i r e d s t a n d a r d THE UNIVERSITY OF B R I T I S H COLUMBIA A u g u s t 1990 (o) T e r e s a Yee-wah Yu, 1990 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. 1 further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date DE-6 (2/88) ABSTRACT A major poet of the Tang p e r i o d , L i Shangyin i s h i g h l y regarded yet c r i t i c i z e d because h i s work i s densely a l l u s i v e . D a z z l i n g and r i c h i n meaning, i t i s a l s o d i f f i c u l t and obscure because of i t s p e r v a s i v e a l l u s i v e n e s s . Chapter I reviews c r i t i c a l o p i n i o n of L i ' s use of a l l u s i o n . Many t r a d i t i o n a l c r i t i c s see a l l u s i o n as an ornamental r h e t o r i c a l d e v i c e and c o n s i d e r L i ' s profuse a l l u s i v e n e s s an i d i o s y n c r a s y to be t o l e r a t e d i n an esteemed poet. Chapter II s t u d i e s a l l u s i o n b r o a d l y and p r e c i s e l y as a l i t e r a r y concept: g e n e r a l l y , a l l u s i o n i s a "connector" of t e x t s , a l i n k between a poet's work and h i s l i t e r a r y h e r i t a g e ; s p e c i f i -c a l l y , i t i s a l i n g u i s t i c d e v i c e s e r v i n g m e t a p h o r i c a l f u n c t i o n s . A l l u s i o n viewed as extended metaphor generates m u l t i p l e meanings. An approach to r e a d i n g a l l u s i o n i s here developed, to i n t e r p r e t a l l u s i v e t e x t s on l i t e r a l , a l l e g o r i c a l , and symbolic l e v e l s . The chapter concludes t h a t i t i s a misconception to say t h a t the heavy use of a l l u s i o n n e c e s s a r i l y leads to i n f e r i o r poetry. Chapter I I I r e l a t e s L i ' s a l l u s i o n s to major m o t i f s i n h i s work, f i n d i n g t h a t h i s h i s t o r i c a l and m y t h o l o g i c a l a l l u s i o n s f a l l i n t o c l u s t e r s and p a t t e r n s . The p r o f u s i o n of m y t h o l o g i c a l a l l u s i o n s y i e l d s symbolic meanings, both i n i n d i v i d u a l poems and i n the l a r g e r context of h i s c o l l e c t e d works. Examining L i ' s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c use of a l l u s i o n , the chapter shows how i t func-t i o n s as a major s t y l i s t i c s i g n a t u r e and i s the p r i n c i p a l reason f o r the p l u r i s i g n a t i o n and ambiguity i n h i s poetry. Chapter IV i n t e r p r e t s s e v e r a l t y p i c a l poems by L i Shangyin i n the context of the t h e o r e t i c a l and h i s t o r i c a l framework of the fo r e g o i n g c h a p t e r s . I t h i g h l i g h t s some of the major f u n c t i o n s of a l l u s i o n i n these poems. A p o s i t i v e response to the p l u r i s i g -n a t i o n of L i ' s a l l u s i v e mode allows f o r an i n c l u s i v e c r i t i c a l approach to d i v e r s e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s and d i s c a r d s those readings f a i l i n g the standards of c o n s i s t e n c y , coherence, and complete-ness . Chapter V concludes t h a t L i ' s presumed v i c e i s h i s v i r t u e : h i s a l l u s i v e t e x t u r e makes h i s work d i f f i c u l t but g i v e s i t a rewarding r i c h n e s s . His unique use of a l l u s i o n i s o r g a n i c . Far from being a mere ornamental d e v i c e , a l l u s i o n i s the ve r y poetry i t s e l f . He c r e a t e s h i s own p o e t i c mode, the Poetry of A l l u s i o n . TABLE OF CONTENTS i v CHAPTER I I n t r o d u c t i o n 1 CHAPTER II On A l l u s i o n The Psychology of A l l u s i o n 11 A l l u s i o n as a L i t e r a r y Concept 21 S e t t i n g the Terras 22 A l l u s i o n as Metaphor 28 The Reading of A l l u s i o n 34 On ge and buge and the Use of A l l u s i o n 38 CHAPTER I I I L i Shangyin and His Use of A l l u s i o n Background to L i ' s Use of A l l u s i o n 49 A l l u s i o n and the P o e t i c World of L i Shangyin 68 A l l u s i o n and P l u r i s i g n a t i o n 106 D i s t i n c t i v e Features and S t r a t e g i e s 140 CHAPTER IV C h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y A l l u s i v e Poems: An I n t e r p r e t i v e Study " I n t r i c a t e l y - P a i n t e d Z i t h e r " 163 "Emerald Walls" 176 "The Jade P o o l " 197 "Peonies" 202 "The Maoling Mausoleum" 209 "Five Casual P i e c e s " 218 Chapter V Con c l u s i o n 237 V APPENDIX (I) L i Shangyin: A Chronology 242 (II) Chinese Texts 246 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS 261 NOTES 263 BIBLIOGRAPHY 325 v i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS My primary debt i s to P r o f e s s o r C.Y. Yeh Chao, whose s c h o l a r s h i p and i n s i g h t i n s p i r e d me to read Chinese poetry. Her s e n s i t i v e response to the work of L i Shangyin k i n d l e d my i n t e r e s t i n h i s work and guided me through t h i s study. I am g r a t e f u l to P r o f e s s o r s E.G. P u l l e y b l a n k and J e r r y Schmidt f o r t h e i r generous and h e l p f u l comments on my work. I should a l s o l i k e to thank P r o f e s s o r Chen Y i x i n of Peking U n i v e r s i t y f o r h i s t h o u g h t f u l and ready response to my i n q u i r i e s . P r o f e s s o r James Hightower has more than my deep g r a t i t u d e f o r k i n d l y g i v i n g me the b e n e f i t of h i s profound s c h o l a r s h i p i n h i s c o n s i s t e n t l y d e t a i l e d c r i t i c i s m of ray work. I a l s o wish to thank P r o f e s s o r F.H. C a n d e l a r i a f o r h i s u n f a i l i n g good humor and e d i t o r i a l a d v i c e . v i i EXPLANATORY NOTE The t e x t used i n t h i s study i s Fen Hao' s y.^J e d i t i o n of L i Shangyin's poetry: Yuxisheng Shiji Jianzhu ^Xjj' ' e < * i t e d & annotated by Feng Hao. 1763. Shanghai: C l a s s i c a l Texts P u b l i s h i n g Press, 1979. 2 v o l s . Each poem c i t e d i n f u l l i n the t e x t w i l l be given i t s page number i n Feng Hao under the a b b r e v i a t i o n , FH, f o l l o w e d by the appro-p r i a t e number. The Chinese t e x t s of L i ' s poems, i f c i t e d i n f u l l , are found i n Appendix I I . Chinese t e x t s of p a r t s of poems are pr o v i d e d i n the f o o t n o t e s . 3. The B e i j i n g Pinyin System i s used f o r the romanization of Chinese names, t i t l e s and terms. When a book or a r t i c l e i s c i t e d which uses the Wade-Giles system of t r a n s c r i p t i o n , the t i t l e i s given i n i t s o r i g i n a l form. Passages quoted from books or a r t i c l e s u s i n g Wade-Giles s p e l l i n g w i l l , however, be converted i n t o pinyin. 4. Character s c r i p t s f o r a l l Chinese names, t i t l e s and terms are g iven i n the t e x t , immediately a f t e r t h e i r pinyin t r a n s c r i p t i o n s . Except f o r Emperor Xuanzong and XuSnzong , a l l other pinyin s p e l l i n g s are f o l l o w e d by Chinese s c r i p t only the f i r s t time they occur i n the t e x t . A l l E n g l i s h t r a n s l a t i o n s of o f f i c i a l t i t l e s are based on Charles Hucker's A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China. S t a n d f o r d U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1985. Chapter I I n t r o d u c t i o n G e n e r a l l y c o n s i d e r e d to be the l e a d i n g poet i n the l a t e Tang, and one of the f i n e s t i n the h i s t o r y of Chinese poetry, L i and h i s c o l o r f u l , i n t r i c a t e use of language a l l h e l p to s e t him apart from other major poets so t h a t he occupies a very s p e c i a l p l a c e i n Chinese l i t e r a r y h i s t o r y . 2 Despite t h i s r e c o g n i t i o n , however, L i remains today one of the most d i f f i c u l t and con-t r o v e r s i a l Chinese poets. One b e w i l d e r i n g phenomenon surrounding L i Shangyin's poetr y i s the d i v e r s i t y of i t s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s and the many c o n f l i c t i n g responses i t generates i n i t s c r i t i c s and r e a d e r s . I t i s not unusual to f i n d h a l f a dozen very d i f f e r e n t , even d i v e r g e n t readings of the same poem i n h i s c o l l e c t i o n . Often, w i t h i n a s i n g l e poem, such i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s can range from a reading of the p i e c e as an appeal f o r p o l i t i c a l patronage, a documentation of h i s romantic l i a i s o n with D a o i s t nuns, a s a t i r e on the love l i f e of Tang p r i n c e s s e s , a r e f e r e n c e to c e r t a i n p o l i t i c a l s i t u a t i o n s i n the c o u r t , to a c r i t i c a l comment on the Tang emperors' f u t i l e p u r s u i t of i m m o r t a l i t y . While some c r i t i c s do o f f e r d i f f e r e n t i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s f o r d i f f e r e n t poems, most are i n c l i n e d to read h i s p i e c e s based on c e r t a i n p r e f e r r e d schools of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , to the e x c l u s i o n of other r e a d i n g s . 3 Apart from i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , other aspects of L i Shangyin's (813-858) 1 unique v i s i o n , s e n s i t i v i t y 2 p o e t r y have r e c e i v e d s i m i l a r l y mixed responses. Poets such as Bai J u y i "fej ^) (772-846), Wang Anshi i ^jk %Z (1021-1086), Yuan Yishan /£j ( 1190-1257), t r a d i t i o n a l c r i t i c s such as Wu Qiao , He Zhuo >f^ f ( 1661-1722), Weng Fanggang I^^ J ( 1733-1818), among ot h e r s , are s a i d to have enjoyed h i s work and thought very h i g h l y of h i s p o e t r y . 4 He Zhuo, f o r example, d e s c r i b e s L i ' s p o e t r y as " f i l l e d with rhythms and t u r n s , sounds and c o l o r s , f e e l i n g s and t a s t e s , " r a t i n g him h i g h l y above t h a t of Du Mu jfa (803-852 ). 5 Zhu H e l i n g , i n the p r e f a c e to h i s a n n o t a t i o n of L i Shangyin's poetry, w r i t e s , " L i ' s p o e t r y has the resonance of the a n c i e n t a i r s and the echoes of Qu Y u a n ^ ^ and Song Y u ^ i . ' , f o r he has grasped what i s most profound i n Du Fu s^jl jj^ J and yet c r e a t e d something of h i s own."6 Feng Hao V^i? i too, t h i n k s t h a t L i ' s p o e t r y i s " d a z z l i n g i n i t s c o l o r s , sonorous i n i t s tones, complex i n i t s c o n s t r u c t i o n s and profound i n i t s meanings." 7 On the other hand, however, L i ' s poetry has been t y p i c a l l y c r i t i c i z e d as being "too ambiguous and d i f f i c u l t . " 8 I t has a l s o been d e s c r i b e d as "not having one word to do with the governing of S t a t e , not having any thoughts of moral encouragement." 9 He i s the " t a l e n t e d p h i l a n d e r e r " whose poetry i s read " i n the same way as Xu L i n g ' s /(^"* T^t, Yutai Xinyong j£.v <2 and Han Wo ' sjj^j. 'I Jh. Xianlian Ji are r e a d . " 1 0 C l e a r l y , these c r i t i c s are t a k i n g a m o r a l i s t i c ap-proach, a t the same time i g n o r i n g any a l l e g o r i c a l or symbolic readings of h i s poetry. T h i s approach to L i ' s work even c a r r i e s 3 over to some contemporary M a r x i s t c r i t i c s . In h i s e v a l u a t i o n of L i Shangyin, f o r example, Wang S h i q i n g j j l t h i n k s that L i ' s p o e t r y may have " r e l a t i v e l y high a r t i s t i c achievements," but many of the emotions found i n h i s poetry are "unhealthy" and should be " d i s c a r d e d . " 1 1 A p r i n c i p a l reason f o r the many d i v e r s e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s and mixed responses to L i ' s p o e t r y l i e s , I b e l i e v e , i n h i s use of a l l u s i o n . L i Shangyin has l e f t behind a f a i r l y l a r g e body of poems, t o t a l l i n g about s i x hundred. 1 2 W r i t t e n o f t e n on a non-r e a l i s t i c plane, h i s poems are e v o c a t i v e and sensuously daz-z l i n g . 1 3 They r e v e a l an a r t i s t i c v i s i o n t h a t takes us to realms of d e l i c a t e beauty and subconscious emotions. While h i s p i e c e s are extremely a t t r a c t i v e , they are a l s o h i g h l y enigmatic, crowded with a l l u s i o n s and s h i f t i n g imagery. Both i n the broader and narrower sense, L i ' s p o e t r y i s a l l u s i v e . We f i n d g e n e r i c and s t y l i s t i c echoes of past models and usages with t r a d i t i o n a l a s s o c i a t i o n s . 1 4 His c o l l e c t i o n i n c l u d e s h i s t o r i c a l poems, poems c e l e b r a t i n g o b j e c t s , poems with t i t l e s t y p i c a l of Qi - L i a n g v e r s e s , poems which c o n s c i o u s l y i m i t a t e the s t y l e s of Du Fu, L i He ^ and Han Y u j j ^ . i s I t i s , however, h i s p r o f u s e and c h a r a c t e r i s t i c use of metaphorical a l l u s i o n s which has made h i s po e t r y d i s t i n c t l y d i f f e r e n t from t h a t of other p o e t s , 1 6 at the same time, g e n e r a t i n g mixed f e e l i n g s among h i s r e a d e r s . Such f e e l i n g s are best i l l u s t r a t e d i n the f o l l o w -ing well-known comment by Yuan Yishan: 4 Emperor Wang, h i s s p r i n g heart e n t r u s t e d to the cuckoo. A f i n e lady, an i n t r i c a t e l y - p a i n t e d z i t h e r , laments of blossoming y e a r s -Poets have always l o v e d the beauty of the Xikun v e r s e s , 1 7 Yet they r e g r e t t h a t there i s no Zheng Xuan around to do the a n n o t a t i o n s ! 1 8 By quoting and paraphrasing l i n e s from L i ' s famous poem, " J i n s e " ^ ^ 3 (The I n t r i c a t e l y - p a i n t e d Z i t h e r ) , Yuan i s expres-s i n g h i s bafflement over i t s a l l u s i v e images strung together without any obvious c o n n e c t i v e s . 1 9 In the face of what he rec o g n i z e s as e l u s i v e and i n e x p l i c a b l e beauty, Yuan c o u l d only s i g h at the l a c k of knowledge over many of the a l l u s i o n s . The need f o r a good, r e l i a b l e a n n o t a t i o n of L i ' s p o e t r y was not o n l y acknowledged by Yuan Yishan, the Ming c r i t i c Hu Zhenheng a l s o wrote: "Tang poetry need not [ i n g e n e r a l ] be annotated. U n l i k e the poems c o l l e c t e d i n the Wen Xuan , Tang poems d e p i c t immediate scenery, a l l u d e to r e a d i l y comprehensible s t o r i e s . Annotating such poems can onl y take away t h e i r f l a v o r . . . . There are, however, poems which cannot do without a n n o t a t i o n s . . . . the p r o f u n d i t y and o b s c u r i t y of L i Shangyin's v e r s e s . . . . r e q u i r e c a r e f u l a n n o t a t i o n and explanation....So f a r , however, no one has yet been a b l e to handle t h i s t a s k . " 2 0 Since these famous p l e a s f o r a s c h o l a r l y a n n o t a t i o n , over the next few c e n t u r i e s the v a r i o u s annotated e d i t i o n s of L i Shangyin's poetr y g r a d u a l l y emerged. 2 1 With the v a s t e f f o r t expended on t r a c i n g the sources of L i ' s a l l u s i o n s and a l l the annotations a v a i l a b l e to him, Liang Q i c h a o J ^ /V/C/'xJ. ( 1873-1929) c o u l d s t i l l wonder about the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of many of L i ' s poems: What L i Shangyin's " J i n s e (The I n t r i c a t e l y - p a i n t e d Z i t h e r ) , "Bicheng" 3 | (Emerald W a l l s ) , "Shengnii Ci"J^ ^-gj (Holy Lady's Shrine) r e a l l y mean I f a i l to grasp. I f you ask me to take the poems apart and e x p l a i n each s i n g l e l i n e , I have problems even with the l i t e r a l meaning. Yet I f e e l the beauty of h i s poetry. I t g i v e s me a f r e s h sense of d e l i g h t to read h i s works... 2 2 I t i s c l e a r l y not the o b s c u r i t y of the a l l u s i o n s alone which c r e a t e s d i f f i c u l t y i n i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . Often, the e l l i p t i c a l and unusual way these a l l u s i o n s are used a l s o c o n t r i b u t e s to the am-b i g u i t y and complexity of h i s poetry. Although many c r i t i c s have remarked on the a l l u s i v e n e s s of L i ' s p o e t r y and much r e s e a r c h has been devoted to h i s poetry i n ge n e r a l , no e x t e n s i v e study has as yet been w r i t t e n on L i Shang-y i n ' s use of a l l u s i o n . Let us f i r s t examine the s c a t t e r e d comments t r a d i t i o n a l c r i t i c s have made on t h i s aspect of h i s poetry. More o f t e n than not, L i ' s a l l u s i o n s are looked upon as ex c e s s i v e and obscure, a ne g a t i v e element i n h i s poetry: L i Shangyin i s fond of p i l i n g up a l l u s i o n s i n h i s poetry... i n h i s poem "Xixue"_j |j£ ( D e l i g h t i n Snow), as many as seventeen to eigh t e e n sources are a l l u d e d t o . (Gongxi Shi-L i Shangyin's a l l u s i o n s are d i f f i c u l t and obscure. His language i s s k i l l f u l . y e t h i s meanings tend to f a l l s h o r t . (Cai kuanfu Shihua /f^JT f^ j" )2 4 Former c r i t i c s have o f t e n deprecated the e x c e s s i v e use of a l l u s i o n s . I f a poet simply puts together a l l u s i o n s suggested by h i s t i t l e , he i s j u s t c o m p i l i n g s t o r i e s . Other than demonstrating h i s s k i l l , how does t h i s s o r t of t h i n g improve h i s poetry? L i Shangyin's " R e n r i " £J (Written On the Seventh Day A f t e r the New Year) i s e x a c t l y one such poem. (Duichuang Shihua^^ y ^ f ^ * » ^ ) 2 5 When L i Shangyin w r i t e s , he u s u a l l y c o n s u l t s h i s l i b r a r y . He l i n e s up h i s books, l i k e an o t t e r d i s p l a y i n g h i s catches of f i s h b e f o r e devouring them. (Yang Wengong Tan-yuan ' J\ SUF <V/ I 2 6 L i ' s p o e t r y i s elegant and dense. L i k e the house with a hundred t r e a s u r e s and d a n g l i n g f r i l l s , or an i r o n web made of a thousand d e l i c a t e wires, i t i s anything but a spon-taneous poetry. (Shi Ping^zl&T ) 2 7 On the other hand, some c r i t i c s have remarked f a v o r a b l y on h i s use of a l l u s i o n : His a l l u s i o n s seem obscure, yet the meanings they c a r r y are f a r - r e a c h i n g . ( Suihantang Shihua Jjjv j ^ ^ L ^ f Z** ) 2 8 From the time of The Book of Songs to the present day, a l l the poems t h a t managed to s u r v i v e are works of genuine s p i r i t , not the mere lumping together [of b e a u t i f u l words and knowledge]. Although L i Shangyin's poetry i s a l -l u s i v e , h i s a l l u s i o n s are used with g r e a t s k i l l and fused with emotions. They are not a r t i f i c i a l l y put together. (Suiyuan S h i h u a ^ ^ J ^ ^ ( t ^ . ) 2 9 Since c r i t i c s tend to look upon the heavy use of a l l u s i o n as something p e d a n t i c and a r t i f i c i a l , L i Shangyin's a l l u s i o n s are c o n s i d e r e d to be, at best, f u n c t i o n a l l y d e c o r a t i v e , and at worst, d i f f i c u l t , mannered, obscure and s u p e r f l u o u s , an i d i o -syncrasy to be t o l e r a t e d i n an otherwise h i g h l y - r e g a r d e d p o e t . 3 0 I t i s t r u e t h a t a few of L i ' s poems show an u n s u c c e s s f u l " c o l l a g e " e f f e c t i n the use of a l l u s i o n . 3 1 Poems such as " X i -xue" and "Renri J i s h i " are padded with a l l u s i o n s , suggesting indeed bookishness and a r t i f i c i a l i t y . 3 2 Other p i e c e s such as "Sheyu Qu" jks ^ (Song of F i s h - s p e a r i n g ) and "Shaoxiang Qu" j ^ j ^ ^ J (Sons o f Incense-burning) remain l a r g e l y an enigma to us today because of the strange and p r i v a t e manner the a l l u s i o n s are put t o g e t h e r . 3 3 However, a l l u s i o n i s so overwhelmingly per-v a s i v e i n L i Shangyin t h a t we simply cannot deny t h a t i t p l a y s a v i t a l r o l e i n the shaping of h i s p o e t r y . S t a t i s t i c a l l y , each of h i s q u a t r a i n s c o n t a i n s an average of three a l l u s i o n s , h i s r e g u l a t e d v e r s e s an average of seven. His longer p i e c e s - - t h e f i v e - c h a r a c t e r pailii 'sfy f~ as w e l l as h i s a n c i e n t - s t y l e v e r s e s — a r e even more a l l u s i v e . His yongwu $?Jv-i47 poems and the few memorable p i e c e s r e l a t i v e l y f r e e of a l l u s i o n s make up o n l y a s m a l l p o r t i o n of h i s e n t i r e c o l l e c t i o n . 3 4 The m a j o r i t y of L i ' s poems, and they i n c l u d e h i s most c h a r a c t e r i s t i c as w e l l as h i s f i n e s t p i e c e s , are h i g h l y a l l u s i v e . When we t r y to r e c o n c i l e the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c beauty of L i Shangyin's p o e t r y with i t s p r e v a l e n t use of m etaphorical a l -l u s i o n s , we begin to see t h a t t h i s a l l u s i v e n e s s i s r e a l l y c e n t r a l to h i s i n d i v i d u a l a e s t h e t i c s . I t i s a l s o h i s use of r e c u r r e n t a l l u s i v e images t h a t r e v e a l s h i s unique and c o n s i s t e n t p e r c e p t i o n of the world. Indeed, a l l u s i o n i s such an i n t e r -n a l i z e d p a r t of L i ' s consciousness and a e s t h e t i c s t h a t i f we were to e l i m i n a t e h i s a l l u s i o n s we would a l s o e l i m i n a t e h i s poetry. A study of L i ' s a l l u s i o n s i n r e l a t i o n to the major m o t i f s of h i s work and the d i f f e r e n t ways he uses them con-s t i t u t e s , t h e r e f o r e , an important and f r u i t f u l approach to understanding and e v a l u a t i n g h i s poetry. While contemporary c r i t i c s r e c o g n i z e the a l l u s i v e n e s s of L i Shangyin, those few who have s t u d i e d t h i s aspect of h i s p o e t r y tend to p e r c e i v e h i s a l l u s i o n s as no more than a frequent d e v i c e r a t h e r than h i s c e n t r a l mode of e x p r e s s i o n . Consequently, they have overlooked the profound and complex u n d e r l y i n g e f f e c t s of a l l u s i o n i n h i s work. 3 5 In the f o l l o w i n g chapters of my t h e s i s , I s h a l l begin by s t u d y i n g a l l u s i o n as a l i t e r a r y concept, both i n i t s broad and narrow sense. I s h a l l c o n s i d e r the p s y c h o l o g i c a l and a e s t h e t i c i m p l i c a t i o n s of a l l u s i o n , and examine i t s use as an extended metaphor. In the process of s t u d y i n g L i Shangyin's poetry, I have a l s o developed an approach to reading a l l u s i v e t e x t s i n a way t h a t i l l u s t r a t e s the r i c h p o t e n t i a l of a l l u s i o n i n generat-in g m u l t i - l a y e r e d meanings. Chapter II ends with a d i s c u s s i o n of the use of a l l u s i o n i n r e l a t i o n to the n o t i o n of ge ^$f\ 9 (poetry which does not have a r e a d i l y communicable inner world) Chapter I I I begins with a d i s c u s s i o n of the h i s t o r i c a l , b i o g r a p h i c a l and l i t e r a r y background u n d e r l y i n g L i Shangyin's heavy use of a l l u s i o n . T h i s i s f o l l o w e d by a study of h i s r e c u r r e n t c l u s t e r s of a l l u s i v e imagery, t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p with the dominant m o t i f s of h i s work and t h e i r r o l e i n shaping the inne r world of h i s poetry. I s h a l l a l s o i n v e s t i g a t e the s p e c i a l ways i n which a l l u s i o n s are used i n connec t i o n with other elements, e s p e c i a l l y i n the c r e a t i o n of m u l t i p l e meanings i n h i s poetry. The chapter concludes with an overview of a l l u s i o n as a major s t y l i s t i c f a c t o r u n d e r l y i n g some of the most d i s t i n c t i v e f e a t u r e s of L i Shangyin's poetry. While Chapter I I I pr o v i d e s an overview of L i Shangyin's use of a l l u s i o n , c i t i n g examples to i l l u s t r a t e the d i s t i n c t i v e f e a t u r e s i d e n t i f i e d i n h i s poetry i n g e n e r a l , Chapter IV i s devoted to an in-depth study of some of L i Shangyin's s u c c e s s f u l poems which are c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y a l l u s i v e . The poems re p r e -sent the spectrum of L i ' s poetry, c o v e r i n g a v a r i e t y of sub-j e c t s , and showing, at the same time, many of the s t y l i s t i c f e a t u r e s r e s u l t i n g from h i s use of a l l u s i o n . I t i s not my i n t e n t i o n i n t h i s study to propose yet another e x c l u s i v e s c h o o l of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . I demonstrate, i n s t e a d , the c e n t r a l i t y of a l l u s i o n to L i Shangyin's p o e t i c s . Through an and (poetry which does) as put forward by the l a t e Qing c r i t i c and l i t e r a r y t h e o r i s t Wang 1927) 10 i n v e s t i g a t i o n of a l l u s i o n as extended metaphor and, i n L i ' s case, a l l u s i o n as a l i t e r a r y mode, I hope to achieve a more comprehensive approach to reading h i s p o e t r y and a b e t t e r understanding of h i s accomplishment as a poet. 11 Chapter II On A l l u s i o n The Psychology of A l l u s i o n P o e t i c language i s no o r d i n a r y language. B u i l d i n g on the shared code of everyday language, poets are c o n s t a n t l y s t r u g g l i n g to c r e a t e new meanings and f r e s h p e r c e p t i o n s . They are c o n s t a n t -l y t r y i n g to achieve the most su g g e s t i v e , o r i g i n a l and heightened use of language. As the l i t e r a t u r e of a c u l t u r e accumulates, i n s t e a d of drawing from o r d i n a r y language alone, poets can a l l u d e to the past, t a k i n g images, phrases, s t o r i e s , events and impressions from the r i c h storehouse of the l i t e r a r y t r a d i t i o n . With time, t h i s common h e r i t a g e shared by the poet and h i s readers grows to i n c l u d e not j u s t an i n d i v i d u a l ' s thoughts and emotions but a l l p o e t i c and a e s t h e t i c experience. And the poet continues to c r e a t e f r e s h p e r c e p t i o n s and new p o e t i c worlds by drawing from t h i s cumulative h e r i t a g e . In so doing, he f u r t h e r m o d i f i e s the t r a d i t i o n by adding to i t something of h i s own. T.S. E l i o t puts i t t h i s way: What happens when a new work of a r t i s c r e a t e d i s something t h a t happens s i m u l t a n e o u s l y to a l l the works of a r t which preceded i t . The e x i s t i n g monuments form an i d e a l order among themselves, which i s m o d i f i e d by the i n t r o d u c t i o n of the new (the r e a l l y new) work of a r t among them. The 12 e x i s t i n g o r d e r i s c o m p l e t e b e f o r e t h e new work a r r i v e s ; f o r o r d e r t o p e r s i s t a f t e r t h e s u p e r v e n t i o n o f n o v e l t y , t h e w h o l e e x i s t i n g o r d e r must be, i f e v e r s o s l i g h t l y , a l t e r e d ; a n d so t h e r e l a t i o n s , p r o p o r t i o n s , v a l u e s o f e a c h work o f a r t t o w a r d t h e w h o l e a r e r e a d j u s t e d ; a n d t h i s i s c o n f o r m i t y b e t w e e n t h e o l d and t h e new. 1 Seen i n t h i s l i g h t , a l l g r e a t p o e t s a r e a t t h e same t i m e t r a d i t i o n a l i s t s a n d i n d i v i d u a l i s t s . A p o e t may, o c c a s i o n a l l y , w r i t e w i t h o u t e c h o i n g p a s t l i t e r a r y w o r k s , y e t few p o e t s c a n i g n o r e t h e s i l e n t w o r k i n g s o f p r e v i o u s g e n e r a t i o n s . I n d e e d , no p o e t c a n be c o n s i d e r e d a f i n e p o e t who d o e s n o t w r i t e w i t h what E l i o t c a l l s " t h e h i s t o r i c a l s e n s e , " a s e n s e o f " t h e t i m e l e s s as w e l l as t h e t e m p o r a l . " 2 He must have an a c u t e a w a r e n e s s o f h i s own p l a c e i n t i m e , o f h i s c o n t e m p o r a n e i t y i n t h e c o n t e x t o f t r a d i t i o n . I n t h i s s e n s e , a l t h o u g h a g r e a t p o e t a l w a y s has s o m e t h i n g s i g n i f i c a n t l y new and i n d i v i d u a l t o o f f e r , no p o e t c a n ha v e c o m p l e t e m e a n i n g a l o n e . T h i s t e n d e n c y f o r p o e t s t o draw f r o m t h e p a s t d o e s n o t o n l y mean t h a t t h e y c a n e n r i c h t h e i r w o r k s by u t i l i z i n g t h e c r e a t i v e e x p e r i e n c e o f e a r l i e r w r i t e r s , i t a l s o e x p l a i n s a d e e p e r p s y c h o -l o g i c a l n e e d - - t h e n e e d t o go b e y o n d o n e ' s f i n i t e s e l f b y b e i n g c o n n e c t e d t o t h a t b i g g e r , c o l l e c t i v e c o n s c i o u s n e s s w h i c h i s o n e ' s own t r a d i t i o n . I n a s t u d y o f poems on t h e D o u b l e N i n t h f e s t i v a l , A.R. D a v i s d e s c r i b e s t h e p o e t ' s u s e o f a l l u s i o n s a s a means " t o l i n k h i s p a r t i c u l a r poem t o t h e g e n e r a l s t r e a m o f C h i n e s e p o e t r y . " 3 D a v i d L a t t i m o r e f u r t h e r l i k e n s t h i s t o a n e f f o r t i n a t t a i n i n g what R o b e r t L i f t o n c a l l s " s y m b o l i c i m m o r t a l i t y , " w h i c h i s seen as man's need, " i n the face of i n e v i t a b l e b i o l o g i c a l death, to maintain an i n n e r sense of c o n t i n u i t y with what has gone on b e f o r e and what w i l l go on a f t e r h i s own i n d i v i d u a l e x i s t e n c e . " 4 In t h e i r e a r l y h i s t o r i c a l c l a s s i c the Zuo Zhuan J%- /f =^ > the Chinese f i r s t mention the a c t of w r i t i n g as one of the three ways to i m m o r t a l i t y , the sanbuxiu . 5 L a t e r , i n the Ji a n ' a n p e r i o d , Cao P i ^ (187-226) echoes t h i s same i d e a i n h i s essay, Dianlun Lunwen J ^ - ^v.-' L i t e r a t u r e i s no l e s s noble an a c t i v i t y than the governing of a s t a t e ; i t i s a l s o a way to i m m o r t a l i t y . The years pass and one's l i f e runs out i t s n a t u r a l course. Honours and p l e a s u r e s cease to be with one's body. A g a i n s t these i n e x o r a b l e f a c t s , l i t e r a t u r e l i v e s on to e t e r n i t y . 6 Although the Chinese are by no means unique i n r e c o g n i z i n g the a c t of w r i t i n g as a means to i m m o r t a l i t y , 7 i t seems t h a t the Chinese w r i t e r i s , on the whole, even more conscious of h i m s e l f as p a r t of a whole. He i s more keenly aware of a t t a i n i n g what David Lattimore c a l l s , a "corporate i m m o r t a l i t y . " 8 Indeed, t h i s n o t i o n of c o r p o r a t e i m m o r t a l i t y , of b l e n d i n g o n e s e l f with a b i g g e r whole, i s an important aspect of Chinese c u l t u r e . The Chinese have, f o r c e n t u r i e s , sought a k i n d of symbolic immorta-l i t y through a conscious p e r p e t u a t i o n of the f a m i l y l i n e and a n c e s t o r worship. 9 Chinese mystics f i n d i n d i v i d u a l transcendence through a s p i r i t u a l oneness with Nature. In the realm of l i t e r a -t u r e , nothing e x p l a i n s the use of a l l u s i o n b e t t e r than the b e l i e f t h a t one's w r i t i n g s w i l l a l s o , one day, become a source of value, a p a r t of the immortal past being a l l u d e d t o . Thus Wang X i z h i ^ -j) ^  (321-379) concludes i n h i s famous "Lanting Xu" ^ fy* : People i n the f u t u r e w i l l look upon us the same way we now look upon those i n the pa s t . . . Although t h i n g s w i l l change and the world w i l l be d i f f e r e n t , what touches the heart w i l l be the same. Those who read t h i s i n the f u t u r e w i l l be moved by what we w r i t e . 1 0 Su Shi (1037-1101), the famous Song poet echoes the same sentiment i n h i s c i poem to the tune of Yongyule T J ^ & ^ L T ^ * » w r i t t e n a f t e r spending a n i g h t at an h i s t o r i c a l s i t e : ....Past and present are but a dream From which none w i l l ever be awakened--A dream of o l d joys and new sorrows. Some day someone f a c i n g t h i s n i g h t view over the Yellow Tower W i l l s i g h f o r me! 1 1 While Su's poem i s i n s p i r e d by the s t o r y of Guan Panpan fyfl* and the Swallow Tower, he b e l i e v e s t h a t h i s own contempla-t i o n s a t t h i s famous h i s t o r i c a l s i t e w i l l i n t u r n be remembered and a l l u d e d to i n the f u t u r e . Again and again, Chinese poets have expressed t h e i r b e l i e f i n the e t e r n a l i z i n g power of a r t . No wonder they look to works of the past as a source of value and i n s p i r a t i o n . No wonder a l l u s i o n becomes a s i g n i f i c a n t p a r t of t h e i r p o e t i c t r a d i t i o n . R e l a t e d to the n o t i o n s of t r a d i t i o n and i m m o r t a l i t y , the use 15 of a l l u s i o n i s a l s o an appeal to a u t h o r i t y . Even i n everyday e x p o s i t o r y w r i t i n g , we quote h i s t o r i c a l f a c t s and sayings to support and to strengthen our arguments. Reverence f o r th i n g s o l d and e s t a b l i s h e d , a g e n e r a l r e c e p t i v e n e s s to quo t a t i o n s and words t i n g e d with time are, n a t u r a l l y , p a r t of the psychology u n d e r l y i n g the use of a l l u s i o n . T h i s i s e x a c t l y what L i u X i e / ^ j (? ~ 520) i s suggesting when he w r i t e s , i n h i s very d e f i n i -t i o n of " a l l u s i o n , " i n Wenxin Diaolong t ^ / ^ ^ j j ^ ' ^ K j * A l l u s i o n i s , e x t e r n a l to one's own w r i t i n g , the adducing of a f a c t or event to support some g e n e r a l i z a t i o n , the c i t i n g of an a n c i e n t example to support a present statement.... i t i s the r u l e of the Sages and t h e i r g e n e r a l p r a c t i c e i n the C l a s s i c s to c i t e o l d sayings to c l a r i f y g e n e r a l p r i n c i p l e s and to a l l u d e to human s t o r i e s and events to i l l u s t r a t e i d e a s . 1 2 Then there are those poets who use a l l u s i o n s f o r p e r s o n a l and p o l i t i c a l reasons. During the Wei J i n and between the Ming and Qing p e r i o d s , poets g e n e r a l l y wrote i n a more a l l u s i v e s t y l e because they l i v e d i n a p o l i t i c a l l y dark and treacherous e r a, when any s l i g h t d i s a p p r o v a l , not to mention open c r i t i c i s m , of the r u l i n g regime c o u l d l e a d to p e r s e c u t i o n and death. The Wei J i n , e s p e c i a l l y , i s a time when d e s p a i r i n g i n t e l l e c t u a l s turned to Neo-Daoism, d i s p l a y e d strange, e c c e n t r i c and u n r u l y behavior, and i n poetry, r e s o r t e d to a complex, ambiguous and h i g h l y a l l u s i v e modes of e x p r e s s i o n i n order to communicate t h e i r f r u s t r a t i o n s and hidden emotions. Instead of w r i t i n g d i r e c t l y 16 what he f e e l s or t h i n k s , a poet can d e l i b e r a t e l y m y s t i f y by mixing images drawn from nature with those drawn from a s t o r y or an h i s t o r i c a l event. The reader i s l e f t with j u s t a nuance of f e e l i n g , a suggestion, a h i n t , while the poet escapes the b a l e f u l n o t i c e of the a u t h o r i t i e s , at the same time s a t i s f y i n g h i s honest, a r t i s t i c impulses. I t has o f t e n been s a i d t h a t many of the poems by L i Shangyin are a l l u s i v e f o r p o l i t i c a l and p r i v a t e reasons. T h i s i s c e r t a i n l y t r u e , although I b e l i e v e v a r i o u s other f a c t o r s have c o n t r i b u t e d to the complexity and a l l u s i v e n e s s of L i Shangyin's poetry, as I s h a l l p o i n t out i n Chapter I I I . In the West, the use of a l l u s i o n has many other p s y c h o l o g i -c a l i m p l i c a t i o n s , many of which have to do with our response to i t as a l i n g u i s t i c d e v i c e . In the Oxford English Dictionary, "to a l l u d e " i s d e f i n e d , c o n s i d e r i n g the L a t i n o r i g i n of the verb, as "to p l a y with, joke, or j e s t a t , d a l l y with," "to r e f e r by the pl a y of words," "to r e f e r by the p l a y of fancy." The key words here are "play, joke, d a l l y , fancy." "To a l l u d e " i s not simply "to r e f e r , " but to do so i n a p l a y f u l , s p o r t i v e manner. Wit and fancy are, t h e r e f o r e , two key notio n s u n d e r l y i n g the use of a l l u s i o n . Instead of s t a t i n g or d e s c r i b i n g a s i t u a t i o n d i r e c t l y , a poet uses an a l l u s i o n as a concealed r e f e r e n c e . L i k e the sh a r i n g of an i n s i d e joke, the reader i s c h a l l e n g e d to jog h i s memory, to s t r e t c h h i s ima g i n a t i o n , and to make the necessary connections between the a l l u s i o n , i t s context and the s i t u a t i o n i n the poem. And when the r e c o g n i t i o n comes, i t comes with a d i s t i n c t sense of p l e a s u r e and d e l i g h t i n d i s c o v e r i n g what Freud 17 c a l l s "something f a m i l i a r where one expects to f i n d something new i n s t e a d . " 1 3 At t h i s p o i n t , the reader f e e l s as i f he alone has been p r i v i l e g e d to hear the clown's a s i d e , or t h a t he has been l e t i n t o some k i n d of p r i v a t e c l u b where onl y the c l e v e r and the knowledgeable are granted admittance. On the other hand, should he f a i l to re c o g n i z e the a l l u s i o n , the whole experience can be very f r u s t r a t i n g and b a f f l i n g . Since one of the long r e c o g n i z e d f u n c t i o n s of l i t e r a t u r e i n the West i s to pl e a s e , wit and fancy have been popular n o t i o n s among western w r i t e r s . As a r h e t o r i c a l d e v i c e , a l l u s i o n has served t h i s purpose very w e l l . In the Chinese t r a d i t i o n , one may argue, l i t e r a t u r e and poetry are u s u a l l y seen as a s e r i o u s a f f a i r , the f u n c t i o n s of l i t e r a t u r e being "to propagate the dao" and "to express the mind's/heart's i n t e n t . " 1 4 Yet the Chinese are i n r e a l i t y no l e s s s e n s i t i v e to the i d e a of wit (Jizhi'^^^) and the c l e v e r p l a y of words. During the Spr i n g and Autumn p e r i o d , p r i n c e s , noblemen and ambassadors of s t a t e s knew the poems i n The Book of Songs by heart so t h a t they c o u l d a l l u d e to them as an i n d i r e c t means i n r e p r o v i n g a s u p e r i o r , or a f a c e -saving d e v i c e i n d i p l o m a t i c d i s c o u r s e . In such cases, a l l u s i o n i s , i n Lat t i m o r e ' s words, the means to "a war of w i t s . " 1 5 T h i s l i n g u i s t i c p l a y f u l n e s s i s a l s o e v i d e n t i n the Chinese p r a c t i c e of Almost synonymous with wit and fancy i s the idea of b r e v i t y . w r i t i n g ( l i n k e d verse) 18 " B r e v i t y i s the s o u l of w i t " and one of the most important reasons f o r us i n g a l l u s i o n i n poetry . Even i n everyday language, we t r y to achieve economy by using s h o r t , a l l u s i v e e x p r e s s i o n s . E n g l i s h phrases such as " S c y l l a and Charybdis," "Gordian knot," "Pandora's Box" a l l u d e to s t o r i e s i n Greek mythology to d e s c r i b e t y p i c a l human s i t u a t i o n s i n f i g u r a t i v e language. The Chinese language, too, i s r i c h i n the use of chengyu, or p r o v e r b i a l e x p r e s s i o n s , which are made up mostly of f o u r - c h a r a c t e r phrases. Examples such as shouzhu dai tu ^^^"i^ (watching underneath a t r e e to wait f o r a hare to run i n t o i t ) , huashe tianzu ( p a i n t i n g a snake and adding l e g s to i t ) , yugong yishan *^ (a s i l l y o l d man moving mountains) or yamiao z h u z h a n g ^ 7 ( p u l l i n g the s e e d l i n g s to help them grow) are a l l common sayings, each condensed from a well-known s t o r y or f a b l e . In fou r c h a r a c t e r s , an e n t i r e s t o r y i s evoked; a gre a t deal i s s a i d and s a i d i n the most concrete and v i v i d way. The use of a l l u s i o n i n poetry does s i m i l a r l y i n t e r e s t i n g t h i n g s with language. Not onl y can a l l u s i o n s h e l p to economize what one wants to say i n the sh o r t space of a poem, they a l s o l i n k the pi e c e with other works from the past, s t r e t c h i n g both the s p a t i a l and temporal dimensions of a poem. Another important e f f e c t of the use of a l l u s i o n i s the c r e a t i o n of a e s t h e t i c , " p s y c h i c a l d i s t a n c e , " between a reader and what i s d e s c r i b e d i n a poem. According to E. Bullough, a e s t h e t i c experience or f e e l i n g i n the a p p r e c i a t i o n of a r t comes about because we have a d i s i n t e r e s t e d r e l a t i o n s h i p to such works, 19 because we are not concerned with our own p e r s o n a l g a i n or l o s s when we engage o u r s e l v e s i n the a c t of a p p r e c i a t i o n . 1 6 As the famous s a y i n g goes, "what i n l i f e doth g r i e v e us, i n a r t we g l a d l y see," thus many of the events we see on stage or read about i n poems and novels would be too p a i n f u l to contemplate i f they took p l a c e i n r e a l l i f e . S i m i l a r l y , w i t h i n the framework of a poem, a c e r t a i n sense of d i s t a n c e both i n space and time c r e a t e s a more heightened a e s t h e t i c f e e l i n g i n a reader. We know, f o r example, t h a t people g e n e r a l l y enjoy m e d i t a t i n g on the past . Crude and u n s o p h i s t i c a t e d h a n d i c r a f t s unearthed from the past are t r e a s u r e d simply because they are a n t i q u e s . Things t h a t were almost t r i f l i n g and i n s i g n i f i c a n t are o f t e n contemplated with i n t e r e s t and n o s t a l g i a . M i s f o r t u n e s which took p l a c e a long time ago o f t e n come back as much more bearable, i f not a l t o g e t h e r heart-warming memories. A good example of a t r a g i c h i s t o r i c a l event which would have been most shocking and unbearable i f i t were to come to us as a p i e c e of news today i s the s t o r y of Emperor Xuanzong -jf\ and h i s f a v o r i t e c o n s o r t Yang G u i f e i . Yet, the gruesome death of t h i s c l a s s i c beauty has been t r a n s -formed, over time, i n t o a sad, but a p p e a l i n g memory, c e l e b r a t e d most n o t a b l y i n the long poem "The Song of E v e r l a s t i n g Sorrow" by Bai J u y i and i n hundreds of other works by subsequent poets. Other than temporal d i s t a n c e , s p a t i a l d i s t a n c e a l s o enhances our sense of a e s t h e t i c p l e a s u r e . In one of h i s many essays on t h i s s u b j e c t , Zhu Guangqian ^ ^ f * * ' ^ e Chinese s c h o l a r and d e d i c a t e d student of a e s t h e t i c s , w r i t e s : 20 There was a small r i v e r l e a d i n g to the R i v e r Rhine behind where I l i v e d . I used to take evening s t r o l l s t here, walking over there along the e a s t e r n bank of the r i v e r , and coming back, a f t e r c r o s s i n g the b r i d g e , along the western bank. When I was on the east s i d e of the r i v e r , I always f e l t t h a t the scenery on the west s i d e looked l o v e l i e r , and v i c e v e r s a . The t r e e s and houses on the other s i d e of the r i v e r bank u s u a l l y appeared more b e a u t i f u l to me. Yet they c o u l d not compare with t h e i r own r e f l e c t i o n i n the r i v e r . The t r e e s themselves looked a l i t t l e o r d i n a r y . T h e i r r e -f l e c t i o n , on the other hand, suggested c o l o r s and s i g h t s from a d i f f e r e n t w o r l d . . . . 1 7 Why would the r e f l e c t i o n of a t r e e look more b e a u t i f u l than the t r e e i t s e l f ? Because a r e f l e c t i o n suggests a world's d i s -tance from us. I t belongs to a more f a n c i f u l , imaginary world, one t h a t i s removed from r e a l l i f e . When a poet a l l u d e s to a s t o r y , a legend, a myth or an h i s t o r i c a l event i n the past, he i s s t r e t c h i n g the sense of space and time i n h i s poem. L i k e the r e f l e c t i o n of a t r e e upon a r i v e r , what he wants to convey comes across to us through a " p s y c h i c a l d i s t a n c e , " and the f e e l i n g we d e r i v e from i t i s more a e s t h e t i c and p l e a s u r a b l e . There are, as we can see, many p o s i t i v e m o t i v a t i n g f a c t o r s behind the use of a l l u s i o n i n poetry, among which looms a p o s s i -b l e v i c e : the use of a l l u s i o n as a sheer d i s p l a y of knowledge. Too o f t e n , c r i t i c s have frowned upon poetry crowded with a l l u -s i o n s which serve no more than a d e c o r a t i v e f u n c t i o n , or worse s t i l l , impede the meaning of a p i e c e with l e a r n e d phrases c u l l e d from books. Is the use of a l l u s i o n n e c e s s a r i l y bad or good? When does an a l l u s i o n cease to be e f f e c t i v e and f u n c t i o n a l ? What are the c r i t e r i a f o r a s u c c e s s f u l a l l u s i v e poem? What s p e c i a l s t y l i s t i c e f f e c t does the profuse use of a l l u s i o n u s u a l l y impart to a poem? L a t e r i n t h i s chapter, I s h a l l d e a l with some of these c e n t r a l q u e s t i o n s . Other r e l a t e d concerns w i l l be made c l e a r i n my d i s c u s s i o n of L i Shangyin's poetry. A l l u s i o n as a L i t e r a r y Concept Since T.S. E l i o t suggested t h a t poets should be thoroughly f a m i l i a r with and make use of works of the past i n order to e s t a b l i s h t h e i r p l a c e i n the t r a d i t i o n , other c r i t i c s such as Walter Bate and Harold Bloom have pursued the qu e s t i o n of the past as the burden of the modern w r i t e r . 1 8 Bloom, p a r t i c u l a r l y , speaks of the poet's " a n x i e t y of i n f l u e n c e " and h i s s t r u g g l e to make room f o r h i s own c r e a t i o n by performing a d e l i b e r a t e a c t of "misreading" or "mi s p r i s o n " on the t e x t s of h i s p r e c u r s o r s . 1 9 L i k e an Oedipal r e v i s i o n of the f a t h e r , a c c o r d i n g to Bloom, the poet f r e e s h i m s e l f from the past by purposely misreading i t , a t t a c h i n g new meanings to i t f o r h i s own use. And i t i s the f u n c t i o n of the c r i t i c to study t h i s "misreading," t h i s p e c u l i a r f u s i o n of the o l d and new i n the c r e a t i o n of l i t e r a r y works. With such a growing i n t e r e s t i n the s u b j e c t of i n f l u e n c e and i n t e r - t e x t u a l i t y , i t i s i n e v i t a b l e t h a t the study of a l l u s i o n and a l l u s i v e s t r a t e g i e s has come to assume an i n c r e a s i n g l y important 22 pl a c e i n l i t e r a r y theory and c r i t i c i s m . As Carmela P e r r i comments i n her pre f a c e to an annotated b i b l i o g r a p h y on the su b j e c t : " A l l u s i o n i s a p e r f e c t f o c a l p o i n t f o r s t u d i e s bent on e x p l a i n i n g both the p a r t i c u l a r l i n g u i s t i c e x p r e s s i o n of a t e x t as w e l l as i t s r e l a t i o n s h i p to l i t e r a r y and s o c i a l h i s t o r y . " 2 0 S e t t i n g the Terms Before d i s c u s s i n g the l i t e r a r y f u n c t i o n s of a l l u s i o n , i t i s necessary to agree on a d e f i n i t i o n of the term. In the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, E a r l Miner d e f i n e s " a l l u s i o n " as "(any) t a c i t r e f e r e n c e to another l i t e r a r y work, to another a r t , to h i s t o r y , to contemporary f i g u r e s , or the l i k e . " 2 1 M.H. Abrams, i n A Glossary of Literary Terms, d e s c r i b e s i t as "a r e f e r e n c e , e x p l i c i t or i n d i r e c t , to a person, p l a c e , or event, or to another l i t e r a r y work or pa s s a g e . " 2 2 Carmela P e r r i has al r e a d y r e j e c t e d Miner's " t a c i t r e f e r e n c e " as an inadequate d e s c r i p t i o n , while showing us how t h i s r e f e r e n c e can both be overt or c o v e r t (which i s r e a l l y an echo of Abrams' " e x p l i c i t or i n d i r e c t " ) . 2 3 She then goes on to o f f e r her own encompassing def i n i t i o n : A l l u s i o n i n l i t e r a t u r e i s a manner of s i g n i f y i n g i n which some k i n d of marker (simple or complex, o v e r t or cov e r t ) not only s i g n i f i e s u n - a l l u s i v e l y , w i t h i n the imagined p o s s i b l e world of the a l l u d i n g t e x t , but through echo a l s o denotes a source t e x t and s p e c i f i e s some d i s c r e t e , r e c o v e r a b l e pro-23 p e r t y ( i e s ) belonging to the i n t e n s i o n of t h i s source t e x t (or s p e c i f i e s i t s own p r o p e r t y ( i e s ) i n the case of s e l f -echo); the p r o p e r t y ( i e s ) evoked m o d i f i e s the a l l u d i n g t e x t , and p o s s i b l y a c t i v a t e s f u r t h e r , l a r g e r i n t e r - and i n t r a -t e x t u a l p a t t e r n s of p r o p e r t i e s with consequent f u r t h e r m o d i f i c a t i o n of the a l l u d i n g t e x t . 2 4 As P e r r i sees i t , " l i t e r a r y a l l u s i o n " as a l i n g u i s t i c device serves a double s i g n i f y i n g f u n c t i o n . 2 5 I t i s a r e f e r e n t f o r one l e v e l of meaning w i t h i n the t e x t i t s e l f . Beyond t h i s t e x t , through echo, i t a l s o r e f e r s to a source t e x t and b r i n g s i n t o our ima g i n a t i o n the meanings and p r o p e r t i e s a s s o c i a t e d with t h i s t e x t . Instead of the s i n g l e r e f e r e n c e i n o r d i n a r y language, l i t e r a r y a l l u s i o n g i v e s us double r e f e r e n c e , hence r i c h e r r e v e r -b e r a t i o n s i n meaning. And when we see t h i s a l l u d i n g t e x t i n t u r n as a source t e x t f o r f u t u r e a l l u d i n g t e x t s , we have a p i c t u r e of the p o s s i b l e r i p p l i n g , cumulative e f f e c t of t r a d i t i o n on the i n d i v i d u a l t a l e n t t h a t E l i o t speaks of. Thus t h i s d e f i n i t i o n of a l l u s i o n takes care of the concept of a l l u s i o n both i n i t s narrower sense as a l i n g u i s t i c d e v i c e and i n i t s broader sense as a connector of t e x t s and l i t e r a r y e xperience. Then there i s the matter of c l a s s i f i c a t i o n . P e r r i groups a l l a l l u s i o n s i n t o three major c a t e g o r i e s a c c o r d i n g to the observable forms t h e i r markers may take. These she c a l l s : Proper names (which i n c l u d e both proper names and d i r e c t q u o t a t i o n s ) , D e f i n i t e d e s c r i p t i o n s (which i n c l u d e s i m i l e or n a r r a t i v e a s i d e s ) , and P a r a p h r a s e . 2 6 I f i n d her c l a s s i f i c a t i o n u n s a t i s f a c t o r y because i t focuses more on a l l u s i o n i t s e l f as a speech a c t than 24 on i t s r e l a t i o n s h i p to and the e f f e c t s i t may have on a t e x t . In h i s a r t i c l e , " A l l u s i o n i n the Poetry of T'ao Ch'ien," James Hightower o u t l i n e s a scheme f o r the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n of the d i f f e r e n t uses of a l l u s i o n as they apply to Tao's p o e t r y and to poetry i n g e n e r a l . The seven c a t e g o r i e s he d i s t i n g u i s h e s range from the a l l u s i o n which i s the s u b j e c t or excuse f o r a poem to "the wholly f o r t u i t o u s resemblance which i s onl y a t r a p f o r the too c o n s c i e n t i o u s exegete or the too l e a r n e d r e a d e r . " 2 7 These v a r i o u s uses of a l l u s i o n he d e s c r i b e s as f o l l o w : 1. The a l l u s i o n i s the s u b j e c t of a poem. Unless i t i s i d e n t i f i e d , one does not know what the poem i s about. 2. The a l l u s i o n i s the key to a l i n e ; one cannot under-stand the l i n e without knowing the a l l u s i o n . 3. The l i n e makes sense, but not i n context; the a l l u s i o n p r o v i d e s another reading t h a t makes the l i n e meaningful as a p a r t of the poem. 4. The l i n e makes p e r f e c t sense; the a l l u s i o n , when i d e n t i f i e d , adds overtones t h a t r e i n f o r c e the l i t e r a l meaning. 5. An e x p r e s s i o n or phrase i n the l i n e a l s o occurs i n a t e x t undoubtedly f a m i l i a r to the poet, but i t makes no c o n t r i b u t i o n to the reader's a p p r e c i a t i o n of the l i n e , and i t i s imp o s s i b l e to say whether the poet's adapta-t i o n of i t was conscious or not. 6. A word i s used i n a sense f a m i l i a r from a C l a s s i c a l 25 t e x t . I t makes no d i f f e r e n c e whether one (or the poet) l e a r n e d the meaning of the word from a d i c t i o n a r y or from i t s source. 7. The resemblance i s f o r t u i t o u s and m i s l e a d i n g i f p r e s s e d . 2 8 What Hightower i s concerned with i s the exact r e l a t i o n an a l l u s i o n has to a t e x t or p a r t s of a t e x t . He d e s c r i b e s an a l l u s i o n i n terms of our need to i d e n t i f y and to understand i t f o r the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of a poem. In the r e s t of the a r t i c l e , he devotes h i m s e l f to e l u c i d a t i n g the i n t e r p r e t a t i v e dimension of i n d i v i d u a l a l l u s i o n s , e s p e c i a l l y i n connec t i o n with t h e i r sources. The scheme he has d e v i s e d i s c e r t a i n l y u s e f u l f o r our understanding of t h i s aspect of the use of a l l u s i o n by any poet, but i t does not e x p l a i n the v a r i o u s f u n c t i o n s and e f f e c t s the use of a l l u s i o n might have i n a poem. In a d d i t i o n to Hightower's c a t e g o r i z a t i o n , I would l i k e to draw a t t e n t i o n to E a r l Miner's c l a s s i f i c a t i o n . Miner d i s t i n -guishes f i v e types of a l l u s i o n s : T o p i c a l , P e r s o n a l , I m i t a t i v e , S t r u c t u r a l and M e t a p h o r i c a l . 2 9 These i n c l u d e r e f e r e n c e s to recent events and f a c t s concerning the poet h i m s e l f ; the parody-in g of l i n g u i s t i c , s t y l i s t i c and g e n e r i c f e a t u r e s of previous works; and the use of an echoed element "as a v e h i c l e f o r the p o e t i c tenor t h a t i t a c q u i r e s i n the new context," i n other words, as metaphor. A l l of Miner's c a t e g o r i e s can a l s o be found i n the Chinese l i t e r a r y framework. Being p a r t i c u l a r l y h i s t o r i c a l l y minded and p r i z i n g of the t r a d i t i o n , the Chinese are perhaps even more conscious than Westerners of a l l u d i n g to the past. T r a d i t i o n a l shihua J"M ScT and cihua £. % - H f , for example, are f i l l e d with s c a t t e r e d remarks t r a c i n g the s t y l i s t i c and g e n e r i c models of d i f f e r e n t poets. Annotations, p r e f a c e s , marginal notes and t e x t u a l comments o f t e n i d e n t i f y the sources echoed d i r e c t l y or i n d i r e c t l y i n the works of i n d i v i d u a l w r i t e r s . Knowledge of and an i m p l i e d r e f e r e n c e to works of the past are p a r t - a n d - p a r c e l of a poet's c r e a t i v e process, as Lu J i w r i t e s i n h i s Wen Fu (Rhapsody on Poetry) : L i n g e r i n g a t the c e n t r e of the u n i v e r s e , contemplating i t s dark myst e r i e s , N o u r i s h i n g h i s s e n t i e n c e on the C l a s s i c s . . . Having t r a v e r s e d the f o r e s t of l i t e r a r y achievements, And witnessed, i n admiration, the bounteous graces of embellished w r i t i n g s . . . 3 0 Although r e f e r e n c e to the t r a d i t i o n i s a l s o made i n s t y l e , genre and other r e s p e c t s , the Chinese e q u i v a l e n t of the term " a l l u s i o n " ( diangu-^"^^. ) , r e f e r s s p e c i f i c a l l y and onl y to yongshi f^) > r e f e r e n c e to s t o r i e s and events from previous works, and yongci J^ ] > d i r e c t or i n d i r e c t borrowing of l i n e s from e a r l i e r w r i t -i n g s , two concepts f i r s t f o r m a l l y s t a t e d by L i u X i e i n h i s d e f i n i t i o n of a l l u s i o n which I would l i k e to quote again: • I t i s the r u l e of the Sages and t h e i r g e n e r a l p r a c t i c e i n 27 the C l a s s i c s to c i t e o l d sayings [ c i ] to c l a r i f y g e n e r a l p r i n c i p l e s and to a l l u d e to human s t o r i e s and events [shi] to i l l u s t r a t e i d e a s . 3 1 Basing myself on Miner's c a t e g o r i e s and i n c o r p o r a t i n g the t r a d i t i o n a l Chinese c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , I suggest a f i n a l re-grouping of a l l u s i o n s i n t o the f o l l o w i n g types: (1) Reference to t a l e s , myths, anecdotes, s t o r i e s of human and other events from past h i s t o r i c a l , l i t e r a r y and p h i l o s o p h -i c a l w r i t i n g s . T h i s i s l a r g e l y s i m i l a r to the Chinese i d e a of yongshi, and i t a l s o means, i n most cases, the use of a l l u s i o n as a metaphor or an extended metaphor. I s h a l l c a l l these (as they have been d e s c r i b e d i n the Princeton En-cyclopedia) , M e t a p h o r i c a l A l l u s i o n s . (2) Reference to recent events or f a c t s concerning the poet h i m s e l f . I s h a l l c a l l t h i s , a f t e r Miner, T o p i c a l and Per s o n a l A l l u s i o n s . (3) Reference to l i n e s of w r i t i n g c o n t a i n i n g p l a i n or i s o l a t e d images from p r e v i o u s t e x t s , i n v o l v i n g no s p e c i f i c s t o r i e s or events. T h i s i s e q u i v a l e n t to the Chinese i d e a of yongci. I s h a l l c a l l these T e x t u a l A l l u s i o n s . 3 2 (4) Reference to p o e t i c conventions i n s t e a d of to a s p e c i f i c t e x t or t e x t s - - t h e c h o i c e of a p a r t i c u l a r genre, s t y l e , t i t l e or meter which may remind one of t r a d i t i o n a l as-s o c i a t i o n s . I s h a l l c a l l these S t y l i s t i c and Generic 28 A l l u s i o n s . 3 3 What i n t e r e s t s me most here i s the f i r s t k i n d of a l l u s i o n , the use of a l l u s i o n as metaphor or extended metaphor. Because t h i s p a r t i c u l a r use of a l l u s i o n i s the most complex i n f u n c t i o n and the r i c h e s t i n meaning, and because the most i n t e r e s t i n g use of a l l u s i o n i n L i Shangyin i s metaphorical i n nature, I s h a l l l a t e r focus my study on the use of metaphorical a l l u s i o n s i n h i s poetry. O c c a s i o n a l l y , however, where t o p i c a l , t e x t u a l or s t y l i s -t i c and g e n e r i c a l l u s i o n s serve a metaphorical f u n c t i o n i n L i ' s poetry, they w i l l a l s o be d e a l t with i n my d i s c u s s i o n s . A l l u s i o n as Metaphor Before d i s c u s s i n g the metaphorical nature of a l l u s i o n , I would l i k e to review some s a l i e n t f e a t u r e s of the simple meta-phor. Of a l l t h a t has been s a i d about metaphor, Middleton Murry's " p r e c i s i o n " and " r e v e l a t i o n " sum up best i t s two essen-t i a l q u a l i t i e s . 3 4 "Try to be p r e c i s e and you are bound to be m e t a p h o r i c a l , " w r i t e s M u r r y . 3 5 T h i s i s c l o s e to Max M i i l l e r ' s view which Norman Friedman d e s c r i b e s as f o l l o w s : Man, as he develops h i s conceptions of immaterial t h i n g s , must p e r f o r c e express them i n terms of m a t e r i a l t h i n g s because h i s language l a g s behind h i s needs--the l i t e r a l mode becomes i n e f f e c t i v e , i n e x a c t , or incomplete. That i s 29 to say, f i g u r a t i v e image o f t e n makes f o r g r e a t e r p r e c i s i o n of e x p r e s s i o n ; thus language, as i t seeks e x a c t i t u d e , grows through metaphor. 3 6 " P r e c i s i o n " goes n a t u r a l l y with a "sensuous p a r t i c u l a r i -t y . " 3 7 The poet i s , t h e r e f o r e , c o n s t a n t l y g i v i n g the general and the s p i r i t u a l "a p h y s i c a l t u r n . " 3 8 He does so by l o o k i n g f o r s i m i l a r i t i e s i n other spheres of e x i s t e n c e f o r the t h i n g t h a t he wants to d e s c r i b e . Murry e x p l a i n s : What happens...is t h a t a p e r c e i v e d q u a l i t y i n one k i n d of e x i s t e n c e i s t r a n s f e r r e d to d e f i n e a q u a l i t y i n another k i n d of e x i s t e n c e . . . . A g r e a t c r e a t i v e w r i t e r must have a v a s t s t o r e of these p e r c e p t i o n s of q u a l i t y upon which to draw at w i l l . The more he has, the more p r e c i s e w i l l h i s w r i t i n g be; the more e x a c t l y w i l l he be able to communicate the q u a l i t y of h i s own emotion, and to arouse a k i n d r e d emotion i n h i s r e a d e r s . . . 3 9 But, a c c o r d i n g to Murry, the co n n e c t i o n between the two e x i s t e n -ces must be a f r e s h one: What we p r i m a r i l y demand i s t h a t the s i m i l a r i t y should be a t r u e s i m i l a r i t y , and t h a t i t should have l a i n h i t h e r t o unperceived, or but r a r e l y p e r c e i v e d by us, so t h a t i t comes to us with an e f f e c t of r e v e l a t i o n . 4 0 A p h y s i c a l concreteness and an i m p l i c i t analogy between two terms c o n s t i t u t e , t h e r e f o r e , the e s s e n t i a l nature of a metaphor. In the case of Chinese poetry, as Yu-kung Kao and T z u - l i n Mei 30 have demonstrated, the two e l e m e n t s — t e n o r and v e h i c l e - - i n a metaphor a l s o r e l a t e f r e q u e n t l y through c o n t r a s t to b r i n g about a new meaning. The metaphoric r e l a t i o n which operates both on the b a s i s of s i m i l a r i t y and d i s s i m i l a r i t y has been developed by Kao and Mei i n t h e i r a p p l i c a t i o n of Jakobson's P r i n c i p l e of Equiva-lence to Chinese p o e t r y . 4 1 A l l t h a t we have j u s t d e s c r i b e d i s a l s o t r u e of the a l -l u s i o n . L i k e the simple metaphor, an a l l u s i o n a l s o operates on the P r i n c i p l e of E q u i v a l e n c e , i n v o l v i n g tenor and v e h i c l e i n the images drawn from i t s source. But, to put i n t h i s context what I have mentioned e a r l i e r , a l l u s i o n a l s o i n c l u d e s the source t e x t , and through a s s o c i a t i o n , b r i n g s with i t a l l the meanings and p r o p e r t i e s connected to t h i s t e x t and other r e l a t e d t e x t s . Not o n l y does an a l l u s i o n p r o v i d e the economy and the v i v i d p r e c i s i o n of the simple metaphor, but i t a l s o sends out r i p p l e s of a s s o c i a -t i o n and l i n k s the p i e c e to other works from the past, embodying many small worlds both i n space and time, s t r e t c h i n g the poten-t i a l r i c h n e s s of a poem to i t s f u l l e s t . 4 2 More than t h a t , as Kao and Mei p o i n t out, an a l l u s i o n d i f f e r s from a simple metaphor i n t h a t i t can a l s o p r o v i d e circumstances, motives and p e r s o n a l r e l a t i o n s , b r i n g i n g i n , t h e r e f o r e , complex ideas and events, as w e l l as i m p l i c a t i o n s of moral a c t i o n . 4 3 Because an a l l u s i o n u s u a l l y encompasses a s e t or network of events and r e l a t i o n s h i p s , i t f u n c t i o n s e s s e n t i a l l y as an extended r a t h e r than a simple metaphor. 4 4 Quite o f t e n the r e l a t e d images, u n i f i e d on one l e v e l , can be i n t e r p r e t e d , i n t h e i r i m p l i c a t i o n s , 31 on another l e v e l . For t h i s reason, a l l u s i o n as extended metaphor i s c l o s e l y a k i n to a l l e g o r y . Another f u n c t i o n of a l l u s i o n as extended metaphor i s served when i t becomes the s u b j e c t of an e n t i r e poem. I r e f e r here, p a r t i c u l a r l y , to the genre of a l l u s i v e p o e t r y known as yongshi or p e r s o n a l i t i e s ) . The use of h i s t o r i c a l r e f e r e n c e s i n yongshi poems may not s t r i k e one immediately as a l l u s i o n i n the s t r i c t e s t and narrowest sense. But as Hans F r a n k e l has observed, the past i s a con-veni e n t c o u n t e r p a r t of the present. E x p l o i t i n g the a n a l o g i e s and c o n t r a s t s between past and present s i t u a t i o n s i s a k i n d of "detour" and " c i r c u m l o c u t i o n . " Instead of proceeding i n a s t r a i g h t f o r w a r d manner, i t helps to demonstrate a p o i n t , to convey an emotion by i n d i r e c t i o n , an important s t r a t e g y i n p o e t r y . 4 5 T h i s i s tr u e of the use of h i s t o r i c a l a l l u s i o n as a metaphor i n any g i v e n l i n e of a poem. I t i s a l s o true when the a l l u s i o n extends to form the s u b j e c t matter or s u s t a i n e d n a r r a -t i v e pf the poem. O c c a s i o n a l l y , when h i s t o r i c a l a l l u s i o n s are used as the s u b j e c t matter of poetry, they are w r i t t e n as medita-t i o n s on a s i n g l e event, or as a euology of a p a r t i c u l a r person, showing i n t e r e s t i n the s u b j e c t f o r i t s own sake. Yet such p u r e l y n o s t a l g i c e x e r c i s e s are r e l a t i v e l y s c a r c e . T y p i c a l l y , contemplation of the past i s used as analogy or c o n t r a s t to serve the f o l l o w i n g purposes: or events s i t e s As a means of e x p r e s s i n g human t r a n s i e n c e , change and decay, e s p e c i a l l y a g a i n s t the permanence of Nature. An example i s Meng Haoran's jjffiL/is* "Yu Zhuzi Deng Xianshan' (Ascending Mount Xian with S e v e r a l Gentlemen). As a means of e x p r e s s i n g p e r s o n a l concerns and g r i e v -ances, e s p e c i a l l y when a l l u d i n g to h i s t o r i c a l person-a l i t i e s . Examples are Tao Yuanming's ft£J I)V"Y| ^  "Yong P i n s h i " J\ (In P r a i s e of Poor S c h o l a r s ) , and Du Fu's "Yonghuai G u j i " s e r i e s 3 (Thoughts On H i s t o r i c a l S i t e s ) . As s a t i r e and commentary on present s o c i a l and p o l i t i -c a l s i t u a t i o n s . An example i s found i n Chen Zi'ang's "P^ "3* £f " J i q i u Langu Zeng Lu J u s h i " series j h j JL Viewing the Past at J i H i l l : To the Recluse Lu Cangyong). In such cases the p a r t i c u l a r h i s t o r i c a l event or f i g u r e becomes the v e h i c l e which, together with the t e n o r — t h e immediate p e r s o n a l or p o l i t i c a l context of the p o e t — g e n e r a t e a new meaning f o r the poem. Much of L i Shangyin's poetr y i l l u s t r a t e s an e f f e c t i v e use of a l l u s i o n s to serve the l a s t two f u n c t i o n s of h i s t o r i c a l poems j u s t c i t e d . Yongshi or huaigu poems are a major genre i n the Chinese p o e t i c t r a d i t i o n , and they i n v o l v e the metaphorical use of h i s -t o r i c a l a l l u s i o n s . A l l u s i o n s from myths or legends, too, can be used as s u b j e c t matter i n poetry. The s t o r y of the Cowherd and the Weaving Maid, f o r example, has been sung over and over again, both i n shi J^J and c i st \ poetry, to the extent t h a t i t has become a c o n v e n t i o n a l topos. In most cases, when a m y t h o l o g i c a l a l l u s i o n i s used as the s u b j e c t of a poem, the s t o r y i s r e t o l d f o r i t s own sake, without being used as a comparison f o r a more immediate s i t u a t i o n . On the whole, m y t h o l o g i c a l a l l u s i o n s (whether used as metaphors i n i n d i v i d u a l l i n e s , or as v e h i c l e s to c r e a t e meanings f o r e n t i r e poems) p l a y a r e l a t i v e l y l e s s impor-tant r o l e i n Chinese poetry. T h i s , however, i s not t r u e i n the case of L i Shangyin. So much f o r a l l u s i o n as extended metaphor, because i t i s more complex i n nature, an a l l u s i v e image i s l i k e l y to be s l i p -pery i n i t s meaning. An a l l u s i o n i s by i t s very nature "other-d i r e c t e d . " When an a l l u s i v e image i s s e l e c t e d , as a v i v i d d e t a i l , a reader i s l i k e l y to s p e c u l a t e on what i t r e a l l y stands f o r . Because of the range of a s s o c i a t i o n s connected with the a l l u s i o n i n i t s source t e x t , as w e l l as i n i t s use i n subsequent t e x t s , v a r i o u s s i g n a l s may be p i c k e d up by the reader, depending on the way the a l l u s i o n i s drawn from i t s source and how i t i s made to i n t e r a c t with the poem. There i s , however, one g u i d i n g p r i n c i p l e t h a t one must abide by i n the reading process; t h a t i s , d e s p i t e the d i f f e r e n t resonances, each of the " l o c a l " meanings generated by the use of an a l l u s i v e image must u l t i m a t e l y be shown to support a coherent r e a d i n g of the e n t i r e poem; that i s , i t must serve a l a r g e r , " g l o b a l " meaning. 4 6 W i l l i a m Empson puts 34 i t t h i s way when he d e a l s with the qu e s t i o n of m a n i f o l d meanings i n a poem: E v i d e n t l y a l l the s u b s i d i a r y meanings must be r e l e v a n t , because anything (phrase, sentence, or poem) meant to be co n s i d e r e d as a u n i t must be u n i t a r y , must stand f o r a s i n g l e order of the mind. In complicated s i t u a t i o n s t h i s u n i t y i s threatened; you are t h i n k i n g of s e v e r a l t h i n g s , or one t h i n g as i t i s shown by s e v e r a l t h i n g s , or one t h i n g i n s e v e r a l ways. A s o r t of u n i t y may be g i v e n by the knowledge of a scheme on which a l l the t h i n g s occur; so t h a t the scheme i t s e l f becomes the one t h i n g which i s being c o n s i d e r e d . More g e n e r a l l y , one may say t h a t i f an am-b i g u i t y i s to be u n i t a r y there must be ' f o r c e s ' h o l d i n g i t s elements t o g e t h e r . 4 7 Thus the echoes given out by the many images i n a poem must h o l d together to support a coherent r e a d i n g . When s e v e r a l readings are o f f e r e d f o r the same poem, each of the readings must a l s o be independently c o n s i s t e n t ; t h a t i s , they must each be h e l d together, although perhaps i n d i f f e r e n t ways, by the v a r i o u s elements i n a poem. The Reading of A l l u s i o n Since a l l u s i o n as a de v i c e i s e s s e n t i a l l y o b l i q u e i n nature, i t i s o f t e n used to convey an idea or a t t i t u d e the w r i t e r does not want to express d i r e c t l y . D i f f e r e n t a l l u s i o n s can a l s o be used to express the same idea i n a v a r i e t y of ways to add c o l o r , i m a g i s t i c and t e x t u r a l d e n s i t y to a work. On the whole, t h e r e -f o r e , an a l l u s i v e poem tends to be more complex. In a manner s i m i l a r to the medieval t r a d i t i o n of s c r i p t u r a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s , I see the v a r i o u s meanings o f f e r e d by an a l l u s i v e poem as working s i m u l t a n e o u s l y on s e v e r a l l e v e l s , namely, the l i t e r a l , the a l l e g o r i c a l and the s y m b o l i c . 4 8 The l i t e r a l l e v e l r e f e r s to the e x p l i c i t , s u r f a c e meaning. I t i n v o l v e s t a k i n g a poem a t i t s face value, as when an h i s t o r i -c a l or m y t h o l o g i c a l a l l u s i o n i s used as i t s o s t e n s i b l e s u b j e c t . A l i t e r a l r eading i s the f i r s t and the most a c c e s s i b l e reading of an a l l u s i v e poem. I t i s r a r e l y the onl y meaningful i n t e r p r e t a -t i o n . When a p i e c e i s i n t e r p r e t e d on other l e v e l s , however, the l i t e r a l l e v e l i s always i m p l i c i t l y acknowledged as the v e h i c l e from which other metaphorical meanings are generated. Before c o n s i d e r i n g the a l l e g o r i c a l and symbolic l e v e l s , I should e x p l a i n my use of the terms i n the Chinese context. F i r s t , to d i s t i n g u i s h what an a l l e g o r y i s and what c o n s t i t u t e s an a l l e g o r i c a l r e a d i n g i n Chinese poetry: In the Western sense, we have an a l l e g o r y when "the events of a n a r r a t i v e o b v i o u s l y and c o n t i n u o u s l y r e f e r to another simultaneous s t r u c t u r e of events or ideas, whether h i s t o r i c a l events, moral or p h i l o s o p h i c a l i d e a s , or n a t u r a l phenomena." 4 9 N a r r a t i v e p r o g r e s s i o n i s , t h e r e f o r e , a key element i n the con c e p t i o n of a Western a l l e g o r y . Chinese which assumes a p r o j e c t e d analogy of id e a s , events or network of r e l a t i o n s h i p s which p a r a l l e l s the use of a s s o c i a t e d images i n a a l l e g o r y , i s a l s o a mode of w r i t i n g poem. However, s i n c e long n a r r a t i v e s are r a r e i n Chinese poetry and most Chinese poems are e s s e n t i a l l y l y r i c a l i n nature, an a l l e g o r y i n Chinese, though c o n s i s t e n t i n i t s analogy, does not i n g e n e r a l have a n a r r a t i v e p r o g r e s s i o n . 5 0 A l s o , an a l l e g o r i c a l poem i n Chinese i s u s u a l l y given a p o l i t i c a l and moral i n t e r -p r e t a t i o n . In t h i s present study, however, I would l i k e to s t r e t c h the t r a d i t i o n a l c o n c e p t i o n of a t y p i c a l Chinese a l l e g o r y a l i t t l e f u r t h e r to i n c l u d e any poem which r e f e r s i m p l i c i t l y , through a network of analogous images, to a s p e c i f i c s e t of events, whether p e r s o n a l , s o c i a l or h i s t o r i c a l i n a poet's l i f e . Because of the lo n g s t a n d i n g p r a c t i c e of read i n g The Book of Songs a l l e g o r i c a l l y , the str o n g p e r s o n a l - l y r i c a l t r a d i t i o n i n the w r i t i n g of poetry and the need of the poet a t times to mask h i s naked i n t e n t , t r a d i t i o n a l Chinese c r i t i c s have been only too ready to look f o r a l l e g o r i c a l meanings. But when do we know what such readings are t r u l y c a l l e d f o r ? I suggest the f o l l o w i n g c r i t e r i a : 1. There must be probable a l l e g o r i c a l i n t e n t i o n s on the p a r t of the poet. 2. There must be c e r t a i n key images or g u i d i n g words i n the poem which suggest a s p e c i f i c , e x t e r n a l r e f e r e n c e . 3. There must be an a p p r o p r i a t e tone of v o i c e which e i t h e r suggests something p e r s o n a l , c o n c r e t e or s p e c i f i c . 4 . There must be a coherent use of i m a g i s t i c a s s o c i a t i o n s throughout the e n t i r e poem which supports t h a t par-t i c u l a r r e a d i n g . C.Y. Yeh Chao i n her a r t i c l e , "Wang I-sun's tz'u" c a u t i o n s t h a t f o r a poem to be giv e n an a l l e g o r i c a l r e a d i n g , there must be "the p r o b a b i l i t y t h a t the poem was w r i t t e n with a l l e g o r i c a l i n t e n t . " 3 1 Kang-i Sun r e i t e r a t e s the same i d e a when she d i s c u s -ses the a l l e g o r i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e of the Yuefu Buti poem s e r i e s , quoting Northrop Frye: A l l e g o r i c a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . . . . begins with the f a c t t h a t a l l e g o r y i s a s t r u c t u r a l element i n n a r r a t i v e : i t has to be th e r e , and i s not added by c r i t i c a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n a l o n e . 5 2 That a u t h o r i a l i n t e n t i o n i s imperative i s i m p l i c i t i n the very nature of the a l l e g o r i c a l mode of w r i t i n g . The importance of a t e x t ' s h i s t o r i c a l i n t e n t i o n a l i t y i n t h i s r e s p e c t i s recog-n i z e d by Western and Chinese c r i t i c s a l i k e . But "probable i n t e n t i o n " i s onl y the most b a s i c t h i n g to look f o r . A background which can be e s t a b l i s h e d from e x t e r n a l evidence i s of great value i n knowing how to read a poem. But the poem i t s e l f p r o v i d e s e q u a l l y u s e f u l h i n t s i n i t s key images and tone of v o i c e which can p o i n t to a s p e c i f i c e x t e r n a l r e f e r -ence. These h i n t s become v a l i d evidence when a l l the i m a g i s t i c a s s o c i a t i o n s i n the poem c o n s i s t e n t l y support a p a r t i c u l a r r e a d i n g . So much f o r the a l l e g o r i c a l l e v e l of r e a d i n g . Because of i t s o t h e r - d i r e c t e d nature, a l l u s i o n can be used to generate symbolic meaning as w e l l . A symbol, i n the broadest sense, i s anything which s i g n i -38 f i e s something e l s e . In l i t e r a t u r e , ( f o l l o w i n g M.H. Abrams), a symbol occurs when a word or phrase i s used i n such a way that i t has "a f u r t h e r range of suggested but u n s p e c i f i e d r e f e r -e n c e , " 5 3 t h a t i t "suggest(s) a d i r e c t i o n or a broad area of r e f e r e n c e r a t h e r than, l i k e an item i n an a l l e g o r i c a l n a r r a t i v e , a s p e c i f i c r e f e r e n c e . " 5 4 From t h i s , we can i n f e r two d i s t i n c t d i f f e r e n c e s between the a l l e g o r i c a l and the symbolic. F i r s t , the symbol must have broad a s s o c i a t i o n s of meaning, perhaps of u n i v e r s a l , even a r c h e t y p a l , i n s t e a d of s p e c i f i c s i g n i f i c a n c e . Second, i n symbolism, u n l i k e i n a l l e g o r y , the author's i n t e n t i s i r r e l e v a n t . Keeping these three l e v e l s of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i n mind, namely, the l i t e r a l , the a l l e g o r i c a l , and the symbolic, we should be able to read any a l l u s i v e t e x t s comprehensively. On ge ( ) and huge ) and the Use of A l l u s i o n In h i s famous c o l l e c t i o n of c r i t i c a l remarks on c i poetry, Renjian Cihua the l a t e Qing s c h o l a r and c r i t i c Wang Guowei proposes the concept of j ing j i e^jj^j^^^ as the essence of poetry. By jingjie, Wang means, of course, the i n n e r world of poetry, as opposed to shijie^*" , the e x t e r n a l , o b j e c t i v e world of r e a l i t y . 5 5 Jingjie i s r e a l l y the f u s i o n of the poet's sub-j e c t i v e s e l f with the e x t e r n a l , o b j e c t i v e world. A good poem, ac c o r d i n g to Wang, must possess such an inn e r w o r l d . 5 6 Wang goes on to d e s c r i b e the success of a poem based on a poet's a b i l i t y to make t h i s i n n e r world a v a i l a b l e to h i s readers. He f u r t h e r proposes a d i s t i n c t i o n between poetry which i s ge ( o b s t r u c t e d by a v e i l ) and poetry which i s buge~/f\ (not o b s t r u c t e d by a v e i l ) . Because h i s remarks are, i n the usual manner of t r a d i t i o n a l c r i t i c i s m , sketchy and a p h o r i s t i c , a great d e a l of s p e c u l a t i o n has been generated which focuses on e x p l a i n -ing the t r u e meaning of ge and huge. I t i s not my concern here to d e t a i l a l l the s c h o l a r l y debate and i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s o f f e r e d by var i o u s c r i t i c s over these two concepts. C.Y. Yeh Chao has al r e a d y w r i t t e n an e x c e l l e n t overview of t h i s i n her book Wang Guowei and His Literary Criticism.51 I agree with Chao's i n t e r p r e t a t i o n t h a t , a c c o r d i n g t o Wang, poetry which i s "ge" i s the r e s u l t of "a l a c k of genuine emotions" or "the l a c k of a b i l i t y to convey such emotions" i n a p o e t . 5 8 I would l i k e , however, to add to t h i s by suggesting t h a t by "ge," Wang a l s o r e f e r s to po e t r y which does not have a r e a d i l y communicable in n e r world, while t h a t which i s "buge" r e f e r s to poetry which does. The main t h r u s t of the argument which concerns us here i s whether the use of a l l u s i o n n e c e s s a r i l y c r e a t e s p o e t r y which i s ge. P a r t of E n t r y 40 of Renjian Cihua reads: I f I were asked to e x p l a i n the d i f f e r e n c e s between poetry which i s ge and th a t which i s buge Let us c o n s i d e r examples of ge and buge w i t h i n one poem alone. The f i r s t s tanza of Ouyang Xiu's ci to the tune of "Shaonian You," 40 s u b t i t l e d "A Song of S p r i n g Grasses," c o n t a i n s the l i n e s : A g a i n s t the twelve zig-zagged r a i l i n g I l e a n alone i n s p r i n g , The c l e a r azure s t r e t c h e s f a r as the clouds The second month, the t h i r d month. The s i g h t of p a r t i n g saddens my h e a r t . Each word i s r i g h t there d i r e c t l y i n f r o n t of the eyes and thus not ge. But when we come to the l i n e s [ i n the same poem]: Beside the pond of X i e , On J i a n g Yan's banks and shores, i t i s ge i n d e e d . . . . 8 9 In a s i m i l a r v e i n , Wang w r i t e s i n E n t r y 57: I f a man i s a b l e i n h i s shi and c i not to w r i t e verses whose purpose i s to p r a i s e or blame or to be presented as g i f t s to f r i e n d s , i f he does not w r i t e l i n e s i n which h i s t o r i c a l a l l u s i o n s are strung together, or use words t h a t are merely d e c o r a t i v e , he w i l l have covered more than h a l f the road [to good p o e t r y ] . 6 0 And i n E n t r y 58: I t shows an overabundance of genius t h a t the o n l y h i s t o r i c a l a l l u s i o n s used i n the whole grandeur and b r i l l i a n c e of "Changhen Ge" (Song of E v e r l a s t i n g Sorrow) are Xiaoyu and Shuangcheng. On the other hand, Wu Weiye c o u l d not get along without s t r i n g i n g many a l l u s i o n s together i n h i s v e r s e s . The s u p e r i o r i t y of the one and the i n f e r i o r i t y of the other i s brought out by t h i s [ d i f f e r e n c e ] . Not o n l y i s 41 t h i s t r u e of shi w r i t e r s , but ci w r i t e r s too must under-stand . 6 1 According to Wang, o b v i o u s l y , a l l u s i o n works a g a i n s t good poetry. T h i s i s e x p l i c i t l y s t a t e d i n the l a s t two quo t a t i o n s and i m p l i e d i n the f i r s t , where l i n e s c o n t a i n i n g a l l u s i o n s are co n s i d e r e d ge. Indeed, the qu e s t i o n of a l l u s i o n has been taken up by many a t r a d i t i o n a l c r i t i c . One must, however, make c l e a r t h a t " a l l u -s i o n " i s used here o n l y i n i t s narrower sense, as a p o e t i c d e v i c e , as metaphor. Since almost a l l Chinese poets are a l l u s i v e t e x t u a l l y , g e n e r i c a l l y or s t y l i s t i c a l l y , when a c r i t i c d e s c r i b e s a c e r t a i n poet's works as p a r t i c u l a r l y a l l u s i v e , he i s r e a l l y r e f e r r i n g to h i s abundant use of a l l u s i o n s as metaphor. Is i t , then, good or bad to w r i t e a l l u s i v e l y ? Is an a l l u s i v e poem n e c e s s a r i l y b e t t e r or worse than one which uses no a l l u s i o n s ? What good or adverse e f f e c t s , i f any, can a l l u s i o n s have on a poem? Chinese c r i t i c s have, over the years, expressed d i f f e r e n t o p i n i o n s on t h i s q u e s t i o n . L i u X i e , f o r example, says i n h i s Wenxin Diaolong'. The C l a s s i c s and a n c i e n t h i s t o r i c a l r e c o rds are deep and profound, and they are voluminous i n q u a n t i t y . They are the profound source of a l l w r i t i n g s , and the s p i r i t u a l realm i n which t a l e n t and ima g i n a t i o n make t h e i r abode. W r i t e r s l i k e Yang [Xiong], Ban [Gu], and others a l l drew upon them as t h e i r sources. In them they t i l l e d and farmed with a l l t h e i r might, and they f i s h e d and hunted as they wished. Anyone who i s able to h o l d a k n i f e and do some c u t t i n g w i l l 42 s u r e l y be among those who enjoy the r i c h e s of these sources ....When a w r i t e r ' s a l l u s i o n s to past events are a p p r o p r i a t e to the s i t u a t i o n i n q u e s t i o n , i t i s as i f he h i m s e l f has c r e a t e d them. 6 2 Zhao Y i (1727-1814) a l s o w r i t e s i n h i s Oubei Shihua Poetry i s an e x p r e s s i o n of one's i n n a t e f e e l i n g s and emotions. I t should not, one would t h i n k , r e l y on the use of a l l u s i o n s . On the other hand, s i n c e a l l past events have i n e f f e c t become a l l u s i o n s , each a l l u s i o n c o n t a i n s i n i t s e l f , t h e r e f o r e , a human experience. When a poet uses t h i s experience to express h i s own emotions, the e f f e c t i s n a t u r a l l y more comp e l l i n g . That e x p l a i n s why l a t e r poets r e s o r t to past l e a r n i n g and s o u r c e s . 6 3 N e v e r t h e l e s s , few c r i t i c s are as p o s i t i v e about the use of a l l u s i o n as the ones we have j u s t c i t e d . On the whole, most have c o n s i d e r e d i t a l i a b i l i t y , advocating a more d i r e c t use of language devoid of a l l u s i o n s . Zhong R o n g ^ ^ ^ ^ (468?-518) w r i t e s i n h i s p r e f a c e to Shi Pin~£%C vtt : ...The melodic e x p r e s s i o n of what one f e e l s does not become more v a l u a b l e f o r i t s bookish r e f e r e n c e s . 'My thoughts f o r you run on l i k e the stream,' i s no more than a r e c o r d of what appeals to the eye. 'Many are the winds of sorrow on the high t e r r a c e , ' i s merely what the poet sees. 'In the f r e s h n e s s of morning I climb the low mounds,' does not c o n t a i n any l i t e r a r y echo, and 'The b r i g h t moon shines on the heaped snow,' i s i n no way d e r i v e d from e i t h e r the C l a s s i c s or the H i s t o r i e s . I t seems to me t h a t the best l i n e s of poetry, a n c i e n t and modern, have nothing by way of ornamentation to do with e a r l i e r l i t e r a t u r e : i n s t e a d they are r e s u l t s of the d i r e c t fathoming of [the poet's own] mind. 6 4 Yan Yu a l s o w r i t e s i n h i s Canglang Shihua L a t e l y , some have t r i e d to ...play with words, with t h e i r l e a r n i n g , with an argumentative s t y l e i n poetry....And most of them are fond of u s i n g a l l u s i o n s . . . so t h a t t h e i r every word a l l u d e s to some s o u r c e s . . . a f t e r r e a d i n g and r e - r e a d i n g , one s t i l l wonders what they are t r y i n g to e x p r e s s . . . 6 5 i i * 4 i J - (1891-1! Hu Shi fc/Q 2SL (1891-1962), too, i n h i s advocacy of v e r -n a c u l a r l i t e r a t u r e , condemns most s e v e r e l y the use of a l l u s i o n i n poetry. A l l u s i o n i s one of the e i g h t "don'ts" which he c a l l s upon a l l w r i t e r s to observe i n t h e i r w r i t i n g s . 6 6 What r e a l l y t y p i f i e s the o p i n i o n of c r i t i c s i n g e n e r a l , i s , however, the f o l l o w i n g comment from J i a o Ran's ^ ^ ^ l ^ Shi Shi : There are f i v e ranks of poe t r y : Rank I: Those which c o n t a i n no a l l u s i o n s . Rank I I : Those which use a l l u s i o n s c r e a t i v e l y . T h i s category a l s o i n c l u d e s those without a l l u s i o n s which are, n e v e r t h e l e s s , not e x t r a o r d i n a r y poems. Rank I I I : Those which use a l l u s i o n s d i r e c t l y . T h i s category a l s o i n c l u d e s those poems which c o n t a i n no a l l u s i o n s and yet are r e l a t i v e l y i n f e r i o r i n q u a l i t y . Rank IV: Those which may or may not c o n t a i n a l l u s i o n s but are of q u a l i t y below Rank I I I . Rank V: Those which may or may not c o n t a i n a l l u s i o n s but are of very i n f e r i o r q u a l i t y . . . 6 7 According to J i a o Ran, a f i r s t r a t e poem can on l y be one which i s completely f r e e of a l l u s i o n s . As soon as a poet s t a r t s to a l l u d e , he a u t o m a t i c a l l y degrades h i s own work. I t seems t h a t each time there was a p a r t i c u l a r l y s t r o n g r e a c t i o n a g a i n s t the use of a l l u s i o n i n poetry, i t was connected with an e f f o r t to launch a conscious movement a g a i n s t w r i t i n g which was too r e c o n d i t e or a g a i n s t a p r e v a i l i n g s t y l e of w r i t i n g which was becoming i n c r e a s i n g l y s t y l i z e d , a r t i f i c i a l or i n a c c e s -s i b l e . I t was the case with Zhong Rong, with Yan Yu as w e l l as with Hu S h i . I t i s t r u e t h a t the heavy use of a l l u s i o n s o f t e n leads to a more complex and opaque s t y l e of w r i t i n g , but i t does not n e c e s s a r i l y undermine the success of a poem. In other words, a f i n e poem need not be t r a n s p a r e n t and r e a d i l y a v a i l a b l e . A good case i n p o i n t i s the c o n t r a s t between the p o e t r y of Robert F r o s t and T . S . E l i o t . I f we use J i a o Ran's grading scheme, E l i o t ' s work would never stand a chance of being c o n s i d e r e d f i r s t c l a s s poetry, while F r o s t ' s would. In proposing the concept of ge and buge, Wang Guowei has generated a gr e a t d e a l of debate and c o n t r o v e r s y over the c r i t e r i a f o r e v a l u a t i n g p o e t r y . As C.Y. Yeh Chao has p o i n t e d out, Wang c o n t r a d i c t s h i m s e l f when he openly opposes the use of 45 -k of X i n Q i j i (1140-1207), a l l u s i o n , yet p r a i s e s the worl one of the most a l l u s i v e c i p o e t s . 6 8 I f we study c a r e f u l l y the two examples of a l l u s i v e poetry which Wang has v a r i o u s l y con-s i d e r e d as " ge" and "having a jingjie i n every l i n e , " we would have a b e t t e r understanding of the t r u e nature of the problem. The two l i n e s from Ouyang X i u j^X. f ^ 4'^" ( 1007-1072) which Wang c o n s i d e r s ge: Beside the pond of X i e , On J i a n g Yan's banks and shores. d e f i n i t e l y show a poor use of a l l u s i o n s . X i e i n the f i r s t l i n e quoted here r e f e r s to X i e Lingyun (385-433) who has w r i t t e n a poem t i t l e d "Ascending Tower by the Pond," and J i a n g Yan i n the second l i n e a l l u d e s to h i s rhyme-prose "On P a r t i n g . " 6 9 In the f i r s t case, there i s a very remote suggestion of p e r s o n a l g r i e v a n c e , a p o s s i b l e echo of X i e ' s poem. In the second case, Ouyang X i u i s probably suggesting sentiments of p a r t i n g . In both i n s t a n c e s , the connection seems s t r a i n e d and convoluted. Nor do these images work very r e a d i l y with the emotions i n the poem to c r e a t e a str o n g coherent e f f e c t . On the other hand, the poem by X i n Q i j i which Wang p r a i s e s as "having a jingjie i n every l i n e " (the c i to the tune of He Xinlang ^ [ , s u b t i t l e d " P a r t i n g with Twelth Brother Maojia") c o n t a i n s as many as fo u r a l l u s i o n s , a l l very a p p r o p r i a t -e l y used. The poem has a l s o been applauded by Chen Tingzhuo i ^ . ^ ( 1853-1892) as "Xin Q i j i ' s crowning p i e c e . " ' " I t seems, t h e r e f o r e , that one cannot say whether the use of a l l u s i o n i n p o e t r y i s n e c e s s a r i l y good or bad. Imagery, whether n a t u r a l or a l l u s i v e , i s the means or medium through which emotions i n a poem c o u l d be r e a l i z e d i n more v i v i d and c o n c r e t e terms. We have a l r e a d y d i s c u s s e d how c r i t i c s c o n s i d e r " p r e c i -s i o n " and " r e v e l a t i o n " as the two e s s e n t i a l q u a l i t i e s of the metaphor. C D . Lewis, i n The Poetic Image, a l s o t h i n k s that what one should look f o r i n imagery i s " f r e s h n e s s , " " i n t e n s i t y " and " e v o c a t i v e power": Freshness [ r e f e r s to] the p o t e n t i a l i t y of an image through the n o v e l t y of i t s d i c t i o n , i t s m a t e r i a l , or both, to r e v e a l something we had not r e a l i z e d b e f o r e . . . I n t e n s i t y [means] the c o n c e n t r a t i o n of the g r e a t e s t p o s s i b l e amount of s i g n i f i -cance i n t o a s m a l l space... I n t e n s i t y i s achieved not o n l y i n the separate image, but through the c l o s e n e s s of the p a t t e r n w i t h i n which a poem's images are r e l a t e d . Evoca-t i v e n e s s i s the power of an image to evoke from us a r e s -ponse to the p o e t i c p a s s i o n . 7 1 I f these are the important t h i n g s to look f o r i n imagery, we wonder why one should make a d i f f e r e n c e between images drawn from nature and those drawn from l i t e r a r y experience. I t i s not so much whether one uses a l l u s i o n i n poetry, but whether one uses i t e f f e c t i v e l y , with c r e a t i v e i m a g i n a t i o n . J u s t l i k e any other images i n a poem, f o r an a l l u s i o n to be f u n c t i o n a l and e f f e c t i v e , i t must work ve r y c l o s e l y with the other elements i n the p i e c e to form an o r g a n i c whole. The a l l u s i o n must be congruent with the r e s t of the poem and not be seen as an unnecessary appendage. I f we o n l y r e c a l l Tao Yuanming's famous poem, No. 5 of h i s s e r i e s of "Twenty Poems A f t e r D r i n k i n g Wine," and compare i t with L i Shangyin's " I n t r i c a t e l y - P a i n t e d Z i t h e r , " we would r e a l i z e how two e q u a l l y e x c e l l e n t poems ex p r e s s i n g e q u a l l y i n e f f a b l e thoughts and f e e l i n g s (Tao's poem ends with "In these t h i n g s i s a fun-damental t r u t h / I would l i k e to t e l l , but l a c k the words" 7 2 ; L i ' s poem ends with "Could such f e e l i n g s ever wait to become a memory? /Only that at the moment you were a l r e a d y at a l o s s . " ) can be t r e a t e d so d i f f e r e n t l y . Except f o r the e s t a b l i s h e d symbol of l o n g e v i t y i n "South Mountain," which has an a s s o c i a t i v e l i n k with The Book of Songs, there i s not a s i n g l e a l l u s i o n i n Tao's poem. L i Shangyin's p i e c e , on the other hand, has as many as seven a l l u s i o n s i n an e i g h t - l i n e r e g u l a t e d v e r s e . Yet these are e q u a l l y great poems which have given c e n t u r i e s of readers endless d e l i g h t . What one must look f o r i n a poem i s not whether i t uses a l l u s i o n or not; but, to come back to Wang Guowei, whether i t possesses a jingjie (inner- w orld). A good poem must i n v i t e i t s readers to such an inner world, so that h i s mind may c o n f r o n t i t and h i s heart c o n t a i n i t . A good poet makes us see, not j u s t look, f o r anything can make us look--any chance movement i n a room, a paper bag uncrumpling i n the sun, the wind i n the will o w s , a f a l l i n g l e a f - - b u t o n l y a r t makes us see. The t e s t of a good poem, r e g a r d l e s s of the presence or absence of a l l u s i o n , i s i t s a b i l i t y to make us see. In such a r e v e l a t i o n , the f u s i o n between a poet's s u b j e c t i v e s e l f and the e x t e r n a l , o b j e c t i v e 48 world must be complete so t h a t a l l images, whether a l l u s i v e or n a t u r a l , become s u c c e s s f u l l y i n t e g r a t e d i n h i s c r e a t i v e con-s c i o u s n e s s . There i s , however, a d i s t i n c t s t y l i s t i c d i f f e r e n c e between a s u c c e s s f u l poem which i s dense and i n t r i c a t e and one which i s t r a n s p a r e n t and a c c e s s i b l e . A complex and a l l u s i v e poetry, i f i t i s good poetry, has a beauty and v i r t u e of i t s own. In the case of L i Shangyin, e s p e c i a l l y , where a l l u s i o n i s the predominant mode of e x p r e s s i o n , where form and content are one and the same, s t y l e has become a s s i m i l a t e d to the extent t h a t i t l i e s at the very core of h i s poetry. 49 Chapter I I I L i Shangyin and h i s Use of A l l u s i o n Background to L i ' s Use of A l l u s i o n Four major f a c t o r s have c o n t r i b u t e d to the a l l u s i v e n e s s of L i Shangyin's poet r y . I s h a l l s t a r t with two of them which not o n l y account f o r h i s heavy use of a l l u s i o n but a l s o p rovide e s s e n t i a l background f o r an understanding of h i s p o e t r y : one i s the p o l i t i c a l environment i n which he wrote, the other i s p r i v a t e and p e r s o n a l . I do not propose to p r o v i d e a d e t a i l e d h i s t o r i c a l background of the l a t e Tang p e r i o d nor a b i o g r a p h i c a l account of L i Shangyin, but w i l l c o n c e n t r a t e on those f a c t o r s which I b e l i e v e have a d i r e c t e f f e c t on h i s p o e t r y . 1 L i Shangyin l i v e d at a time when the Tang Dynasty, a f t e r some two hundred years of g l o r i o u s r e i g n , was f a s t d e c l i n i n g . C u l t u r a l l y , p o l i t i c a l l y and e c o n o m i c a l l y the Tang was one of the great p e r i o d s of Chinese h i s t o r y . The cosmopolitan c a p i t a l of Chang' an t ^ * was f i l l e d with t r a d e r s from the Middle East and other p a r t s of A s i a where many A s i a n v a s s a l s t a t e s sent envoys to pay t r i b u t e . The empire covered a v a s t t e r r i t o r y , the l a r g e s t yet i n the h i s t o r y of China. The n a t i o n , under the r e i g n of Emperor Gaozuyi] through Taizong J>03\ , Empress Wu^\ J^ 2 to the time of Xuanzong 7k -ffc , s t e a d i l y grew to the h e i g h t of i t s p r o s p e r i t y . A f t e r the An Lushan R e b e l l i o n , however, the p o l i t i -c a l and economic s t r u c t u r e of the country began to d i s i n t e g r a t e 50 and the Dynasty went r a p i d l y i n t o d e c l i n e . The r e b e l g enerals f i g h t i n g a g a i n s t the Tang c o u r t d u r i n g and a f t e r the An Lushan R e b e l l i o n were allowed to surrender and giv e n m i l i t a r y governor posts even a f t e r the l e a d e r s of the r e b e l l i o n were vanquished. Peace and s t a b i l i t y over the e n t i r e area of Hebei was h e a v i l y bought by a compromise set t l e m e n t . These p r o v i n c i a l governors p a i d o n l y l i p s e r v i c e to the c e n t r a l government. The c o u r t , now weak and impotent, t o l e r a t e d t h e i r growing independence, wary a l s o of the ag g r e s s i o n of the Tibetans to the north-west who posed a constant t h r e a t to the c a p i t a l . During the subsequent years, m i l i t a r y governors r e p e a t e d l y c h a l l e n g e d i m p e r i a l author-i t y with attempts to c l a i m h e r e d i t a r y s u c c e s s i o n , r e s u l t i n g i n r e v o l t s and bloodshed. 2 Apart from t h i s l o s s of c o n t r o l over the p r o v i n c i a l m i l i t a r y l e a d e r s and other problems a t the f r o n t i e r s , the Tang c o u r t was i n t e r n a l l y plagued by the i n c r e a s i n g l y powerful eunuchs and the f i e r c e N i u - L i f a c t i o n a l s t r i f e . The eunuchs f i r s t gained p o l i t i c a l i n f l u e n c e as a group when Gao L i s h i YoQ ~)j helped Emperor Xuanzong ^ i n h i s r i s e i n power. 3 L a t e r , L i Fuguo a l s o helped to put Su-zong pri T j % on h i s throne. By g a i n i n g r o y a l patronage eunuchs g r a d u a l l y c o n t r o l l e d p e r s o n a l access to the emperors and par-t i c i p a t e d i n the business of the c e n t r a l government. They a l s o i n v o l v e d themselves with p r o v i n c i a l appointments, a t times, even i n t e r v e n i n g with armed f o r c e s i n d i s p u t e s over i m p e r i a l succes-s i o n s . By the time of L i Shangyin, the emperors had allowed the 51 eunuchs to become f u l l y entrenched both m i l i t a r i l y and p o l i t i c a l -l y . A f t e r Xianzong, a l l Tang emperors (except Jingzong were put on the throne by the eunuchs. In 835, the infamous "Sweet Dew I n c i d e n t " ~$"v^r'^~ o c c u r r e d d u r i n g the r e i g n of Emperor Wenzong 5s*. ~ffi • A palace coup designed by L i Xun ^ (the p r i m e - m i n i s t e r ) and Zheng Zhu (the m i l i t a r y governor of Feng Xiang )j^jL ) support of Wenzong's e f f o r t to overthrow the eunuchs f a i l e d . The eunuchs, l e d by Qiu S h i l i a n g s l a u g h t e r e d the c l a n s of many high o f f i c i a l s and c h i e f m i n i s t e r s . A g r e a t many other innocent people were k i l l e d i n c o n n e c t i o n with t h i s event. 4 The eunuchs whose power had been growing out of c o n t r o l now complete-l y dominated the Emperor and the a f f a i r s of s t a t e . Apart from the eunuchs, the N i u - L i f a c t i o n a l s t r i f e was another d e s t r u c t i v e i n t e r n a l f o r c e haunting the Tang c o u r t . The Niu and L i f a c t i o n s were not o r g a n i z e d p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s , but two groups of r i v a l p o l i t i c i a n s , h o s t i l e toward each other as a r e s u l t of some p e r s o n a l a n i m o s i t y . 5 The head of the Niu f a c t i o n was r e p r e s e n t e d by Niu Sengru - ^ j " ^ and L i Zongmin ^ » and the L i f a c t i o n by L i Deyu ^ ^J^^N^ In the 830s, the two contending f a c t i o n s c r e a t e d much t u r m o i l i n c o u r t through the r e i g n s of Muzong"^|"'lT^ , Jingzong, Wenzong, Wuzong ~^\^ - t ^ . and Xuanzong -ffc , a p e r i o d c o i n c i d i n g almost e x a c t l y with L i Shangyin's l i f e . A c cording to Chen Yinke , the s t r u g g l e was a l s o due to a d i f f e r e n c e i n s o c i a l background between the two groups, one r e p r e s e n t i n g the t r a d i t i o n a l r u l i n g c l a s s of North China, and the other, the newly r i s e n c l a s s o s c h o l a r - o f f i c i a l s who reached t h e i r p o s i t i o n s through the c i v i l s e r v i c e examinations. 6 In any case, many i n t e l l e c t u a l s and high o f f i c i a l s were i n v o l v e d i n t h i s s t r u g g l e . Whenever members of one f a c t i o n were i n power, people a s s o c i a t e d with the other f a c t i o n would be demoted, or out of f a v o r . The f a c t i o n a l s t r i f e kept c o u r t o f f i c i a l s from u n i t i n g a g a i n s t the i n c r e a s i n g power of the eunuchs. The emperors, rendered completely h e l p l e s s , t r i e d to p l a y one f o r c e a g a i n s t another. I t was some f i f t y years a f t e r L i Shangyin's death t h a t the eunuchs were f i n a l l y e r a d i c a t e d with the h e lp of the m i l i t a r y governors, p r e c i p i t a t i n g the do w n f a l l of Tang. The f o r t y - f i v e years of L i Shangyin's l i f e covered the r e i g n of s i x emperors. Among them, Xianzong and Jingzong were murdered by the eunuchs. 7 Muzong, Wuzong and Xuanzong ^? ^ \ ind u l g e d i n e s c a p i s t p r a c t i c e s , dying, i n the case of Wuzong, of an overdose of e l i x i r drugs. 8 L i v i n g i n a time of p o l i t i c a l t u r m o i l , incompetence and d e c l i n e , L i Shangyin r e g i s t e r e d h i s i n d i g n a t i o n and concerns i n h i s poetry while p r o t e c t i n g h i m s e l f by w r i t i n g a l l u s i v e l y . He wrote over s i x t y h i s t o r i c a l poems and poems of p o l i t i c a l commen-t a r y . I f we a l s o i n c l u d e some of h i s yongwu poems and other more e l u s i v e p i e c e s which may be i n t e r p r e t e d as s u b t l e p o l i t i c a l s a t i r e s , we have c l o s e to a hundred poems devoted to t h i s purpose. Among them are a t t a c k s and s a t i r e s on almost every p o l i t i c a l i l l of h i s time. Poems such as " J i n g l u o " (The J i n g l u o S t a r s ) and "Shou'an Gongzhu Chuxiang" ^J?g~ ^ t& "P^ "" ( P r i n c e s s Shou'an's Marriage of Appeasement) are c r i t i c a l of some of the p r o v i n c i a l m i l i t a r y l e a d e r s . Others such as "Yougan Ershou" 7^ JJ^ — "Jf (Thoughts: Two Poems), "Chong You'gan" j?^ j Jj^v^More Thoughts) express h i s g r i e f f o r the v i c t i m s of the "Sweet Dew I n c i d e n t " and h i s i n d i g n a t i o n a g a i n s t the eunuchs. The s e r i e s of poems lamenting the death of L i u f e n ^ i | ~ ^ ^ i-s r e a l l y another a t t a c k on the eunuchs and the p a t h e t i c i n e p t i t u d e of the Tang c o u r t . 9 L i a l s o wrote many s a t i r e s on the v a r i o u s emperors r u l i n g d u r i n g h i s time, f o r example, "Fuping Shaohou" ^|*J^ (The Young Duke Fuping), a c r i t i c i s m of the l a v i s h n e s s and l i c e n -t i o u s indulgence of J i n g z o n g . 1 0 One yongshi poem a l s o censures the extravagance of Wenzong, at the same time e x p r e s s i n g sympathy f o r h i s powerlessness i n face of the eunuchs. "Maoling" A f t (The Mao Mausoleum) i s d i r e c t e d a g a i n s t Wuzong, d e p l o r i n g , among other t h i n g s , h i s indulgence i n e l i x i r drugs. To be openly c r i t i c a l of the emperors and the p o l i t i c a l i s s u e s of h i s time was i m p o s s i b l e . His more t r a n s p a r e n t p i e c e s such as "Yougan Ershou," "Chong Yougan" and " X i n g c i X i j i a o Zuo Y i b a i Yun" (One Hundred Rhymes W r i t t e n While T r a v e l l i n g Through the Western Suburbs) are s a i d to have i n f u r i a t e d the eunuchs, causing setbacks i n L i Shangyin's c a r e e r , 1 1 and a f t e r the s e r i e s of poems i n which he lamented the misfortune of L i u Fen, L i ' s w r i t i n g on p o l i t i c a l i s s u e s became more and more a l l u s i v e . The Qing s c h o l a r Qian Q i a n y i once quoted a remark by Monk Daoyuan which e x p l a i n s the e l u s i v e -ness of L i Shangyin's p o e t r y : . . . L i Shangyin l i v e d a t a time when eunuchs and cou r t o f f i c i a l s were f i e r c e l y b a t t l i n g one another, when the government was rendered h e l p l e s s both by i n t e r n a l and e x t e r n a l f o r c e s . Seemingly i n a r t i c u l a t e yet l o n g i n g to speak, haunted by nightmares he sought the r i g h t words to express h i m s e l f . I t was imp o s s i b l e f o r him not to hide h i s t r u e f e e l i n g s , to make strange h i s exp r e s s i o n s , to w r i t e i n r i d d l e s or r e s o r t to a s s o c i a t i o n s and a n a l o g i e s . His i s the i m a g i n a t i v e language of the s a t i r i c a l p o e t . . . 1 2 Indeed, to speak h i s mind about c u r r e n t events, to convey h i s message without i n c u r r i n g the wrath of the emperors or o f f e n d i n g those he c r i t i c i z e d , L i Shangyin's only recourse was the heavy use of a l l u s i o n . None of h i s poems on Jingzong, Wenzong or Wuzong, f o r example, r e f e r s d i r e c t l y to the emperors themselves. Instead, they are f i l l e d with concealed r e f e r e n c e s . W r i t t e n mostly i n the form of yongshi poems o s t e n s i b l y about a c e r t a i n h i s t o r i c a l f i g u r e or episode, L i ' s many p o l i t i c a l poems are a l l u s i v e s a t i r e s provoked by a contemporary i n c i d e n t , " J i u J i a n g j u n " (The Former G e n e r a l ) , "Jiasheng" * >£. (Scholar J i a ) , "Sui Shidong" (The Sui Army T r a v e l s E a s t ) , "Jingyang J i n g " P*> if (The Well at Jingyang Palace) and "Jingyang Gong j i n g Shuangtong" "P^ ) ^ ^ (The Two Wutong Trees at Jingyang Palace) are onl y some of such p i e c e s . 1 3 Some of L i Shangyin's poems are a l l u s i v e f o r o b v i o u s l y p o l i t i c a l reasons; others are e q u a l l y so f o r p r i v a t e and pe r s o n a l ones. To understand the complexity and e l u s i v e n e s s of much of h i s poetry, we must review some important episodes and r e l a t i o n -55 s h i p s i n h i s l i f e . L i Shangyin's w r i t i n g , both prose and poetry, shows that he c a r e d a g r e a t d e a l about the success i n an o f f i c i a l c a r e e r . 1 4 He was a t y p i c a l t r a d i t i o n a l Chinese i n t e l l e c t u a l who wanted to p l a y a s i g n i f i c a n t r o l e i n s e r v i n g the s t a t e . He was a l s o concerned to r e v i v e the f o r t u n e s of h i s f a m i l y t h a t had d e c l i n e d i n t o o b s c u r i t y from a d i s t i n g u i s h e d past through a prominent o f f i c i a l c a r e e r . 1 5 L i ' s path was, however, t r o u b l e d by entangle-ments, c o n f l i c t s and complex r e l a t i o n s h i p s which l e f t him with a sense of f r u s t r a t i o n , remorse and a n x i e t y — e m o t i o n a l c u r r e n t s r e f l e c t e d i n h i s p o e t r y . Orphaned at the age of nine and being the e l d e s t son i n the f a m i l y , L i has assumed the grave r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of s u p p o r t i n g h i s f a m i l y , at the same time working hard towards r e b u i l d i n g the f a m i l y name. By s i x t e e n , he was a l r e a d y known i n Luoyang f o r h i s e x c e p t i o n a l t a l e n t and s k i l l at w r i t i n g c l a s s i c a l p r o s e . 1 6 Before he turned twenty, he had met and become f r i e n d l y with two potenl However, both Linghu and Cui d i e d before they c o u l d e x e r c i s e any s i g n i f i c a n t i n f l u e n c e on L i ' s b e h a l f . 1 7 The death of Linghu Chu and Cui Rong not only meant the l o s s of two patrons, the e a r l y a f f i l i a t i o n with Linghu a l s o had f a r - r e a c h i n g e f f e c t s on L i ' s subsequent c a r e e r . The year L i Shangyin obtained h i s Jinshi degree, Linghu Chu d i e d . The same year, L i a l s o married Wang Maoyuan's $ ^ \ daughter, an event c o n s i d e r e d by many to be an important t u r n i n g *e ne turned  he had. met and  r r i e n d i y witJ i t i a l patrons, Linghu Chu /^ ^^ V a n d C u i R0ng/J£. p o i n t i n h i s l i f e . Since Wang was a prominent member of the L i f a c t i o n and Linghu Chu a l e a d i n g member of the Niu f a c t i o n , L i Shangyin's marriage to Wang's daughter and h i s working f o r Wang immediately a f t e r Linghu Chu's death was looked upon, a c c o r d i n g to o f f i c i a l h i s t o r i a n s , as a b e t r a y a l by Linghu Chu's son Linghu Tao , / ^ > N ^ ^ s ~ ^ ^ ] and many others who belonged to the Niu camp. The Jiu Tangshu J^p ~"f|~ says t h a t L i Shangyin was " h e a v i l y c r i t i c i z e d by L i Zongmin's f a c t i o n , " 1 8 while Linghu Tao "hated him f o r h i s l a c k of moral i n t e g r i t y . " 1 9 The Xin Tangshu^^^jz^f a l s o records t h a t members of the Niu f a c t i o n c o n s i d e r e d h i s c h a r a c t e r " t r e a c h e r o u s " 2 0 and t h a t Linghu Tao d i s m i s s e d him as " u n g r a t e f u l , w i l l i n g to go with whoever o f f e r s him p r o f i t or g a i n . " 2 1 Linghu Tao, with whom L i Shangyin h i m s e l f was more than p e r s o n a l l y f a m i l i a r , l a t e r rose to the i n f l u e n t i a l p o s i t i o n of pr i m e - m i n i s t e r , but d i d very l i t t l e to help L i Shangyin i n h i s p o l i t i c a l c a r e e r . In order to f u l l y understand the c o n f l i c t s t h a t L i Shangyin had to l i v e with and the v a r i o u s d e l i c a t e and a l l u s i v e ways with which he expressed them i n h i s poetry, h i s being caught as a v i c t i m of the N i u - L i f a c t i o n a l s t r i f e must not be underestimated. S c h o l a r s d i s a g r e e about L i Shangyin's t r u e p o l i t i c a l a f f i l i a t i o n . I t i s n e v e r t h e l e s s i m p o s s i b l e to l a b e l him a member of e i t h e r camp. 2 2 I t seems t h a t , from the w r i t i n g s he has l e f t us, L i Shangyin shows no s p e c i a l a l l e g i a n c e to any one p o l i t i c a l f a c t i o n . Apart from h i s c l o s e r e l a t i o n with the Linghu f a m i l y , p e r s o n a l l y , L i had r e l a t i o n s with many c o n s i d e r e d to be members 57 of the Niu f a c t i o n — p e o p l e such as Du Mu, Yang S i f u 2 3 Du Zong 2^ f- j^ , Xiao Huan i^ j V$^* and Yang Yuqing "^ jf) /J. &^J? At the same time, he was connected with L i H u i * ^ C $ J # Zheng Ya and Wang Maoyuan, a l l members of the L i f a c t i o n . 2 4 He has expressed sympathy f o r the misfortunes of L i Deyu, the p o l i t i c a l adversary of Niu Sengru and prominent l e a d e r of the L i f a c t i o n , when L i Deyu was demoted to Chaozhou and then to Yazhou & & d u r i n g the r e i g n of Xuanzong tg --0^  , 2 5 On the other hand, he wrote poems mourning Xiao Huan and Yang Yuqing, who s u f f e r e d mistreatment along with other members of the Niu f a c t i o n when Zheng Zhu "/3~ was i n power. 2 6 While many suggest that L i Shangyin married Wang Maoyuan's daughter i n order to advance h i s p o l i t i c a l c a r e e r , there i s reason to b e l i e v e t h a t he was genuine-l y i n love with h e r . 2 7 Despite Linghu Tao's d i s p l e a s u r e over L i ' s marriage to Wang Maoyuan's daughter, L i Shangyin t r i e d to maintain h i s r e l a t i o n -s h i p with him. T h i s i s p a r t l y because of h i s d e s i r e f o r Linghu Tao's patronage, but l a r g e l y a l s o because of h i s deep sense of bond and g r a t i t u d e f o r the Linghu f a m i l y . From the year he met Linghu Chu a t the age of s i x t e e n to the year Linghu Chu d i e d when L i Shangyin was twenty-six, f o r ten years, L i had developed a very c l o s e r e l a t i o n s h i p with h i s patron. Linghu t r e a t e d him no l e s s than a son and a c l o s e f r i e n d . 2 8 He passed on to L i the a r t of w r i t i n g p a r a l l e l prose. He p r o v i d e d L i Shangyin with the money to support h i s f a m i l y and to take the c i v i l s e r v i c e examination. He a l s o o f f e r e d L i o p p o r t u n i t i e s to work under h i s 58 o f f i c e and encouraged L i to s o c i a l i z e with h i s own sons. I t was a l s o because of the recommendation of Linghu Tao and the i n -f l u e n c e of Linghu Chu t h a t L i Shangyin f i n a l l y succeeded i n o b t a i n i n g h i s jinshi d e g r e e . 2 9 As he w r i t e s i n a poem to Linghu Tao: Such r i c h and b e a u t i f u l brocade (I have r e c e i v e d ) I know I am unable to repay. There should not, however, be any doubt of my being a Qing-ping sword." 3 0 On the other hand, L i Shangyin's e a r l y c o n n e c t i o n with members of the Niu f a c t i o n and h i s o c c a s i o n a l appeals to Linghu Tao were l i k e l y viewed with m i s t r u s t by Wang Maoyuan h i m s e l f . As Xu Fuguan ^J^. has p o i n t e d out, there are suggestions i n L i ' s p o e t r y of a s t r a i n e d r e l a t i o n s h i p with h i s f a t h e r - i n - l a w . 3 1 In any case, marrying the daughter of a prominent o f f i c i a l d i d not help L i Shangyin at a l l . Some of h i s poems suggest t h a t because of h i s f a i l u r e i n h i s c a r e e r , he thought h i m s e l f s l i g h t e d i n the Wang h o u s e h o l d . 3 2 While not p l a y i n g the p o l i t i c a l games of the time, L i n e v e r t h e l e s s d e s i r e d and needed support from v a r i o u s people i n h i s c a r e e r . At the same time, he had a str o n g sense of empathy f o r those who s u f f e r e d i n j u s t i c e s . He f a i l e d , consequently, to e x t r i c a t e h i m s e l f from a l l the c o n f l i c t s and entanglements. L i Shangyin wrote a t o t a l of ten poems addressed d i r e c t l y to or e x p l i c i t l y f o r Linghu T a o . 3 3 There are a l s o many other wuti 59 poems (poems l a b e l l e d "Without T i t l e " ) , p s e u d o - t i t l e d and yongwu p i e c e s which c o u l d p o s s i b l y have been w r i t t e n f o r L i n g h u . 3 4 Because i t was d i f f i c u l t to express what he had to say i n these poems i n d i r e c t language without exposing h i m s e l f too much or o f f e n d i n g Linghu Tao, L i Shangyin used a l l u s i o n s . T h i s h e a v i l y a l l u s i v e s t y l e i s not o n l y found i n the poems f o r Linghu Tao; whenever there i s a need f o r i n d i r e c t i o n , f o r e x p r e s s i n g h i m s e l f i n a more s u b t l e , or t a c t f u l manner, L i Shangyin would w r i t e a l l u s i v e l y . To c i t e j u s t a few examples, a poem such as "Xieshu" " ^ ^ j " - - ^ " (A L e t t e r of Thanks) i n which L i expresses h i s open p r a i s e and profound g r a t i t u d e f o r Linghu Chu, another p i e c e "Ren Hong-nongwei Xian Z h o u c i s h i Q i j i a G u i j i n g " ^(A L e t t e r to the County P r e f e c t Requesting Leave to r e t u r n to the C a p i t a l from the O f f i c e of the D i s t r i c t Defender) i n which he v o i c e s h i s i n d i g n a t i o n a t being t r e a t e d u n j u s t l y by h i s s u p e r i o r , or i n "Bingzhong Zaofang Zhaoguo L i s h i J i a n g j u n Yu S i e j i a You Q u j i a n g " ^ , f J f f?> & g] # + # $&t >* & (A V i s i t with General L i of Zhaoguo D i s t r i c t During my I l l n e s s When the General and His Family Went On a S i g h t - s e e i n g T r i p Along the R i v e r Qu) where L i Shangyin pleads f o r General L i Qianniu -^f--^* to a c t as h i s go-between i n m a r r i a g e - - a l l these poems are a l -l u s i v e because of the need to express something otherwise too embarrassing or crude i n simpler and more d i r e c t language. There i s yet another f a c e t i n L i Shangyin's p r i v a t e l i f e , much s p e c u l a t e d upon, which may have prompted h i s use of a l -l u s i o n . I am r e f e r r i n g here to h i s many a l l e g e d love a f f a i r s 60 with D a o i s t nuns, palace l a d i e s , and a l s o with L i u Zhi "ffl^ " ^ L . • The only e x p l i c i t r e f e r e n c e to L i u Zhi i n L i Shangyin i s found i n the p r e f a c e to a s e r i e s of poems be a r i n g her name. 3 5 She i s presented as a romantic c h a r a c t e r who a p p r e c i a t e d L i ' s p o e t r y and took a str o n g fancy to him on the o c c a s i o n of t h e i r one, formal meeting. L i Shangyin seems s o r r y to have missed h i s second meeting with her. He a l s o r e g r e t s t h e i r d i f f e r e n t s o c i a l background and laments her marriage to some Lord of the E a s t . 3 6 There i s , however, no sugg e s t i o n whether i n the p r e f a c e or i n the poems themselves t h a t he has a deep romantic r e l a t i o n with her. Nor was there any reason to hide those f e e l i n g s i f he d i d have them. His r e l a t i o n s h i p with D a o i s t nuns and pa l a c e l a d i e s i s - - i f indeed he had any--a d i f f e r e n t matter. Three major f a c t o r s support the s p e c u l a t i o n of L i ' s i l l i c i t a f f a i r s with D a o i s t nuns and palace l a d i e s : (1) L i s t u d i e d Daoism as a young man at Mt. Yuyang and made f r i e n d s with D a o i s t p r i e s t s and nuns. 3 7 (2) Because of t h e i r r e l a t i v e freedom and s o c i a l c o n t a c t , D a o i s t nuns i n the Tang were known to have had s e c r e t romantic l i a i s o n s . Many Tang p r i n c e s s e s chose to leave the c o u r t and enter D a o i s t convents f o r t h i s reason, b r i n g i n g to l i v e with them other l a d i e s from the p a l a c e . 3 8 (3) L i Shangyin's poetr y i s f i l l e d with D a o i s t m y t h o l o g i c a l images, heavy with romantic and, sometimes, even e r o t i c overtones. A c c o r d i n g to Su X u e l i n t & . L i Shangyin had i l l i c i t r e l a t i o n s with two palace l a d i e s named Feiluan^ j j ^ ^^rj and te% Qingfeng <^ -£ A ^ J V J - as w e l l as s e c r e t l i a i s o n s with two s i s t e r D a o i s t nuns by the l a s t name of Song . 3 9 U n f o r t u n a t e l y , her r e c o n s t r u c t i o n of L i ' s l o v e r e l a t i o n s h i p s i s based almost e x c l u s i v e l y on her own tortuous reading of the poems, with only a few o c c a s i o n a l yet d i s t o r t e d r e f e r e n c e to h i s t o r i c a l sources. While agreeing with Su's b a s i c premise, Chen Y i x i n r e c e n t l y proposed a much more a t t r a c t i v e argument and r e - r e a d i n g of L i ' s poems using a s i m i l a r a p p r o a c h . 4 0 Quoting a passage from "Song Zongweng Cong Dongchuan Hongnong Shangshu Mu"^_^A^^| )'| 3 ^ %<— ^ } - ^ " ( S e n d i n g an Uncle to Serve Under the O f f i c e of M i n i s t e r Yang Rushi i n E a s t e r n Sichuan) i n which L i d e s c r i b e s h i s e a r l y days at Mt. Yuyang using romantic images and a l l u s i o n s to female immortals, Chen suggests t h a t L i Shangyin had a l i a i s o n with a D a o i s t nun when he was at Mt. Yuyang. 4 1 The nun and a s i s t e r , he b e l i e v e s , were palace l a d i e s l i v i n g with a Tang p r i n c e s s i n a r o y a l convent a c r o s s from L i Shangyin's monastery. Chen a l s o suggests that L i ' s l o v e r conceived a c h i l d by him which she aborted, and when the whole i n c i d e n t was d i s c o v e r e d , the s i s t e r s were sent back to the p a l a c e . 4 2 B u i l d i n g on Chen Y i x i n ' s h y p o t h e s i s , Ge Xi f u r t h e r s p e c u l a t e s t h a t L i ' s l o v e r l a t e r d r i f t e d to the J i a n g -Xiang area y"2- (around present-day Hunan p r o v i n c e ) . She b e l i e v e s t h a t L i ' s Jiang-Xiang v i s i t i n 840 was meant not only as a business t r i p , but as an excuse to look f o r h i s l o v e r a g a i n . 4 3 Both Chen and Ge i n t e r p r e t L i ' s e l u s i v e poems e x c l u s i v e l y as love l y r i c s i n s p i r e d by t h i s a l l e g e d romance i n h i s l i f e . They have done so by h i g h l i g h t i n g c e r t a i n r e c u r r e n t images i n the poems [i a o y i n <j|) ^fc^f which suggest s p e c i f i c romantic r e f e r e n c e s . Chen, p a r t i c u l a r l y , has i n g e n i o u s l y connected many of L i ' s poems i n great d e t a i l and h i s readings are, w i t h i n t h a t h y p o t h e t i c a l framework, c o n s i s t e n t and a p p e a l i n g . There i s , however, no e x t e r n a l evidence which supports t h e i r c o n j e c t u r e s and the d e t a i l s of t h e i r h y p o t h e t i c a l r e a d i n g . I t i s dangerous to f o l l o w t h i s p a r t i c u l a r school of reading too c l o s e l y because i t i n v o l v e s too many concret e d e t a i l s which are c i r c u m s t a n t i a l and h y p o t h e t i c a l , and i t can e a s i l y r e s u l t i n an e x c l u s i v e and r e d u c t i v e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , using the poems as a f o o t n o t e to L i ' s imagined biography. N e v e r t h e l e s s , one must acknowledge the p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t i l l i c i t a f f a i r s with D a o i s t nuns might have i n s p i r e d some of L i ' s more ambiguous poems, t h a t the romantic element must be g i v e n c o n s i d e r a t i o n i n reading h i s poetry. S t i l l , there are those c r i t i c s who b e l i e v e t h a t many of L i ' s poems are not p e r s o n a l l y r i c s but v e i l e d a t t a c k s on the u n d i s c i -p l i n e d l o v e l i f e of the Tang p r i n c e s s e s , another reason why L i Shangyin would be w r i t i n g a l l u s i v e l y . 4 4 P e r s o n a l l y , I t h i n k that the very few poems which might be i n t e r p r e t e d as L i ' s observa-t i o n s about the conduct of D a o i s t nuns are more l i k e l i g h t , a t most, c a u t i o n a r y comments r a t h e r than heavy, m o r a l i s t i c censure. Undoubtedly, L i Shangyin has shown, time and again, an e f f o r t to assume a d i s t a n c e , to mask something too p e r s o n a l or too p o l i t i c a l l y s e n s i t i v e by c r e a t i n g a sense of e l u s i v e n e s s i n h i s poetry. The use of n o n - t i t l e s and p s e u d o - t i t l e s f o r h i s poems, or t i t l e s such as " N i y i " dMv*L^Xr2 (Assuming an Idea), "Dai-63 zeng ( W r i t i n g f o r Someone E l s e ) , "Daida" (Answer-ing f o r Someone E l s e ) and above a l l , h i s heavy use of a l l u s i o n , are a l l i n d i c a t i v e of t h i s i n t e n t i o n to c o n c e a l , making ambiguity one of h i s major c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . There are two other s i g n i f i c a n t reasons f o r L i Shangyin's use of a l l u s i o n . The f i r s t of these i s h i s t r a i n i n g i n the w r i t i n g of p a r a l l e l prose. The second has to do with the l i t e r a r y t r e n d i n l a t e Tang toward a more e l a b o r a t e and a l l u s i v e s t y l e of p o e t r y than had been common e a r l i e r i n the dynasty. P a r a l l e l prose or pianwen ffirm^ i s a form of w r i t i n g which took i t s i n i t i a l shape from the fu -7W V of the Han p e r i o d . I t became f u l l y e s t a b l i s h e d as a conscious s t y l e i n the S i x Dynas-t i e s , r e a c h i n g the h e i g h t of i t s development from the Wei-Jin through High T a n g . 4 5 Because of the r e v i v a l of c l a s s i c a l prose d u r i n g the Mid-Tang, pianwen went through a p e r i o d of e c l i p s e , but i t became p r e v a l e n t again d u r i n g the time of L i Shangyin. As a prose s t y l e , i t v a r i e s s l i g h t l y from p e r i o d to p e r i o d , but on the whole, i t i s a f l o r i d and e u p h u i s t i c manner of w r i t i n g , c h a r a c t e r i z e d by the sy s t e m a t i c e x p l o i t a t i o n of the p a r a l l e l c o u p l e t , the heavy use of a l l u s i o n , exuberant word-play, with a l l i t e r a t i o n , t o n a l balance, euphony, and other s i m i l a r "con-s c i o u s uses of language to achieve a r t i s t i c e f f e c t s . " 4 6 Because of i t s e a r l y connection with the fu, i t i s e s s e n t i a l l y an expansive, e l a b o r a t e mode of w r i t i n g p r e d i s p o s e d to the d i s p l a y of e r u d i t i o n and the ornate and elegant use of language. The use of a l l u s i o n c r e p t i n e a r l y i n the w r i t i n g of p a r a l l e l prose. 64 A f t e r the Wei-Jin p e r i o d , i t became an i n d i s p e n s a b l e f e a t u r e of t h i s p a r t i c u l a r s t y l e of w r i t i n g . L i Shangyin's e a r l y t r a i n i n g i n prose w r i t i n g was i n the c l a s s i c a l s t y l e . 4 7 As mentioned e a r l i e r , h i s t a l e n t i n w r i t i n g f i n e c l a s s i c a l prose at a very e a r l y age a t t r a c t e d a t t e n t i o n and brought him the f r i e n d s h i p and patronage of Linghu Chu. Since the popular prose s t y l e and the s t y l e used i n most o f f i c i a l w r i t i n g at the time was pianwen, of which Linghu Chu h i m s e l f was a great master, L i Shangyin soon l e a r n e d the a r t of w r i t i n g p a r a l l e l prose from h i s p a t r o n . 4 8 I t i s i r o n i c t h a t although he never thought h i g h l y of h i s pianwen compositions, i t was h i s a b i l i t y to w r i t e f i n e p a r a l l e l prose t h a t he r e l i e d on f o r a l i v i n g as he d r i f t e d from one s e c r e t a r i a l post to another, working f o r m i l i t a r y governors and commissioners most of h i s l i f e . His p r a c t i c e of w r i t i n g pianwen undoubtedly had an i n f l u e n c e on L i Shangyin's p o e t i c s t y l e . The Siku e d i t o r s c h a r a c t e r i z e h i s prose as " s u b t l e and e l e g a n t , " a s t y l e which " d i s t i n g u i s h e s i t s e l f from the work of other Tang w r i t e r s . " 4 9 Chen Mingqing 'f^. J^ij a l s o w r i t e s : "When L i Shangyin w r i t e s to g r i e v e f o r someone e l s e , he g r i e v e s [movingly]; when he w r i t e s to f l a t t e r f o r someone e l s e , he f l a t t e r s [ b e a u t i f u l l y ] . " 5 0 Whether the purpose of h i s w r i t i n g i s to implore, to c h i d e , to complain, to e x p l a i n , to p r a i s e or to defend, he seems always to express h i m s e l f i n the most a p p r o p r i a t e language. Examples such as "Wei Puyanggong Chenqingbiao" fe) >4^?^> W ^H'"^ , "Wei Yingyanggong 65 X i e c i Dongyi Zhuang" "Taiwei Weigong Huichang Y i p i n J i x u " and "Wei Puyanggong Yu Liuzhen Shu" jfc) M\ ^ T - ^ " a l l i l l u s t r a t e a s u b t l e , r e f i n e d and a r t f u l use of language which conveys a g r a c i o u s n e s s and s e n s i t i v i t y i n communicating what i s otherwise d i f f i c u l t to express i n p l a i n w r i t i n g . A g r e a t p a r t of t h i s success l i e s i n h i s e f f e c t i v e use of a l l u s i o n s , e s p e c i a l l y i n the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c way he i n t e r t w i n e s them with the l y r i c a l , the e x p o s i t o r y as w e l l as the argumentative i n h i s w r i t i n g . T h i s h a b i t u a l use of a l l u s i o n to w r i t e i n an i n d i r e c t , d e l i c a t e and s o p h i s t i c a t e d manner i s a l s o e v i d e n t i n L i Shang-y i n ' s poetry. And the s p e c i a l ways a l l u s i o n s are used together with other elements i n h i s prose w r i t i n g to achieve c e r t a i n e f f e c t s i s a l s o found i n h i s p o e t r y . In a l e t t e r to a f r i e n d , Qian Zhongshu ^3 -^ once remarked t h a t L i Shangyin "writes h i s p o e t r y i n the manner of p a r a l l e l p r o s e , " 5 1 a most p e n e t r a t i n g o b s e r v a t i o n about a s a l i e n t c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of L i Shangyin's poetry. Besides the i n f l u e n c e of p a r a l l e l prose, the l i t e r a r y f a s h i o n of the time c a l l e d f o r a new p o e t i c s t y l e to which L i Shangyin responded. The development of p o e t i c s t y l e took s e v e r a l turns d u r i n g the Tang Dynasty. From the p o e t r y of Shen Quanqi"/A^i i Song Zhiwen ^L. f*^  and the "Four T a l e n t s of the E a r l y Tang" who continued w r i t i n g i n the S i x Dynasties mode, tc of the Han, Wei and J i a n ' a n p e r i o d , from the d e c e p t i v e l y simple :o Chen Zi'ang "P^- tj" i ^ 7 who championed a r e t u r n to the s p i r i t 66 landscape imagery of Wang Wei ^ , the u n b r i d l e d genius and s o a r i n g language of L i Bo ^ ts/ , to the all-encompassing, c u l -t i v a t e d and i n n o v a t i v e Du Fu, among a host of other e x c e l l e n t and o r i g i n a l poets, v e r s i f i c a t i o n and p o e t i c s t y l e s had by Mid-Tang been f u l l y e x p l o r e d and developed. Subsequently, poets such as Bai J u y i and Han Yu sought to w r i t e d i f f e r e n t l y , each proposing h i s own theory of p o e t i c s . In a l i m p i d s t y l e , Bai J u y i advocated a renewed t r a d i t i o n of yuefu and n a r r a t i v e poetry. Han Yu sought i n s p i r a t i o n from h i s r e v i v a l of c l a s s i c a l prose and wrote a more p r o s a i c verse with o c c a s i o n a l b i z a r r e d i c t i o n . L i He 3[ ^ , who came a f t e r them, a l s o made h i s mark by w r i t i n g a u n i q u e l y f a n c i f u l and v i s u a l l y - o r i e n t e d language. By the time of L i Shangyin, the need was f e l t f o r something more complex, ornate and s o p h i s t i c a t e d . L i Shangyin responded by s y n t h e s i z i n g and f u r t h e r d e v e l o p i n g some of the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of Du Fu, Han Yu and L i He, but more im p o r t a n t l y , by drawing from the techniques and s t y l e s of S i x Dynasties poets. There are many conscious i m i t a t i o n s of the Q i - L i a n g s t y l e i n h i s c o l l e c t i o n , but the i n f l u e n c e of Q i - L i a n g p o e t r y on L i Shangyin i s much more s u b t l e and p e r v a s i v e than d i r e c t i m i t a t i o n . In an a r t i c l e i n which he touches upon the e s s e n t i a l f e a t u r e s of Q i - L i a n g poetry, J i Yong i d e n t i f i e s i n the works of Six Dynasties poets many elements of the fu.52 As a genre, the fu u s u a l l y i n v o l v e s the expansive and e l a b o r a t e d e l i n e a t i o n of some p h y s i c a l o b j e c t s . There i s no doubt that Q i - L i a n g p o e t r y i n c o r p o r a t e d some of these e s s e n t i a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the fu. 67 As L i u X i e wrote i n Wenxin Diaolong: At the beginning of the Song (420-479) some development i n the l i t e r a r y t r e n d was e v i d e n t . . . . W r i t e r s v i e d i n weaving c o u p l e t s which might extend to hundreds of words... 5 3 And J i a o r a n i n h i s Shi Shi: J i a n ' a n poets are not a l l u s i v e . Q i - L i a n g poets use [a g r e a t many] a l l u s i o n s . 5 4 To w r i t e i n an i n c r e a s i n g l y e l a b o r a t e , s u b t l e and elegant manner, i t i s o n l y n a t u r a l t h a t one r e s o r t s to a l l u s i o n , an important technique of i n d i r e c t i o n , v a r i a t i o n and a m p l i f i c a t i o n . T h i s i s one c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of Q i - L i a n g p o e t r y t h a t one a l s o f i n d s i n L i Shangyin. A n a t u r a l o f f s h o o t of an a l l u s i v e and i n d i r e c t s t y l e of w r i t i n g i s yongwu and yongshi poetry, two f a v o r i t e genres found i n L i Shangyin's work as w e l l as the works of the S i x Dynasties p e r i o d . I t i s not by c o i n c i d e n c e t h a t the p a r a l l e l prose which f l o u r i s h e d d u r i n g the S i x Dynasties was popular again i n l a t e Tang, shaping i n t u r n the p o e t i c s t y l e of L i Shangyin. Although there i s much more i n L i Shangyin's p o e t r y than can be found i n Q i - L i a n g poetry, i t s i n f l u e n c e on L i i s obvious. Whether i t i s f o r p o l i t i c a l , p r i v a t e and p e r s o n a l or l i t e r a r y reasons, a l l u s i o n i s an i n d i s p e n s a b l e p o e t i c d e v i c e f o r L i Shangyin. He uses i t so n a t u r a l l y and so f r e q u e n t l y i n h i s p o e t r y t h a t i t becomes p a r t and p a r c e l of h i s p o e t i c s . As we s h a l l see a f t e r reviewing h i s poetry, a l l u s i o n i s not a mere 68 t e c h n i c a l resource f o r L i Shangyin; i t has become h i s l i t e r a r y mode, h i s manner of p e r c e p t i o n and p o e t i c e x p r e s s i o n . A l l u s i o n and the P o e t i c World of L i Shangyin In the p r e f a c e to h i s second c o l l e c t i o n of p a r a l l e l prose, L i Shangyin w r i t e s : T h i s business [of w r i t i n g p a r a l l e l prose] i s not something I devote myself to or s p e c i a l i z e i n . These p i e c e s were mostly w r i t t e n i n haste i n answer to other's r e q u e s t s , c e r t a i n l y nothing to speak h i g h l y o f . . . 5 5 T h i s i s too modest a statement, f o r c r i t i c s have g e n e r a l l y r e c o g n i z e d t h a t L i wrote some of the f i n e s t specimens i n the h i s t o r y of p a r a l l e l p r o s e . 5 6 The comment, however, does e x p l a i n something about the way he r e l a t e s to t h i s form of w r i t i n g as opposed to the much more p e r s o n a l way he r e l a t e s to h i s p o e t r y . 5 7 Indeed, over 70% h i s p a r a l l e l prose c o n s i s t s of memorials, l e t -t e r s , p e t i t i o n s , epitaphs and e u l o g i e s w r i t t e n f o r h i s s u p e r i o r s and patrons, and so does not, t h e r e f o r e , speak r e a l l y f o r h i m s e l f . I t i s i n h i s poetry, a more p e r s o n a l form of e x p r e s s i o n , that we look f o r a deeper r e v e l a t i o n of the man through h i s a r t . T h i s f a c t i s c l e a r l y e v i d e n t when we compare L i Shangyin's use of a l l u s i o n i n h i s prose and h i s poetry. On the whole, L i uses r a t h e r d i f f e r e n t a l l u s i o n s i n h i s p a r a l l e l prose from those 69 i n h i s poetry. The a l l u s i o n s i n h i s prose works are a l s o to more s c a t t e r e d and random sources while those i n h i s poetry f a l l i n t o c l u s t e r s and p a t t e r n s . The r e c u r r e n t use of c e r t a i n a l l u s i o n s i n h i s p o e t r y seems to suggest a coherent i n n e r world, a c o n s i s t e n t p e r c e p t i o n and v i s i o n which i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of our poet. T h i s r e c a l l s what C a r o l i n e Spurgeon s a i d i n Shakespeare's Imagery and What It Tells Us: The imagery a poet i n s t i n c t i v e l y uses i s a r e v e l a t i o n , l a r g e l y unconscious, g i v e n a t a moment of heightened f e e l i n g , of the f u r n i t u r e of h i s mind. The channels of h i s thought, the q u a l i t i e s of t h i n g s . . . 5 8 Quite a p a r t from the s t y l e and method of forming an image, which i s a study i n i t s e l f , Spurgeon b e l i e v e s t h a t each w r i t e r has a c e r t a i n range of images which are c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of him. The r e c u r r e n t use of such images helps to r a i s e , to develop, to s u s t a i n and to repeat those emotions which are dominant i n h i s poetry. L i t e r a t u r e i s the v e r b a l t r a n s c r i p t i o n of an i n d i v i -d ual's coherent human experience. I t i s not the o b j e c t i v e r e a l i t y i t s e l f , but r e a l i t y experienced and organized by an i n d i v i d u a l author. L i Shangyin's p o e t r y i s c h a r a c t e r i z e d by the c o n f l i c t between h i s i d e a l of the world as i t should be and the s t a r k r e a l i t y of the world as i t i s . The yearning f o r an i d e a l s o c i e t y i s fundamental to h i s v i s i o n , h i s quest. To a s p i r e to beauty and s e l f - r e a l i z a t i o n i n an un j u s t and imperfect world, to lov e 70 i n t e n s e l y and deeply, to search f o r an emotional and s p i r i t u a l s a n c t u a r y - - a l l these yearnings enable one, i f o n l y momentarily, to go beyond one's l i m i t e d s e l f . Indeed, the n o t i o n of l i f e as an endless but f u t i l e quest permeates a l l of L i Shangyin's poetry. He w r i t e s about i t c o n s c i o u s l y , touches upon i t im-p l i c i t l y , probes i t s essence p r i v a t e l y . I b e l i e v e i t i s t h i s dominant p e r s p e c t i v e , expressed v a r i o u s l y , which ' d e s c r i b e s ' h i s p o e t i c world. I t i s a g a i n s t t h i s background t h a t I propose to study the a l l u s i v e imagery of L i Shangyin's poetry. T r a d i t i o n a l l y , poets draw t h e i r a l l u s i o n s l a r g e l y from the D y n a s t i c H i s t o r i e s , the Confucian C l a s s i c s , and other e a r l y books of p h i l o s o p h y . L i Shangyin uses a g r e a t many h i s t o r i c a l a l -l u s i o n s (drawn mostly from b i o g r a p h i e s and anecdotes) but a l l u d e s to the C l a s s i c s and other p h i l o s o p h i c a l t e x t s o n l y s p a r i n g l y . He a l s o uses a l a r g e number of m y t h o l o g i c a l a l l u s i o n s , something found only o c c a s i o n a l l y i n the works of other p o e t s . 5 9 Before examining the c o r r e l a t i o n between L i ' s use of a l l u s i o n and the v a r i o u s m o t i f s and d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s of meaning i n h i s poetry, I would l i k e to o f f e r an overview of L i ' s poems i n terms of t h e i r themes and t h e i r degree of p l u r i s i g n a t i o n . L i Shangyin's poems f a l l c o n v e n i e n t l y i n t o what we c o u l d c a l l the more ' p u b l i c ' and the more ' p r i v a t e ' ones. By ' p u b l i c ' poems I mean those which d e a l with themes of p o l i t i c a l and h i s t o r i c a l s a t i r e , with o c c a s i o n a l themes as w e l l as a u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l themes which are made r e l a t i v e l y e x p l i c i t . By ' p r i v a t e ' poems I mean 71 those which d e s c r i b e the more p e r s o n a l , obscure and n e a r l y -i n e x p l i c a b l e emotions. Whether any p a r t i c u l a r events have i n s p i r e d these emotions, most of these contexts are not r e a d i l y i d e n t i f i a b l e . The two dominant schools of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n on these poems i n c l u d e a read i n g of the p i e c e s as: (1) p e r s o n a l , c a r e e r - o r i e n t e d poems d i r e c t e d as appeals f o r patronage mostly to Linghu Tao; (2) as p r i v a t e , r o m a n t i c a l l y focused p i e c e s on Dao i s t nuns. A t h i r d i n t e r p r e t a t i o n sees some of these as poems censur-ing the indulgence of Tang P r i n c e s s e s and the Emperors' v a i n p u r s u i t of p h y s i c a l i m m o r t a l i t y . L i ' s ' p r i v a t e ' poems i n c l u d e most of h i s p s e u d o - t i t l e d p i e c e s , those l a b e l l e d "Without T i t l e , " as w e l l as some of h i s yongwu poems. On the whole, we f i n d a c o n c e n t r a t i o n of h i s t o r i c a l a l -l u s i o n s i n L i ' s ' p u b l i c ' poems, and a s i m i l a r c o n c e n t r a t i o n of m y t h o l o g i c a l a l l u s i o n s i n h i s more ' p r i v a t e ' ones. His more ' p u b l i c ' p i e c e s are w r i t t e n l a r g e l y on a l i t e r a l or a l l e g o r i c a l plane, u s u a l l y with one or two l e v e l s of p o s s i b l e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . His ' p r i v a t e ' poems, because of the abundant use of m y t h o l o g i c a l a l l u s i o n s , are not only a l l e g o r i c a l (the onl y i n t e r p r e t a t i v e approach adopted by t r a d i t i o n a l c r i t i c s ) , but a l s o , as I s h a l l demonstrate, symbolic, with m u l t i p l e l e v e l s of meaning. A study of the c l u s t e r s of r e c u r r e n t a l l u s i o n s i n r e l a t i o n to the major m o t i f s i n these two groups of poems should h e l p to demonstrate the complexity of the i n n e r world of h i s poetry . 72 L i Shangyin's Use of H i s t o r i c a l A l l u s i o n s L i Shangyin's h i s t o r i c a l a l l u s i o n s are drawn from sources which cover a wide span of h i s t o r y , ranging from events taken from the Spr i n g and Autumn and Warring s t a t e s p e r i o d s down to and i n c l u d i n g Tang i t s e l f . One notable group of a l l u s i o n s has to do with the demise of l a s t - r e i g n i n g monarchs. The l i s t i n c l u d e s King Fucha of Wu ^ i ^s./^ » K i n S Xiang of Chu > Emperor F e i of Southern-Qi $Q "jlj' J^LJ^^ » Emperor Yuan of Liang \ ± ^ , the l a s t r u l e r of Northern-Qi l ^ ' f ^ t , ^ » the l a s t r u l e r of Chen and Emperor Yang of the Sui Dynasty 1% 4 \ He a l s o w r i t e s about the downturn of Tang d u r i n g and a f t e r Emperor Xuanzong's ^5, -ffo r e i g n . I t i s not d i f f i c u l t to understand the prominence g i v e n these ' t w i l i g h t ' monarchs i n view of the p o l i t i c a l background of L i Shangyin's time. Caught i n f a c t i o n a l s t r u g g l e s , d e f i e d and ignored by p r o v i n c i a l m i l i t a r y governors, c o n t r o l l e d by the eunuchs, threatened by invaders and haunted by economic problems, the Tang c o u r t seemed w e l l on i t s road to d e c l i n e . Coping with the s i t u a t i o n would have been a c h a l l e n g e to an e x c e p t i o n a l l y a b l e and e n l i g h t e n e d r u l e r , but the s i x emperors who r e i g n e d d u r i n g L i ' s l i f e t i m e were degenerate, or simply powerless and incompetent. L i Shangyin expresses a l l u s i v e l y h i s f r u s t r a t i o n with what he witnessed of the conduct of the Tang emperors and the gen e r a l a f f a i r s of s t a t e . The a l l u s i o n s to l a s t - r u l i n g monarchs i l l u s -t r a t e s e v e r a l major concerns i n h i s h i s t o r i c a l poems. The f i r s t i s t h a t the f a l l of a dynasty i s u s u a l l y r e l a t e d to the e x t r a v a -gance, d e p r a v i t y and indulgence of i t s emperors. Poems such as "Chenhougong" (The Inner Palace of Chen) "Suigong" "Hf ^ (The Sui P a l a c e s ) , "Suigong Shousui" ^ ^ (Stayi n g Up On New Year's Eve In the Sui P a l a c e ) , "Nanchao"tfH$$ (The Southern D y n a s t i e s ) , "Qigongci" £ ~\ <^J ( L y r i c On Qi Palace) and " B e i q i Ershou" ( T w o Poems on Northern Qi) are but a few of such examples. Before going i n t o any d e t a i l e d a n a l y s i s of i n d i v i d u a l poems, I s h a l l b r i e f l y survey L i Shan-gyi n ' s c h o i c e of a l l u s i o n s i n r e l a t i o n to t h i s aspect of h i s h i s t o r i c a l poems. Let us f i r s t c o n s i d e r t h i s poem: " L y r i c On Qi Palace" The Palace of Longev i t y was wide open the evening the s o l d i e r s a r r i v e d , Now, no more golden l o t u s marks the c e n t r e of the c o u r t . When the sounds of midnight pipes and songs have d i e d down over the Terra c e of Liang, The nine jade chimes continue swaying i n the wind. (FH: 550) Al t o g e t h e r three r e l a t e d a l l u s i o n s from the Nan Shi are used i n t h i s poem: (1) The Palace of Lon g e v i t y was one of the extravagant p r o j e c t s Emperor F e i of Southern-Qi b u i l t f o r h i s f a v o r i t e Concubine P a n . 6 0 (2) The emperor a l s o had golden l o t u s e s carved a t the c e n t r e of h i s c o u r t so that h i s concubine c o u l d dance upon them. 6 1 (3) When the troops admitted by h i s own r e b e l l i o u s o f f i c i a l s r a i d e d h i s palace one evening, the emperor, caught unguarded i n h i s r e v e l s , was k i l l e d by the r e b e l t r o o p s . 6 2 A f o u r t h a l l u s i o n records t h a t nine jade chimes were s t o l e n from the famous Zhuanyan Temple to decorate Concubine Pan's palaces du r i n g t h e i r c o n s t r u c t i o n . 6 3 Thus Emperor F e i of Southern-Qi l o s t h i s kingdom because of h i s i n f a t u a t i o n with Concubine Pan and h i s endless p u r s u i t of p l e a s u r e . His extravagance i n p l e a s i n g her i s i m p l i c i t i n the poem through the use of a l l u s i o n s . The poem ends on an i r o n i c note, suggesting t h a t the emperors of Li a n g , the immediate successors of Q i , continued to conduct t h e i r l i v e s i n a s i m i l a r f a s h i o n . In the f o l l o w i n g two poems the f a l l of Gao Wei V^]^»^ > the l a s t emperor of the Northern-Qi i s the s u b j e c t : i t Two Poems on Northern-Qi i t (1) One winning smile i s enough to to p p l e the n a t i o n . Who needs to wait u n t i l brambles grow i n the palace before s t a r t i n g to g r i e v e ? The n i g h t X i a o l i a n ' s jade-white body l a y acr o s s the bed They announced t h a t the Zhou troops had entered Jinyang. 75 (2) Her enchanting smile i s enough to r i v a l the myriad a f f a i r s of s t a t e . Her c i t y - t o p p l i n g charm i s at i t s best when she dresses i n m i l i t a r y a t t i r e . Jinyang has a l r e a d y f a l l e n , do not bother l o o k i n g back! Please, your Majesty, another round of hunting! (FH: 709) Two a l l u s i o n s are used i n the f i r s t poem. The e x p r e s s i o n "qingcheng" Xty\ ( t o p p l e - c i t y ) , which i s now no more than a pa r t of the vocabulary, a c l i c h e , i s taken from L i Yan'nian's ^ song which c e l e b r a t e s the beauty of h i s s i s t e r (beauty enough to to p p l e a c i t y ) who l a t e r became a f a v o r i t e of Emperor Wu.64 The f i r s t r e a l a l l u s i o n from Wuyue Chunqiu mentions that when Fucha, the King of Wu, l i s t e n e d to s l a n d e r , he was t o l d by h i s m i n i s t e r t h a t i f he continued mistaking the good f o r the bad, the n a t i o n would soon be des t r o y e d by the r i v a l s t a t e of Yue. The c i t y would be i n r u i n s and the palace over-grown with b r a m b l e s . 6 5 The second a l l u s i o n r e f e r s to the f a l l of Jinyang ^ f ' and the emperor's r e t r e a t to YeiJ^jp when Zhou Wudi' s troops stormed the c i t y . 6 6 In the second poem, an a l l u s i o n i s made again to Gao Wei. When the troops came to storm the c i t y of Jinyang, the emperor was hunting at Sandui His r e t u r n to the c o u r t was delayed by h i s concubine who urged him to go on y e t one more round of h u n t i n g . 6 7 Again, the r e i g n of the l a s t emperor of Northern-Qi ended i n f r i v o l i t y and indulgence. Another major concern i n L i Shangyin's h i s t o r i c a l poem i s the incompetence of the emperors, t h e i r mishandling of important a f f a i r s and t h e i r f a i l u r e to r e c o g n i z e and to employ men of v i r t u e and t a l e n t . Examples are "Suishidong" (The Sui Army T r a v e l s E a s t ) , "Yongshi" 5^ JCJ$^ _ (On a H i s t o r i c a l Event) and " J i u J i a n g j u n " (The Former G e n e r a l ) . "The Former General" Over the Cloud T e r r a c e o p i n i o n s run l o u d and h i g h . Who was to decide then who got m e r i t s f o r d r i v i n g out our enemies? Hunting over the p l a i n s of B a l i n g i n the evening t w i l i g h t , General L i was [ j u s t ] a former g e n e r a l ! (FH: 328) Two a l l u s i o n s to the Han Dynasty are used i n t h i s poem which i s read as a comment on a contemporary event: (1) The Cloud Terrace was p a r t of an E a s t e r n Han palace to commemorate the out-standing m e r i t s of past o f f i c i a l s , the emperor Ming had t h e i r p o r t r a i t s p a i n t e d on the w a l l of the t e r r a c e , and there must have been arguments about who deserved a p l a c e t h e r e . T h i s i s the source of the f i r s t l i n e . 6 8 (2) B a l i n g r^^__ w a s the mausoleum of Emperor Wen (Western Han) to the east of Chang'an. One evening, when the famous Western Han General L i Guang "^ L i n h i s r e t i r e m e n t hunted on the p l a i n s near B a l i n g , he was stopped by a drunken guard. When L i Guang's f o l l o w e r s reminded the guard that i t was the former General L i he was speaking to, the guard s a i d , "Even present g e n e r a l s are not allowed to pass by here a t n i g h t , l e t alone former g e n e r a l s ! " L i Guang had fought the Xiongnu a l l h i s l i f e and won many v i c t o r i e s but was never p r o p e r l y rewarded f o r h i s m e r i t s . 6 9 According to Cheng Mengxing and Feng Hao, t h i s poem i s a s a t i r e on the mistreatment of L i Deyu. 7 0 Another commentator, He Zhuo, b e l i e v e s t h a t i t a l s o r e f e r s to General Shi Xiong ^ inf. . . i During the r e i g n of Wuzong, L i Deyu, as C h i e f M i n i s t e r , c a r r i e d out a number of p o l i c i e s a g a i n s t the p r o v i n c i a l m i l i t a r y l e a d e r s . Upon h i s recommendation, General Shi Xiong was sent to crush the U i g h u r s . 7 2 S h i Xiong was a l s o i n s t r u m e n t a l i n p u t t i n g down the r e v o l t s i n c i t e d by the m i l i t a r y l e a d e r Guo Y i When Emperor Xuanzong jf. "Tjx came to the throne, the o u t s t a n d i n g m e r i t s of the o f f i c i a l s and g e n e r a l s d u r i n g Wuzong's r e i g n were completely ignored. L i Deyu was demoted to Yazhou, and Shi Xiong soon d i e d of d e s p a i r . L a t e r , when Xuanzong j? "7JN ordered the p o r t r a i t s of some t h i r t y - s e v e n generals and o f f i c i a l s to be p a i n t e d on the w a l l of Lingyan Terrace, no one came forward to speak f o r these two worthy men. Most of the Tang emperors d u r i n g L i Shangyin's l i f e t i m e were deluded by the promises of p h y s i c a l i m m o r t a l i t y o f f e r e d by D a o i s t e l i x i r drugs. T h e i r g u l l i b i l i t y not o n l y made them n e g l e c t the s e r i o u s a f f a i r s of the s t a t e , i t a l s o caused a few of them to d i e 78 prematurely. L i expressed h i s concern i n poems such as " J i a -sheng," "Guo J i n g l i n g " and "Maoling." In "Jiasheng" (Scholar J i a ) , he d i r e c t l y c r i t i c i z e d the eagerness of Han Wendi to d i s c o v e r the ways of the ghosts and s p i r i t s to the n e g l e c t of h i s duty, no doubt i n t e n d i n g the rebuke f o r the r e i g n i n g emperor: "Scholar J i a " In Audience H a l l , seeking worthy men, he r e c e i v e d the e x i l e d s u b j e c t -Scholar J i a , whose t a l e n t s were indeed u n r i v a l l e d . Too bad t h a t i n the middle of the n i g h t he should, to no purpose, l e a n forward, Asking, not of the people but about ghosts and s p i r i t s . (FH: 314) The main a l l u s i o n here draws upon the biography of J i a Y i f i t i n the Shi Ji: J i a Y i was a t a l e n t e d s c h o l a r and one-time r o y a l t u t o r d u r i n g the r e i g n of Emperor Wen i n the Han Dynasty. A f t e r being s l a n d e r e d and demoted to a p o s i t i o n i n Changsha, f a r away from the c o u r t , he was r e c a l l e d f o r an i m p e r i a l audience. The emperor spent the e n t i r e evening a s k i n g him about ghosts and s p i r i t s , i n s t e a d of c o n s u l t i n g him on matters concerning the s t a t e . Wendi was d e s c r i b e d as being so eager t h a t he c r e p t forward on the mat, l i s t e n i n g a t t e n t i v e l y to J i a Y i . 7 4 T h i s a l l u s i o n r i d i c u l e s the emperor's i n t e r e s t i n the wrong t h i n g s and d e p l o r e s the n e g l e c t of men of t a l e n t . 79 The a l l u s i o n s L i Shangyin has used i n these h i s t o r i c a l poems tend to have a n e g a t i v e overtone. He chooses decadent, i n e p t r u l e r s i n s t e a d of c i t i n g s t o r i e s of a b l e , e n l i g h t e n e d monarchs f o r the c u r r e n t emperors to emulate. A l l these a l l u s i o n s to l a s t - r e i g n i n g monarchs, s t o r i e s of L i Guang and J i a Y i d e p i c t , w i t h i n t h e i r own realm of consciousness, a misgoverned and un j u s t world. There i s a t r a d i t i o n of w r i t i n g h i s t o r i c a l and p o l i t i c a l poems i n a s a t i r i c a l , and t h e r e f o r e , negative l i g h t , but L i Shangyin's s a t i r e s are p a r t i c u l a r l y poignant, and have even been c r i t i c i z e d as "pungent." 7 3 F e e l i n g s of n e g a t i v i t y as w e l l as i n -e v i t a b i l i t y are e s p e c i a l l y s t r o n g i n h i s poetry, emphasized through h i s c h o i c e of a l l u s i o n s . A l l u s i o n to h i s t o r i c a l f i g u r e s a l s o f a l l s i n t o c e r t a i n p a t t e r n s i n L i Shangyin's poetry. His f a v o r i t e s i n c l u d e Sima Xiangru SfJ $$C&2 F J i a Y i , Q U Y u a n / ^ y ^ , Song Yu , Ren Fang fa 9^$ , Cao Zhi ^ " ^ H . and Yu X i n ^ . S e v e r a l common threads run through the l i v e s of these h i s t o r i c a l f i g u r e s . Most of them have a p l a c e i n h i s t o r y as w r i t e r s ; some, n o t a b l y Song Yu and Sima Xiangru, won the a t t e n t i o n and f a v o r of t h e i r r u l e r s through t h e i r e x c e p t i o n a l l i t e r a r y s k i l l s . J i a Y i even had h i s p o l i t i c a l views taken s e r i o u s l y . I t i s not d i f f i c u l t to understand why L i Shangyin a l l u d e s so o f t e n to t h i s group of people. He always wanted a c t i v e l y to serve the S t a t e . His e a r l y essays "Sheng Lun" (On Sages) and "Cai Lun" A (On T a l e n t ) , are no longer e x t a n t , 7 6 but i n a number of other essays, he expressed the i d e a t h a t everybody has a c o n t r i b u t i o n 80 to make to s o c i e t y . 7 7 I d e a l l y one should serve as a c o u r t o f f i c i a l , working c l o s e to the emperor, making concr e t e p o l i c y s uggestions, d r a f t i n g memorials and important i m p e r i a l docu-ments. 7 8 He hoped to achieve such a p o s i t i o n through h i s l i t e r a r y t a l e n t s . There i s no l a c k of precedent f o r such a c a r e e r . L i ' s own patron, Linghu Chu, f o r example, became known to Emperor Dezong through h i s l i t e r a r y s k i l l s . He was appointed a member of the H a n l i n Academy, l a t e r promoted to the p o s i t i o n of D r a f t e r of the S e c r e t a r i a t , and even became C h i e f M i n i s t e r . 7 9 Most high p o s i t i o n s were f i l l e d through the c i v i l s e r v i c e examinations which t e s t e d c a n d i d a t e s ' l i t e r a r y s k i l l s . T h i s i s why L i Shangyin switched to w r i t i n g pianwen soon a f t e r he met Linghu Chu, pianwen being the p r e f e r r e d prose s t y l e f o r o f f i c i a l w r i t i n g at the time. Many of the h i s t o r i c a l f i g u r e s L i Shangyin a l l u d e d to i n h i s poet r y succeeded i n g a i n i n g access to the c o u r t and to t h e i r emperors. Song Yu, f o r example, was p e r s o n a l l y c l o s e to King Xiang (of Chu). Sima Xiangru was recommended to Emperor Wu (of Han). J i a Y i was s e v e r a l times made a s e n i o r a d v i s o r to Emperor Wen (of Han). Cao Z h i ' s p o e t i c a b i l i t y made him a f a v o r i t e of h i s f a t h e r , Cao Cao • ^ n the other hand, they were mostly looked upon as c o u r t poets whose main purpose was to please and e n t e r t a i n the r u l e r , l i k e Song Yu and Sima Xiangru. Others, such as Qu Yuan and Cao Zhi ended t h e i r l i v e s i n d i s g r a c e d e s p i t e e a r l i e r success. I t i s obvious t h a t these h i s t o r i c a l f i g u r e s appealed to L i 81 Shangyin. He too was r e c o g n i z e d f o r h i s l i t e r a r y t a l e n t s i n h i s e a r l y youth. He envies them the o p p o r t u n i t i e s they had f o r advancement while sympathizing with those who, though recognized, were misused. The d i f f e r e n t ways L i Shangyin a l l u d e s to these i n d i v i d u a l s r e f l e c t the complexity of h i s responses toward them. His p e r s o n a l concerns are a l s o e vident through the p a r t i c u l a r s t o r i e s and anecdotes he s e l e c t s . On the whole, L i tends to r e f e r to the misfortunes i n which these c h a r a c t e r s were i n v o l v e d . Whether i t i s J i a Y i ' s demotion to Changsha, Ren Fang's f a i l u r e to f u l f i l l h i s e a r l y ambition to become a C h i e f M i n i s t e r , or Yu Xin's e x i l e working f o r an a l i e n dynasty, there was always something t h a t the l i v e s of these c h a r a c t e r s had i n common with h i s own s i t u a t i o n . Whether he i s responding to t h e i r successes or setbacks, however, h i s a l l u s i o n s serve a negative end, e x p r e s s i n g mainly the f r u s t r a t i o n s he experienced i n h i s own c a r e e r . His v a r i o u s a l l u s i o n s to Sima Xiangru w i l l serve as a t y p i c a l example. S t o r i e s concerning Sima Xiangru's l i f e are found mostly i n h i s biography i n the Shi Ji as w e l l as i n the Han Shu. One of L i ' s f a v o r i t e a l l u s i o n s i s to Sima Xiangru's i l l n e s s (xiaoke bing ), an i l l n e s s c h a r a c t e r i z e d by t h i r s t , and presumed to be d i a b e t e s . 8 0 T h i s II t h i r s t i t i n L i ' s poem symbolizes a very strong need. Often i t i s the poet's u n f u l f i l l e d d e s i r e over h i s own c a r e e r : His servant i s s u f f e r i n g from the t h i r s t of Xiangru, Why does h i s Majesty not grant him a cup of heavenly dew 82 from the Golden P l a t e ? 8 1 L i Shangyin a l s o uses Sima Xiangru*s i l l n e s s and r e t i r e m e n t from o f f i c e to d e s c r i b e h i s own i l l h e a l t h and the n e g l e c t he experiences i n c o n t r a s t to the a t t e n t i o n he used to r e c e i v e under Linghu Chu: Ask no more of t h i s o l d guest from King Liang's garden, At Maoling, i n the autumn r a i n , an a i l i n g X i a n g r u . 8 2 As a young man Sima Xiangru was w e l l - t r e a t e d by h i s patron King Xiao of L i a n g , as was L i Shangyin by Linghu Chu. He i s g e n t l y reminding Linghu Tao of t h i s i n t h i s poem w r i t t e n i n response to an i n q u i r y about h i s s i c k n e s s . In the f o l l o w i n g poem, the poet's f r u s t r a t i o n over h i s u n f u l f i l l e d c a r e e r and h i s i n a b i l i t y to do anything s i g n i f i c a n t f o r the s t a t e i s expressed with a touch of i r o n y . T h i s time, the a l l u s i o n he uses concerns the s t o r y of Sima Xiangru and the wine-shop he operated with Zhuo Wenjun ~$C^ : 8 3 Fine wine i n Chengdu, enough to h e l p spend my o l d age, Over there by the stove i s Zhuo Wenjun! 8 4 A f t e r t h e i r elopement to Chengdu i n Szechuan, Sima Xiangru and h i s wife had no means of l i v e l i h o o d . They opened up a tavern t h e r e , with Wenjun s e r v i n g wine over the wine-stove. These two l i n e s j u s t c i t e d are p a r t of an o c c a s i o n a l poem w r i t t e n d u r i n g the l a t e years of L i ' s l i f e . He had j u s t f i n i s h e d h i s assignment 83 i n Chengdu. The poem was w r i t t e n at a f a r e w e l l banquet before he Szechuan had witnessed a number of l o c a l u p r i s i n g s as w e l l as Zhuo Wenjun i s used here f o r c e r t a i n images and an analogous s i t u a t i o n i t p r o v i d e s : (1) That the s t o r y took p l a c e a l s o i n Chengdu d u r i n g a low p o i n t i n Sima Xiangru's l i f e when he had to s t r u g g l e to make a l i v i n g which had l i t t l e to do with s e r v i n g the s t a t e ; (2) That the seemingly c a r e f r e e l i f e of wine and women i s c o n s o l i n g enough i n one's o l d age. The u n d e r l y i n g i r o n i c meaning suggests, i n s t e a d , a deep p e r s o n a l disappointment at not being able to do anything f o r the s t a t e at a time when s e r v i c e i s most needed. Many of the a l l u s i o n s to Sima Xiangru, as we can see, draw upon the l e s s f o r t u n a t e aspects of h i s l i f e . Even when L i Shang-y i n r e f e r r e d to something p o s i t i v e concerning Sima Xiangru, he would t u r n i t around to b r i n g out h i s own unhappy s i t u a t i o n : I see no Xiangru at Z i t o n g . Wishing to head south to ask f o r the ta v e r n , I end up a t Baxi, l o o k i n g f o r Qiao X i u — But at Ba x i , one f i n d s o n l y c o l d and d e s o l a t i o n . (FH: 365) The f i r s t a l l u s i o n here i s again about Sima Xiangru and the ta v e r n he operated with h i s wife i n Chengdu. The second hidden a l l u s i o n has to do with Emperor Wu's d i s c o v e r y of Sima's t a l e n t In those l a s t few years skirmishes i n the f r o n t i e r s . The a l l u s i o n to Sima Xiangru and 84 a f t e r r e a d i n g one of h i s works. G r e a t l y impressed by what he had read, the emperor was d e l i g h t e d when he found out t h a t Sima Xiangru was a c t u a l l y a contemporary w r i t e r l i v i n g i n Szechuan. Sima was a t once summoned to the c o u r t , an event which marked an important t u r n i n g p o i n t i n h i s c a r e e r . 8 5 That i s why, f i g u r a -t i v e l y speaking, the poet says t h a t he f a i l s to f i n d Xiangru a t Z i t o n g . There i s a l s o a t h i r d a l l u s i o n to Qiao X i u • Accord-in g to h i s biography i n the Jin Shu , Qiao X i u was l i v i n g as a r e c l u s e i n Baxi when Huan Wen 4"— , a f t e r conquer-ing Shu, d i s c o v e r e d him and recommended him to the c o u r t . 8 6 According to Zhang E r t i a n , t h i s poem was w r i t t e n i n 848. 8 7 Zheng Ya, whom L i Shangyin had been working under i n remote Gui Zhou had j u s t been demoted. Having l o s t h i s post, L i wandered b r i e f l y i n the area of Szechuan, hoping to secure some appointment. F a i l i n g t h a t , he f i n a l l y r e t u r n e d to Chang'an. He was then t h i r t y - f i v e , with ten u n s u c c e s s f u l years behind him, going from one minor post to the next, working f a r t h e r and f a r t h e r away from the c o u r t . The s t o r y of Sima Xiangru a l l u d e d to here i s a happy one, but the theme i t serves i n the poem i s c l e a r l y n e g a t i v e . Sima was going through a d i f f i c u l t time i n h i s l i f e when he was l i v i n g i n Szechuan. By a s t r o k e of f o r t u n e , he was recommended to the c o u r t . L i Shangyin had no such l u c k . The s t o r y of Qiao X i u too, i s used as a c o n t r a s t to b r i n g out t h a t same sense of d e s p a i r i n our poet. 85 When we t u r n to an examination of the female h i s t o r i c a l f i g u r e s i n L i Shangyin's poetry, we d i s c o v e r something even more complex. L i ' s f a v o r i t e female c h a r a c t e r s i n c l u d e Yang G u i f e i , Wang Zhaojun j £ $^7 ^ , Zhang L i h u a ^ ^ ^ ^ - ^ p and Lady L i ^ r " . ^ ^ . Except Lady L i whom L i Shangyin a l l u d e s to when he laments the death of h i s wife, a l l of the other women are a l l u d e d to i n very s i m i l a r ways, or they are r e f e r r e d to because they share something i n common. Most of these c h a r a c t e r s came to a sad or t r a g i c end. Wang Zhaojun was the v i c t i m , f i r s t of Mao Yanshou's 3 ^ J ^ f m i s r e p r e s e n t a t i o n , and then of the Emperor's f o r e i g n p o l i c y toward the Xiongnu when she was sent away to be married i n a f o r e i g n l a n d . Yang G u i f e i , Emperor Xuanzong 1 s -^JN f a v o r i t e c o n s o r t , was s t r a n g l e d by mutinous i m p e r i a l guards. The Emperor s a c r i f i c e d her i n exchange f o r h i s own s a f e f l i g h t to Szechuan du r i n g the An Lushan R e b e l l i o n . Zhang Lihua, f a v o r i t e concubine of the l a s t r u l e r of the Chen Dynasty, was dragged out of a w e l l where she was h i d i n g together with another p a l a c e l a d y and the Emperor h i m s e l f when Sui troops r a i d e d the c o u r t . The Emperor was taken away but the l a d i e s were executed i n s t a n t l y . 8 8 L i Shangyin shows great sympathy f o r a l l these women. How-ever, there i s a s u b t l e paradox i n h i s responses to many of them. When the poem i s w r i t t e n as a p o l i t i c a l s a t i r e or commentary, the woman h e r s e l f i s u s u a l l y condemned as a femme fatale, a source of decadence and c o r r u p t i o n . Whether i t i s the s t o r y of Emperor Xuanzong f»w-TJN and Yang G u i f e i , Chen Houzhu and Zhang Lihua, or Emperor F e i of Southern-Qi and Concubine Pan, the women i n these 86 s t o r i e s are d e p i c t e d as the c u l p r i t s . Yet when the theme of the poem i s lov e and b e t r a y a l , these women are p o r t r a y e d as innocent v i c t i m s . Compare, f o r example, the f o l l o w i n g two poems on Xuanzong 2^-77^ and h i s concubine: "Huaqing P l a c e " Up at the Chaoyuan P a v i l i o n , the w h i r l i n g dresses of k i n g f i s h e r - f e a t h e r s are new, R i s i n g to the music i s our F i r s t Lady of the Zhao-yang Palace. Had she not danced to such h e i g h t i n those days, How c o u l d our Empire be f i l l e d with f o r e i g n dust? (FH: 591) "Two Poems on Mawei" (No.2) Beyond these seas, so they say, there are nine other lands, Future l i v e s are u n c e r t a i n , yet t h i s l i f e you had together has come to an end. Now one hears o n l y the t r a v e l l i n g guards sounding the n i g h t gong, With no more cockcrow-man to announce the morning w a t c h e s -Today, s i x r o y a l troops at once h a l t e d t h e i r horses, Back then, on the Seventh Night, how you both laughed at the Cowherd and the Weaving Maid! How c o u l d he who r u l e d more than f o u r decades, F a i l to keep her even as Never-Grieve i s kept i n the Lu f a m i l y ? (FH: 604) 87 In the f i r s t poem Yang G u i f e i i s d e s c r i b e d as a d i s t r a c t i n g i n f l u e n c e on the emperor, causing the near-downfall of Tang. In the second poem, she i s the v i c t i m of a h e a r t l e s s l o v e r who vowed to love her and then betrayed her. The death of Yang G u i f e i can be viewed from two p e r s p e c t i v e s . Where p o l i t i c s i s concerned, the p u b l i c good i s served by her death. When i t comes to l o v e , however, her b r u t a l death i s the r e s u l t of a shameful b e t r a y a l on the p a r t of the emperor. L i Shangyin b e l i e v e s i n the primary r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of the emperor to h i s people and h i s not succumb-ing to c o r r u p t i n f l u e n c e s . But L i a l s o b e l i e v e s i n the bond between two l o v e r s . As an i d e a l i s t , he responds to the s t o r y of Xuanzong ^C-7j^ and h i s concubine from two d i f f e r e n t s t a n d p o i n t s , and he i s saddened by both. T h i s i s j u s t one of many of L i Shangyin's p a r a d o x i c a l uses of a l l u s i o n . Quite o f t e n the d i f f e r e n t a t t i t u d e s to the same a l l u s i o n p e r p l e x h i s reader, conveying the impression of i r -r e g u l a r i t y and complexity. Yet w i t h i n the given poem, the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i s always c o n s i s t e n t ; and when we go beyond the s u r f a c e c o n t r a d i c t i o n s , we d i s c o v e r t h a t even these seemingly p a r a d o x i c a l uses of the same a l l u s i o n s r e f l e c t a coherent u n d e r l y i n g outlook i n our poet. The world of L i Shangyin's ' p u b l i c poems' i s r e a d i l y r e f l e c t e d i n the many c l u s t e r s of h i s t o r i c a l a l l u s i o n he uses and the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c ways he uses them. Whether i t i s an a t t a c k on i n j u s t i c e , an o u t c r y i n defence of the d e s e r v i n g or the weak, a s a t i r e on the i n e p t i t u d e of an emperor, or a s t r u g g l e f o r 88 p e r s o n a l r e a l i z a t i o n , L i Shangyin i s c o n s t a n t l y hoping f o r a b e t t e r and more i d e a l s o c i e t y . Such a v i s i o n of the world i s , of course, not unique to L i Shangyin, but the i n t e n s i t y of h i s emotions, the s i n g u l a r i t y of h i s de v o t i o n as w e l l as the e l a b o r -at e , a l l u s i v e manner with which he expresses h i m s e l f a l l come together to g i v e h i s poetry a s e n s i b i l i t y and t o n a l i t y not found i n the works of other poets. Although much of what L i Shangyin r e p r e s e n t s or s t r i v e s f o r can be paraphrased i n simp l e r and p l a i n e r language, h i s abundant use of a l l u s i o n s c o n t r i b u t e s to that remarkable sense of i n t r i c a c y and v a r i e t y unique to h i s poetry. L i Shangyin's many concerns f o r the s t a t e as w e l l as h i s own pe r s o n a l f r u s t r a t i o n s conveyed i n h i s ' p u b l i c ' poems ga i n an a e s t h e t i c d i s t a n c e through h i s h i s t o r i c a l a l l u s i o n s . The s t o r i e s and anecdotes which communicate these concerns remind us of other i n d i v i d u a l s i n d i f f e r e n t times and p l a c e s s h a r i n g the same predicaments. Yet the emotions remain ' r e a l i s t i c ' because they are both p e r s o n a l and p a r t i c u l a r . I t i s i n h i s more ' p r i v a t e ' and e l u s i v e poems, l a r g e l y through the use of m y t h o l o g i c a l a l l u s i o n s , t h a t we see a transcendence of these p e r s o n a l emotions i n t o something u n i v e r s a l , and much more powerful. LI Shangyin's Use of M y t h o l o g i c a l A l l u s i o n s 89 L i Shangyin i s unusual among Chinese poets i n t h a t he uses a very l a r g e number of m y t h o l o g i c a l a l l u s i o n s i n h i s poetry. The c o l o r f u l world of mythology not o n l y o f f e r s him a t r e a s u r e house of images; i t evokes an o t h e r w o r l d l y realm, a realm where h i s fancy can take f l i g h t and h i s i d e a l i s m f i n d i t s imaginary sanctuary. There are c l u s t e r s of coherent images i n h i s p o e t r y drawn from myths and legends. Each of them can, i n t u r n , be a s s o c i a t e d with a v a r i a t i o n on the theme t h a t l i f e i s a hopeless and endless quest which predominates L i Shangyin's ' p r i v a t e ' poems. Because the substance of myths, as we have l e a r n e d from C.G. Jung, i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of b a s i c human emotions and u n i v e r s a l archetypes, whether or not i t i s L i ' s i n t e n t i o n to w r i t e s y m b o l i c a l l y , h i s abundant use of m y t h o l o g i c a l a l l u s i o n s n a t u r a l l y leads to a more symbolic p o e t r y . 8 9 The v a r i a t i o n s on L i ' s c e n t r a l theme i n c l u d e : (1) a yearning f o r l o v e and a l l t h a t i s b e a u t i f u l and u n a t t a i n a b l e , as w e l l as a search f o r s e l f - f u l f i l l m e n t through a b e t t e r c a r e e r ; (2) a perpe-t u a l s t r u g g l e to f i n d meaning i n a world which i s absurd and u n f e e l i n g ; (3) an i n a b i l i t y to cope with l i f e ' s changes and impermanence; (4) a sense of l o s s , of d i s o r i e n t a t i o n and a need to f i n d a s p i r i t u a l and emotional r e s t i n g p l a c e . One of the most outst a n d i n g groups of images a s s o c i a t e d with the f i r s t two m o t i f s i s t h a t of the moon. Rather than see i t as 90 a n a t u r a l image (as many poets do), L i Shangyin's v i s i o n of the moon i s made up of a Chang E "ty^^jp "tffy^ a l s o known as Heng E or Su E^-feJ^) pounding e l i x i r , a Wu Gang I^ J'J c u t t i n g down h i s c a s s i a t r e e , a White Maid r i v a l l i n g i n beauty with the Goddess of F r o s t , a c a s s i a which sends out the pu r e s t f r a g r a n c e -a l l c o l o r f u l images, t a l e s and f i g u r e s drawn from the world of mythology. Ancie n t myths about the moon date back to the Warring S t a t e s p e r i o d . The e a r l i e s t extant r e c o r d about Chang E's f l i g h t to the moon i s found i n the Huainan Zi By l a t e Han, i n Zhang Heng's f^^ L -^^ 3* Lingxian J^ f , t h i s simple s t o r y was f u r t h e r e l a b o r a t e d : Houyi J^ Z-^ t"* asked f o r an e l i x i r from the Queen Mother of the West. Heng E s t o l e i t and f l e d to the moon. J u s t b e f o r e she l e f t , she c o n s u l t e d a s o r c e r e r f o r a d i v i n a t i o n . The s o r c e r e r s a i d , " I t i s a good omen. A g r a c e f u l lady, alone on her f l i g h t toward the West. On your way home, do not be a f r a i d of the v a s t , dark sky. Things w i l l a l l t u r n out f i n e . " Heng E thus found her home i n the moon, i n the form of a t o a d . 9 1 A f t e r the Han, s t o r i e s about Chang E and her f l i g h t to the moon con t i n u e d to evolve. The toad l a t e r became a h a r e . 9 2 Soon, both the toad, the hare and Chang E h e r s e l f were s a i d to c o - e x i s t i n the moon. By the J i n p e r i o d , Fu Xuan's "Ni Ti< .anwen VI says: 91 What i s there i n the moon? A white hare pounding the e l i x i r . 9 3 G r a d u a l l y , the s t o r y of an immortal being and a c a s s i a t r e e i n the moon began to emerge. During the Tang, Duan Chengshi' s JfSi^ 5^ Youyang Zazu 0\ F ' ^ / ^ ^ H-records the myth of Wu Gang c u t t i n g down the c a s s i a t r e e on the moon. 9 4 As Yuan Ke J£<^F^\ n a s suggested, from i t s very beginning d u r i n g the Warring Sta t e s p e r i o d , the e n t i r e moon mythology was c l o s e l y connected to the popular c u l t which sought immortal l i f e . 9 5 In f a c t , a g r e a t many other Chinese myths ( i n c l u d i n g many th a t L i a l l u d e s to) are l i n k e d to t h i s i m m o r t a l i t y c u l t or the D a o i s t r e l i g i o n of which i t became a p a r t . As i s commonly known, the D a o i s t f a i t h and a l l i t s p r a c t i c e s were p r e v a l e n t d u r i n g the Tang among r o y a l t y and i n t e l l e c t u a l s a l i k e . We have seen how Tang emperors pursued p h y s i c a l immor-t a l i t y through e l i x i r drugs. Many Tang p r i n c e s s e s became Dao i s t nuns, though o f t e n f o r the s o c i a l freedom the nun's l i f e a f f o r d e d r a t h e r than out of r e l i g i o u s c o n v i c t i o n . Young s c h o l a r s too l i v e d i n the mountains as D a o i s t hermits to make themselves a name f o r wonder working or a u s t e r i t y , hoping thereby to g a i n quick access to a p o l i t i c a l c a r e e r . L i Shangyin h i m s e l f was s a i d to have s t u d i e d Daoism f o r a while at Mt. Yuyang i n 835, a f t e r he had f a i l e d h i s c i v i l s e r v i c e examination f o r the second time. In any case, i n L i Shangyin's poetry, Chang E's f l i g h t to the moon has t h a t obvious a s s o c i a t i o n with the D a o i s t search f o r p h y s i c a l i m m o r t a l i t y which comes with the myth: 92 "Master Fang's C o r a l E l i x i r " I do not see the shadow of Chang E Guarding the moon's wheel i n the c l e a r autumn. In s i d e the moon, l e i s u r e l y , with her p e s t l e and mortar, The c a s s i a seeds are pounded i n t o powder. (FH: 726) But the moon o f t e n stands f o r something t r a n s c e n d e n t a l i n h i s poetry: " F r o s t y Moon" With the f i r s t sounds of m i g r a t i n g geese, there are no more c i c a d a s , Beyond t h i s hundred-foot tower, a shimmering water meets the sky. The Blue Lady and the White Maid can both endure the c h i l l , R i v a l l i n g f o r beauty amidst the f r o s t i n the moon. (FH: 545) The Blue Lady here r e f e r s to the Goddess of F r o s t , and the White Maid t o Chang E, the Moon Goddess h e r s e l f . Through these two m y t h o l o g i c a l f i g u r e s L i Shangyin makes two n a t u r a l images--the moon and the frost--come to l i f e . The p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n helps to b r i n g out the symbolic meaning of the p i e c e while the s h i n i n g glow of the moon and the c h i l l of the snow-white f r o s t suggest the triumph of human v i r t u e s i n the face of a d v e r s i t y . Up high, the world i s l o v e l y and pure, but i t i s a l s o very c o l d . Yet, 93 both the Moon Lady and the Goddess of F r o s t continue to look t h e i r best, sending out a b e a u t i f u l l i g h t and c r e a t i n g the p u r e s t f r o s t on a deep autumn n i g h t . The s t r u g g l e to do one's best and to stay l o f t y and pure i n the most adverse c o n d i t i o n s i s symbol-i z e d i n the l a s t two l i n e s of the poem. With a l l t h i s s t r i v i n g and pursuing, w i l l one ever reach the u l t i m a t e l a n d of b l i s s ? L i Shangyin questions t h i s s e r i o u s l y , as he p i c t u r e s Chang E l i v i n g a l l alone on the moon: Chang E must r e g r e t s t e a l i n g the magic p i l l . The emerald sea--the blue sky--her h e a r t , n i g h t a f t e r n i g h t . 9 6 Apart from the moon, many o t h e r - w o r l d l y lands i n Chinese mythology--Yushan (Jade Mountain), Yaochi (Jade P o o l ) , S h i ' e r Y a o t a i (the T w e l v e - l e v e l Jade T e r r a c e ) , Pengshan^fjj^ M (Peng Mountain) , Bicheng (Emerald W a l l s ) , Langyuan f^ (the Garden of L o f t y Gates), Juntian^->J (Mid-Heaven) and Danqiu ( V e r m i l i o n H i l l ) - - a r e used by L i Shangyin to symbolize t h a t i d e a l s t a t e of e x i s t e n c e . These imaginary p l a c e s are d e s c r i b e d i n v a r i o u s m y t h o l o g i c a l and popular D a o i s t t e x t s as e i t h e r high up i n some c e l e s t i a l sphere, or f a r away i n the remote west, above the mysterious mountain of Kunlun. They are the l a n d of the f a i r i e s and immortals. In L i Shangyin's poems, they r e p r e s e n t a range of a s p i r a t i o n s and i d e a l s : from the more r e a l i s t i c and p e r s o n a l but u n f u l f i l l e d w o r l d l y d e s i r e s to the t r a n s c e n d e n t a l world which ours i s not and 94 w i l l never be. In many of h i s love l y r i c s , the l a n d of the immortals i s the p l a c e where h i s l o v e r i s : The Peng mountain i s not f a r from here, Pray, Blue B i r d , d i l i g e n t l y seek news of her f o r me! 9 7 Sometimes, i t r e p r e s e n t s the i m p o s s i b i l i t y of union with h i s l o v e r : Young L i u a l r e a d y r e g r e t s t h a t the Peng Mountain i s f a r , You are ten thousand times more removed than the Peng M o u n t a i n ! 9 8 In other i n s t a n c e s , i t i s used to represent the D a o i s t convent: I t i s d i f f i c u l t to s t e a l both the peaches and the e l i x i r of l i f e , W i thin the Twelve C i t y Walls, the v a r i e g a t e d toad i s imprisoned! 9 9 In "Yushan" 3^ (The Jade Mountain), the o b j e c t of the poet's p u r s u i t i s much more ambiguous: 1 The Jade Mountain towers h i g h as the peak of L o f t y Wind. The Jade R i v e r runs c l e a n and c l e a r of sediment. Where e l s e w i l l the sun c h a r i o t r e v e r s e i t s course? Here a l s o we f i n d the s t a i r s to Heaven. 5 With p e a r l s t h a t f i l l a hundred pecks, the Dragon had b e t t e r not s l e e p . Over wutong branches t r a i l i n g eight-thousand f e e t above ground, phoenixes want to r o o s t . A t a l e n t e d s c h o l a r , I heard, l i v e s among immortals. A f t e r p l a y i n g on h i s red f l u t e , pray l e t him take me along! (FH: 319) 1U OIl-L The l a s t l i n e a l l u d e s to the f a m i l a r s t o r y of Xiao Shi, a legendary f i g u r e d e s c r i b e d i n Liexian Zhuan Xiao Shi was s a i d to be such an e x e p t i o n a l f l u t i s t t h a t he c o u l d a t t r a c t the r a r e s t b i r d s by the sound of h i s p l a y i n g . King Mu of Qin had h i s daughter marry him. A f t e r t h e i r marriage, Xiao taught h i s wife to p l a y the c a l l of the phoenix on the f l u t e . Phoenixes s t a r t e d to come and r o o s t atop t h e i r r o o f . The King then b u i l t a Phoenix Terrace f o r the couple to l i v e i n . One day, the two took f l i g h t t ogether with a phoenix and never r e t u r n -ed.'" 0 Both the "Jade Mountain" ( ^  ^ \ Yushan) and the "Jade R i v e r " ( Yushui) are d e s c r i b e d i n the Shanhai Jing as i n some faraway m y t h o l o g i c a l l a n d . 1 0 1 According to Chen Y i x i n ' s h y p o t h e t i c a l r e a d i n g , the "Jade Mountain" here i s used as a concealed r e f e r e n c e to Mt. Yuyang ^ » where L i Shangyin s t u d i e d Daoism as a young man. The "Jade R i v e r " r e f e r s to the Jade Stream ( ]/J^ Yuxi) which he b e l i e v e s , runs between L i ' s monastery and the r o y a l f a m i l y convent where h i s l o v e r l i v e s . 1 0 2 The "Dragon" i n l i n e 5 i s a r e f e r e n c e to the Daoist-nun P r i n c e s s heading the convent a t the time (the dragon being p o s s i b l y a female i s supported by a c r o s s - r e f e r e n c e to the "female dragon" i n the "Yantai S e r i e s " ) . 1 0 3 The poem, i n Chen's f i n a l a n a l y s i s , 96 i s a romantic l y r i c which expresses the poet's d e s i r e to reach h i s l o v e r — t o s t e a l the P r i n c e s s ' p e a r l when she i s unaware. The poet a l s o pleads f o r someone to h e l p f a c i l i t a t e h i s meeting with h i s beloved. Within the h y p o t h e t i c a l context which he s u p p l i e s f o r the poem, Chen Y i x i n ' s r e a d i n g i s coherent. P a r t l y because of the t r a d i t i o n a l a s s o c i a t i o n of the emperor and the i m p e r i a l c o u r t with the "sun" and with "heaven," but a l s o because of the usual a s s o c i a t i o n of Dragon with the male r a t h e r than the female, I a l s o agree with c r i t i c s such as Qu Fu, Cheng Mengxing and Feng Hao t h a t t h i s c o u l d be read as another poem which pleads f o r p o l i t i c a l p a t r o n a g e . 1 0 4 T h i s poem i s an i n t e r e s t i n g example of a s h i f t i n manner of e x p r e s s i o n . The p i e c e s t a r t s o f f on a more gene r a l and symbolic plane, g r a d u a l l y becoming a l l e g o r i c a l , as something more concre t e and s p e c i f i c i s suggested by the phrases: "the Dragon had b e t t e r not s l e e p " and "a t a l e n t e d s c h o l a r . . . pray l e t him take me along!" In the f o l l o w i n g poem ("To Academician Linghu), however, there i s no ambiguity i n what another c e l e s t i a l image, the "Mid-Heaven," t r u l y stands f o r : Although Mid-Heaven's music i s not e n t i r e l y b a r r e d from us mortals, I am l o s t i n my dreams amid ranks of c e l e s t i a l g a t e s ! 1 0 5 "Mid-Heaven" as d e s c r i b e d i n a s t o r y i n the Shi Ji t h a t p a r t of the c e l e s t i a l realm where the myriad gods wander and 97 where the most b e a u t i f u l music i s e n d l e s s l y p l a y e d . 1 0 6 Here, L i i s implying t h a t the p o s i t i o n Linghu occupies i s as high as Mid-Heaven. L i wishes to hear some of t h a t music, but he needs guidance i n order to get through those well-guarded gates of Heaven. He needs Linghu's h e l p to get th e r e . Given the t i t l e and the t ext, there i s no doubt t h a t t h i s poem should be read a l l e g o r i c a l l y . Here, Heaven stands f o r some promising c a r e e r i n c o u r t , and the need f o r patronage i s ex-pressed as a yearning f o r guidance. Often, where there i s no i n d i c a t i o n of s p e c i f i c r e f e r e n c e , the m y t h i c a l lands i n L i ' s poems repr e s e n t something transcenden-t a l and symbolic: There i s no news of the V e r m i l i o n H i l l thousands of mil e s away, Time and again, a t the s i g h t of a wutong, I muse on the p h o e n i x . 1 0 7 The " V e r m i l i o n H i l l " i s where the legendary p u r p l e phoenixes r o o s t , a m y t h i c a l h i l l f i l l e d with wutong t r e e s t h a t the magical b i r d s f e e l a t home with. Here, however, L i i s suggesting t h a t such an i d e a l l a n d probably never e x i s t s , and the wutong t r e e w i l l never have i t s phoenix. We have seen how the m y t h o l o g i c a l world i s c o n s t a n t l y a l l u d e d to to repr e s e n t a whole range of i m p o s s i b i l i t i e s . Depending on the tone and the s p e c i f i c i t y of p e r s o n a l r e f e r e n c e s , these poems can be read e i t h e r l i t e r a l l y , a l l e g o r i c a l l y or 98 s y m b o l i c a l l y . A l i t e r a l r e a d i n g sees these poems as s a t i r e s on the f u t i l i t y of the p u r s u i t of immortal l i f e . An a l l e g o r i c a l r e a d i n g u s u a l l y i n t e r p r e t s these poems e i t h e r as pe r s o n a l love l y r i c s or poems p l e a d i n g f o r p o l i t i c a l patronage. A symbolic r e a d i n g , on the other hand, sees i n these p i e c e s the u n i v e r s a l human quest f o r a l l t h a t i s u n a t t a i n a b l e . Sometimes L i ' s poems can have more than one p o s s i b l e l e v e l of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , and many p o s s i b l e r e a d i n g s . Sometimes, w i t h i n a s i n g l e poem, there are s h i f t s i n the manner of e x p r e s s i o n , s w i t c h i n g , f o r example, from a symbolic plane to an a l l e g o r i c a l one. The openness of these poems to i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i s a d i r e c t r e s u l t of the a l l u s i o n s and the e l l i p t i c a l way L i Shangyin has used them i n h i s poetry . One important f e a t u r e which f u r t h e r i l l u s t r a t e s the i n t e r -e s t i n g r o l e a l l u s i o n s p l a y i n L i ' s poetry i s the seemingly p a r a d o x i c a l and m u l t i - f a c e t e d world which they h e l p to c r e a t e i n h i s poems. We have noted how the d i f f e r e n t p o i n t s o f view taken i n L i ' s treatment of the same h i s t o r i c a l a l l u s i o n s c o n t r i b u t e to a sense of complexity. His use of m y t h o l o g i c a l a l l u s i o n s works i n a s i m i l a r way i n h i s poetry . I am r e f e r r i n g here again to the many d i f f e r e n t meanings "the p u r s u i t of i m m o r t a l i t y " may have i n h i s poems, as a r e s u l t of h i s v a r i e d use of these a l l u s i o n s . In many of these poems, the i d e a of qiuxian ( i n search of i m m o r t a l i t y ) i s equated with, or r a t h e r , i s used to symbolize the i d e a of qiushi TJ<^J\^ C ( i n search of an o f f i c i a l c a r e e r ) . T h i s i s not something e n t i r e l y new t h a t L i Shangyin invented. E x p r e s s i o n s such as "zhegui" ( p l u c k i n g the 99 c a s s i a twigs) and "tianti s t a i r s to heaven) are common Tang l i t e r a r y e x p r e s s i o n s meaning "passing the c i v i l s e r v i c e examination" and "the way to a s u c c e s s f u l c a r e e r i n c o u r t . " T h i s use of the meaning of qiuxian i s sometimes very e x p l i c i t i n L i Shangyin's poems, as i s the case with the f o l l o w i n g l i n e s from an o c c a s i o n a l poem c e l e b r a t i n g the promising c a r e e r s of two b r o t h -A c a s s i a t r e e i n the h e i g h t of day, For three g e n e r a t i o n s , f o l l o w i n g the t r a d i t i o n of pure breeze and c l o v e r - f r a g r a n c e . P i t y i t i s I cannot r i d e on the same f a i r y boat with t h i s handsome p a i r , How can we a l l wear the same c o l o r f u l o f f i c i a l r o b e s ? 1 0 8 The " c a s s i a t r e e " here i s a r e f e r e n c e to Yang Dai's a c q u i r -ing h i s jinshi degree. The "pure breeze and c l o v e r - f r a g r a n c e " r e f e r to Yang Rong's post i n the Imperial L i b r a r y . The " f a i r y boat" suggests t h a t the b r o t h e r s are both on the road to an i l l u s t r i o u s o f f i c i a l c a r e e r . L i Shangyin was the f i r s t poet to make e x t e n s i v e use of t h i s metaphor f o r the d e s i r e of a prominent o f f i c i a l c a r e e r . At other times, however, the d e s i r e to reach out to some immortal la n d r e p r e s e n t s a yearning f o r h i s beloved. When the n o t i o n of qiuxian i s used i n t h i s way, o f t e n a l l e g o r i c a l l y i n h i s poetry, the " p u r s u i t of i m m o r t a l i t y " appears as something p o s i t i v e . On a symbolic l e v e l , when the search f o r i m m o r t a l i t y stands f o r a u n i v e r s a l human need to go beyond one's l i m i t e d s e l f , or a er s , 100 yearning f o r an i d e a l o t h e r - w o r l d l y e x i s t e n c e , the quest i t s e l f , even though u l t i m a t e l y f r u i t l e s s , i s a l s o p e r c e i v e d as something p o s i t i v e and n a t u r a l . On a l i t e r a l or r e a l i s t i c l e v e l , however, L i Shangyin's p e r s o n a l a t t i t u d e toward D a o i s t p r a c t i c e s i s ambivalent. The Da o i s t r e l i g i o n was p a t r o n i z e d by Tang emperors and D a o i s t adepts o f t e n enjoyed s p e c i a l p o l i t i c a l p r i v i l e g e s and g r e a t e r s o c i a l freedom. We know t h a t b e f o r e L i obtained h i s jinshi degree, he had s t u d i e d Daoism, and i n h i s poetry he o c c a s i o n a l l y expressed l o n g i n g f o r the l i f e of a D a o i s t r e c l u s e , f r e e from the entangle-ments and a n x i e t i e s of a w o r l d l y e x i s t e n c e . 1 0 9 Yet i t i s c l e a r from many of h i s poems t h a t he d i d not r e a l l y b e l i e v e i n the Da o i s t v e r s i o n of s a l v a t i o n , t h a t i s , i m m o r t a l i t y of the f l e s h through r e l i g i o u s r i t u a l s and e l i x i r p i l l s . He c o n t i n u a l l y r i d i c u l e d the emperors' f o o l i s h p u r s u i t of immortal l i f e . Because of the many p o s s i b l e meanings he att a c h e s to the id e a of "qiuxian," L i c r e a t e s o f t e n c o n t r a d i c t o r y nuances which leaves h i s readers with an o v e r a l l f e e l i n g of u n s e t t l i n g com-p l e x i t y . When c r i t i c s are u n c e r t a i n , or when they d i s a g r e e , they conclude t h a t h i s poetry i s "ambiguous." Few of them seem to be aware t h a t t h i s i s due to the d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n (whether l i t e r a l , a l l e g o r i c a l , symbolic, or two or even three l e v e l s a l l at once) when reading L i ' s poems. A second r e l a t e d m o t i f i n L i ' s poetry--man's p e r p e t u a l s t r u g g l e to f i n d meaning i n an absurd world d e v o i d of f e e l i n g - - i s a l s o communicated through m y t h o l o g i c a l a l l u s i o n s . These i n c l u d e 101 a Heng E "9"J£ e n d l e s s l y pounding to make e l i x i r , " a Jade Maid who "never stops throwing her arrows," 1 1 0 a Blue Lady - ^ " ^ j t ~ * " d i l i g e n t l y weaving her evening f r o s t , " a X i He-^jj,-^* " l a b o r i n g to send o f f the morning s u n , " 1 1 1 and a t a l e n t e d L i n g Lun who "blew t i l l h i s s o l i t a r y bamboo c r a c k e d . " 1 1 2 The f u t i l i t y and a b s u r d i t y of l i f e and man's i n t e r m i n a b l e t o i l are a l s o i l l u s t r a t e d by the a l l u s i o n to Wu Gang i n the f o l l o w i n g poem: "My Classmate the D a o i s t Master Can L i a o " Do not envy the e l e v a t e d realm of the immortals. A temporary demotion from Heaven w i l l l a s t a thousand s p r i n g s . How t a l l i s the c a s s i a t r e e i n the moon? You may ask the woodcutter from X i He. (FH: 548) According to a s t o r y i n the Youyang Zazu, Wu Gang was condemned by the Gods to cut down the c a s s i a t r e e i n the moon because he had committed an o f f e n s e when t r a i n i n g to become an immortal. Yet everytime he cut a notch on the t r e e , the t r e e immediately grew back again, so t h a t he was f o r e v e r doomed to meaningless l a b o r . Since t h i s poem i s w r i t t e n f o r a f r i e n d , i t takes on a str o n g p e r s o n a l v o i c e . Qu Fu reads t h i s poem on a l i t e r a l l e v e l and concludes t h a t i t i s a s a t i r e on those who seek D a o i s t s a l v a t i o n . 1 1 3 Feng Hao b e l i e v e s that i t expresses the poet's 102 repeated f a i l u r e to a t t a i n h i s c i v i l s e r v i c e d e g r e e . 1 1 4 Cheng Mengxing, on the other hand, t h i n k s t h a t i t r e f e r s to the poet's f r u s t r a t i o n i n f a i l i n g to r i s e to any s i g n i f i c a n t p o s i t i o n a f t e r p a s s i n g h i s c i v i l s e r v i c e e x a m i n a t i o n . 1 1 5 Because of the sug-g e s t i v e n e s s of the a l l u s i o n and the way i t has been e f f e c t i v e l y used i n the poem, these three approaches to re a d i n g the poem are, w i t h i n t h e i r own frameworks, c o n s i s t e n t , and t h e r e f o r e , p l a u s i -b l e . I would, however, suggest t h a t we i n t e r p r e t t h i s poem s y m b o l i c a l l y to y i e l d a more i n t e r e s t i n g and u n i v e r s a l meaning. Through the s t o r y of Wu Gang, which s t r i k i n g l y resembles the myth of Sisyphus, L i Shangyin seems to suggest t h a t the world of the immortals o f f e r s no escape from e a r t h l y s u f f e r i n g and i n f a c t i s j u s t as c r u e l and devoid of meaning as l i f e i t s e l f . Human l i f e i s a p e r p e t u a l , absurd s t r u g g l e , but so i s the l i f e of the gods. Read t h i s way, the poem r e j e c t s any v i s i o n of a b e t t e r world beyond. The use of m y t h o l o g i c a l a l l u s i o n s a l s o communicates a t h i r d r e l a t e d m o t i f , one which d e s c r i b e s man's i n a b i l i t y to cope with l i f e ' s v i c i s s i t u d e s . An a l l u s i o n which i s used again and again to help generate vast sea changing i n t o mulberry f i e l d s ) : Even i f you had the Magu F a i r y to s c r a t c h your back f o r you, How c o u l d you l i v e to see the mulberry f i e l d s ? 1 1 6 When w i l l the seas a l l t u r n i n t o mulberry f i e l d s , images of f l u x i s the s t o r y of 103 To prevent the Y i R i v e r from f l o w i n g e a s t ? 1 1 7 Wishing to buy up the vast sea from the Magu F a i r y , A g l a s s of s p r i n g dews c h i l l e d as i c e . 1 1 8 A s t o r y i n Shenxian Zhuan i ^ ^ M ^ *f4^  r e c o r d s t h a t M&guj/^tyir, a female d e i t y , once t o l d a person whom she was r e c e i v i n g t h a t d u r i n g t h e i r b r i e f meeting she saw the E a s t e r n Sea on e a r t h changing back and f o r t h t h r i c e i n t o mulberry f i e l d s . 1 1 9 The d e s i r e to secure a sense of permanence, to cope with l i f e ' s ever-changing events i s expressed e f f e c t i v e l y through t h i s a l l u s i o n . A f o u r t h r e l a t e d m o t i f i n L i Shangyin's p o e t r y i s a l s o r e v e a l e d through the use of a s p e c i a l group of a l l u s i v e images. T h i s time, the a l l u s i o n s are drawn from h i s t o r i c a l as w e l l as m y t h o l o g i c a l sources. I r e f e r here to the n o t i o n of l i f e as a wearisome journey i n which the i n d i v i d u a l o f t e n f i n d s h i m s e l f d i s o r i e n t e d , and c a r r i e d f o r t h by f o r c e s beyond h i s c o n t r o l . At other times, he would f e e l completely at a l o s s , or of being trapped i n a deadend road. The t r a v e l imagery i n the f o l l o w i n g i s taken from an a l l u s i o n to Zhuang Zi The Pool of Heaven i s far--who w i l l wait f o r me there? Day a f t e r day, I r i d e i n v a i n on a gale of n i n e t y -thousand m i l e s . 1 2 0 The "gale of ninety-thousand m i l e s " i s the famous wind which 104 c a r r i e s the b i g Peng b i r d to the Pool of H e a v e n . 1 2 1 L i h i m s e l f seems to f e e l t h a t he i s a l s o being c a r r i e d along by a powerful gale over which he has no c o n t r o l . In the f o l l o w i n g poem, the poet d e c l a r e s t h a t he i s not a f r a i d of the long-drawn voyage, but he i s u n c e r t a i n which route w i l l take him to h i s d e s t i n a t i o n : I wish to f o l l o w the winds and waves f o r a thousand m i l e s , But I do not know the way to the Dragon F o r d . 1 2 2 The Dragon Ford i s an a l l u s i o n to the R i v e r Ford, a l s o known as the Dragon Pass, an extremely dangerous and d i f f i c u l t passage, perhaps a r a p i d or c a t a r a c t . F i s h that succeed i n p a s s i n g i t are transformed i n t o d r a g o n s . 1 2 3 The journey to the Dragon Ford here r e f e r s to the d i f f i c u l t and u n c e r t a i n road to a c a r e e r , a f a m i l i a r theme i n L i Shangyin. In many other i n s t a n c e s , however, the journey imagery c o u l d be i n t e r p r e t e d more s y m b o l i c a l l y . another f a v o r i t e a l l u s i o n : North, south, east or west--wherever I t u r n I cannot h e l p shedding t e a r s -Yang Zhu i s indeed my t r u e m a s t e r ! 1 2 4 In the Huainanzi, Yang Zhu i s s a i d to weep when he reaches a c r o s s r o a d which s p l i t s i n t o nine d i f f e r e n t p o s s i b l e routes and i s unable to choose the r i g h t way. 1 2 5 L i Shangyin c o n s i d e r s Yang The s t o r y of Yang c r y i n g a t the c r o s s r o a d i s 105 Zhu h i s t r u e master because he p o s i t i o n . Apart from a sense of l o s s expresses the f e e l i n g of being a t imagines h i m s e l f i n Yang Zhu's and aimless d r i f t i n g , L i a l s o a dead end: " S c a t t e r e d Rocks" T i g e r s c rouching, dragons c o i l i n g - - a l l the way and a c r o s s , The l u s t r e of these s t a r s g r a d u a l l y fades as r a i n leaves i t s mark. No need to block a l l the roads east and west Before Commandant Ruan, the head chef, d i e s of t e a r s ! (FH: 331) Two a l l u s i o n s to Ruan J i , the J i n Dynasty poet, are used here. T r y i n g to a v o i d p e r s e c u t i o n without compromising h i s i n t e g r i t y d u r i n g a dark and treacherous time, Ruan J i asked to serve as I n f a n t r y Commandant, with the excuse that he heard the cook i n t h a t department made a good w i n e . 1 2 6 Another s t o r y says t h a t Ruan would on o c c a s i o n go out alone i n h i s c a r r i a g e . Avoid-in g the main roads, he would keep d r i v i n g a i m l e s s l y u n t i l he came to a deadend, b u r s t i n t o t e a r s and r e t u r n e d home. 1 2 7 The f o u r r e l a t e d m o t i f s we have j u s t examined make up the v a r i a t i o n s of L i ' s c e n t r a l p o e t i c theme--that l i f e i s a hopeless and endless quest. T h i s outlook which permeates the " p r i v a t e " poems of L i Shangyin i s c o n s i s t e n t with the one we f i n d i n h i s more " p u b l i c " p i e c e s . In both cases, the i n n e r world of L i ' s 106 p o e t r y i s made a v a i l a b l e to us through h i s own a p p l i c a t i o n of these s t o r i e s . A u n i f i e d v i s i o n comes through from the repeated use of an a l l u s i v e imagery which produces symbolic e f f e c t s and r e i n f o r c e s the same or r e l a t e d m o t i f s . Between the p u r s u i t of a b e t t e r c a r e e r , the search f o r an i d e a l s o c i e t y and f o r l o v e , and a quest f o r s p i r i t u a l and emotional sanctuary, the world of L i Shangyin hovers c o n s t a n t l y between hope and d e s p a i r , between c o l o r f u l f a n t a s i e s and s t a r k r e a l i t y . On the other hand, the poems a l s o p r o j e c t a sense of v a r i e t y and complexity through the numerous a l l u s i o n s and t h e i r i n t r i c a t e i n t e r p l a y . A l l u s i o n and P l u r i s i g n a t i o n A major source of the ambiguity or p l u r i s i g n a t i o n i n L i ' s work i s h i s p r e v a l e n t use of a l l u s i o n . In some poems, h i s a l l u s i o n s are open and a v a i l a b l e ; i n o t h e r s , they are more r e c o n d i t e . But i t i s u s u a l l y the a p p l i c a t i o n of the a l l u s i o n r a t h e r than the o b s c u r i t y of t h e i r sources which leaves the reader u n c e r t a i n of t h e i r s i g n i f i c a n c e . I t i s h i s c r e a t i v e use of a l l u s i o n t h a t makes h i s poems, even the more a c c e s s i b l e ones, r i c h i n m u l t i p l e meanings. As d e f i n e d by W i l l i a m Empson, "ambiguity" i s "any v e r b a l nuance, however s l i g h t , which g i v e s room f o r a l t e r n a t i v e r e a c -t i o n s to the same p i e c e of l a n g u a g e . " 1 2 8 T h i s o r i g i n a l l y p e j o r a t i v e word has, s i n c e Empson's study, a c q u i r e d s p e c i a l 107 p o s i t i v e c o nnotations as a l i t e r a r y term, e s p e c i a l l y with r e f e r e n c e to p o e t i c language. Empson sees the very nature of p o e t i c language as m u l t i p l e ; t h a t i s , i t tends to f u n c t i o n s i m u l t a n e o u s l y on s e v e r a l l e v e l s . Because the term "ambiguity" i s a l s o used to c r i t i c i z e a l a c k of c l a r i t y i n e x p o s i t o r y prose, P h i l i p Wheelwright argues t h a t " p l u r i s i g n a t i o n " i s more ap-p r o p r i a t e than Empson's "ambiguity" s i n c e p l u r i s i g n a t i o n suggests a "both-and," r a t h e r than an " e i t h e r - o r " r e l a t i o n i n the many-s i d e d c h a r a c t e r of p o e t i c l a n g u a g e . 1 2 9 I see these terms as but two s i d e s of the same c o i n . When we can s u c c e s s f u l l y argue t h a t a poem has more than one v i a b l e r e a d i n g , we say t h a t i t i s p l u r i s i g n a t i v e . When the images i n a poem send o f f d i f f e r e n t s i g n a l s but do not always h o l d together to support more than one meaning, we say that the poem i s ambiguous. In both cases, the reader has to d e a l with a wealth of p o s s i b i l i t i e s to a r r i v e at the f i n a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n ( s ) because the language i n the poem i s r i c h i n m u l t i p l e i m p l i c a t i o n s . The process of reading which i n v o l v e s the reader's knowledge, h i s i n t e l l i g e n c e , power of a s s o c i a t i o n and d i s c r i m i n a t i o n i s d e c i d e d l y a f a s c i n a t i n g one. I t i s i n t h i s context t h a t " p l u r i s i g n a t i o n " and, sometimes, "ambiguity," are used i n my present study. I a l s o b e l i e v e that t h i s p o s i t i v e approach toward the " p l u r i s i g n a t i v e " or "ambiguous" use of language should be r e f l e c t e d i n our a p p r e c i a t i o n and e v a l u a t i o n of L i Shangyin's poetry. In h i s a r t i c l e , "Ambiguities i n L i Shangyin's Poetry," James L i u a l s o mentions a l l u s i o n as a source of ambiguity, along with 108 am b i g u i t i e s i n r e f e r e n c e , a t t i t u d e , grammar, imagery and sym-boli s m . L i u ' s a r t i l e d i s c u s s e s s p e c i f i c and i s o l a t e d cases of am b i g u i t i e s i n L i Shangyin. Because he p e r c e i v e s a l l u s i o n as no more than a frequent d e v i c e r a t h e r than a c e n t r a l mode of e x p r e s s i o n i n L i Shangyin, h i s a n a l y s i s of the r e l a t i o n between a l l u s i o n and ambiguity i s , consequently, i n a d e q u a t e . 1 3 0 Having examined a l l u s i o n as an extended metaphor and the three l e v e l s of i n t e r p e t a t i o n i n the readi n g of a l l u s i o n , I s h a l l now d i s c u s s three poems by L i Shangyin which i l l u s t r a t e h i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c use of a l l u s i o n and i t s r e l a t i o n to the p l u r i s i g -n a t i o n of h i s poetry: "Chang E " - ^ ^ ' ^ , "Shengnu C i " ^ ^ / ^ (Holy Lady's Shrine) and "Wuchou Guo Youchouqu B e i q i G e " : ^ ^ ' ^ (Song of Northern-Qi: Melody of Never-Grieve Turning Out to be One of G r i e f . " The poems are d i s c u s s e d i n order of t h e i r i n c r e a s i n g complexity. "Chang E" The candle glows deep i n s i d e the mica sc r e e n . The Long R i v e r g r a d u a l l y descends, the morning s t a r s s i n k low. Chang E must r e g r e t s t e a l i n g the magic p i l l . The emerald sea--the blue sky--her heart, n i g h t a f t e r n i g h t . (FH: 717) There i s no mention of Chang E's l o n e l i n e s s i n e a r l y 109 m y t h o l o g i c a l t e x t s . I t o c c u r r e d to Du Fu, however, t h a t she would be l o n e l y l i v i n g on the moon by h e r s e l f : One can imagine Chang E, a l l alone, R i v a l l i n g the c h i l l of l a t e autumn. 1 3 1 L i Shangyin i s o b v i o u s l y echoing Du Fu here as w e l l as i n the f o l l o w i n g l i n e s from two other poems: The hare i s c h i l l e d , the toad c o l d , the c a s s i a blossoms a p a l e white, Tonight, Heng E must be deeply f o r l o r n and d i s c o n s o l a t e . 1 3 2 The Blue Lady and the White Maid can both endure the c h i l l , R i v a l l i n g f o r beauty amidst the f r o s t i n the Moon. 1 3 3 Yet i n "Chang E," L i makes her p l i g h t more i n t e r e s t i n g when he imagines t h a t she must " r e g r e t s t e a l i n g the magic p i l l " now t h at she i s faced with e t e r n a l s o l i t u d e . By so doing, L i Shangyin adds an i r o n i c t w i s t which enhances the p s y c h o l o g i c a l complexity as w e l l as the i n t e r p r e t i v e p o t e n t i a l of the poem. By i n t r o d u c i n g new elements i n t o the s t o r y , he underscores three stages of a c h a i n of events which together d e p i c t an a r c h e t y p a l human s i t u a t i o n : (1) Attainment (Chang E s t e a l s a magic p i l l which g i v e s her i n s t a n t i m m o r t a l i t y ) ; 110 (2) A l i e n a t i o n (She f e e l s l o n e l y and c h i l l e d , l i v i n g a l l by h e r s e l f on the moon); (3) Remorse (She r e g r e t s t h a t she has become her own nemesis). Since these three phases c o n s t i t u t e a t y p i c a l c h a i n of events i n human experience, by s i n g l i n g out j u s t these three phases, L i Shangyin has shaped the a l l u s i o n i n a way t h a t leaves h i s poem open to p l u r i s i g n a t i o n . Indeed, although t h i s i s one of the most " t r a n s p a r e n t " and l i n g u i s t i c a l l y a c c e s s b l e poems i n L i Shangyin's c o l l e c t i o n , f i v e d i f f e r e n t readings have been o f f e r e d by t r a d i t i o n a l commentators: (1) A r e a d i n g which i n t e r p r e t s the poem on i t s s u r f a c e l e v e l ; t h a t i s , Chang E r e g r e t s the l o n e l i n e s s she has to endure a f t e r her s u c c e s s f u l p u r s u i t of immortal l i f e ; 1 3 4 (2) A r e a d i n g which i n t e r p r e t s Chang E to be the poet's beloved, o b j e c t of h i s l o n g i n g ; 1 3 5 (3) A r e a d i n g which d e p i c t s the poet's lament f o r h i s deceased wife, w r i t t e n from the p o i n t of view of her l o n e l y departed s o u l ; 1 3 6 (4) A r e a d i n g which i n t e r p r e t s Chang E as a D a o i s t nun who r e g r e t s her r e l i g i o u s vows, f i n d i n g the l i f e of the c l o i s t e r too l o n e l y to b e a r ; 1 3 7 I l l (5) A reading which i n t e r p r e t s Chang E to be the poet h i m s e l f , who r e g r e t s h i s " o p p o r t u n i s t i c " marriage to Wang Maoyuan's daughter and h i s subsequent a l i e n a t i o n from Linghu Tao and members of the Niu f a c t i o n ; 1 3 8 A review of these i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s shows t h a t the f i r s t i s r e a l l y a l i t e r a l r e a d i n g while the others are a l l e g o r i c a l ; t h a t i s , readings 2-5 a l l i n t e r p r e t the poem by r e f e r r i n g to a s p e c i f i c event, whether p e r s o n a l , s o c i a l or h i s t o r i c a l , i n the poet's l i f e . Of the f i v e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s , the second by Tang Zhongyan , Huang Sheng -#..4- and Qu Fu i s vague and uncon-v i n c i n g s i n c e the three s t a g e s — a t t a i n m e n t , a l i e n a t i o n and remorse—conveyed i n the a l l u s i o n are not i d e n t i f i e d or ad-dressed. The t h i r d r e a d i n g i s probably a r r i v e d a t because the e x p r e s s i o n shengxian J^ - /f^A "ascending to i m m o r t a l i t y " (an echo of the Chang E a l l u s i o n i n the poem) i s o f t e n used as a euphemism f o r "death." Assuming t h a t a f t e r her death, L i Shangyin's wife must f e e l l o n e l y (or more a c c u r a t e l y , he must f e e l l o n e l y ) , she must r e g r e t having l e f t him (or i s i t he who r e g r e t s ? ) . But, as some c r i t i c s have a l r e a d y p o i n t e d out, t h i s i s an extremely tenuous i f not tortuous reading because i t i s d i f f i c u l t to argue that L i ' s w i f e chooses to d i e or a c t i v e l y causes h e r s e l f to d i e and u l t i m a t e l y r e g r e t s i t . 1 3 9 The f o u r t h and f i f t h r e a d i n g s , however, support a c o n s i s t e n t though d i f f e r e n t i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the p i e c e . 112 Let us now examine the poem i t s e l f . "Chang E" i s a qua-t r a i n , made up of two l i n e s of r e a l i s t i c s e t t i n g juxtaposed with two l i n e s of a l l u s i v e images drawn from the world of i m a g i n a t i o n . The opening l i n e s d e p i c t an indoor scene, l a t e a t n i g h t . A g a i n s t the e x q u i s i t e but c o l d mica screen a candle glows and c a s t s i t s f l i c k e r i n g shadow. The passage of time i s suggested by the burning candle, the movement of the M i l k y Way and the s i n k i n g of the morning s t a r s o u t s i d e the window. Without any e x p l i c i t r e f e r e n c e , the poem i n t i m a t e s the presence of an i n d i v i d u a l i n l i n e s 1-2. The person i s p l a c e d i n an elegant but l o n e l y s e t t i n g . He or she i s a p p a r e n t l y i n anguish, s t a y i n g awake throughout the long n i g h t . L i n e 2 p r o v i d e s a smooth t r a n s i t i o n to the world o u t s i d e , to the Heavenly C o n s t e l l a t i o n s and f i n a l l y to Chang E, the moon lady who i s imagined i n her l o n e l y c e l e s t i a l s e t t i n g , f a c i n g e t e r n a l l y the immensity of a dark blue sky. In many ways, the s i t u a t i o n of Chang E p a r a l l e l s and echoes t h a t of the i n d i v i d u a l i n l i n e s 1-2 and the Moon Lady e v e n t u a l l y becomes i d e n t i f i e d as t h a t very persona. Cheng Mengxing and Feng Hao b e l i e v e t h a t Chang E i n t h i s poem r e p r e s e n t s a D a o i s t nun who r e g r e t s her r e l i g i o u s vows, f i n d i n g the l i f e of the c l o i s t e r too l o n e l y to bear (Reading 4 ) . 1 4 0 Zhang E r t i a n and Hu Ciyan j\ 7X_ ^(jt^ , on the other hand, i n t e r p r e t Chang E as the poet h i m s e l f , who r e g r e t s h i s " o p p o r t u n i s t i c " marriage to Wang Maoyuan's daughter and h i s f i n a l a l i e n a t i o n from Linghu Tao and members of b i o g r a p h i c a l backgrounds which support both i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s . At the Niu f a c t i o n (Reading 5 ) . 1 4 1 There are h i s t o r i c a l and 113 the same time, we are a l s o aware t h a t the concerns r e f l e c t e d i n these two readings have been more than o c c a s i o n a l s u b j e c t s i n L i a l l e g o r i c a l readings correspond with the three main phases i n the a l l u s i o n , and the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s are c o n s i s t e n t . Other than the l i t e r a l as w e l l as the two a l l e g o r i c a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s we have j u s t examined, t h i s poem can a l s o be read with broader a s s o c i a t i o n s on a symbolic l e v e l . C.Y. Yeh Chao's essay on t h i s poem was the f i r s t attempt at such a r e a d i n g . In her a n a l y s i s , Chang E's s o l i t u d e r e p r e s e n t s the i n e v i t a b l e l o n e l i n e s s of any f i n e poet because of h i s acute s e n s i t i v i t y . 1 4 3 I would l i k e to add t h a t , i n an even more u n i v e r s a l sense, Chang E's f l i g h t to the moon can symbolize any attainment which, although a p p a r e n t l y rewarding, separates one from the crowd, l e a v i n g one with a complete sense of a l i e n a t i o n . When we focus our reading on the paradox of Chang E's i m m o r t a l i t y and her s o l i t u d e , we may a r r i v e a t yet another i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . Since the moon, which r e p r e s e n t s t h a t b e a u t i f u l and u n a t t a i n a b l e world of the immortals, appears c o l d and d e s o l a t e , with the e l i x i r and her f l i g h t to the moon, Chang E, though a c q u i r i n g e t e r n a l l i f e , s u f f e r s i n t e n s e l o n e l i n e s s . Read i n t h i s way, the poem questions the e x i s t e n c e of u l t i m a t e b l i s s . The s k i l l f u l use of a l l u s i o n has helped to generate numerous p o s s i b l e meanings f o r t h i s a p p a r e n t l y simple poem. There are Shangyin's poet r y . 14 2 But, more than t h a t , i n both cases the other poems i n L i ' s c o l l e c t i o n (such a s "Hai Shang" 7 £ f , , "Yao C h i " J ^ V " ^ a n d 114 "Ye Shan"~ffl) ^  ) which, l i k e "Chang E," are r e l a t i v e l y simple and a c c e s s i b l e yet c r e a t i v e l y a l l u s i v e with m u l t i p l e meanings. But L i Shangyin's p l u r i s i g n a t i v e poems are t y p i c a l l y more complex and e l u s i v e . The i n d i v i d u a l a l l u s i v e l i n e s tend to send o f f a whole range of s i g n a l s and p o s s i b i l i t i e s , yet the o v e r a l l i n t e r -p r e t a t i o n of the poem i s not as r e a d i l y a c c e s s i b l e and r e q u i r e s a great d e a l of d i s c r i m i n a t i o n i n our r e a d i n g . For example: "Holy Lady's S h r i n e " 1 Amidst the hazy mists I encounter t r a c e s of the goddess, A t r a v e l l e r delayed on a vague and d i s t a n t journey--In what year d i d she r e t u r n to the azure heavens? T h i s road leads to the i m p e r i a l c a p i t a l . 5 For news, I must wait f o r the Blue Sparrow, To meet her i s u n l i k e meeting the Purple Lady. My i n s i d e s t u r n because of my dreams of Chu. My h e a r t breaks f o r the shaman of the Han p a l a c e . Her r e t i n u e r i d e s on c o l d bamboo canes. 10 Her c a r r i a g e i s shaded by white elm t r e e s . Once the S t a r Lady i s gone, W i l l S i s t e r Moon ever come again? A widowed crane l o s t i n the dark r a v i n e , A f e t t e r e d phoenix laments atop a verdant wutong. 15 Only t h a t under the green peaches Fang Shuo was a w i l d man! 1 4 4 (FH: 92) There are two other poems with the same or s i m i l a r t i t l e i n L i Shangyin's c o l l e c t i o n w r i t t e n a p p a r e n t l y a t d i f f e r e n t t i m e s . 1 4 5 A l l three poems on the Holy Lady's Shrine are "am-115 biguous" i n many ways and have generated c r i t i c a l c o n t r o v e r s y . I have chosen to examine t h i s p a r t i c u l a r p i e c e because i t i s the most complex and i n t e r e s t i n g of the three i n i t s use of a l l u s i o n . "Holy Lady's S h r i n e " i s the s h r i n e of a l o c a l d e i t y on the slope of Mt. Qingang ( i n present day Lueyang county, Shaanxi p r o v i n c e ) . 1 4 6 The opening l i n e s of the poem suggest t h a t t h i s p i e c e was w r i t t e n when the speaker was t r a v e l l i n g through the r e g i o n . I t was an area w i t h i n Guanzhong f^J ^ , a much t r a v e l l e d l o c a l e d u r i n g the Tang Dynasty, which makes i t hard to a s s i g n the poem to a s p e c i f i c date i n L i Shangyin's l i f e , assuming him to be the speaker i n the poem. Commentators such as Xu Zhanyuan <$^*V^£ > F e n S Hao and Zhang E r t i a n s p e c u l a t e t h a t L i wrote t h i s poem i n 837 a f t e r Linghu Chu's death, when he e s c o r t e d h i s patron's remains from Xingyuan_ J ^ ^ X_J to Chang'an f o r b u r i a l . 1 4 7 There i s one poem i n h i s c o l l e c t i o n ("Zi Nanshan B e i g u i J i n g Fenshui L i n g " ) w r i t t e n d u r i n g t h i s t r i p to Chang'an i n which he e x p l i c i t l y mourns the l o s s of h i s patron. These commentators c o n s i d e r "Holy Lady's S h r i n e " to be a more p r i v a t e , a l l e g o r i c a l p i e c e w r i t t e n f o r a s i m i l a r p u r p o s e . 1 4 8 On the other hand, Zhu Yizun /f^-St*-^* suggests t h a t t h i s i s a romantic p i e c e which expresses l o n g i n g f o r a lov e d one or p o s s i b l y laments her d e a t h . 1 4 9 Cheng Mengxing and J i Yun go one step f u r t h e r to suggest t h a t t h i s i s no o r d i n a r y love poem, but one which s a t i r i c a l l y d e p i c t s the l i c e n t i o u s n e s s of D a o i s t n u n s . 1 5 0 IU Yizun 116 James L i u , although u s u a l l y d i s p u t i n g Su X u e l i n ' s romantic i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s , a l s o reads t h i s poem as r e f l e c t i n g L i ' s a f f a i r s with D a o i s t n u n s . 1 5 1 Chen Y i x i n l i k e w i s e sees t h i s as a n o s t a l -g i c p i e c e lamenting L i ' s l o s t l o v e . 1 5 2 Because the tone of the poem i s one of earnest l o n g i n g and a n t i c i p a t i o n , not of censure, I f i n d Cheng and J i ' s reading l a r g e l y unconvincing. Yet the poem does not seem to suggest e x c l u s i v e l y the l o n g i n g f o r a beloved. I t seems th a t the c r i t i c s were prompted by c e r t a i n a s s o c i a t i o n s connected with the a l -l u s i o n s , yet they d i d not take i n t o c o n s i d e r a t i o n other i n t e r -p r e t a t i o n s of some s i g n i f i c a n t images i n the poem. A c l o s e r e a d i n g shows th a t the a l l u s i o n s i n "Holy Lady's S h r i n e " seem to c r e a t e a path i n t o the poem on two dominant l e v e l s : 1. A l i t e r a l l e v e l on which the poem d e s c r i b e s the speaker's romantic response to the Holy Lady and h i s concern f o r her whereabouts; 2. An a l l e g o r i c a l l e v e l with two p o s s i b l e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s , r e a d i n g the p i e c e e i t h e r as a p u r s u i t of a beloved or the p u r s u i t of an o f f i c i a l c a r e e r . On the l i t e r a l l e v e l , the poem opens with a r e a l i s t i c s e t t i n g . Journeying to the c a p i t a l , the speaker passes by the Holy Lady's S h r i n e . Amidst the deep mists and the dense growths which crowd the mountain paths, he encounters t r a c e s of the Holy Lady. The mysteriousness surrounding her i n the f i r s t l i n e i s p a r a l l e l e d immediately by the u n c e r t a i n t y the speaker f e e l s about h i s own journey. The t h i r d l i n e comes back to the goddess again as the speaker wonders when i t was t h a t she a c t u a l l y l e f t f o r the heavens, and t h i s i s p a r a l l e l e d i n t u r n by the r e a l i t y of the speaker's own journey to the c a p i t a l , which, i n metaphorical terms, can be understood as the l a n d of the chosen few (court o f f i c i a l s ) , the l a n d of the " c e l e s t i a l s . " Thus, i n two n e a t l y -balanced c o u p l e t s , L i Shangyin s u c c e s s f u l l y s e t s a p h y s i c a l as w e l l as metaphorical background f o r h i s poem. His own d e s t i n y seems to be somehow connected to the Holy Lady's whereabouts. His journey can be taken i n both the l i t e r a l and a l l e g o r i c a l sense. From l i n e s 5 and 6 on, the r e s t of the poem c o n s i s t s of corresponding c o u p l e t s made up e n t i r e l y of a l l u s i v e images. Each of these c o u p l e t s uses a l l u s i o n s i n such a way t h a t they seem, i n most cases, to support a reading of the poem on two l e v e l s s i m u l t a n e o u s l y . The "Blue Sparrow" i n l i n e 5 i s the famous messenger of the Queen Mother of the West mentioned i n the Shanhai Jing.153 The "Purple Lady" i s the Goddess of the P r i v y e x p l i c i t l y t h a t he i s a w a i t i n g news of the Holy Lady, but she i s very d i f f i c u l t to meet with, c e r t a i n l y not as easy to invoke as the Purple Lady. L i n e s 7-8 express the speaker's profound l o n g i n g f o r h i s In l i n e s 5-6, the speaker s t a t e s the Jingchu 118 goddess. At t h i s p o i n t , the poem takes on s t r o n g romantic overtones as the poet a l l u d e s to h i s f a v o r i t e s t o r y of King Xiang (of Chu) and the Goddess of Mt. Wu. While King Xiang enjoys the f a v o r s of h i s goddess i n a dream, the speaker has f a i l e d to meet h i s Holy Lady i n the same way. Or, perhaps the speaker d i d have an a f f a i r with h i s "goddess" i n the past, but t h a t i s now o n l y a memory. His yearning has become so i n t e n s e that i t makes h i s i n s i d e s t u r n . L i n e 8 a l s o s t r i k e s a romantic note when he says t h a t h i s h e a r t breaks, f a i l i n g to o b t a i n the h e l p of a shaman to communicate with the g o d d e s s . 1 5 5 On the l i t e r a l l e v e l , these l i n e s simply d e s c r i b e a deep and p a s s i o n a t e l o n g i n g f o r the goddess. Is t h i s d e i t y the same Holy Lady spoken of at the beginning of the poem? Is the poet simply musing r o m a n t i c a l l y about a l o c a l d e i t y whose s h r i n e he happens to pass by as a t r a v e l l e r , i n s p i r e d perhaps by the mysterious and e r o t i c s t o r y of King Xiang? So f a r , the i n t e n s i t y of the emotions, the somewhat sombre tone of the poem, as w e l l as the r e f e r e n c e to a metaphorical journey with the c o u r t as d e s t i n a t i o n suggest t h a t more i s i m p l i e d . There are two p o s s i b i l i t i e s . The goddess may r e p r e s e n t a l o v e r the speaker wholeheartedly pursues, or she may r e p r e s e n t a p o l i t i c a l patron, someone who can h e l p him on h i s road to an o f f i c i a l c a r e e r . Since i t has been a t r a d i t i o n among Chinese poets to compare t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p with t h e i r patrons to t h a t of a p a i r of a l o v e r s , the use of a l l u s i o n s with romantic a s s o c i a t i o n s i n an a l l e g o r i c a l c ontext i s r e a d i l y j u s t i f i e d . I f one should q u e s t i o n 119 why the speaker i s not c a s t as a woman yearning f o r s p e c i a l f a v o r and a f f e c t i o n from her male l o v e r (the p a t r o n ) , as was the usual p r a c t i c e , one o n l y has to remember t h a t i n " L i Sao," the p r o t o -type of t h i s s o r t of a l l e g o r y , Qu Yuan a l t e r n a t e s between a female r o l e and a male one. On the one hand, he p l a y s the King's estranged l o v e r . In other i n s t a n c e s , to symbolize h i s quest, he r e v e r t s from a female persona to that of a c h i v a l r o u s male c o u r t i n g the goddesses. Whether "Holy Lady's S h r i n e " be i n t e r -p r e t e d as a lov e poem or one which expresses the speaker's l o n g i n g f o r a s u c c e s s f u l o f f i c i a l c a r e e r , the goddess c l e a r l y stands f o r someone other than the Holy Lady h e r s e l f . In both cases, the a l l u s i o n s would have s p e c i f i c r e f e r e n c e s and the poem would have to be i n t e r p r e t e d a l l e g o r i c a l l y . One of the most d i f f i c u l t and d e c i s i v e f a c t o r s i n read i n g L i Shangyin and, indeed, p o e t r y of such a h i g h l y a l l u s i v e nature, i s to e s t a b l i s h the context. Since an a l l u s i v e t e x t n a t u r a l l y works by i n d i r e c t i o n , "the i m p l i c i t o ther" i n the poem i s r e a l l y the context. An a l l e g o r i c a l r e a d i n g i s p o s s i b l e o n l y i f i t i s pr o v i d e d with a context. Since many of L i ' s poems are l a b e l l e d "Without T i t l e " or d e l i b e r a t e l y g i v e n p s e u d o - t i t l e s , a reader has to supply h i s own frameworks when readi n g h i s poetry. As long as the contexts are l e g i t i m a t e and the images i n the poems are read c o h e r e n t l y , one c o u l d c l a i m t h a t the reading i s c o n s i s t e n t and, t h e r e f o r e , p l a u s i b l e . The reason why most s c h o l a r s read L i Shangyin's poems e i t h e r as "romantic" or " c a r e e r - o r i e n t e d " a l l e g o r i e s i s t h a t they are the more probable c o n t e x t s , c o n s i d e r -120 ing L i ' s biography, the h i s t o r i c a l background, c e r t a i n cues taken from h i s more e x p l i c i t poems, and the t r a d i t i o n of a l l e g o r i c a l r e a d i n g i n Chinese p o e t r y . 1 5 6 The poem can indeed be read a l l e g o r i c a l l y . From h i s b i o -g r a p h i c a l data, we gather t h a t L i Shangyin obtained h i s jinshi degree i n 837, a p p a r e n t l y with some help from h i s patron's son, Linghu Tao. L i k e a l l candidates h o l d i n g t h i s degree, L i had to go through another examination to be as s i g n e d a p o s i t i o n , and the hel p of an i n f l u e n t i a l o f f i c i a l c o u l d make a d e c i s i v e d i f f e r e n c e . On the e l e v e n t h month of t h a t same year, Linghu Chu d i e d while s e r v i n g as m i l i t a r y governor of Xingyuan. Before h i s death, L i Shangyin, h i s f a v o r i t e protege, was c a l l e d to h i s bedside to d r a f t a f i n a l memorial f o r him. L i e s c o r t e d the remains of Linghu Chu from Xingyuan to Chang'an f o r b u r i a l . 1 5 7 In s p i t e of the presence of str o n g romantic images, c o n s i d e r i n g the s e t t i n g of the poem and the Chinese a l l e g o r i c a l t r a d i t i o n , i t i s very l i k e l y , as Xu Zhanyuan, Feng Hao and Zhang E r t i a n have suggested, t h a t L i i s mourning the death of h i s patron and a t the same time e x p r e s s i n g u n c e r t a i n t y over h i s own c a r e e r a f t e r Linghu's death. The a l l u s i o n s i n l i n e s 9-10 support such a read i n g while c o n t i n u i n g to operate on two l e v e l s . In the Hou Han Shu Fei been g i v e n a bamboo cane by the Genie of the Wine Pot. R i d i n g on the magic cane, he c o u l d roam and soar anywhere he w a n t e d . 1 5 8 In F e i Changfang i s s a i d to have the a n c i e n t b a l l a d the c o n s t e l l a -t i o n s i n the sky are l i k e n e d to "white elms. " 1 5 9 Another source i n Li Ji mentions t h a t the sap from the white bark of the elm t r e e i s used to l u b r i c a t e the wheels of f u n e r a l c a r r i a g e s . 1 6 0 On a l i t e r a l l e v e l , t h e r e f o r e , the a l l u s i v e image of attendants r i d i n g on "bamboo canes" and a c a r r i a g e t r a v e l l i n g under white elm t r e e s i s an a p p r o p r i a t e p i c t u r e of the Holy Lady and her f o l l o w e r s e s c o r t i n g her on her journey to heaven. On an a l -l e g o r i c a l l e v e l , the same images i n l i n e s 9-10 can be seen to d e p i c t Linghu Chu's f u n e r a l p r o c e s s i o n on i t s way to the c a p i t a l . I f one were to c o n s i d e r the Holy Lady a r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of the speaker's l o v e r , these l i n e s may suggest the death of the be-loved, a s i g n a l Zhu Yizun responds to i n h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the poem. The S t a r Lady i n l i n e 11 r e f e r s to the Weaving Maid, and S i s t e r Moon i n l i n e 12 to Chang E, the Moon Lady. I f we take the "Star Lady" to rep r e s e n t the Holy Lady h e r s e l f , the poet i s wondering whether, a f t e r her departure, another d e i t y w i l l ever descend to e a r t h . On the a l l e g o r i c a l l e v e l , the poet laments the death of h i s patron. He doubts very much i f another person as i n f l u e n t i a l as Linghu Chu would come h i s way aga i n . I f we were to read t h i s as a love poem with s p e c i a l , p e r s o n a l r e f e r e n c e , these two l i n e s s t r i k e a s l i g h t l y d i s c o r d a n t note because i t would be d i f f i c u l t to conceive of the speaker contemplating the p o s s i b i l i t y of a new l o v e r while s t i l l g r i e v i n g the death of h i s beloved. On the other hand, i f we were to respond to i t as a romantic l y r i c w r i t t e n with no s p e c i f i c r e f e r e n c e i n mind, the S t a r Lady and the S i s t e r Moon c o u l d both be seen as symbolic of an i d e a l i z e d l o v e which, once gone, w i l l never come back again. L i n e s 13-14 are two m e l a n c h o l i c l i n e s with, again, s t r o n g romantic a s s o c i a t i o n s . The "widowed crane" echoes an a l l u s i o n i n Lienu Zhuan which mentions a young widow and her song of the yellow crane c r y i n g mournfully at the l o s s of i t s p a r t n e r . 1 6 1 Together, l i n e s 13 and 14 p a i n t the p i c t u r e of a s o l i t a r y crane l o s t i n a deep, dark r a v i n e , unable to f i n d h i s way out; and a sad and h e l p l e s s phoenix t i e d to i t s wutong t r e e , unable to take f l i g h t . The very strong romantic overtones of these l i n e s may prompt a reader to t h i n k of them i n i t i a l l y as images of a f o r l o r n l o v e r , but the phrase mi canghe ( l o s t i n the dark r a v i n e ) and j i huang^^jJ^J f e t t e r e d phoenix) a l s o d e p i c t , a l l e g o r i c a l l y , a d i s c o n c e r t e d young s c h o l a r who has j u s t l o s t h i s patron and mentor. L i n e s 15-16 c o n t a i n two a l l u s i o n s on Dongfang Shuo , the w r i t e r and f a v o r i t e c o u r t j e s t e r s e r v i n g Emperor Wu (of Han) who f i g u r e s i n numerous anecdotes with D a o i s t m y t h i c a l s e t t i n g s . In one of them, the Queen Mother of the West was o f f e r i n g Emperor Wu one of her magical peaches when Dongfang Shuo peeked i n through a s i d e window. C a s t i n g a glance at him, the Queen Mother t o l d Emperor Wu t h a t "the l i t t l e r a s c a l " had managed t h r i c e before to s t e a l her p e a c h e s . 1 6 2 Another a l l u s i o n to Dongfang Shuo i n the Shi Ji r e p o r t s t h a t he r e p e a t e d l y married and then d i v o r c e d some of the f i n e s t women i n Chang'an. The money granted him by the emperor e v e n t u a l l y went to these women. Others s e r v i n g the emperor c a l l e d him "the w i l d man." 1 6 3 123 The v a r i o u s ways these a l l u s i o n s have been understood have i n s p i r e d very d i v e r s e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s of the poem. Cheng Meng-xi n g argues, f o r example, t h a t the "peaches" i n l i n e 15 are "peach blossoms" used as a metaphor f o r the b e a u t i f u l D a o i s t nuns, and "Dongfang Shuo," the " w i l d man" r e f e r s to t h e i r b o l d , i l l i c i t l o v e r ( s ) . 1 6 4 Two contemporary c r i t i c s , L i u X u e k a i / ^ j and Yu Shucheng a l s o s p e c u l a t e t h a t Dongfang Shuo r e f e r s to the l o v e r of a nun i n a c l o i s t e r , p o s s i b l y the same shaman mentioned i n l i n e 8 who presumably works i n the Tang c o u r t . 1 6 5 I think t h a t Cheng was misreading the word "peaches" when he takes i t to mean the blossoms r a t h e r than the f r u i t . At the same time, a l l three c r i t i c s tend to emphasize the romantic a s s o c i a t i o n i n the r e f e r e n c e to " w i l d man." Since the n o t i o n that Dongfang Shuo i s a " w i l d man" i n the poem i s c l e a r l y used i n conn e c t i o n with Dongfang Shuo s t e a l i n g the peaches, i t seems that there are two p o s s i b l e ways t h a t one can r e c o n c i l e these two l i n e s : 1. The focus of the two l i n e s i s on Dongfang Shuo being a "w i l d man" and h i s romantic a s s o c i a t i o n s with women. In t h i s case, the "peaches" are seen as the women and the two l i n e s support a readi n g of t h i s p i e c e as a love l y r i c and the speaker as the b o l d l o v e r . 2. The focus of the two l i n e s i s on the s t e a l i n g of the "peaches" and the a s s o c i a t i o n of a t t a i n i n g i m m o r t a l i t y or 124 some k i n d of " c e l e s t i a l s t a t u s . " An a l l e g o r i c a l meaning of t h i s " c e l e s t i a l s t a t u s " i s a s u c c e s s f u l o f f i c i a l c a r e e r i n the i m p e r i a l c o u r t . In t h i s case, the " w i l d man" can be understood simply as a g e n e r a l d e s c r i p t i o n of Dongfang Shuo, the c l e v e r , mischievous man who dared and a c t u a l l y succeeded i n s t e a l i n g the most t r e a s u r e d peaches of the Queen Mother; and i n an a l l e g o r i c a l sense, the man who dared to ask f o r and a c t u a l l y a t t a i n e d the most d e s i r a b l e p o s i t i o n he c o u l d dream of . The l a s t two l i n e s suggest, t h e r e f o r e , t h a t the poet, i n p a s s i n g by the Holy Lady's S h r i n e , contemplates o b t a i n i n g grace from the goddess, l i k e Dongfang Shuo, who s t o l e the magical peaches from the Queen Mother. In our f i n a l a n a l y s i s , we must say t h a t L i Shangyin uses a l l u s i o n s u c c e s s f u l l y to c r e a t e a poem th a t s i m u l t a n e o u s l y moves on two l e v e l s . On the one hand, the a l l u s i o n s shape the reader's response to a romantic l y r i c , and on the other hand, the a l -l u s i o n s resonate i n such a way as to become a u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l l y s u g g e s t i v e . I t i s q u i t e probable t h a t , u s i n g the convention at l e a s t as a n c i e n t as the " L i Sao," L i Shangyin masks t h i s l y r i c of h i s hope f o r preferment behind an a l l u s i v e complex of seemingly romantic s u g g e s t i o n s . I t i s a l s o l i k e l y t h a t , p a s s i n g by the Holy Lady's Shrine and i n s p i r e d by the romantic s t o r y of King Xiang, L i muses on the mysteriousness of the Holy Lady and decides to w r i t e a romantic l y r i c to mark the o c c a s i o n . Chen Y i x i n p r o v i d e s , again, a more s p e c i f i c context f o r an i n t e r -p r e t a t i o n of t h i s as a lov e poem. According to Chen's h y p o t h e t i -c a l reading, the "Holy Lady's S h r i n e " i s not the s h r i n e on the slope of Mt. Qingang, i t r e f e r s to the convent where L i ' s D a o i s t nun-lover used to l i v e , presumably with a Tang P r i n c e s s . A f t e r t h e i r i l l i c i t a f f a i r was d i s c o v e r e d , Chen suggests t h a t the lady, together with her s i s t e r and other nuns were sent back to the c o u r t . "This road leads to the i m p e r i a l c a p i t a l " i n l i n e 4 suggests that L i r e c a l l s how h i s l o v e r was sent on the same road back to the c o u r t . The "dreams of Chu" i s a reminiscence of the sexual encounters they had i n the past. Since Chen argues that L i ' s beloved was a palace lady, L i a l s o a l l u d e s to her ap-p r o p r i a t e l y as the "shaman of the Han Pal a c e . " L i n e s 11-12 r e f e r to L i ' s l o v e r and her s i s t e r , wondering i f they w i l l ever come back again. L i n e s 13-14 d e s c r i b e the two l a d i e s i n the palace , l o n e l y and c o n f i n e d . Chen a l s o suggests t h a t the poet r e g r e t s the p a i n he has caused the two s i s t e r s . I t was a l l due to h i s behaving l i k e the w i l d and b o l d Dongfang Shuo t h a t the l a d i e s were shamed and sent back to the p a l a c e . 1 6 6 T h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i s coherent w i t h i n the framework which Chen has c o n s t r u c t e d . How-ever, h i s reading i n v o l v e s too many s p e c u l a t i v e d e t a i l s which he has h e r s e l f r e c o n s t r u c t e d from the v a r i o u s cues i n the poems and i n f e r r e d from d i s p a r a t e sources. Though many of these d e t a i l s seem p l a u s i b l e , they are not supported by e x t e r n a l evidence. N e v e r t h e l e s s , a l l t h i s serves to demonstrate how strong the romantic s t r a i n i s i n "Holy Lady's S h r i n e " and i n L i Shangyin's poetry i n g e n e r a l . The a l l u s i o n s i n "Holy Lady's S h r i n e " c r e a t e a str o n g t e n s i o n between the s u r f a c e of the poem and i t s probable u n d e r l y -ing i n t e n t i o n . I t a l s o c r e a t e s an o v e r a l l sense of i n t a n g i b i l i t y and u n c e r t a i n t y which i s very much i n keeping with the dramatic s i t u a t i o n and the mood of the poem. Having d i s c u s s e d "Holy Lady's S h r i n e , " I would l i k e to move on to another example--the most b i z a r r e of the three p i e c e s I have s e t out to analyze: "Song of Northern-Qi: Melody of Never-Grieve Turning Out to be One of G r i e f " 1 To the East, the Azure Dragon--to the West, White T i g e r . The Centre holds one b l e s s e d s t a r , o v erseeing the e a r t h l y c y c l e . The waters of Wei i n the Jade V e s s e l laugh a t the c l e a r p o o l . Digging at Heaven, f a i l i n g to reach the Cowherd's p l a c e . 5 As the Magical Steeds trample clouds, and Heavenly Horses charge f i e r c e l y , The Ox Mountain i n p i e c e s , the sound of s h a t t e r i n g c o r a l . Autumn l a d i e s i n d r i p s and drops, not forming t e a r s . The Twelve Jade Towers--not an o l d n a i l l e f t . Shoving m i s t s , s p i t t i n g moon--hurled over a thousand m i l e s . 10 Ten times over red wutongs have d i e d i n a row. By the white b i r c h e s , i n the other houses, ghosts haunt. In v a i n , l e a v i n g behind dark memories l i k e silkworms on papers. In the dim t w i l i g h t s h o r t s i l k threads sway i n the breeze, As b l o o d gathers and d i s p e r s e s , who can one now recognize? (FH: 245) 127 Together with h a l f a dozen other p i e c e s ("Shaoxiang Qu" "Sheyu Qu" $7 , "Heyang" , "Henei"l ^ f fii " Y a n t a i " et and "Haishang Yao" 7 § " ) , t h i s i s one of L i Shangyin's most n o t o r i o u s l y d i f f i c u l t and enigmatic poems. Yet there i s , one must say, a c l e a r sense of an o v e r a l l s t r u c t u r e : L i n e s 1-2 provide the c o u r t s e t t i n g ; L i n e s 3-10 i n t i m a t e some k i n d of bloody and c a t a s t r o p h i c events; L i n e s 11-14 conclude with a scene of the aftermath of d i s a s t e r and a sense of lament and n o s t a l g i a . At the same time, even the most d i f f i c u l t images i n the poem are v i v i d enough to pro v i d e the reader with some k i n d of d i r e c t i o n f o r h i s i m a g i n a t i o n : Lines 3-4 suggest some a b o r t i v e e f f o r t to reach some s p e c i a l p l a c e or to c l e a n out something; Lines 5-6 d e s c r i b e the marching i n of horse troops and the d e s t r u c t i o n of something p r e c i o u s ; L i n e s 7-8 d e p i c t b e a u t i f u l l a d i e s unable to shed t e a r s and the a n n i h i l a t i o n of elegant b u i l d i n g s ; L i n e s 9-10 i n d i c a t e t h a t a great many people have d i e d and something has been c a s t a thousand miles away. However, the exact meaning and s i g n i f i c a n c e of the poem 128 appear u n c e r t a i n . There are, I b e l i e v e , three f a c t o r s which con-t r i b u t e to t h i s sense of mystery. F i r s t , there are many a l l u s i v e images (seventeen i n a l l ) i n the poem, and they resonate with v a r i o u s p o s s i b i l i t i e s . Second, and more i m p o r t a n t l y , a gre a t number of these images are inco m p a t i b l y j o i n e d together. The middle l i n e s of the p o e m - - p a r t i c u l a r l y l i n e s 3 and 4, 6 and 7, 9 and 10--contain phrases which, though c o l o r f u l and e v o c a t i v e , convey a sense of strangeness and u n r e a l i t y . 1 6 7 Yet there are connections. The " c l e a r p o o l " i n l i n e 3 i s somehow r e l a t e d to "dig g i n g a t " i n l i n e 4. The word "trample" i n l i n e 5 i s con-nected to " i n p i e c e s " i n l i n e 6. The "moths" i n l i n e 7 i n the co n v e n t i o n a l f i g u r a t i v e sense of " b e a u t i f u l l a d i e s " can a l s o be a s s o c i a t e d with the "Twelve Jade Towers" i n l i n e 8. And t h i r d , s i n c e the poem was w r i t t e n w i t h i n a s p e c i f i c h i s t o r i c a l and p o l i t i c a l framework, we need to r e l a t e the many e v o c a t i v e but fragmented images to some h i s t o r i c a l episode to make coherent sense of them. These are c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s a l s o p e c u l i a r to Symbolist p o e t r y . 1 6 8 A.G.Engstrom c h a r a c t e r i z e s Symbolist poetry as one of " i n d i r e c t i o n , " one i n which " i d e a s . . . a r e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y p resented o b l i q u e l y through a v a r i e t y of symbols and must be apprehended l a r g e l y by i n t u i t i o n and f e e l i n g . " 1 6 9 In h i s book, The Techniques of Strangeness in Symbolist Poetry, J . Kugel a l s o uses exp r e s s i o n s such as, " h a z i n e s s , " "mysteriousness," "strange-ness," " a l l u s i v e n e s s , " "suggestiveness" and " d i s j o i n t e d n e s s " to d e s c r i b e the e s s e n t i a l nature of Symbolist poems. 1 7 0 Kugel even 129 goes as f a r to conclude a f t e r attempting to analyze a poem by Nerval t h a t we should simply accept the haziness of the poem as i t s f o r c e and urgency, t h a t the p o i n t of the poem i s not to t r y to understand e v e r y t h i n g but t h a t "we read i t again and aga i n . . . . . . . u n t i l we can get so much i n t o the poem t h a t we can accept a l l i t s words and lov e t h e i r m y s t e r y , " 1 7 1 something which reminds one of the k i n d of comments Liang Qichao made on L i Shangyin's poetry. Despite the mysteriousness and apparent i m p e n e t r a b i l i t y of "Song of Northern-Qi," I s t i l l b e l i e v e t h a t i t s deeper meanings can a c t u a l l y be grasped. I s h a l l s t a r t with a review of the s e v e r a l hypotheses o f f e r e d by t r a d i t i o n a l and contemporary c r i t i c s : 1. T h i s poem i s a s a t i r e on Gao Wei, the l a s t emperor of Northern-Qi d u r i n g the Northern and Southern Dynasties p e r i o d ; 1 7 2 2. T h i s poem i s a s a t i r e on Emperor Jingzong of T a n g ; 1 7 3 3. T h i s poem i s w r i t t e n i n memory of L i u Cong j ian / ^ ^ j , m i l i t a r y governor of Zhaoyi , who ex-pressed support f o r Emperor Wenzong by q u e s t i o n i n g the eunuchs' s l a u g h t e r of c o u r t o f f i c i a l s a f t e r the Sweet Dew I n c i d e n t ; 1 7 4 4. T h i s poem i s about the Sweet Dew I n c i d e n t as w e l l as a lament on the murder of Concubine Yang fa^D and P r i n c e s AnJ^jr- and Chen^jjti- a f t e r the death of Em-130 peror Wenzong; 1 7 5 5. T h i s poem r e f e r s to a s e r i e s of purges and deaths of co u r t l a d i e s and e n t e r t a i n e r s i n the Tang p a l a c e ; 1 7 6 Let us s t a r t by c o n s i d e r i n g the f i r s t r e a d i n g , one which i s immediately suggested by the t i t l e . The l a s t emperor of Northern Qi (550-577), Gao Wei, was known i n h i s t o r y as a most extravagant and decadent monarch. 1 7 7 Gao Wei was i n t e r e s t e d i n music and i s s a i d to have composed a tune which he t i t l e d "Never-Grieve." People have s i n c e c a l l e d him "Emperor of N e v e r - G r i e v e . " 1 7 8 L i Shangyin g i v e s the t i t l e an i r o n i c t w i s t i n suggesting t h a t the Melody of Never-Grieve i n f a c t turned out to be one of g r i e f . I f we should take t h i s poem f o r what i t s t i t l e says, i t i s , on one l e v e l , a poem about the death of Gao Wei and the downfall of h i s kingdom. The poem opens with the images of two m y t h o l o g i c a l c r e a -t u r e s , the "Azure Dragon" and the "White T i g e r , " which t r a d i -t i o n a l l y r e p r e s e n t the Heavenly C o n s t e l l a t i o n s of the East-West pole s of the u n i v e r s e . 1 7 9 L i n e 2 suggests t h a t one b l e s s e d s t a r (here a l l u d i n g to the suixing~jlfyJ^L. J u p i t e r ) p r e s i d e s i n the ce n t r e , o v e r s e e i n g the movements of the e a r t h l y c y c l e . Since the anc i e n t Chinese b e l i e v e d t h a t where the suixing r e s i d e s , i t w i l l b r i n g good f o r t u n e to the monarch r u l i n g below i t , i t has been c o n s i d e r e d a luc k y s t a r , and one which i s a s s o c i a t e d with the emperor, the Son of H e a v e n . 1 8 0 Furthermore, the harmonious workings of the heavenly bodies have always been seen to r e f l e c t 131 what should be the o r g a n i z e d s t a t e of human a f f a i r s on e a r t h . Thus the images i n the i n i t i a l l i n e s — w i t h the b l e s s e d s t a r i n the c e n t r e and the other c o n s t e l l a t i o n s p r o p e r l y balanced on i t s two s i d e s — s u g g e s t the e x a l t e d s t a t u s of the emperor and h i s d i v i n e d u t i e s i n managing the a f f a i r s of h i s n a t i o n . The Azure Dragon and the White T i g e r may be seen to symbolize a l l the mandarins and guards who support and look up to him i n the i m p e r i a l c o u r t . The "Jade V e s s e l " i n l i n e 3 echoes a r e f e r e n c e to a l i n e i n a poem by Bao Zhao -sov£J * : " C l e a r as i c e water i n a Jade V e s s e l " 1 8 1 and to another by Wang Changling ^ H t - : "A h e a r t of (pure) i c e water i n a Jade V e s s e l . " 1 8 2 In both cases, the Jade V e s s e l i s a symbol f o r p u r i t y f i l l e d with the c l e a r e s t , c l e a n e s t waters. The Wei R i v e r , too, has always been c o n s i d e r e d very c l e a n and pure, as opposed to the murky J i n g R i v e r , the other t r i b u t a r y of the mighty Huang H e . 1 8 3 "The waters of Wei i n the Jade V e s s e l " must, t h e r e f o r e , be so c l e a n t h a t they laugh a t the c l e a r pool f o r not being c l e a r enough. So much f o r the l i t e r a l sense of l i n e 3. We s h a l l c o n s i d e r i t s p o s s i b l e s i g -n i f i c a n c e a f t e r we have examined the next l i n e . "Digging at Heaven" i n l i n e 4 i s r e a l l y not a strange image i f we r e c a l l the e x p r e s s i o n "zao h u n d u n " " ^ » ^ V^Li ( d i g g i n g at Chaos) i n Zhuang Zi and the famous m y t h o l o g i c a l t a l e of Nii Gua mending the cracks of H e a v e n . 1 8 4 But "Heaven" here, as w e l l as "the Cowherd's p l a c e " — the M i l k y Way—most l i k e l y r e f e r s to the seat of the i m p e r i a l c o u r t , the c a p i t a l . Since Sanfu Huangtu "\^\ says that 132 "the Wei R i v e r i s used to symbolize the M i l k y Way because i t passes through the c a p i t a l , " 1 8 5 we may equate the pure "waters of Wei i n the Jade V e s s e l " with the s a n c t i t y of the i m p e r i a l c o u r t . Let us c o n s i d e r , at t h i s p o i n t , the g e o g r a p h i c a l p o s i t i o n of Northern Qi i n r e l a t i o n to i t s r i v a l n a t i o n , Northern Zhou. The c a p i t a l and i m p e r i a l r e s i d e n c e of Northern Qi (Ye and J i n y a n g ^ f " 1 ^ ) were l o c a t e d i n present day Hebei and Shanxi while t h a t of Northern Zhou (Chang'an ) was some d i s t a n c e away i n Shaanxi p r o v i n c e . When the speaker i n the poem says: "The Jade V e s s e l and the Wei R i v e r laugh a t the c l e a r p o o l , / D i g g i n g at Heaven, f a i l i n g to reach the Cowherd's p l a c e , " he i s p o s s i b l y assuming the complacent v o i c e of Gao Wei i n d i s m i s s i n g the t h r e a t of the Northern Zhou presence i n Chang'an. 1 8 6 "The c l e a r pool of Northern Zhou," he seems to say, "even i f i t were to t r y to expand by d i g g i n g at Heaven, w i l l never reach where we, the tr u e c e l e s t i a l s a r e ! " At t h i s p o i n t , the poem takes a conspicuous t u r n . We are presented with a s e r i e s of images which suggest some bloody and a p o c a l y p t i c event, and i t i s here t h a t the n o t i o n of "Never-g r i e v e " begins to t u r n dark and sombre. In l i n e 5, both the qilin (Magical Steeds) and tianmaR^$Q (Heavenly Horses) are e x c e p t i o n a l breeds with almost magical p r o w e s s . 1 8 7 The tianma has f u r t h e r a p p r o p r i a t e a s s o c i a t i o n s i n c e i t was brought to the co u r t of Han from i t s n a t i v e Ferghana r e g i o n i n C e n t r a l A s i a . 1 8 8 Thus, when the armies of Northern Zhou marched i n t o Jinyang and then i n t o Ye, t h e i r sudden a r r i v a l took the form of 133 f i e r c e steeds descending from the f a r west. "Ox Mountain" i n l i n e 6 was l o c a t e d i n Qingzhou , i n present day Shandong p r o v i n c e . A c c o r d i n g to the History of Northern Qi, when the c a p i t a l of Ye f e l l , Gao Wei a b d i c a t e d i n f a v o r of h i s young son and f l e d with him and the empress to Qingzhou. The i m p e r i a l f a m i l y was f i n a l l y captured by enemy troops i n Qingzhou, marking the end of Northern Q i . 1 8 9 With such an h i s t o r i c a l background i n mind, the l i n e "The Ox Mountain i n p i e c e s , the sound of s h a t t e r -in g c o r a l " becomes at once v i v i d l y c l e a r and s u g g e s t i v e . But more than t h a t , the images of "Ox Mountain" and " s h a t t e r i n g c o r a l " have other a l l u s i v e a s s o c i a t i o n s which may enhance our a p p r e c i a t i o n of t h i s l i n e . In the Liezi, i t i s recorded t h a t du r i n g the Warring S t a t e s p e r i o d , once Duke J i n g of Qi mounted atop the Ox Mountain where he surveyed the b e a u t i f u l bountiness of h i s fiefdom. The Duke lamented t h a t he should d i e one day, l e a v i n g behind a l l t h i s l o v e l i n e s s . 1 9 0 With t h i s i n mind, we can say t h a t "The Ox Mountain i n p i e c e s , the sound of s h a t t e r i n g c o r a l " d e p i c t s the v i o l e n t d e s t r u c t i o n of a n a t i o n and a l l i t s c h e r i s h e d b e a u t i e s . L i n e s 7-10 develop the imagery of t r a g i c deaths and des-t r u c t i o n . L i n e 7 probably r e f e r s to the concubines and palace l a d i e s i n t h e i r l a s t moments of g l o r y . I f one r e c a l l s what L i Shangyin a l l u d e s to i n "Northern-Qi," Gao Wei's f a v o r i t e concu-bine Feng S h u f e i urged him to go on one more round of hunting even a f t e r they r e c e i v e d news of the enemy troops storming the c i t y of J i n y a n g . 1 9 1 Unaware of the c a t a s t r o p h e 134 t h r e a t e n i n g the n a t i o n , Gao Wei's l a d i e s shed no t e a r s . Line 8 suggests t h a t there was t o t a l d e s t r u c t i o n i n the i m p e r i a l c i t i e s . The "Twelve Jade Towers" i n l i n e 8 stand f o r the twelve mag-n i f i c e n t p alace q u a r t e r s the emperor b u i l t i n J i n y a n g . 1 9 2 As an a l l u s i o n to m y t h o l o g i c a l b u i l d i n g s , they a c q u i r e s p e c i a l connota-t i o n s of heavenly p l e a s u r e and l u x u r y . 1 9 3 Yet such p l e a s u r e s are not e t e r n a l . I t i s i m p l i e d t h a t not so much as a n a i l remained of Gao Wei's pala c e s i n Jinyang. A f t e r being captured i n Qingzhou, Gao Wei and h i s en-tourage were taken to Ye, and then f i n a l l y to Chang'an where he was l a t e r executed. With one or two e x c e p t i o n s , the e n t i r e i m p e r i a l f a m i l y was put to d e a t h . 1 9 4 The images i n l i n e 9, "Shoving m i s t s , s p i t t i n g moon--hurled over a thousand m i l e s , " probably r e f e r to n o s t a l g i c memories of a past from which Gao Wei and h i s f o l l o w e r s were being t o r n , as they were taken by f o r c e over a long d i s t a n c e to Chang'an. Since the wutong noble t r e e and the c h a r a c t e r t o n . ^ a l s o puns on " c h i l d r e n ^ , the wutong has o f t e n been used by w r i t e r s and poets to r e f e r to a nobleman's o f f s p r i n g . 1 9 5 One can t h e r e f o r e i n t e r p r e t l i n e 10--"Ten times over red wutongs have d i e d i n a r o w " — a s a r e f e r e n c e to the t r a g i c deaths of the i m p e r i a l c h i l d r e n of Gao Huan, the founding f a t h e r of Northern-Qi. The c o l o r "red" here conjures both the n o t i o n of " n o b i l i t y " and the images of b l o o d and death. The ending of the poem i s more d i r e c t , hence more t r a n s p a r -ent than the immediately preceding l i n e s . L i n e 11 presents a p i c t u r e of white b i r c h e s by graveyards, a scene of haunting 135 d e s o l a t i o n . 1 9 6 L i n e 12 seems to lament those who have d i e d i n the c a t a s t r o p h i c events suggested e a r l i e r . I have t r a n s l a t e d l i n e 12, " k o n g l i u a n j i ru c a n z h i " ^ fl*t" "fV J^ jJ ( l i t e r a l l y " i n v a i n - t o leave b e h i n d - s e c r e t - m e m o r i e s - l i k e - s i l k -worm-papers") as "In v a i n , l e a v i n g behind dark memories l i k e silkworms on paper." While "silkworm paper" i s paper made from the cocoons of the s i l k w o r m , 1 9 7 and there i s a l s o an a n c i e n t c a l l i g r a p h i c s c r i p t known as the "silkworm s c r i p t " (which has s i l k w o r m - l i k e s t r o k e s ) , 1 9 8 I have i n c l u d e d i n my t r a n s l a t i o n the suggestion t h a t the dark memories of the past have been recorded on paper i n a s c r i p t which looks l i k e s l e e p i n g silkworms; t h a t i s to say, such memories, although recorded i n h i s t o r y books, are r a r e l y read, and hence remain an i n a c t i v e or n e a r l y f o r g o t t e n p a r t of our memories. Such an a s s o c i a t i o n i s not onl y appro-p r i a t e but a l s o j u s t i f i e d s i n c e silkworms do " s l e e p " d u r i n g the pe r i o d s of time when they shed t h e i r s k i n s b e f o r e they s t a r t s p i n n i n g s i l k to form t h e i r c o c o o n s . 1 9 9 L i n e 13 d e p i c t s a q u i e t , o r d i n a r y t w i l i g h t scene, with s o f t grasses swaying i n the b r e e z e . 2 0 0 The peace and permanence of Nature p r o v i d e a s u b t l e c o n t r a s t to man's a t r o c i t i e s as the speaker muses on the t r a n s i e n c e of human e x i s t e n c e . As we can see, our f i r s t r e a d i n g of t h i s poem i s c o n s i s t e n t a l l the way through and should t h e r e f o r e be c o n v i n c i n g . Very much l i k e the s e r i e s of two poems on Northern-Qi, t h i s p i e c e i s about Gao Wei and h i s d o w n f a l l , probably w r i t t e n as a warning f o r the Tang emperor at the time. But readers have looked beyond the 136 reading prompted so d i r e c t l y by the t i t l e f o r other p o s s i b l e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s . Su X u e l i n argues t h a t t h i s poem i s about the purge of palace l a d i e s and e n t e r t a i n e r s by Emperor Wenzong f o r t h e i r i l l i c i t romantic l i a i s o n s , to which the poet h i m s e l f was p a r t y . 2 0 1 I f i n d her r e a d i n g hard to support. The Biography of Prince Zhuang Ke mentions the e x e c u t i o n of a number of c o u r t musicians and e n t e r t a i n e r s , s t a t i n g c l e a r l y t h a t i t was f o r t h e i r p a r t i n Concubine Yang's c o n s p i r a c y to s l a n d e r the p r i n c e . 2 0 2 Su X u e l i n ' s h ypothesis i s based p u r e l y on her c o n j e c t u r a l i n t e r -p r e t a t i o n of c e r t a i n s e l e c t e d images i n the poem. As f o r the other three suggested readings (Nos. 2, 3 and 4) c i t e d e a r l i e r , they a l l seem on the s u r f a c e p l a u s i b l e because they a l l i n v o l v e h i s t o r i c a l events surrounding t r a g i c deaths connected with the c o u r t . In r e a d i n g 2, f o r example, Cheng Mengxing as w e l l as Yu Shucheng and L i u Xuekai, b e l i e v e t h a t Emperor Jingzong i s being s a t i r i z e d . 2 0 3 Since Jingzong was d e s c r i b e d i n the Tang H i s t o r i e s as f r i v o l o u s , f u n - l o v i n g and immature when he came to the throne at the age of s i x t e e n , he i s , among Tang emperors, the one most d e s e r v i n g of the e p i t h e t " N e v e r - G r i e v e . " 2 0 4 For t h i s reason, c r i t i c s have c a t e g o r i c a l l y c o n s i d e r e d most poems i n L i ' s c o l l e c -t i o n which r e f e r to some "Never-Grieve Emperor" to be about J i n g z o n g . 2 0 5 On the whole, because the images i n l i n e s 1 and 2 are d e s c r i p t i v e of the p o s i t i o n of any emperor, and those i n l i n e s 11, 12, 13, 14 are g e n e r a l l y a p p l i c a b l e , they c o u l d be taken as a lament on Jingzong's murder by i m p e r i a l guards and e u n u c h s . 2 0 6 Since a f t e r Jingzong's death, there were some s k i r -mishes and bloodshed i n the c o u r t over h i s s u c c e s s i o n , we c o u l d a l s o accept such a reading f o r l i n e 1 0 . 2 0 7 I t would, however, be d i f f i c u l t to e x p l a i n many of the other images, p a r t i c u l a r l y those i n l i n e s 5, 6 and 9, s i n c e Jingzong's death was not caused by any f o r e i g n i n v a s i o n . He was not taken miles away from h i s c a p i t a l b efore he was murdered, nor d i d h i s death t o p p l e the n a t i o n . Then, there i s the p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t t h i s poem was w r i t t e n i n memory of L i u C o n g j i a n . 2 0 8 Many of the images i n the poem do seem to match the h i s t o r i c a l d e t a i l s . Feng Hao suggests, f o r example, t h a t l i n e s 3-4 r e f e r to L i u Congjian's e f f o r t s to counter the c o n t r o l the eunuchs exerted over the emperor, t h a t l i n e s 5-10 r e f e r to the c o u r t ' s m i l i t a r y campaign a g a i n s t h i s nephew L i u Zhen (who d e c l a r e d h i m s e l f h e i r to h i s uncle's post, a g a i n s t the order of the co u r t ) and the subsequent bloodshed over Z h a o y i . 2 0 9 However, there remain a few d i s c o r d a n t notes. The "Ox Mountain" image with i t s r o y a l c o n n o t a t i o n i s not a p p r o p r i a t e f o r a r e b e l l i o u s m i l i t a r y governor. A l s o , i n other poems and prose essays L i Shangyin wrote about the Zhaoyi e x p e d i t i o n he condemns L i u Zhen's d e f i a n c e of the c o u r t . 2 1 0 The g e n e r a l l y g r i e v i n g tone of the poem does not support Feng Hao's r e a d i n g . F i n a l l y , Zhang E r t i a n suggests that t h i s poem i s about the t r a g i c events of the Sweet Dew I n c i d e n t d u r i n g Wenzong's r e i g n as w e l l as the executions of Concubine Yang, P r i n c e s An and Chen a f t e r Wuzong's s u c c e s s i o n to the t h r o n e . 2 1 1 The images i n the opening l i n e s do match the s i t u a t i o n of Wenzong and h i s s e r i o u s 138 attempts to curb the r i s i n g power of the eunuchs, but he h a r d l y deserves the l a b e l "Emperor of Never-Grieve," nor can one make much sense out of l i n e 3 i n such a context. Since there are no d e t a i l e d accounts of how Concubine Yang and the two p r i n c e s were k i l l e d , we have no means of understanding how the very s p e c i f i c images i n the poem would work i n Zhang E r t i a n ' s r e a d i n g . A poet i s f r e e to make any a s s o c i a t i o n s with h i s s u b j e c t , and a reader can a l s o respond with h i s own a s s o c i a t i o n s . For a poem with an obvious h i s t o r i c a l r e f e r e n c e such as t h i s one, what i s a c c e s s i b l e to i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i s open to the i m a g i s t i c a s s o c i a -t i o n s suggested i n the poem as w e l l as our knowledge of the poet's experience. The complexity of t h i s poem l i e s not onl y i n i t s h e a v i l y a l l u s i v e language, but a l s o i n the unusual way the images are combined and the many s u b t l e and i n t r i c a t e connections t h a t one has to make between the a l l u s i o n s and the h i s t o r i c a l r e f e r e n c e s i n the reading p r o c e s s . Although the middle l i n e s i n the poem are p a r t i c u l a r l y strange and seemingly d i s j u n c t i v e , i f we respond to the immediate e f f e c t c r e a t e d by the images, we sense an inn e r l o g i c which u n i f i e s the poem. I t i s t h i s inner l o g i c which d i r e c t s the reader's i m a g i n a t i o n while l e a v i n g room f o r ambiguity or p l u r i s i g n a t i o n . A l l u s i o n , as we can see, works p a r a d o x i c a l l y i n poetry. On the one hand, i t can obscure the meaning of a poem, but on the other hand, more than any other s i n g l e l i t e r a r y d e v i c e , i t can e n r i c h a poem. To u n i f y the d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s on which a l l u s i o n s s i m u l t a n e o u s l y f u n c t i o n , a reader must r e a c t with a l l h i s 139 i n t e l l e c t as w e l l as a l l h i s i n t u i t i v e f a c u l t i e s , f o r some a l l u s i o n s y i e l d to l o g i c a l a n a l y s i s , but o t h e r s , more e l u s i v e , r e l y more on f e e l i n g s f o r i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . L i Shangyin's poetr y of a l l u s i o n , h i s unique mode, employs and deploys a l l u s i o n s i n every p o s s i b l e way. Sometimes h i s a l l u s i o n s are to f a m i l i a r m a t e r i a l s , woven together with the more c o n v e n t i o n a l s u b j e c t s and images of t r a d i t i o n a l poetry; but more o f t e n , h i s a l l u s i o n s are not immediately a c c e s s i b l e . At h i s most c h a l l e n g i n g , he w r i t e s i n a h i g h l y c o n c e n t r a t e d and d i s t i l l e d form, s t r e t c h i n g Chinese i m a g i s t i c technique to i t s utmost; t h a t i s , h i s a l l u s i o n s are almost wholly s e l f - c o n t a i n e d essences i n themselves, l i n e - b y - l i n e so t h a t reading from one l i n e to another becomes an i n t u i t i v e "leap of f a i t h . " To the extent t h a t a l l u s i o n s are " p u b l i c " and a v a i l a b l e , open to most readers, as i n our f i r s t poem, they r e a d i l y expand the range of the poem i n the reader's i m a g i n a t i o n . We have at hand not o n l y the l i t e r a l t e x t s , but a l s o the s u b - t e x t s ( s ) of the work. To the extent, however, that a l l u s i o n s are " p r i v a t e , " l e a r n e d l y d i f f i c u l t , and e l l i p t i c a l or e l u s i v e i n t h e i r use, they are l i k e l y to obscure the meaning of a poem. However, as Empson suggests when d i s c u s s i n g the d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s of ambiguity i n v a r i o u s t e x t s and the corresponding p l e a s u r e s t h a t one can d e r i v e from the r e a d i n g : A m b i g u i t i e s . . . . may be d i v i d e d i n t o those which, once understood, remain an i n t e l l i g i b l e u n i t i n the mind; those i n which the p l e a s u r e belongs to the a c t of working out and 140 understanding, which must at each r e a d i n g , though with l e s s l a b o r , be repeated; and those i n which the ambiguity works best i f i t i s never d i s c o v e r e d . . . 2 1 2 P a r a d o x i c a l l y , t h e r e f o r e , the more complex and e l u s i v e the a l l u s i o n , the more r i c h and i n t r i c a t e the poem. L i Shangyin's a l l u s i v e n e s s does allow us sometimes to experience h i s poems on a simpler l e v e l , but more o f t e n , they are complicated, dense, d i f f i c u l t , and yet at the same time f a s c i n a t i n g and rewarding. D i s t i n c t i v e Features and S t r a t e g i e s Having reviewed L i Shangyin's r e c u r r e n t a l l u s i o n s and the g e n e r a l p l u r i s i g n a t i v e nature of h i s poetry, I s h a l l study some of the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s t r a t e g i e s he employs i n the use of a l l u s i o n s . Shen Deqian \/ q , the Qing c r i t i c , says: When a l l u d i n g to s t o r i e s , i t i s important to make them come to l i f e . When a l l u d i n g to f a m i l i a r l i n e s , i t i s important to imbue them with f r e s h n e s s , so that whatever one a l l u d e s to comes out as i f i t i s one's own c r e a t i o n , without any t r a c e of a r t i f i c i a l i t y . T h i s i s t r u l y f r e e i n g o n e s e l f from the a n c i e n t s . 2 1 3 I t i s not only what i s a l l u d e d to, but a l s o how the a l l u s i o n i s used t h a t makes the d i f f e r e n c e . What Middleton Murry has suggested as the two e s s e n t i a l q u a l i t i e s of the metaphor--141 " p r e c i s i o n " and " r e v e l a t i o n " — m u s t a l s o be found i n the success-f u l use of an a l l u s i o n . The a l l u s i o n must share a t r u e s i m i l a r -i t y or be made to be seen to share a t r u e s i m i l a r i t y with the s i t u a t i o n evoked i n the poem; the " r e v e l a t i o n " comes from the newness with which t h a t s i m i l a r i t y i s p e r c e i v e d . A l l t h i s r e q u i r e s , of course, a great d e a l of c r e a t i v e i m a g i n a t i o n . L i Shangyin employs d i s t i n c t i v e s t r a t e g i e s i n h i s use of a l l u s i o n : Extending the A l l u s i o n There are v a r i o u s ways i n which a me t a p h o r i c a l a l l u s i o n c o u l d serve to b r i n g out the message or the emotional import of a poem. The s t o r y or event a l l u d e d to may be complex and hence ambiguous. One might accompany the a l l u s i o n with a statement or comment th a t would s p e c i f y how the reader i s to understand the a l l u s i o n . L i Shangyin's a l l u s i o n s o f t e n stand on t h e i r own without any d i r e c t , e x p l i c i t comments. However, he u s u a l l y i n c o r p o r a t e s a word here or there which guides a reader's i n t e r -p r e t a t i o n of the s t o r i e s i n r e l a t i o n to the r e s t of the poem: "The V e r m i l i o n H i l l " The Blue Lady d i l i g e n t l y weaves her evening f r o s t , While X i He l a b o r s to send o f f the morning sun. There i s no news of the V e r m i l i o n H i l l thousands of mil e s away, 142 Time and again, at the s i g h t of the wutong, I muse on the phoenix. (FH: 663) In a n c i e n t mythology, the Blue Lady i s d e s c r i b e d as the Goddess of the F r o s t . 2 1 4 X i He, a male God, on the other hand, i s the c h a r i o t e e r r e s p o n s i b l e f o r the d a i l y round of d r i v i n g the sun up i n the morning and down again at dusk behind the Yanzi M o u n t a i n . 2 1 3 In L i ' s poem, however, the two s t o r i e s are re p r o -duced i n a way th a t they evoke c e r t a i n emotional responses from the r e a d e r s . Both " d i l i g e n t l y weaves" (dingning j i e ^^ J" $^2. ) and " l a b o r s to send o f f " (xinku song ) are key phrases used c r e a t i v e l y to supply e x t r a meanings and to suggest the p a r t i c u l a r way L i wants to p e r c e i v e these s t o r i e s . The word "evening" i s a l s o added to match and to c o n t r a s t with "morning" i n the second l i n e . I t i s through the i n c o r p o r a t i o n of these "guiding words" t h a t L i succeeds i n moulding the a l l u s i o n s i n t o the context of h i s poem. Put together i n a p a r a l l e l p o s i t i o n , the l i n e s suggest endless t o i l i n g and h a r d s h i p — w h e t h e r i t i s day ("morning") or n i g h t ("evening"), male ("Xi He") or female ("Blue Lady"), no one c o u l d deny the i n s t i n c t i v e d e s i r e to l i v e on, to c r e a t e meaning and to s t r i v e f o r the b r i g h t and b e a u t i f u l ( " d i l i g e n t l y w e a v e s . . . f r o s t " / " l a b o r s to send o f f . . . s u n " ) . Yet t h i s e f f o r t proves u l t i m a t e l y f u t i l e because i t f a i l s to l e a d to any land of b l i s s or promise, symbolized here by the " V e r m i l i o n H i l l , " the m y t h i c a l p l a c e where magical phoenixes r e s t only on t h e i r wutong t r e e s . To serve h i s own poem, L i Shangyin has 143 i n f u s e d the s t o r y of the Blue Lady and t h a t of X i He with f r e s h meanings not found i n t h e i r o r i g i n a l sources. A s i m i l a r s t r a t e g y i s used i n "Mid-Heaven": Up i n Mid-Heaven god assembled h i s myriad s p i r i t s . Long ago a dream took someone to the blue empyrean. While L i n g Lun blew t i l l h i s s o l i t a r y bamboo cracked, None heard him who knew h i s tune. (FH: 318) The f i r s t two l i n e s of the poem a l l u d e to a s t o r y i n Shi Ji: Zhao J i a n z i was s i c k and unconscious f o r f i v e days. The d o c t o r s were a f r a i d f o r him. Doctor Bian Que examined him. When Dong Anyu asked about Zhao, Bian Que s a i d , " . . . i n no more than three days, he w i l l d e f i n i t e l y t u r n around and s t a r t to t a l k i n t e r m i t t e n t l y a gain." A f t e r two and a h a l f days, Zhao awoke and t o l d the d o c t o r , "I have been up where the c e l e s t i a l emperor i s . I had a wonderful time wandering i n Mid-Heaven with a l l the s p i r i t s . The Great Music was pl a y e d to accompany the n i n e - f o l d performance and the wan dances. U n l i k e anything from the Three Dynasties, i t s sound was more moving than any e a r t h l y m u s i c . " 2 1 6 Without making any e f f o r t , Zhao J i a n z i was p r i v i l e g e d to hear the most wonderful music i n heaven. In l i n e s 3-4, the s t o r y of L i n g Lun i s g i v e n e x t r a meaning not found i n i t s o r i g i n a l c o n text. In the Lushi Chunqiu l&lML. , i t i s recorded t h a t the Yellow Emperor ordered L i n g Lun to c r e a t e the musical s c a l e s . L i n g Lun d i d so by seeking out the best bamboo stem from the most 144 obscure v a l l e y , cut i t i n t o the exact l e n g t h he wanted, blew on i t and d r i l l e d i n twelve h o l e s . Based on the c a l l s of the phoenix, he d i f f e r e n t i a t e d twelve d i f f e r e n t k e y s . 2 1 7 L i n g Lun i s c l e a r l y a t a l e n t e d and p r o f e s s i o n a l musician. There i s , however, no mention of h i s having blown h i s bamboo pipe t i l l i t cracked. The "gusheng zhu" W echoes a t e x t u a l r e f e r e n c e to a "guzhu z h i guan" (a k i n d of pipe made from a bamboo grown by i t s e l f ) i n the Zhou Li j^^ jf_ •218 There are meanings added to or i m p l i e d i n the s t o r i e s not found i n the o r i g i n a l sources. These i n c l u d e : (1) A L i n g Lun who blew with a l l h i s heart and h i s might on h i s bamboo pipe; (2) That L i n g Lun's pipe i s made out of a bamboo t h a t grows by  i t s e l f , which underscores a sense of " a l i e n a t i o n . " By emphasiz-ing t h a t a dream alone t r a n s p o r t s Zhao J i a n z i to Heaven, and by ju x t a p o s i n g i t with h i s own v e r s i o n of L i n g Lun's s t o r y , L i succeeds i n b r i n g i n g out a sense of cosmic a b s u r d i t y and i r o n y i n the poem. Fusing the A l l u s i o n s A second c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s t r a t e g y i n v o l v e s the c r e a t i v e f u s i o n of two or more a l l u s i o n s i n a poem, sometimes the combin-ing of an a l l u s i o n with other images. In the f o l l o w i n g examples, the same " v a s t - s e a - m u l b e r r y - f i e l d " s t o r y i s fused with another a l l u s i o n i n one case and with a n a t u r a l image i n the other to c r e a t e a d i s t i n c t meaning i n each poem: 145 "To Someone Faraway" Heng E i s f o r e v e r pounding to make e l i x i r , While the Jade Maid never stops throwing her arrows. When w i l l the sea t u r n i n t o mulberry f i e l d s To keep the Y i R i v e r from f l o w i n g east? (FH: 749) In t h i s poem, the i d e a t h a t the e t e r n a l c y c l e of the vast sea changing i n t o a mulberry f i e l d and back again i s put a s i d e . Instead, L i s e i z e s on j u s t one phase of the s t o r y — o f the sea t u r n i n g i n t o a mulberry f i e l d . By c l e v e r l y l i n k i n g t h i s f a m i l i a r sea with the image of the r i v e r f o r e v e r f l o w i n g e a s t , he succeeds i n conveying an eagerness to h a l t the flow of time. In the context of the r e s t of the poem (which c o n t a i n s a repeated image of f u t i l e l a b o r ) , we re- e x p e r i e n c e h i s l o n g i n g to put an end to a l l of l i f e ' s p e r p e t u a l t o i l i n g . The c r e a t i v e f u s i o n of v a r i o u s a l l u s i o n s i s even more complex i n the f o l l o w i n g poem: "Broken M i r r o r " The l i m p i d l i g h t i n the jade box no longer holds together. The water c a l t r o p p e t a l s are s c a t t e r e d , the moon i n e c l i p s e . Once the mountain cock was m i r r o r e d at the Qin Te r r a c e , The s o l i t a r y phoenix ceased to dance. (FH: 190) 146 The "water c a l t r o p " i n l i n e 2 i s a metaphor f o r m i r r o r , a r e f e r e n c e to the "water c a l t r o p m i r r o r " Lady F l y i n g Swallow once r e c e i v e d as a g i f t . 2 1 9 There are three more a l l u s i o n s i n the l a s t two l i n e s of t h i s poem: (1) When L i u Bang J^~*\^> f i r s t entered the Qin Palace i n Xianyang f^) > he found a l a r g e bronze m i r r o r . A person st a n d i n g d i r e c t l y i n f r o n t of i t would be a b l e to see h i s own image upside down. I f he should stand with h i s hand c o v e r i n g h i s chest , the m i r r o r would show h i s i n t e r n a l o r g a n s ; 2 2 0 (2) A mountain cock f e l l i n lov e with i t s own f e a t h e r s and danced whenever i t saw i t s own r e f l e c t i o n i n the water. I t was brought as a t r i b u t e to Emperor Wu (of Wei). When a m i r r o r was p l a c e d i n f r o n t of the cock, i t danced u n t i l i t d i e d of e x h a u s t i o n ; 2 2 1 (3) Once the ki n g of J i b i n ^ ' l - ^ S (around present-day Kashmir) caught a phoenix but was unable to make i t s i n g . His wife suggested t h a t he t r y p u t t i n g a m i r r o r i n f r o n t of the phoenix, s i n c e most b i r d s would s i n g at the s i g h t of t h e i r own k i n d . When the phoenix saw her own r e f l e c t i o n , she u t t e r e d a p i e r c i n g c r y and flew away. 2 2 2 These three s t o r i e s come from three e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t sources but they are v a r i o u s l y connected. F i r s t , there i s a mi r r o r i n a l l of them. The second and t h i r d s t o r i e s are f u r t h e r connected by t h e i r both having a b i r d responding to i t s own r e f l e c t i o n i n a m i r r o r . From the abundance of d e t a i l i n the s t o r i e s , however, L i Shangyin draws only upon those elements he needs and fuses them to c r e a t e something new f o r h i s poem. "The 147 Qin T e r r a c e " he draws from the f i r s t s t o r y . "The mountain cock" from the second, and "the s o l i t a r y phoenix" from the t h i r d s t o r y . Instead of r e f e r r i n g to i t s " s i n g i n g , " or i t s "ceasing to s i n g , " L i says t h a t the phoenix "ceased to dance," which r e l a t e s i t to the mountain cock's dances. The three images are connected by the word "mirrored" and the s i n g l e c o n n e c t i v e s yizhao....hou, b i a n s h i s h i ( - S ? „ 4 j t , it^L 4 ; once after...was m i r r o r e d , i t was when....). Together, they symbol-i z e , through the image of the uncompromising phoenix, a d e d i c a -t i o n to p e r f e c t i o n . The m i r r o r (a s p e c i a l one, one would suppose, s i n c e the phrase "Qin T e r r a c e " g i v e s i t a r o y a l touch) does not have to be p h y s i c a l l y s h a t t e r e d to be c o n s i d e r e d broken. Once i t has been used to m i r r o r the mountain cock, no phoenix w i l l ever want to dance b e f o r e i t again. By c l e v e r l y combining the s t o r y of the mountain cock with t h a t of the phoenix, and p u t t i n g the two together i n f r o n t of the m i r r o r a t the Qin T e r r a c e , L i c r e a t e s a new s t o r y with a s p e c i a l meaning f o r h i s poem. T h i s i s p o s s i b l e because of the many a s s o c i a t i o n s he shares with h i s readers through h i s i n t e r t w i n i n g use of these a l l u s i o n s . Reverse Use of A l l u s i o n s L i Shangyin's use of s u r p r i s e e f f e c t s i n a poem i s i t c r e a t e s an a n t i - c l i m a x , poem. a l l u s i o n s to generate o p p o s i t e or a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s t r a t e g y . Often, a sense of tension* and i r o n y i n a 148 "Blue H i l l Tower" By the Blue H i l l Tower the sun c a s t s i t s s l a n t e d shadow. A v i r t u o u s s o u l from the a n c i e n t past leans a g a i n s t the evening t w i l i g h t - -Do not be alarmed to see Han P i n , now the b u t t e r f l y , F l y i n g to seek out c a s u a l l y another flower! (FH: 618) T h i s poem a l l u d e s to the o l d legend of Han P i n and h i s wife i n the Soushen Ji . 2 2 3 The s t o r y has i t t h a t the King of Song s e i z e d h i s m i n i s t e r Han Pin's w i f e . Han consequently committed s u i c i d e . His wife, h e a r i n g of h i s death, k i l l e d h e r s e l f by jumping o f f the Blue H i l l Tower, asking i n a note to be b u r i e d with Han P i n a f t e r her death. The King w i l f u l l y b u r i e d the two devoted l o v e r s s e p a r a t e l y . The day a f t e r the b u r i a l , two t r e e s began to grow out of the graves to entwine each other, while a p a i r of mandarin ducks perched on the branches, t h e i r necks around each other, c a l l i n g m o urnfully. Another v e r s i o n of the s t o r y has the s o u l s of the l o v e r s transformed i n t o two b u t t e r f l i e s t h a t f l y from the graves, s e a r c h i n g f o r each o t h e r . 2 2 4 In the l a s t two l i n e s of t h i s poem, L i s t r i k e s a s a t i r i c a l note when he questions the permanence of even such a strong r e l a t i o n s h i p . Han, he suspects, may one day f l y o f f to another flower, seeking another l o v e r . While the f i r s t two l i n e s of the q u a t r a i n d e f i n e the s e t t i n g by i d e n t i f y i n g the a l l u s i o n , the c o n c l u d i n g l i n e s i n t r o d u c e an unexpected t w i s t i n complete 149 c o n t r a d i c t i o n to the o r i g i n a l s t o r y of c o n j u g a l d e v o t i o n . S i m i l a r uses of a l l u s i o n s are found i n the poem "Chang E," and "Yaochi" (The Jade P o o l ) . "Yaochi" w i l l be d i s c u s s e d i n f u l l i n the next Chapter. In "Chang E," Chang E's ascent to the moon i s an a c t of transcendence, an attainment of immortal l i f e , yet L i Shangyin changes t h a t around by suggesting t h a t she i s remorseful of her f l i g h t to the moon, where she l i v e s i n e t e r n a l s o l i t u d e . D e l i b e r a t e M i s r e a d i n g of A l l u s i o n In the e a r l i e r examples we have c i t e d , there are occasions when L i changes an a l l u s i o n s l i g h t l y by d i s c a r d i n g c e r t a i n p a r t s of the s t o r y , adding meanings to i t or modifying i t to s u i t h i s p a r t i c u l a r needs. In the f o l l o w i n g poems, however, the misreading of a l l u s i o n i s d r a s t i c and d e l i b e r a t e : "As P r i v a t e l y W r i t t e n by Someone i n the Wei Pa l a c e " When he was here, the Western P a v i l i o n b a r r e d us from our good times. A f t e r he l e f t , the Zhang R i v e r kept our dreams a p a r t . So long he was aware of Lady Fu's i n f i n i t e l o n g i n g s , Need Sp r i n g pines and autumn chrysanthemums c o i n c i d e ? (FH: 626) 150 "As a S e c r e t Answer by P r e f e c t Wu of the Yuan County" Returning to h i s domain, with Mt. Y i j u e behind him, the road begins to s p l i t . By the breezy r i v e r s i d e , h a l f the sun d i p s west. The King of Chu never d i d dream upon h i s p i l l o w , Do not waste those clouds upon the Sun T e r r a c e . (FH: 627) These two poems are a p p a r e n t l y r e l a t e d . W r i t t e n i n the dai-zeng ( w r i t i n g f o r someone e l s e ) , daida (answering f o r someone e l s e ) mode, they make up an imagined d i a l o g u e between the poet and a la d y who expresses s p e c i a l f e e l i n g s f o r him. The f i r s t poem i s w r i t t e n f o r some palace l a d y s e r v i n g Empress Zhen i n the Wei Pa l a c e . I t i s addressed to Cao Z h i , i n the v o i c e of the empress h e r s e l f . The second poem i s a r e p l y to the f i r s t poem, w r i t t e n by P r e f e c t Wu Z h i ^ ^ of the Yuan county f o r Cao Zhi ^ ^ t - • The dominant a l l u s i o n s i n these poems are a l l , as Ha r o l d Bloom might say, d e l i b e r a t e l y "misread." The legendary s t o r y between Empress Zhen and Cao Zhi i s quoted i n a note by L i Shan ^ — ^ j T , the annotator of Wen Xuan.2 2 5 The s t o r y says t h a t Cao Zhi and Empress Zhen, h i s s i s t e r - i n - l a w , had been i n love before her marriage to Cao P i and remained s e c r e t l y so afterwards. A f t e r her death, Cao P i gave Cao Zhi an embroidered p i l l o w b e l o n g i n g to the empress h e r s e l f . On h i s way back to h i s own f i e f , Cao Zhi passed by the R i v e r Luo. There, deeply g r i e v i n g and yearning f o r the empress, he saw her s p i r i t appearing to him 151 i n person. Thereupon Cao Zhi wrote h i s famous "Ganzhen Fu" Jj&)^ ^c\$$^(A Rhapsody In Memory of Zhen), which Emperor Ming l a t e r renamed "Luoshen Fu" (A Rhapsody on the Goddess of R i v e r Luo). 2 2 6 While a l l u d i n g to t h i s romantic legend i n the f i r s t poem, L i Shangyin changes i t d r a s t i c a l l y from a mutual love between the l o v e r s to a one-sided l o v e on the p a r t of Empress Zhen. In the v o i c e of the empress, the speaker suggests t h a t i f Cao Zhi had been aware of her lo v e f o r him, i t d i d not matter even i f they were i n e v i t a b l y a p a r t . The same i s t r u e of the second poem. In Cao Z h i ' s own p r e f a c e to the "Luoshen Fu," he says t h a t w h ile p a s s i n g by the R i v e r Luo and r e c a l l i n g i t s R i v e r Goddess, F u f e i , he was i n s p i r e d to w r i t e h i s p i e c e by Song Yu's Rhapsody on the Goddess of Mt. Wu. Again, L i Shangyin draws a number of images from "Luoshen Fu" i t s e l f , 2 2 7 but h i s main a l l u s i o n i s to the romantic i n t e r l u d e between King Xiang of Chu and the D i v i n e Goddess. In-ste a d of w r i t i n g about t h a t encounter, however, the person on whose b e h a l f he imagines h i m s e l f w r i t i n g says t h a t there i s i n f a c t no encounter, or t h a t he harbours no romantic dreams. Read together, the two poems suggest t h a t a lady has f a l l e n i n l o v e with a man and suggests they get together, but the man t e l l s her t h a t he i s not i n t e r e s t e d . As Shen Zufen "7 has p o i n t e d out, these p i e c e s are unusual both i n t h e i r s e t t i n g , t h e i r i n t e n t as w e l l as i n t h e i r t w i s t e d use of a l l u s i o n s . The poems are a l s o p u r p o s e l y convoluted i n the way they are t i t l e d 152 (We know, f o r example, t h a t Wu Zhi was much more a f r i e n d to Cao P i than to Cao Zhi) probably because they are meant to be read as a concealed r e f e r e n c e to the poet's own experience; or, p o s s i b l y , to t h a t of someone he knew. 2 2 8 Both the ch o i c e of the a l l u s i o n s (the lo v e s t o r i e s being h i s t o r i c a l legends) and t h e i r c o nvoluted use c r e a t e a sense of e l u s i v e n e s s and ambiguity. Although the dramatic s i t u a t i o n as w e l l as the emotional i n t e n t of the poem are c l e a r , one i s l e f t with a sense of bafflement over the p o s s i b l e r e f e r e n c e behind these p i e c e s . A l l u s i o n s and the Dramatic Another d i s t i n c t i v e f e a t u r e i n L i Shangyin's use of a l l u s i o n i s f o r the c r e a t i o n of dramatic e f f e c t s i n h i s poetry. T h i s i s e s p e c i a l l y prominent i n h i s h i s t o r i c a l and p o l i t i c a l s a t i r e s . Instead of commenting d i r e c t l y on an h i s t o r i c a l f i g u r e or event, he s e l e c t s the most p e r t i n e n t elements from h i s sources, and r e c r e a t e s them through d r a m a t i z a t i o n , a v o i d i n g , as much as p o s s i b l e , any e x p l i c i t statements. The reader, having v i s u a l i z e d and l i v e d through the dramatized events, i s l e f t to h i s own c o n c l u s i o n s . Poems such as "Two Poems on Northern-Qi," "Nan are j u s t a few examples. We have b r i e f l y d i s c u s s e d the use of a l l u s i o n i n "Two Poems on Northern-Qi" i n r e l a t i o n to one of L i Shangyin's f a v o r i t e m o t i f s ; so, l e t us r e c o n s i d e r the second poem (The Southern D y n a s t i e s ) , and "Young Duke Fuping i t 153 of the s e r i e s from t h i s p e r s p e c t i v e : An enchanting smile i s enough to r i v a l the myriad a f f a i r s of s t a t e . Her n a t i o n - t o p p l i n g charm i s at i t s best when she dresses i n m i l i t a r y a t t i r e . Jinyang has a l r e a d y f a l l e n , do not bother l o o k i n g back! Ple a s e , your Majesty, another round of hunting! (FH: 709) The l a s t emperor of Northern-Qi's hunting t r i p with h i s concubine S h u f e i i s recorded i n the Beiqi Shu . The episode i s r e c r e a t e d e f f e c t i v e l y i n t h i s poem through the v o i c e of the concubine h e r s e l f . As Zhou Zhengfu has p o i n t e d out, by ju x t a p o s i n g the c a s u a l t r i v i a l i t y of "another hunting round" with the grave i n c i d e n t t h a t "Jinyang has a l r e a d y f a l l e n , " L i Shang-y i n i s i n f a c t making an i m p l i c i t comment through h i s dramatiza-t i o n of the e v e n t . 2 2 9 A l s o , by c o u p l i n g "an enchanting s m i l e " together with "the myriad a f f a i r s of s t a t e , " and by sugges t i n g t h a t her " n a t i o n - t o p p l i n g charm" i s a t i t s best when she dresses i n " m i l i t a r y " (meaning, of course, "hunting") a t t i r e , L i makes i r o n i c c o n t r a s t s and s e t s a str o n g s a t i r i c a l tone f o r t h i s poem. In another poem, "Dragon P o o l , " the s a t i r e i s even more s u b t l e . The i r o n y i s achieved, again, through d r a m a t i z a t i o n r a t h e r than e x p l i c i t comment: By the Dragon Pool, wine i s bestowed i n f r o n t of a spreading mica screen. The T a r t a r drums rumble as other music comes to a h a l t . Back from the banquet at midnight, the palace water-clock d r i p p i n g - -P r i n c e Xue i s f a s t a s l e e p while P r i n c e Shou l i e s awake! (FH: 598) ^ b u i l i Emperor Xuanzong TJ^ b u t the Xingqing Palace by the Dragon Pool i n Chang'an. There, he c o n s t a n t l y r e v e l l e d i n song and dance with h i s f a v o r i t e concubine Yang G u i f e i and other members of the r o y a l f a m i l y . He was p a r t i c u l a r l y fond of the sound of the T a r t a r drums. P r i n c e Xue g3F i n the l a s t l i n e was h i s nephew, son of h i s l a t e b r o t h e r L i Ye -jr ^ » and P r i n c e Shou -^J-J^- was h i s own (eighteenth) son. The biography of Yang G u i f e i i n the Xin Tangshu says t h a t Yang was o r i g i n a l l y P r i n c e Shou's concubine. L a t e r , Emperor Xuanzong took her i n t o h i s own harem and made her h i s own c o n c u b i n e . 2 3 0 Throughout t h i s poem, there i s no mention of Emperor Xuan-zong "Tj> or Yang G u i f e i . T h e i r presence i s h i n t e d at by the s e t t i n g of the poem. By c o n t r a s t i n g a P r i n c e Xue coming home from the n i g h t banquet f a l l i n g f a s t a s l e e p r i g h t away, probably the r e s u l t of he a r t y d r i n k i n g , and a P r i n c e Shou who l i e s awake, a c u t e l y aware of every d r i p of the palace water-clock, L i Shang-y i n i s suggesting t h a t P r i n c e Shou has had a most uncomfortable and unhappy evening. He was unable to enjoy h i m s e l f , d r i n k i n g f r e e l y the way h i s c o u s i n d i d . The d r a m a t i z a t i o n of t h i s e n t i r e event i s accomplished with g r e a t s k i l l and s u b t l e t y ; and the s a t i r e on Xuanzong i-s poignant and e f f e c t i v e . 155 A l l u s i o n s and P o e t i c S t r u c t u r e We have seen how L i Shangyin s u c c e s s f u l l y works h i s a l -l u s i o n s i n t o the poems through analogy, c o n t r a s t , r e p e t i t i o n and other j u x t a p o s i t i o n s . These, together with the use of 'guiding words' which helps to b r i n g out the persona's tone of v o i c e , o f t e n t u r n out to be the major c l u e s f o r our i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the poems. Since L i uses a huge number of a l l u s i o n s i n h i s poetry, he seems f u l l y aware of the r o l e they c o u l d p l a y i n shaping the i n t e r n a l s t r u c t u r e s of i n d i v i d u a l poems. With the a n c i e n t - s t y l e verse and the f i v e - c h a r a c t e r pailii, the r e l a t i o n s h i p between a l l u s i o n and p o e t i c s t r u c t u r e i s g e n e r a l l y l e s s marked. In the more compact q u a t r a i n s and r e g u l a t e d v e r s e s , however, one o f t e n d e t e c t s a c l o s e c o n n e c t i o n . One of L i ' s most common s t r a t e g i e s when w r i t i n g i n the regu-l a t e d verse form i s the profuse use of a l l u s i v e images i n the two middle c o u p l e t s . These h e a v i l y a l l u s i v e and i m a g i s t i c l i n e s are u s u a l l y preceded by two other n o n - a l l u s i v e and ' p r o p o s i t i o n a l ' l i n e s which l a y the s e t t i n g f o r the poem. 2 3 1 Because the pro-s o d i c r u l e s which govern the middle c o u p l e t s ( d i c t a t i n g a s t r u c -t u r e which i s both p a r a l l e l and a n t i t h e t i c a l ) l e n d themselves r e a d i l y to the compact use of i m a g i s t i c and p e r c e p t u a l language, L i ' s abundant use of a l l u s i o n i n these l i n e s i s p a r t i c u l a r l y e f f e c t i v e . They h e l p to develop and c o n c r e t i z e those moods, emotions and thoughts vaguely i n t r o d u c e d or h i n t e d a t i n the 156 f i r s t two l i n e s . Again, the l a s t two l i n e s of the poem are u s u a l l y n o n - a l l u s i v e . They e i t h e r r a i s e a q u e s t i o n or make a p r o p o s i t i o n a l statement which echoes the emotions evoked i n the middle c o u p l e t s . Poems such as " J i n s e , " "Tanzhou" JJL i\ and 3£ ' "Choubi Y i " J=p><vj a H i l l u s t r a t e such a connec t i o n between the a l l u s i o n s and the i n t e r n a l s t r u c t u r e s of the poems. 2 3 2 T h i s s t r a t e g y i s the most n a t u r a l and e f f e c t i v e i n the r e g u l a t e d verse form s i n c e the middle c o u p l e t s of r e g u l a t e d verse are u s u a l l y i m a g i s t i c i n language and d i s c o n t i n u o u s i n rhythm, while the two f i n a l l i n e s are p r o p o s i t i o n a l i n nature and con-tinuous i n rhythm. Yet L i ' s use of a l l u s i v e images i s not bound i n any way by the r i g i d l y d e f i n e d , e x t e r n a l s t r u c t u r e of any par-t i c u l a r p o e t i c form. He seems always able to c r e a t e h i s own i n t e r n a l s t r u c t u r e s f o r the i n d i v i d u a l poems while working w i t h i n these g i v e n frameworks. In the yongwu poem "Mudan" (Peonies), f o r example, the f i r s t s i x l i n e s of the poem c o n t a i n each an o b j e c t i v e , i s o l a t e d , a l l u s i v e image which d e s c r i b e s the beauty of the peony blossoms i n t h e i r v a r i o u s movements and shapes. The l a s t two l i n e s round out the poem, s t i l l with an a l l u s i o n i n each case, but d e l i v e r e d i n a p r o p o s i t i o n a l / c o n -tinuous language and a p e r s o n a l tone of v o i c e . S i m i l a r i n t e r n a l s t r u c t u r e s are found i n the poem " L e i " (Tears) and " L i s i " (Thoughts on P a r t i n g ) . L i Shangyin's c r e a t i v e use of a l l u s i v e images i n the q u a t r a i n form p l a y s a s i m i l a r r o l e i n shaping the p o e t i c s t r u c -t u r e s of these poems. In " Jiyuan"—>f" (To Someone Faraway), 157 f o r example, the f i r s t two l i n e s present two p a r a l l e l but independent a l l u s i v e images of i n c e s s a n t l a b o r s . The c o n c l u d i n g l i n e s end i n a h a l f - i n t e r r o g a t i v e , h a l f - e x c l a m a t o r y mode, using d e c l a r a t i v e and l e s s a l l u s i v e language. In the poem "Xieshu" f (A L e t t e r of Thanks), the e n t i r e poem i s w r i t t e n i n a d e c l a r a t i v e mode. However, there i s an a l l u s i o n i n almost every l i n e of t h i s poem. The combination of both the i m a g i s t i c and p r o p o s i t i o n a l g i v e s these l i n e s a s i m u l -t a n e o u s l y p e r c e p t u a l and conceptual meaning: Have I ever f e l t a f e a t h e r ' s t i p of your very f i n e thought? In v a i n , I brought my brush and ink-stone to await your Dragon S t r a t e g y . Ever s i n c e I had the honor of r e c e i v i n g the P a t r i a r c h ' s gown you passed on to me, I no longer envy Wang Xiang's a c q u i r i n g h i s p r e c i o u s sword. (FH: 19) There are three a l l u s i o n s i n t h i s poem: (1) The "Dragon S t r a t e g y " i n l i n e 2 r e f e r s to one of J i a n g Taigong's s i x famous m i l i t a r y s t r a t e g i e s . 2 3 3 (2) The F i f t h P a t r i a r c h of the Chan School of Buddhism v i s i t e d Huineng IfE: one day i n the middle of the n i g h t and handed him h i s gown. He t o l d him to head south to spread the te a c h i n g of the S c h o o l . 2 3 4 (3) In the Jinshu, i t i s s a i d t h a t Lii Qian ^ had obtained a very f i n e sword which he l e a r n e d was onl y b e f i t t i n g of someone who would e v e n t u a l l y become one of the Three Dukes. Lii o f f e r e d i t to Wang 158 Xiang, humbly sa y i n g t h a t he h i m s e l f was not worthy of i t . Wang Xiang l a t e r d i d r i s e to the p o s i t i o n of Grand Guardian. T h i s poem i s w r i t t e n as a l e t t e r to L i ' s e a r l y patron, Linghu Chu. I t was composed soon a f t e r L i f a i l e d h i s c i v i l s e r v i c e examination f o r the f i r s t t i m e . 2 3 5 The poem, though f i l l e d with a l l u s i v e images, assumes a str o n g p e r s o n a l v o i c e and a continuous, f l o w i n g rhythm. P r o p o s i t i o n a l l y the poem has a s y n t a c t i c flow that goes from beginning to end, but we are brought up s h o r t by phrases l i k e "Dragon's s t r a t e g y , " the r e f e r e n c e to the "abbot's gown" and to "Wang Xiang's sword," adding p e r c e p t u a l meaning to something b a s i c a l l y c o n c e p t u a l . Other examples of the use of a l l u s i o n to c r e a t e s i m i l a r e f f e c t s can be found i n poems such as "Zeng Yuwen Zhongcheng"-^^' ^ •2^ -* (Written f o r Pr i m e - m i n i s t e r Yuwen) and "Yougan" /fj^ (Thoughts) . The i n t e r - c o n n e c t i o n s between the use of a l l u s i o n s and the c r e a t i o n of i n t e r n a l s t r u c t u r e s f o r i n d i v i d u a l poems range as f a r as a poet's i m a g i n a t i o n can take them. More examples of L i Shangyin's c r e a t i v e use of a l l u s i o n i n t h i s r e s p e c t w i l l be d e a l t with i n my d i s c u s s i o n s of h i s i n d i v i d u a l poems i n the next chapter. The three c e n t r a l s t y l i s t i c f e a t u r e s of L i Shangyin's poetry, d e n s i t y , complexity and ambiguity, are the d i r e c t r e s u l t of h i s use of a l l u s i o n . 159 The prevalence of a l l u s i o n s c r e a t e s a p r i m a r i l y i m a g i s t i c language. Many of L i ' s poems are made up of one, sometimes even two a l l u s i o n s compressed i n a s i n g l e l i n e , juxtaposed without any c o n n e c t i v e s . Such a compact use of images n a t u r a l l y weakens the syntax and heightens the t e x t u r e of h i s p o e t r y . A l l u s i o n to proper names and m y t h o l o g i c a l images such as "Purple Lady," "White Maid," "Emerald Walls," "Jade Mountain" a l s o adds c o l o r , a sense of the r i c h and the e x o t i c , as w e l l as a "sensuous par-t i c u l a r i t y . " A l l these g i v e h i s p o e t r y a s t r o n g p h y s i c a l q u a l i t y which appeals to our senses. Other than being t e x t u r a l l y dense i n the p h y s i c a l sense, L i ' s p o e t r y i s a l s o complex and c h a l l e n g i n g to the i n t e l l e c t . His poems are immensely i n t r i c a t e t e x t u a l webs, r i c h with a s s o c i a t i v e resonances. His a l l u s i v e n e s s c r e a t e s an i n d i r e c t , p e r i p h r a s t i c mode of e x p r e s s i o n , one which works by suggestion and v a r i a t i o n . Much of the beauty of L i ' s p o e t r y i s the beauty of paradox, the r e s u l t of a t e n s i o n between the i n t e n s i t y of h i s emotions and the a l l u s i v e and c i r c u i t o u s manner i n which he expresses them. Other paradoxes i n c l u d e the use of c o l o r f u l a l l u s i o n s to express sadness and d i s i l l u s i o n m e n t , the use of a v a r i e t y of images to express r e p e a t e d l y the same m o t i f s and u n i f i e d v i s i o n , the use of the p a r t i c u l a r and the c o n c r e t e to symbolize what i s u n i v e r s a l , and the use of one dramatic s i t u a t i o n i n a poem to generate m u l t i p l e meanings. Despite i t s t e x t u r a l d e n s i t y , however, L i Shangyin's p o e t r y 160 has a f l u i d i t y and a g r a c e f u l rhythm of i t s own. T h i s i s p a r t of the r e s u l t of h i s s e n s i t i v e use of v e r b a l music, much of which i s l o s t i n t r a n s l a t i o n . The ' p r o p o s i t i o n a l ' l i n e s and many of the a d v e r b i a l phrases which he uses as l i n k s and s i g n a l s to guide h i s reader's i n t e r p r e t a t i o n a l s o c o n t r i b u t e to t h i s sense of move-ment. Above a l l , as C o l e r i d g e puts i t , "Images, however b e a u t i -f u l do not themselves c h a r a c t e r i z e the poet. They become pro o f s of o r i g i n a l genius o n l y as f a r as they are m o d i f i e d by a predominant p a s s i o n , or by a s s o c i a t e d thoughts or images awakened by t h a t p a s s i o n ; " 2 3 6 i t i s L i ' s emotional depth and c r e a t i v e i m a g i n a t i o n which breathe l i f e i n t o h i s p o e t r y . 2 3 7 The complexity and su g g e s t i v e sensuousness of L i Shangyin's poetry, h i s o f t e n e l l i p t i c a l and ambiguous use of language, the undercurrent of paradox, and h i s use of c o n c e i t - l i k e a l l u s i o n s — a l l c o n t r i b u t e to a poetry which accords with our modern i n t e r e s t i n Western baroque and symbo l i s t poetry. 161 Chapter IV C h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y A l l u s i v e Poems: An I n t e r p r e t i v e Study F o l l o w i n g my gen e r a l d i s c u s s i o n of L i Shangyin's use of a l -l u s i o n , I propose to demonstrate s p e c i f i c a l l y how h i s use of a l l u s i o n p l a y s a shaping r o l e i n h i s poetry, so much so t h a t h i s work c o u l d w e l l be c a l l e d the Poetry of A l l u s i o n . Since I have a l r e a d y examined the v a r i o u s ways i n which a l l u s i o n s are used i n r e l a t i o n to t h e i r sources and the manner i n which L i Shangyin adapts them c r e a t i v e l y f o r h i s p a r t i c u l a r purposes, I s h a l l now concentrate on examining the major f u n c t i o n s of a l l u s i o n and i t s s p e c i a l e f f e c t s i n h i s poetry . I have s e l e c t e d s i x c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y a l l u s i v e poems f o r c l o s e r e a d i n g , the a l l u s i o n s i n each poem c o n t r i b u t i n g i n l a r g e measure to the success of the p i e c e . To i l l u s t r a t e the p e r v a s i v e use of a l l u s i o n i n L i ' s poetry, my s e l e c t i o n s a l s o r e p r e s e n t the spectrum of L i Shangyin's s u c c e s s f u l poems--poems which are g e n e r a l l y acknowledged as among h i s best p i e c e s . These i n c l u d e h i s more ' p r i v a t e ' compositions which are mostly p s e u d o - t i t l e d ( " I n t r i c a t e l y - p a i n t e d Z i t h e r , " "Emerald Walls, and "Jade Pool") as w e l l as a yongwu poem ( "Peonies"); a more ' p u b l i c ' p i e c e which r e p r e s e n t s h i s h i s t o r i c a l and p o l i t i c a l commentaries (/^ "The Maoling Mausoleum") as w e l l as an a u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l s e r i e s w r i t t e n i n l e s s e l u s i v e language ( "Fi v e Casual P i e c e s " ) . Some other important p i e c e s which I do not d i s c u s s 162 here have a l r e a d y been c i t e d e a r l i e r to i l l u s t r a t e i n d i v i d u a l aspects of a l l u s i o n . As demonstrated e a r l i e r , L i Shangyin's abundant and charac-t e r i s t i c use of a l l u s i o n has c o n t r i b u t e d l a r g e l y to the p l u r i s i g -n a t i o n of h i s poetry. In the f o l l o w i n g d i s c u s s i o n , while n o t i n g the v a r i o u s responses L i ' s a l l u s i o n s have generated i n the i n d i v i d u a l poems, I s h a l l c o n c e n t r a t e on a c l o s e r e a d i n g based on what I c o n s i d e r to be the best i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . The poems are a nalyzed mainly from the p o i n t of view of the m e taphorical f u n c t i o n of the a l l u s i o n s , both " l o c a l l y " i n the g e n e r a t i o n of s p e c i a l a s s o c i a t i o n s and t e x t u r a l e f f e c t s and " g l o b a l l y " as an o r g a n i z i n g p r i n c i p l e f o r the e n t i r e p i e c e . The use of a l l u s i o n i n r e l a t i o n to the v a r i o u s dimensions of the poem--its s e t t i n g and dramatic s i t u a t i o n , i t s theme, s t r u c t u r e and the v o i c e of i t s p e r s o n a — w i l l a l s o be examined. Although the a l l u s i o n s tend to fuse o r g a n i c a l l y with other elements to c r e a t e many e f f e c t s , s e r v i n g s i m u l t a n e o u s l y a number of d i f f e r e n t f u n c t i o n s , I s h a l l h i g h l i g h t , as much as p o s s i b l e , one major c h a r a c t e r i s t i c f u n c t i o n of the a l l u s i o n s i n each poem. (I) 163 In " J i n s e " &fy ^ (The I n t r i c a t e l y - P a i n t e d Z i t h e r ) , con-s i d e r e d by many as L i ' s crowning achievement, we have an example of h i s symbolic use of a l l u s i o n at i t s most r a r e f i e d . Here, the a l l u s i o n s f u n c t i o n to c r e a t e images which b u i l d up a mood, a s t a t e of f e e l i n g r a t h e r than p o i n t to any s p e c i f i c episode or event. The images are so su g g e s t i v e and encompassing t h a t they simply cannot be r e s t r i c t e d to any one concret e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . "The I n t r i c a t e l y - P a i n t e d Z i t h e r " 1 The i n t r i c a t e l y - p a i n t e d z i t h e r , f o r no reason, has f i f t y s t r i n g s . Each s t r i n g , each b r i d g e , r e c a l l s a blossoming year. Master Zhuang, i n h i s morning dream, was d a z z l e d by the b u t t e r f l y . Emperor Wang, h i s s p r i n g h e a r t , he e n t r u s t e d to the cuckoo. 5 Over the va s t sea, a b r i g h t moon, p e a r l s have t e a r s . At Blue F i e l d , under a warm sun, jade g i v e s o f f m i s t s . Could such f e e l i n g s ever wait to become a memory? Only t h a t a t the moment you were a l r e a d y a t a l o s s . (FH: 493) Th i s o f t - q u o t e d poem i s t r u l y an a r t i s t i c t our de f o r c e . I t i s a l s o one of the best known, most a p p r e c i a t e d yet t r a d i t i o n a l l y most b a f f l i n g p i e c e s by L i Shangyin. The poem i s l i t e r a l l y e x p l i c i t and t r a n s p a r e n t i n i t s opening and c o n c l u d i n g l i n e s , but the r e s t of the poem i s h e a v i l y a l l u s i v e . There are seven 164 a l l u s i o n s , s i x of them c o n c e n t r a t e d i n the two middle c o u p l e t s . Despite the profuse use of a l l u s i o n and an e x q u i s i t e l y balanced s t r u c t u r e , t h i s poem does not read l i k e a c o n s c i o u s l y c r a f t e d p i e c e . Rather, i t s images s t r i k e one as spontaneous f l a s h e s from the deepest r e c e s s of the poet's subconscious experience. Yet i t i s e x a c t l y the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of these almost dream-like s t r i n g s of a l l u s i v e images which has generated the most c u r i o s i t y and co n t r o v e r s y among L i ' s c r i t i c s . Over the years, numerous i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s of t h i s poem have been proposed: 1. That " J i n s e , " the t i t l e of the poem, i s the name of a nobleman's concubine. From t h i s i s d e r i v e d the f u r t h e r s uggestion t h a t jinse i s the name of a maidservant i n the household of Linghu Chu. 1 2. That t h i s i s a yongwu p i e c e , an a r t i s t i c d e s c r i p t i o n of the four melodic q u a l i t i e s the z i t h e r i s capable of r e n dering—-these q u a l i t i e s being r e p r e s e n t e d by the two middle c o u p l e t s i n the poem.2 3. Su X u e l i n argues t h a t t h i s poem i s about L i ' s l o v e f o r two palace l a d i e s . Supposing t h a t a z i t h e r and a jade p l a t e (which i s s a i d to h o l d p e a r l s of t e a r s i n a legend) are tokens of love between the poet and h i s l o v e r s , Su b e l i e v e s t h a t the r e f e r e n c e to the z i t h e r and the p e a r l s of t e a r s i n t h i s poem supports her i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . 3 4. Many t r a d i t i o n a l commentators (Zhu Yizun, Zhu H e l i n g , Cheng Mengxing, Feng Hao) as w e l l as the modern c r i t i c h i s w i f e ' s death. Meng a l s o e x p l a i n s the number 50 as the combined age of the poet and h i s wife a t the time of t h e i r marriage. 4 Ye Congqi suggests t h a t t h i s poem was w r i t t e n s h o r t l y a f t e r the demotion of Zheng Ya, when L i Shangyin had l o s t h i s post i n G u i l i n and was wandering i n the Szechuan area, t h i n k i n g l o n g i n g l y of h i s wife at home.5 Since t h i s poem i s the f i r s t p i e c e i n the Song e d i t i o n of L i ' s c o l l e c t e d works, He Zhuo b e l i e v e s t h a t i t s p o s i t i o n suggests a s p e c i a l symbolic s i g n i f i c a n c e - - t h a t i t i s a poem lamenting i n gen e r a l the poet's unhappy l i f e . 6 In support of t h i s , Zhang E r t i a n goes on to f i n d s p e c i f i c s i t u a t i o n s i n L i ' s l i f e to t r y to e x p l a i n every l i n e i n t h i s poem. Accor d i n g to Zhang, l i n e 3 r e f e r s to the f a s t changing p o l i t i c a l c l i m a t e of the time, and i n l i n e 4, the poet r e f l e c t s upon the f u t i l i t y of b a s i n g c a r e e r on h i s t a l e n t s as a w r i t e r . In l i n e 5, he g r i e v e s over the unfortunate death of L i Deyu. F i n a l l y , i n l i n e 6, the poet c e l e b r a t e s the p o l i t i c a l c a r e e r of Linghu Tao. Zhang f u r t h e r suggests t h a t t h i s poem was w r i t t e n not long b e f o r e L i ' s death as a f i n a l r e f l e c t i o n upon h i s own i n t e r p r e t t h i s poem as a lament on l i f e . 7 Prompted by He Yimen's suggestion, Qian Zhongshu 4 sees the poem as a p r e f a c e to L i ' s c o l l e c t e d poems. According to Qian, l i n e s 3-4 d e s c r i b e L i ' s p o e t i c s , which i s one of comparison and e v o c a t i o n r a t h e r than l i t e r a l d e p i c t i o n . Because L i expresses h i m s e l f i n a l l u s i o n s , he speaks of "tuo ( e n t r u s t -ing) h i s emotions; because h i s words are s u b t l e and h i s meanings concealed, he speaks of them as being "mi" Jj p ( d a z z l i n g ) . L i n e s 5-6, on the other hand, d e s c r i b e L i ' s own p o e t i c s t y l e i n much the same k i n d of f i g u r a t i v e language t h a t Sikong Tu iQ ^ uses i n h i s Shi Pin W Xu Fuguan i n t e r p r e t s " J i n s e " as a r e c o l l e c t i o n of L i ' s wife as w e l l as a l l the subsequent disappointments i n h i s p o l i t i c a l c a r e e r as a r e s u l t of h i s marriage. 9 James L i u i n t e r p r e t s the poem as a d e s c r i p t i o n of l i f e as a dream--"a m e d i t a t i o n on the a p p a r e n t l y u n r e a l nature of l i f e i n g e n e r a l and of lov e i n p a r t i c u l a r . " 1 0 Of these i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s , t r a d i t i o n a l s c h o l a r s have long ago di s m i s s e d the f i r s t two as being too f a r - f e t c h e d . 1 1 I a l s o f i n d Su X u e l i n ' s r e a d i n g unacceptable because i t i s based on a p u r e l y imagined context which she f i r s t presupposes and then t r i e s to prove by s t r e t c h i n g the images i n the poem to match her presup-p o s i t i o n s . Because l i n e s 1-2, 7-8 a l l imply a str o n g sense of l o s s and a past t h a t i s i r r e t r i e v a b l e , Ye Congqi's suggestion t h a t L i wrote t h i s poem when t r a v e l l i n g and t h i n k i n g of h i s wife 167 at home a l s o does not h o l d up. To begin with, l e t us c o n s i d e r the t i t l e of the poem. " I n t r i c a t e l y - p a i n t e d z i t h e r , " or simply the z i t h e r i t s e l f , i s an image used f r e q u e n t l y i n L i ' s poems. In two i n s t a n c e s , i t i s d e s c r i b e d as a r e a l o b j e c t : When I r e t u r n e d , she was no longer to be seen. The i n t r i c a t e l y - p a i n t e d z i t h e r l a y t h e r e , longer than her p e r s o n . 1 2 How good they were, those newly-married days, Her i n t r i c a t e l y - p a i n t e d z i t h e r , l y i n g by the red window casement. 1 3 Perhaps because the z i t h e r appears i n both these i n s t a n c e s i n c o n n e c t i o n with the memory of L i ' s deceased wife, a number of c r i t i c s suggest t h a t " J i n s e " i s a poem of lament L i wrote f o r her. However, the poem does e x p l i c i t l y s t a t e t h a t each of the f i f t y s t r i n g s and b r i d g e s of the z i t h e r reminds the speaker of a b e a u t i f u l year t h a t i s p a s t . Meng Sen's d i l i g e n t attempt to prove t h a t L i Shangyin was t w e n t y - f i v e when he married i s admirable, but to assume t h a t L i ' s wife must a l s o be t w e n t y - f i v e i n order to make up the combined age of f i f t y at the time of t h e i r marriage i s d e f i n i t e l y s t r a i n e d and u n c o n v i n c i n g . 1 4 More-over, we do not n e c e s s a r i l y have to see the z i t h e r as a r e f e r e n c e to the poet's w i f e . In t h i s poem, f o r example, the z i t h e r has been used n o n - r e a l i s t i c a l l y : Tears s p l a s h i n g over the jade p l a t e break one's 168 h e a r t r e p e a t e d l y ; The s t a r t l e d s t r i n g s of the i n t r i c a t e l y - p a i n t e d z i t h e r over and over again s h a t t e r one's dreams. 1 5 Here, the r a i n which causes the premature f a d i n g and f a l l i n g of the peonies i s compared to " t e a r s s p l a s h i n g over a jade p l a t e " and the " s t a r t l e d s t r i n g s " of a r i c h l y - p a i n t e d z i t h e r . Both the p l a t e and the z i t h e r seem to suggest something d e l i c a t e , b e a u t i -f u l , and p r e c i o u s being d e s t r o y e d . In yet another poem, L i Shangyin uses the image of the p r e c i o u s z i t h e r to r e p r e s e n t h i m s e l f and h i s t a l e n t s : A r e p u t a t i o n — f i n e l i n e s I have; T h i s l i f e and s e l f - - a jade z i t h e r l y i n g t h e r e . 1 6 I t i s very l i k e l y , j u s t from a c o n s i d e r a t i o n of the z i t h e r as the t i t l e and the opening image i n " J i n s e , " t h a t L i i s con-templating h i s own l i f e i n the past as w e l l as l i f e i n g e n e r a l . T h i s approximates the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s o f f e r e d i n readings 6, 8 and 9. And i f we c o n s i d e r L i ' s p o e t r y as a r e f l e c t i o n of h i s many responses to l i f e , we can even i n c o r p o r a t e Qian Zhongshu's readi n g i n t o our understanding of t h i s poem, but I would not accept i t as the e x c l u s i v e r e a d i n g . In f a c t , I would argue t h a t because " J i n s e " demands to be read s y m b o l i c a l l y r a t h e r than a l l e g o r i c a l l y , any d e t a i l e d , l i n e by l i n e , matching of images with s p e c i f i c i n c i d e n t s i n L i Shangyin's l i f e i s not o n l y unnecessary, but i t a l s o l i m i t s the broad s i g n i f i c a n c e of the poem. 169 " J i n s e " i s a p s e u d o - t i t l e taken from the f i r s t two charac-t e r s of the p i e c e , but the z i t h e r has, I b e l i e v e , both r e a l i s t i c and symbolic f u n c t i o n s i n t h i s poem. The poet may have been i n s p i r e d to w r i t e by the s i g h t of a b e a u t i f u l l y c r a f t e d i n s t r u -ment, making the z i t h e r the cause of t h i s e v o c a t i o n , but through-out the poem, the z i t h e r a l s o symbolizes l i f e . Let us c o n s i d e r t h i s p o s s i b i l i t y by a n a l y z i n g the symbolic meanings c r e a t e d by the a l l u s i o n s : 1. The z i t h e r / L i f e i s b e a u t i f u l and p r e c i o u s : According to a r e f e r e n c e found i n the Li Ji z i t h e r d e corated with jade i s c a l l e d a b a o s e ^ ^ J , one which i s p a i n t e d with r i c h p a t t e r n s i s c a l l e d a jinse However, the c h a r a c t e r jin , t r a n s l a t e d as " i n t r i c a t e l y - p a i n t e d " here, i m p l i e s a number of other q u a l i t i e s i n Chinese t h a t cannot be rendered e a s i l y i n t o one word i n E n g l i s h , namely: r i c h , b e a u t i f u l and p r e c i o u s . 2. The z i ther /Li fe is something the poet t r e a s u r e s : Each s t r i n g and b r i d g e on the instrument remind the poet of a blossoming year i n h i s l i f e . 3. But the z i t h e r / L i f e p l a y s a sad and complex melody: Not o n l y are the d e c o r a t i v e p a t t e r n s on the z i t h e r i n t r i -c a t e , but i t s music i s a l s o complex. T h i s i s suggested by a hidden a l l u s i o n to Su Nii ^-^HT (White Maid) i n the opening l i n e 170 of the poem. In the Shi Ji, i t i s s a i d t h a t the Chinese z i t h e r -or T a i ^ ^ - ' had o r i g i n a l l y f i f t y s t r i n g s . Empero T a i ^ J ^ - ^ p once ordered Su Nii to p l a y on the instrument. The music of the z i t h e r was so moving that the emperor c o u l d not bear i t . He t h e r e f o r e ordered t h a t the z i t h e r be cut i n t o halves to reduce i t s number of s t r i n g s . 1 8 Thus a d e s c r i p t i o n of the z i t h e r i n co n n e c t i o n with the s t o r y of Su Nii immediately s e t s a me l a n c h o l i c and r e t r o s p e c t i v e tone f o r the poem. The z i t h e r , a b e a u t i f u l l y c r a f t e d instrument which i s capable of producing the most h e a r t - b r e a k i n g music, has come to symbolize l i f e i t s e l f . F o l l o w i n g l i n e s 3-6, the poet's impressions of l i f e are pla y e d out i n a s e r i e s of independent but densely packed a l l u s i v e images, a l l s t r i k i n g l y v i v i d and sen-suous . Without going immediately i n t o the background of the a l l u s i o n s , we can r e a d i l y i d e n t i f y two d i s t i n c t emotions conveyed by these images. On the one hand, there i s a sense of attachment and l o n g i n g f o r the b e a u t i f u l t h i n g s i n l i f e , suggested by words such as " e n t r u s t e d " ^ l i , "the s p r i n g heart " Jlh* , " b i o s -s o . i n s r e a r " ^ Jf- , » e ^ h s t r i n s , e^ch b r t d g e " - * * " & , " p e a r l s " , "jade" i ' , "the b r i g h t moon" j| ^ ' a n d "a warm sun" ^  . On the other hand, there i s a l s o a sense of l o s s and bewilderment, conveyed by the images "dream" • & , " t e a r s " , "mists" , and f u r t h e r made e x p l i c i t by phrases such as " f o r no r e a s o n " ^ ^vfj and "at a l o s s The c h a r a c t e r mi j^jt ( t r a n s l a t e d as " d a z z l e d " h e r e ) , above a l l , 171 encompasses both emotions: a strong sense of attachment as w e l l as a f e e l i n g of bewilderment. These two predominant f e e l i n g s c l e a r l y a l t e r n a t e from l i n e s 3-6 i n the poem, with each l i n e f o l l o w i n g an upward and then a downward t u r n i n i t s emotions. In l i n e 3: from a dream, wondering whether he had been Zhuang Z h o u ^ dreaming t h a t he was a b u t t e r f l y , or whether he had a c t u a l l y been, a l l h i s l i f e , a b u t t e r f l y dreaming t h a t he was Zhuang Zhou. 1 9 In i t s o r i g i n a l context, the s t o r y conveys a sense of co n f u s i o n over the u l t i m a t e r e a l i t y , i l l u s t r a t i n g Zhuang Z i ' s n o t i o n of the "equalness of a l l t h i n g s . " L i Shangyin has adapted t h i s a l l u s i o n very s k i l l f u l l y by the c l e v e r use of the word /nxj^fc. so t h a t he seems to suggest t h a t the Master i s l u r e d by the c o l o r s and the beauty of the b u t t e r f l y and yet a t the same time i s unable to have a c l e a r n o t i o n of i t because the b u t t e r f l y confuses h i s sense of r e a l i t y . The f a c t t h a t what Zhuang Zhou had was a "morning" dream (The word "morning" i s not found i n Zhuang Zi) a l s o suggests t h a t i t would not l a s t too long, hence adding a sense of t r a n s i e n c e and i n t a n g i b i l i t y to the l i n e . A side from t h i s , however, the "dream" i n t h i s l i n e c a l l s to mind many c r o s s r e f e r e n c e s to L i ' s other poems such as "The l i f e by the of the Goddess i s but a dream," 2 0 " F e e l i n g s o r r y f o r me, dreaming of the b u t t e r f l y i n my c o l d autumn s t u d i o , " 2 1 as w e l l as the c o l o r f u l and p s y c h o l o g i c a l l y symbolic poem L i wrote a f t e r a dream f o l l o w i n g a r a i n y evening he shared with some f r i e n d s . 2 2 A l l these a s s o c i a t i o n s enhance, i n some way, the st r o n g symbolic s i g -n i f i c a n c e of the dream image i n t h i s poem. In L i n e 4: Emperor Wang, h i s s p r i n g h e a r t , he entrusted jto the cuckoo. Emperor Wang was a legendary King of Shu (present-day Sichuan) from the Zhou p e r i o d . He had an amorous r e l a t i o n s h i p with h i s o f f i c i a l ' s w i f e . Out of shame, he l a t e r a b d i c a t e d i n fav o r of h i s o f f i c i a l . When the emperor d i e d , h i s s p i r i t was transformed i n t o the cuckoo, a b i r d which the Chinese b e l i e v e sheds b l o o d and c r i e s m o u r n f u l l y i n l a t e s p r i n g . 2 3 L i Shangyin has heightened t h i s a l r e a d y sad and b e a u t i f u l s t o r y by usi n g the words " s p r i n g h e a r t " and "e n t r u s t e d . " A " s p r i n g h e a r t " i s a heart of d e s i r e s , l o n g i n g s and burgeoning hopes. The image r e c a l l s a l i n e from another poem: "Do not l e t your s p r i n g h e a r t v i e with the flowers i n blossoming,/One i n c h of yearning--one i n c h of a s h e s . " 2 4 At the same time i t echoes L i ' s numerous r e f e r e n c e s to the n o t i o n of shangchuny{sj^^^> (lament f o r s p r i n g ) -- t h a t f e e l i n g of sadness f o r a l l t h i n g s b e a u t i f u l and p r e c i o u s about to pass away--but with p a r t i c u l a r r e f e r e n c e to the d e c l i n e of the s t a t e as w e l l as a sense of pe r s o n a l w a s t e . 2 5 Because of 173 these a s s o c i a t i o n s , the " s p r i n g h e a r t " here takes on a broad, symbolic s i g n i f i c a n c e . A l l these f e e l i n g s - - o f l o v e , remorse, hope and d e s p a i r , concern f o r one's own country and more--could only f i n d e x p r e s s i o n through the cuckoo's mournful c r y and t e a r s of blood. L i n e 5: Over the vast sea, a b r i g h t moon, p e a r l s | h ave'tears. In the Bowu Zhi /$) , there i s an account of some mer-people l i v i n g beyond the South Sea, whose t e a r s are p e a r l s . 2 6 I t i s a l s o b e l i e v e d t h a t when the moon i s b r i g h t , p e a r l s form i n the o y s t e r s , but when the moon wanes, the o y s t e r s are empty. 2 7 The images from these s t o r i e s are c r e a t i v e l y i n t e r t w i n e d here to evoke a v i v i d and powerful f e e l i n g of i n t e r m i n g l i n g beauty, sadness and m u t a b i l i t y . F i r s t , the "vast sea" Y^P- , while d i r e c t l y r e l a t e d to the a l l u s i o n of the mer-people, a l s o r e c a l l s L i ' s f a v o r i t e a l l u s i o n to "the va s t sea t u r n i n g i n t o mulberry f i e l d s " ~y^L , an a s s o c i a t i o n which adds to the l i n e a f e e l i n g of endless mutation. Instead of w r i t i n g " t e a r s exude p e a r l s , " or "t e a r s t u r n i n t o p e a r l s , " L i departs from the t e x t to w r i t e , " p e a r l s have t e a r s . " T h i s d i s l o c a t i o n and s u r r e a l i s t i c t u r n of the phrase not onl y breathes f r e s h l i f e i n t o an o l d image, i t a l s o generates a s p e c i a l e f f e c t - - o f lamenting something l o v e l y and p r e c i o u s t h a t evaporates and d i s a p p e a r s . 174 L i n e 6 At Blue F i e l d , under a~"warm sun, •jacTelgives o f f mists Blue F i e l d i s the name of a mountain i n present-day Shaanxi p r o v i n c e known f o r i t s j a d e . 2 8 T h i s l i n e a l s o a l l u d e s to another s t o r y r e l a t e d to P r i n c e s s Yu (Jade), the daughter of King Wu. I t i s s a i d t h a t Jade d i e d of heartbreak when her f a t h e r r e f u s e d to l e t her marry the young man she lo v e d . A f t e r her death, her s p i r i t r e t u r n e d to gr e e t her g r i e v i n g l o v e r at the grave. A f t e r i n v i t i n g him to spend three days and n i g h t s with her i n the underworld, Jade gave her l o v e r a l a r g e p e a r l as a p a r t i n g g i f t . When the young man showed her parents the g i f t , they accused him of l o o t i n g t h e i r graveyard t r e a s u r e s . The P r i n c e s s had to reappear again to t e l l her parents the t r u t h , but when her mother t r i e d to touch her, Jade's g h o s t l y body q u i c k l y d i s s o l v e d i n t o m i s t . 2 9 T h i s p a r t i c u l a r l i n e from " J i n s e " may not, however, be e n t i r e l y o r i g i n a l . The poet and c r i t i c Sikong Tu was s a i d to have quoted a l i n e by the High Tang poet, Dai S h u l u n ^ ^ ' ^ ^ s ' f ^ ' : "At Blue F i e l d , under a warm sun, f i n e jade g i v e s o f f m i s t s " f o r the comment, " t h i s d e s c r i b e s the k i n d of world c r e a t e d by a p o e t . " 3 0 Even i f borrowed, L i Shangyin's a d a p t a t i o n of the l i n e blends p e r f e c t l y with the r e s t of h i s poem. The worlds e x p l o r e d i n these s e v e r a l l i n e s are v a r i e d and complex, ranging from the m y t h o l o g i c a l , to the h i s t o r i c a l and the n a t u r a l . Because the images are so v i v i d and sensuous, even 175 without any knowledge of t h e i r sources, one cannot f a i l to rec o g n i z e the emotional p a t t e r n of the poem which they have c r e a t e d : A c o l o r f u l dream which ends i n c o n f u s i o n and bewilderment; A burgeoning s p r i n g h e a r t which f i n d s e x p r e s s i o n i n the so r r o w f u l c r y of the cuckoo; P e a r l s t h a t shed t e a r s ; Jade which d i s s o l v e s i n t o m i s t s . . . Such a p a t t e r n c l e a r l y conveys the f e e l i n g t h a t l i f e i s both b e a u t i f u l and i l l u s o r y ; t h a t i t i s a p e r p e t u a l quest, f u l l of yearnings and a s p i r a t i o n s which i n v a r i a b l y end i n disappointment --a major mot i f i n the po e t r y of L i Shangyin. And as the c o n c l u d -ing l i n e s of the poem suggest, the constant l o n g i n g and sense of l o s s w i l l continue to r e c u r without " w a i t i n g to become a memory." Although the images do communicate r e a d i l y on t h e i r own, they are v a l i d a t e d by the a l l u s i o n s and g i v e n more s i g n i f i c a n c e i n the poem. I t i s e x a c t l y t h i s combination of the s u r f a c e l e v e l of the images which demands one's d i r e c t , i n t u i t i v e response, and the deeper l e v e l of the a l l u s i o n s which p o i n t s to something o b v i o u s l y "other" and u n r e a l i s t i c which g i v e s these l i n e s t h e i r powerful symbolic e f f e c t . 176 ( I D L i Shangyin presents the f o l l o w i n g poems as a group--and r i g h t l y so, because they do c o n s t i t u t e an o r g a n i c u n i t . Once the very e l l i p t i c a l nature of the a l l u s i o n s i s understood and t h e i r s h i f t i n g imagery i d e n t i f i e d and connected, the poems u n f o l d not j u s t as a s e r i e s of l y r i c s but as a sequence so i n t e r r e l a t e d as to be a m i n i a t u r e drama. In composing t h i s one p i e c e i n three a c t s , L i Shangyin uses a l l u s i o n s predominately as a s t r u c t u r a l d e v i c e . A l l u s i o n s i n t h i s sequence are the very a r c h i t e c t u r e of the s e r i e s . In the f i r s t a c t , so to speak, the a l l u s i o n s f u n c t i o n to c r e a t e the s e t t i n g (the exposition) of t h i s mini-drama. In the second, they take the reader i n t o the a c t i o n (the development) of the p l a y . And i n the t h i r d , the a l l u s i o n s d r a m a t i c a l l y work to r e s o l v e the c o n f l i c t s (the denouement) of t h i s s u b t l e and i n t r i c a t e l y compressed drama. "Emerald W a l l s " (1) 1 Twelve r a i l i n g s wind t h e i r way w i t h i n the Emerald Walls. Rhinoceros horn wards o f f dust, jade wards o f f c o l d . L e t t e r s from the L o f t y Garden are e n t r u s t e d f r e q u e n t l y to cranes. Upon Lady's Bed, phoenixes perch on every t r e e . 5 S t a r s s i n k i n g to the bottom of the s e a — s e e n i n f r o n t of the window. Rain p a s s i n g over the r i v e r ' s s o u r c e — v i e w e d from across the seat. I f the morning p e a r l c o u l d s t a y not o n l y b r i g h t but a l s o constant, A l l l i f e long, one would gaze at the c r y s t a l p l a t e . (2) The s i g h t of [her] shadow, the sound of [her] v o i c e a l r e a d y arouse tender f e e l i n g s . Over the Jade Pond l o t u s leaves are spreading l a r g e and round--Unless you meet Xiao S h i , don't you t u r n your head. Nor ever pat Hong Ya on h i s shoulder. The p u r p l e phoenix d i s p l a y s her charm, with a Chu-pendant i n her mouth. The red f i s h dances w i l d l y to the music of the strumming X i a n g - z i t h e r . Gazing w i s t f u l l y from h i s n i g h t boat, Under an embroidered q u i l t , with incense burning, P r i n c e E s l e e p s alone! (3) On the Seventh Night, [he] came as p r e v i o u s l y promised. The c u r t a i n i n [her] bed-chamber has not been l i f t e d s i n c e . The hare i n the jade wheel i s beginning to grow a s o u l . The c o r a l i n the i r o n net has not sent f o r t h any branches. Look f o r a magical p r e s c r i p t i o n to s t a y [her] youth, C o l l e c t phoenix paper to r e c o r d [her] l o n g i n g s . What i s i n Emperor Wu's Private Biography i s p l a i n f o r a l l to see, Do not say t h a t no one ever knows about i t ! (FH: 570) 178 On f i r s t r e a d i n g , t h i s s e r i e s of poems presents c o n s i d e r a b l e d i f f i c u l t y i n i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . As Liang Qichao's comment quoted e a r l i e r i l l u s t r a t e s , i t i s one of L i ' s poems i n which most readers take g r e a t d e l i g h t without knowing e x a c t l y what to make of i t . 3 1 The s e r i e s i s h e a v i l y a l l u s i v e . I t i n v o l v e s 23 a l -l u s i v e images: ten i n the f i r s t poem, nine i n the second and four i n the t h i r d one. T h e i r sources are not obscure, nor i s there any great d i f f i c u l t y i n understanding the l i t e r a l meaning of the i n d i v i d u a l l i n e s where these a l l u s i o n s occur; i t i s r a t h e r the deeper meaning of the s e r i e s t h a t i s hard to p i n down. Even on the s u r f a c e l e v e l the poems do not e a s i l y l e n d themselves to a coherent reading because the l i n e s , o r g a n i z e d i n c o u p l e t s , present i n each case a l l u s i v e images which are not r e a d i l y connected. Because of the ge n e r a l l a c k of "g u i d i n g words," the reader has to supply the l i n k s between l i n e s of s h i f t i n g images. He a l s o needs to l i s t e n a t t e n t i v e l y to the persona's v o i c e which seems to change from poem to poem and sometimes even w i t h i n a s i n g l e poem. Is the persona c a s t throughout i n the t h i r d - p e r s o n ? When does i t become the f i r s t - p e r s o n ? And i s t h i s f i r s t - p e r s o n or t h i r d - p e r s o n c o n s i s t e n t l y male or female, or does the speaker s h i f t from poem to poem or s e v e r a l times w i t h i n one poem alone? These are a l l questions one must address i n order to achieve a c o n s i s t e n t i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of t h i s sequence. Most of the a l l u s i o n s are drawn from D a o i s t mythology. In t h i s sense, the a l l u s i o n s do serve c o l l e c t i v e l y to pr o v i d e an i n t e r p r e t i v e framework, a s u p e r s t r u c t u r e f o r the poems. Togeth-179 er, they p r o j e c t an imaginary world f i l l e d with c o l o r f u l , sensuous, and dream-like images. What can one make of the s u p e r n a t u r a l frame of r e f e r e n c e running throughout the s e r i e s ? Should we read i t l i t e r a l l y as a f a n c i f u l d e p i c t i o n of an o t h e r - w o r l d l y realm? Are there p i v o t a l images which i n d i c a t e a r e f e r e n c e to the r e a l i s t i c or the s p e c i f i c ? The poet seems d e l i b e r a t e l y to c u l t i v a t e ambiguity when he g i v e s t h i s sequence a p s e u d o - t i t l e , u s i n g the f i r s t two c h a r a c t e r s of the f i r s t poem. A l t o g e t h e r s i x d i s t i n c t readings have been o f f e r e d by commentators and c r i t i c s : A r e a d i n g which i n t e r p r e t s the sequence a u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l l y as having to do with the poet's disappointment i n f a i l i n g to secure a b e t t e r o f f i c i a l p o s i t i o n and h i s appeal f o r promotion and p a t r o n a g e . 3 2 A r e a d i n g which i n t e r p r e t s the sequence simply as an e x e r c i s e on the t o p i c of "wandering immortals" (youxian).3 3 A reading which i n t e r p r e t s the sequence as a lov e l y r i c u s i n g e x o t i c i m a g e r y — n o t h i n g more, nothing l e s s . 3 4 A r e a d i n g which i n t e r p r e t s the sequence as stemming from L i ' s c l a n d e s t i n e l i a i s o n with D a o i s t n u n s . 3 5 A r e a d i n g which i n t e r p r e t s the sequence as d e p i c t i n g the famous lo v e s t o r y between Emperor Xuanzong and h i s f a v o r i t e c o n s o r t Yang G u i f e i . 3 6 180 6. A read i n g which i n t e r p r e t s the sequence as d e p i c t i n g the s e c r e t l o v e a f f a i r s of Tang p r i n c e s s e s who have become Da o i s t n u ns. 3 7 Even the p a r a l l e l between what Xu d e s c r i b e s as the persona's l o n g i n g f o r a b e a u t i f u l and l o f t y l a n d and the poet's appeal f o r promotion i s extremely s t r a i n e d and tenuous because i t a p p l i e s j u s t to the f i r s t poem i n the sequence and o n l y p a r t i a l l y to i t . The stance and the tone of the t h i r d - p e r s o n persona at the end of the s e r i e s together with the i n t e r m i t t e n t r e f e r e n c e s to l o v e r s ' meetings and p a r t i n g s simply do not support t h i s f i r s t i n t e r -p r e t a t i o n . Because of the s t r o n g h i n t s of s p e c i f i c r e f e r e n c e — t h e v i v i d immediacy of the drama d e p i c t e d i n the second and t h i r d poems ( d e s p i t e the s h i f t i n g images), the persona's tone of v o i c e as w e l l as a suggested sense of concrete p l a c e and time--I would a l s o r u l e out readings 2 and 3. In s h o r t , I b e l i e v e t h i s poem should be i n t e r p r e t e d a l l e g o r i c a l l y , with the assumption t h a t the n a r r a t i v e i n the poem, t o l d l a r g e l y through the s u s t a i n e d use of a l l u s i o n s , i s a concealed r e f e r e n c e to some e x t e r n a l s e t of events. But what p o s s i b l y c o u l d he be r e f e r r i n g to? The Emerald Walls and the r e c u r r i n g use of D a o i s t m y t h o l o g i c a l images h i n t s t r o n g l y at a D a o i s t c l o i s t e r as the s e t t i n g . At the same time, a l l u s i o n s to s t o r i e s with romantic a s s o c i a t i o n s as w e l l as the Of a l l the readings, the f i r s t one proposed by Xu Dehong and Yao the most f a r - f e t c h e d . 181 use of images with p o w e r f u l l y sensual and e r o t i c c o nnotations a l l suggest a romantic l i a i s o n with someone i n the c l o i s t e r . Readings 4, 5 and 6 are probably a r r i v e d at as a r e s u l t of j u s t such an a n a l y s i s . Reading 5 i s suggested by Zhu Yizun and s e v e r a l other c r i t i c s because: (1) Yang G u i f e i was a D a o i s t nun bef o r e she became the famous c o n s o r t of Emperor Xuanzong ; 3 8 (2) She and Xuanzong were s a i d to have pledged a love vow on the Seventh Night of the Seventh Month of the y e a r ; 3 9 (3) Tang poets o f t e n r e f e r to Emperor Wu of Han when speaking of Xuanzong f*> - f j N . These c r i t i c s are prompted by a l l u s i o n s to "the Seventh Night" and "Emperor Wu" as w e l l as the repeated use of D a o i s t m y t h o l o g i c a l imagery to read the l o v e s t o r y of Emperor Xuanzong -TTN and Yang G u i f e i i n t o t h i s s e r i e s . D espite these i s o l a t e d i n s t a n c e s of p o s s i b l e a s s o c i a t i o n , I f i n d t h i s im-probable because some of the d e s c r i p t i o n s and the tone of v o i c e assumed i n the poems (such as the j e a l o u s admonition of l i n e s 3-4, and the p a t h e t i c a l l y d e j e c t e d " P r i n c e E" i n l i n e s 7-8, poem 2) are not t h a t of an emperor. A l s o , the l o v e s t o r y between Xuanzong and Yang G u i f e i was well-known d u r i n g as w e l l as a f t e r t h e i r l i f e t imes, a f a c t which c o n t r a d i c t s the l a s t l i n e of the s e r i e s . Using Su X u e l i n ' s b a s i c premise, Chen Y i x i n again i n t e r p r e t s t h i s as a p e r s o n a l l o v e l y r i c r e f e r r i n g t o the poet's own a f f a i r s with D a o i s t nuns. Although the r e l a t i o n s h i p i s v i v i d l y dramatized and the persona i n t e r m i t t e n t l y assumes the v o i c e of the f i r s t - p e r s o n , there i s no t r a c e of any st r o n g , u n d e r l y i n g p e r s o n a l emotion. The o v e r r i d i n g v o i c e throughout i s 182 t h a t of the observer, the t h i r d - p e r s o n n a r r a t o r . T h i s i s e s p e c i a l l y prominent i n the f i n a l l i n e s of the s e r i e s . Whether he i s w r i t i n g about D a o i s t nuns who are a l s o Tang p r i n c e s s e s , or he i s , as Chen Y i x i n s p e c u l a t e s , w r i t i n g of a p e r s o n a l experience, L i Shangyin i s c l e a r l y being circumspect, p r o t e c t i n g h i m s e l f by the heavy use of a l l u s i o n . He a l s o d i s t a n c e s h i m s e l f to the extent t h a t the e n t i r e s e r i e s reads l i k e an impersonal drama. I t i s p o s s i b l e , however, t h a t L i Shangyin i s w r i t i n g about D a o i s t nuns who are a l s o Tang p r i n c e s s e s , c o n s i d e r i n g how o f t e n d u r i n g L i ' s time t h a t P r i n c e s s e s entered the c l o i s t e r i n order to seek more s o c i a l and sexual freedom. 4 0 The Ming c r i t i c Hu Zhen-heng f i r s t suggested t h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . Cheng Mengxing, Feng Hao and Zhang E r t i a n g e n e r a l l y support t h i s view. Hu Zhenheng w r i t e s : In e a r l y Tang, p r i n c e s s e s o f t e n asked to enter the c l o i s -t e r s . Many were i n t i m a t e with the people i n the two r e l i -gious o r d e r s . At the time of L i Shangyin, P r i n c e s s e s Wen-an i£*J?h , Xunyang fjgj , Ping'en , Shaoyang f^fo , Y o n g j i a , Yong'an ^ L - ^ * , Y i c h a n g j J ^ % and Ankang-^ had a l l pleaded to become D a o i s t nuns, b u i l d -in g t h e i r c l o i s t e r s o u t s i d e of the c o u r t . H i s t o r i a n s have not spoken of t h e i r shame. There were, however, s u b t l e c e n s u r i n g remarks about t h e i r having to be r e c a l l e d by the c o u r t to a v o i d s c a n d a l s . 4 1 Apart from t h i s c o n s i d e r a t i o n , the e x a l t e d images throughout the poem--the Emerald Walls, the L o f t y Garden, phoenixes--and 183 f i n a l l y , the hidden r e f e r e n c e to the m y t h o l o g i c a l s t o r y of P r i n c e s s Nongyu (through " X i a o s h i " ) as w e l l as the a l l u s i o n to Emperor Wu's Private Biography a l l support such a r e a d i n g . Seen i n t h i s l i g h t , the s u p e r n a t u r a l framework of these poems takes on s i g n i f i c a n c e and the three "Emerald Walls" poems can be understood as a u n i f i e d sequence. They are l i n k e d by the deployment of a l l u s i o n s to imply a n a r r a t i v e , or b e t t e r , a c a r e f u l l y s t r u c t u r e d , i f o n l y suggested drama. T h i s l y r i c a l sequence i s perhaps best read as a v i s i o n a r y poem i n which the persona, here a speaker, a n a r r a t o r r a t h e r than a p a r t i c i p a n t , c r e a t e s a s e t t i n g , evokes a theme, develops m o t i f s , and b r i n g s the s e n s u a l , m i n i a t u r e drama to an end with a c a u t i o n a r y note. A l l t h i s i s accomplished p r i m a r i l y through the use of a l l u s i o n . There are ten a l l u s i o n s i n the f i r s t poem, or, more ac-c u r a t e l y , ten i n s t a n c e s i n which the use of a c e r t a i n image r i n g s with a l l u s i v e resonances. "Emerald W a l l s , " the t i t l e of the sequence as w e l l as the dominant image i n the f i r s t l i n e of poem, i s i t s e l f a l l u s i v e . A c c o r d i n g to the Shangqing Jing , the D a o i s t god, Yuanshi Tianzun (The Primeval-Heavenly-Venerated-One), l i v e s i n a p a v i l i o n of p u r p l e c l o u d s , surrounded by w a l l s of emerald-colored m i s t s . 4 2 The "twelve winding r a i l i n g s " a l s o echo a l i n e from an e a r l i e r f o l k b a l l a d , but the image can stand on i t s own even without knowledge of i t s s o u r c e . 4 3 Together, the two a l l u s i v e images d e p i c t a b e a u t i f u l , c e l e s t i a l s e t t i n g with i n t r i c a t e winding paths which l e a d to something mysterious and a l l u r i n g . 184 L i n e 2 c o n s i s t s of two p a r a l l e l images. In Lingbiao Luyi " ^ L ^ ^ s ^ » L i u X u n $\ d e s c r i b e s d i f f e r e n t kinds of rh i n o c e r o s e s which possess s p e c i a l q u a l i t i e s . One of these i s the bichenxi whose horn i s s a i d to be used f o r making l a d i e s ' b a r r a t t e s because i t helps to keep away d u s t . 4 4 In Shuyi Ji i^ .-'j^^CJ » there i s a l s o a r e f e r e n c e to u s i n g the horn of the bichenxi to keep away dust from seats and c o u c h e s . 4 5 The re f e r e n c e to jade as an agent a g a i n s t c o l d echoes the " f i e r y jade" worn by the d e i t y Lady Shangyuan i n Wudi Neizhuan .4 6 Taken as i t i s , however, the jade (yu a l s o c o n j u r e s up what i s smooth and warm, something sugges-t i v e of the sensual and the romantic. While " r h i n o c e r o s " i s an image r i c h with a s s o c i a t i o n s of the e x o t i c and "jade" with what i s p r e c i o u s , they have yet other r e v e r b e r a t i o n s when read i n t h e i r p a r t i c u l a r c o n t e x t s . As Feng Hao has a p t l y suggested, "Rhinoceros horn wards o f f dust" i m p l i e s t h a t the nuns are supposed to have renounced the world of dust (chenshi/^k~~&) and chosen to l i v e i n a p l a c e f r e e from the i m p u r i t i e s of e a r t h l y en-tanglements. "Jade wards o f f c o l d , " on the other hand, suggests t h a t they are i n f a c t sensual beings f i l l e d with human d e s i r e s . 4 7 L i n e s 3 and 4 are p a r a l l e l l i n e s which together form the f i r s t m i d d l e - c o u p l e t of the poem. They are connected not only s t r u c t u r a l l y but a l s o by the s i m i l a r i t y of t h e i r images: Cranes which c a r r y l e t t e r s i n s i d e the L o f t y Garden, l a n d of the Immor-t a l s ; and phoenixes which perch on t r e e s upon Lady's Bed, a 185 m y t h o l o g i c a l mountain mentioned i n the Shanhai Jing.18 These images are not o n l y c o l o r f u l , but they are a l s o r i c h with sug-g e s t i o n s of the romantic and the e r o t i c . And when L i Shangyin f u r t h e r emphasizes by w r i t i n g : "Langyuan youshu duo fuhe" ( L e t t e r s from L o f t y Garden are e n t r u s t e d f r e q u e n t l y to cranes as messengers) and "Niichuang wushu bu q i l u a n " (Upon Lady's Bed, phoenixes perch on every t r e e ) , he i s saying t h a t these l i a i s o n s are i n f a c t r a t h e r common w i t h i n the c i t y of the Emerald Walls; or i n our a n a l y s i s , the D a o i s t c l o i s t e r . The exact v i s u a l d e s c r i p t i o n presented i n l i n e s 5 and 6: "Stars s i n k i n g to the bottom of the sea..." and "Rain p a s s i n g over where the r i v e r r i s e s . . . " has been v a r i o u s l y i n t e r p r e t e d . Feng Hao t h i n k s t h a t l i n e 5 a l l u d e s to the three Magic Mountains under water and l i n e 6 to the s t o r y of a man t r a v e l l i n g to the Yellow R i v e r ' s source on a r a f t where he met the legendary Cowherd and the Weaving M a i d . 4 9 As James L i u has a l r e a d y p o i n t e d out, the r e a d i n g of the three Magic Mountains i s l a r g e l y un-tenable because i t does not e x p l a i n why the s t a r s are a t the bottom of the s e a . 5 0 I take the "sea" here to mean simply "a sea of c l o u d s . " While L i u views these l i n e s as a d e s c r i p t i o n of an "upside down world," I see i n them a p i c t u r e of the f a b l e d movements of the c o n s t e l l a t i o n s and heavenly elements, suggesting a dream-like i n t a n g i b i l i t y and a sense of the p a s s i n g of time and event. The " r a i n " i n l i n e 6 (an e r o t i c image o r i g i n a t i n g from the famous s t o r y of King Xiang and the Goddess of Mt. Wu) a l s o i n t i m a t e s some k i n d of sexual e n c o u n t e r . 5 1 A l l t h i s , however, 186 has come to an end now ("passing o v e r " ) . The " s i n k i n g of the s t a r s " too can be understood as the beginning of dawn and a r e t u r n to the d u t i e s and r o u t i n e s of the day, a p a r t i n g of the l o v e r s . 5 2 The ending phrases i n both l i n e s : "seen i n f r o n t of the window" and "viewed from ac r o s s the s e a t " a l s o imply a k i n d of d i s t a n c i n g , a l o o k i n g back over past events. The l a s t two l i n e s of t h i s poem have t r a d i t i o n a l l y been co n s i d e r e d most p u z z l i n g . Many a l l u s i o n s have been suggested f o r the e x p l a n a t i o n of "morning p e a r l " and " c r y s t a l p l a t e . " One such a l l u s i o n i s the l u s t r o u s p e a r l mentioned i n Feiyan Waizhuanyfv th a t person's b e a u t y . 5 3 "Morning p e a r l " has a l s o been i n t e r -p r e t e d as "the essence of the yang f o r c e s " and hence the sun i t s e l f . 5 4 " C r y s t a l p l a t e , " on the other hand, has been t r a c e d to the s t o r y of Lady F l y i n g Swallow (Zhao Feiyan) who was so d e l i -cate and l i g h t t h a t the Emperor ordered a c r y s t a l p l a t e to be h e l d up f o r her to dance o n . 5 5 Another read i n g l i n k s i t to the s t o r y of Dong Yan who r e c e i v e d a c r y s t a l p l a t e as a g i f t from Emperor Wu (of H a n ) . 5 6 Then there i s the suggestion t h a t " c r y s t a l p l a t e " i s simply a r e f e r e n c e to the moon i t s e l f . 5 7 None of the a l l u s i o n s i d e n t i f i e d f o r "morning p e a r l " makes c o n v i n c i n g sense to me. I t i s not s u r p r i s i n g t h a t with a poet as a l l u s i v e as L i Shangyin an attempt w i l l be made to t r a c e every image i n h i s poems to some k i n d of a l l u s i o n , but I agree with Chen Y i x i n t h a t "morning p e a r l " here i s bes t read as a simple metaphor f o r "morning dew." 5 8 The " c r y s t a l p l a t e , " however, i s an a p p r o p r i a t e when allowed to shine on any i n d i v i d u a l , enhances 187 r e f e r e n c e to the s t o r y of Zhao F e i y a n . Together, the l a s t two l i n e s suggest t h a t i f the romantic love experienced w i t h i n the c l o i s t e r were not o n l y b e a u t i f u l but constant and l o n g - l a s t i n g , ( i f the g l i s t e n i n g morning dew would never evaporate!) one would be content to face one's beloved (who i s as d e l i c a t e and l o v e l y as Lady Swallow) a l l l i f e l o ng. A review of t h i s f i r s t poem shows t h a t i t i s made up of a s u c c e s s i o n of a l l u s i o n s . The i n d i v i d u a l c o u p l e t s , i f taken as they stand, are incoherent; t h a t i s to say, each l i n e does not appear to r e l a t e to the next. Yet when taken as the s e t t i n g f o r the succeeding poems, the e i g h t l i n e s do form an o r g a n i c u n i t . T h i s s e t t i n g , suggesting a D a o i s t c l o i s t e r , i s one of r i c h , sensuous and e x o t i c imagery d e r i v i n g from the m y t h o l o g i c a l a l l u s i o n s . The f i r s t l i n e s e t s the p h y s i c a l background of t h i s poem and of the e n t i r e s e r i e s . The second l i n e s e t s the mood and atmosphere i n which the a c t i v i t i e s of l i n e s 3 and 4 are d e p i c t e d . L i n e s 5 and 6, while d e s c r i b i n g l i t e r a l l y the movements of the clouds and s t a r s i n t h i s c e l e s t i a l p l a c e , a l s o suggest metaphori-c a l l y the p a s s i n g of time and c e r t a i n romantic i n t e r l u d e s . The f i n a l c o u p l e t concludes by musing on the t r a n s i e n t nature of such encounters. The poem i s d e l i v e r e d i n the v o i c e of the t h i r d -person, with the l a s t two l i n e s probing i n t o the consciousness of one i n v o l v e d i n the drama. A f t e r suggesting the s e t t i n g and evoking h i s theme, the poet proceeds to develop i n poems 2 and 3 a m i n i a t u r e drama. Both poems are made up of s t r i n g s of a l l u s i v e images which t e l l of the 188 meetings and p a r t i n g s between two l o v e r s , p o s s i b l y one of many such p a i r s w i t h i n the w a l l s of the c l o i s t e r . Although the s t o r y i s t o l d l a r g e l y through the t h i r d - p e r s o n n a r r a t o r , poem 2 i s presented from the p o i n t of view of the male l o v e r , a t times even assuming h i s v o i c e . On the other hand, poem 3 i s presented from the p o i n t of view and dramatic s i t u a t i o n of h i s female counter-p a r t . A l t o g e t h e r nine a l l u s i v e images are used i n the second poem. The "Jade Pond" i n l i n e 2 i s an example of No. 5 on Hightower's scheme of a l l u s i o n s . I t i s found i n a poem by Shen Y u e ( £ l ^ , 3 9 but the word "Jade" i s used simply as an e p i t h e t i m p l y i n g some-t h i n g " p r e c i o u s , " suggesting a b e a u t i f u l s e t t i n g . The r e s t of l i n e 2 a l s o echoes a l i n e from a popular a n c i e n t b a l l a d which d e s c r i b e s l o t u s leaves spreading l a r g e and round on a pond--an image su g g e s t i v e of good t i m e s . 6 0 Since "the s i g h t of [her] shadow, the sound of [her] v o i c e a l r e a d y arouse tender f e e l i n g s , " i t must be a g r e a t j o y to have a rendezvous with her. L i n e s 3 and 4 are p a r a l l e l l i n e s i n the i m p e r a t i v e mode. In them, the n a r r a t o r assumes the v o i c e of the male l o v e r , t e l l i n g h i s l a d y to be f a i t h f u l to him. Xiao S h i i n l i n e 3 i s the famous f l u t i s t mentioned i n Liexian Zhuan. I t i s s a i d t h a t he married P r i n c e s s Nongyu — _ J L . and flew o f f with her on the back of a phoenix he had a t t r a c t e d with h i s f l u t e - p l a y i n g . 6 1 Hong Ya i n l i n e 4 i s the name of a male immortal i n Shenxian Zhuan i n which the Immortal "Red Pine" holds Fu Qiu's ~}/^-J&—. s l e e v e with one hand and c l a p s the other 189 on Hong Ya's shoulder as they soar through s p a c e . 6 2 I t i s q u i t e c l e a r here t h a t the speaker i s r e f e r r i n g to h i m s e l f as Xiao Shi and h i s p o t e n t i a l l o v e r i v a l s as Hong Ya. "Unless i t i s me," he says to h i s lady, "do not t u r n your head; and don't pat any other men on the shoulder!" The a l l u s i o n to Hong Ya i s a p p r o p r i a t e because, as a male immortal, he c o u l d be used to r e p r e s e n t r i v a l s l o i t e r i n g w i t h i n the Emerald Wall s . The r e f e r e n c e to Xiao Shi a l s o leads one to s p e c u l a t e t h a t the speaker's l o v e r i s a p r i n c e s s who now l i v e s i n the l a n d of the immortals. The Chu-pendant i n l i n e 5 r e c a l l s the s t o r y of Zheng J i a o f u i n the Liexian Zhuan. Zheng i s s a i d to have en-countered two l a d i e s by the Yangtze R i v e r i n Chu. Not knowing t h a t they were goddesses, he made advances to them. The l a d i e s l e f t him t h e i r pendants. When he turned around, the pendants disappeared and the l a d i e s too were nowhere to be s e e n . 6 3 The X i a n g - z i t h e r i n l i n e 6 r e f e r s to the goddesses of the R i v e r Xiang, once the l o v i n g wife and the concubine of the legendary Emperor Shun, who p l a y e d t h a t instrument. I t was s a i d t h a t the two l a d i e s d i e d of g r i e f a f t e r f a i l i n g to f i n d t h e i r m i s s i n g husband i n the w i l d e r n e s s of the Chu r e g i o n . They l a t e r became the goddesses of R i v e r X i a n g . 6 4 Apart from t h i s , l i n e 6 a l s o echoes the legend of Hu Ba : when he p l a y s on h i s z i t h e r , the f i s h come out to l i s t e n . 6 5 When L i Shangyin c a l l s t h i s f i s h "red" (the a c t u a l phrase he uses i s "red s c a l e ( s ) , " " s c a l e " being a metonomy f o r f i s h ) , i t not o n l y adds c o l o r to the poem and p r o v i d e s a p a r a l l e l f o r " p u r p l e " i n the p r e v i o u s l i n e , a t the St*-* 190 same time i t r i n g s a b e l l f o r readers f a m i l i a r with a l i n e from mentions the "red f i s h ( s c a l e ) " s u r f a c i n g from the depths of the s e a . 6 6 A l l these a l l u s i o n s — t h e music of the X i a n g - z i t h e r , the s t o r y of Hu Ba and the f i s h a t t r a c t e d by h i s music as w e l l as the r e f e r e n c e to the red f i s h s u r f a c i n g — a r e connected through a s s o c i a t i o n . S t a r t i n g from the music, i t moves on to the f i s h i n the a l l u s i o n to Hu Ba and f i n a l l y to the "redness" of the f i s h . The resonances from these s t o r i e s and t e x t u a l r e f e r e n c e s a l l come together to e n r i c h L i Shangyin's l i n e . But what makes the a l l u s i v e images i n l i n e 6 as w e l l as t h e i r c o u n t e r p a r t i n l i n e 5 so e f f e c t i v e and powerful i s the way L i has juxtaposed the two l i n e s and the way he has brought the images together. The two s t o r i e s a l l u d e d to i n "Chu-pendant" and " X i a n g - z i t h e r " conjure a s s o c i a t i o n s of romantic goddesses; and the two l i n e s , The p u r p l e phoenix d i s p l a y s her charm, with a Chu-pendant i n her mouth, The red f i s h dances w i l d l y to the music of the strumming X i a n g - z i t h e r , along with other sensuous images--such as "purple phoenix" and "red f i s h " ("purple" and "red" being p a s s i o n a t e c o l o r s ; phoenix and f i s h being symbols of f e m i n i n i t y and f e r t i l i t y ) , as w e l l as words and phrases such as " d i s p l a y s her charm," "dances w i l d l y , " "with . . . . i n her mouth," "strumming" (bo a l l y "pluck-i n g , " " s t i r r i n g " or " a r o u s i n g " ) - - a l l conjure a s s o c i a t i o n s of p a s s i o n a t e love-making. J o i n e d i n a c o u p l e t , these p a r a l l e l which 191 l i n e s suggest t h a t those emotions are shared by both l o v e r s . A review of the second poem so f a r shows t h a t i t i s again made up of a s u c c e s s i o n of h e a v i l y packed a l l u s i v e images. The i n i t i a l c o u p l e t d e s c r i b e s the male persona's excitement a t being i n l o v e and h i s j o y over a c t u a l l y meeting h i s beloved. L i n e s 3 and 4 assume h i s v o i c e i n the f i r s t - p e r s o n as he speaks d i r e c t l y to her. L i n e s 5 and 6 are two p i c t u r e s q u e l i n e s which seem unconnected with the r e s t of the poem u n t i l we r e a l i z e t h a t they are images of romantic p a s s i o n and love-making and t h e i r p l a c e i n the poem becomes immediately e v i d e n t . There i s an apparent i n c o n s i s t e n c y between the l a s t c o u p l e t and the preceding l i n e s . However, I do not t h i n k t h a t Feng Hao and James L i u ' s r e a d i n g of the l a s t two l i n e s as the d e s c r i p t i o n of a f r u s t r a t e d onlooker i s c o n v i n c i n g . 6 7 I b e l i e v e t h a t the f i r s t t h ree c o u p l e t s should be read as f l a s h b a c k s and patches of happy memories, with the n a r r a t i v e s h i f t i n g a b r u p t l y to the r e a l i t y of the present i n the f i n a l l i n e s . The l o v e r s are now no longer together. U n l i k e the l u c k y P r i n c e E who was abl e to take the woman who admired him i n t o h i s boat and embrace her under h i s q u i l t , the d i s a p p o i n t e d l o v e r i s now l e f t to s l e e p i n s o l i t u d e . 8 8 As a c o u n t e r p o i n t to the second poem, the t h i r d poem, I b e l i e v e , i s w r i t t e n i n the v o i c e of the t h i r d - p e r s o n d e s c r i b i n g the s t a t e of mind and c o n d i t i o n of the female l o v e r . The f i r s t c o u p l e t r e c a l l s the l o v e r s ' l a s t rendezvous i n her chamber, p o s s i b l y the same meeting mentioned i n the second poem. Yet the man has f a i l e d to r e t u r n . Perhaps the s i t u a t i o n a t the c l o i s t e r has not made i t easy f o r him to r e t u r n . Perhaps t h e i r i l l i c i t romance has to come to an end. Li n e s 3 and 4 are s e l f - c o n t a i n e d , and t h e i r c o n n e c t i o n with the r e s t of the poem i s not immediately apparent. The "hare i n the jade wheel" r e f e r s to the moon. " I t i s b eginning to grow a s o u l " i m p l i e s t h a t i t i s s t a r t i n g to wax. 6 9 In the Bencao Gangmu ^~zJ^*Jl$^ Q » the c o r a l i s des-c r i b e d as ha r v e s t e d by deep-sea d i v e r s with i r o n n e t s . 7 0 But the c o r a l i n l i n e 4 i s not yet mature with a l l i t s branches ready f o r h a r v e s t i n g . C o n s i d e r i n g the v i v i d n e s s of these images and the context of the e n t i r e sequence, i t i s d i f f i c u l t t o d i s p u t e with Feng Hao t h a t these l i n e s vaguely suggest the p o s s i b i l i t y of pregnancy. 7 1 On the other hand, i t seems t h a t one can a l s o read them as a d e s c r i p t i o n of the f i r s t blossoming of lov e between two people, one which has f a i l e d to come to f r u i t i o n . Meanwhile, l i n e s 5 and 6 suggest t h a t the lady's y o u t h f u l beauty i s waning, and her lo n g i n g s f i n d no means of e x p r e s s i o n . During the Tang Dynasty, "phoenix paper" was used as w r i t i n g paper i n the i m p e r i a l p a l a c e . I t was a l s o used by D a o i s t s to r e c o r d prayers f o r t h e i r r e l i g i o u s r i t u a l s . 7 2 The suggestion t h a t t h i s paper be used to r e c o r d f e e l i n g s of lo v e f u r t h e r supports our i n t e r p r e t a -t i o n of the sequence as concerning p r i n c e s s e s turned D a o i s t nuns. Emperor Wu's Private Biography i s a work d e t a i l i n g the f i c t i t i o u s l i f e of Emperor Wu (of Han) and h i s encounter with the Queen Mother of the West. There are many r e f e r e n c e s to D a o i s t goddesses but no e x p l i c i t l y romantic or e r o t i c accounts i n the Biography. Perhaps the n a r r a t o r i s simply suggesting t h a t 193 Tang p r i n c e s s e s ' p r i v a t e l i v e s are by no means completely p r i v a t e . J u s t as others have c o l l e c t e d s t o r i e s about Emperor Wu, there are those who w i l l do the same about the p r i n c e s s e s who, though l i v i n g i n c l o i s t e r s , l e a d r a t h e r l i c e n t i o u s l i v e s . As our r e a d i n g has shown, a l l u s i o n serves a v i t a l f u n c t i o n i n p r o v i d i n g the s t r u c t u r e f o r the "Emerald W a l l s " s e r i e s . The sequence i s b u i l t almost e n t i r e l y on a s u c c e s s i o n of a l l u s i v e images. Because the a l l u s i o n s are drawn predominantly from D a o i s t mythology, they f u r t h e r p r o v i d e the poems with a super-s t r u c t u r e , a k i n d of s u p e r n a t u r a l framework; and i t i s w i t h i n t h i s framework t h a t the i n d i v i d u a l a l l u s i v e images operate. Although each poem can stand very w e l l on i t s own as a l y r i c a l p i e c e , the three together i n t e r - r e l a t e to c r e a t e a dramatic u n i t y . A l l u s i o n s a l s o c r e a t e the time, the space, the c o l o r and the mood which make up the s e t t i n g s f o r the i n d i v i d u a l p i e c e s . Exam-p l e s i n c l u d e r e f e r e n c e s to the Emerald Walls, the twelve winding r a i l i n g s ; the r h i n o c e r o s horn which wards o f f the dust, the jade which wards o f f the c o l d ; the Jade Pond and i t s l a r g e , round l o t u s l e a v e s ; the Seventh Night which marks the meeting of the Cowherd and the Weaving Maid. I t i s a l s o through the use of a l l u s i o n t h a t the major dramatis personae are sketched and c r e a t e d and t h e i r r e l a t i o n -s h i p s d e f i n e d i n the poems. A l l u s i o n s to Xiao S h i , Hong Ya, P r i n c e E a l l h e l p to i d e n t i f y the male l o v e r i n the s e r i e s , w h i l e r e f e r e n c e to Lady's Bed, p u r p l e phoenix, the c r y s t a l p l a t e 194 suggest the presence of a female persona as h i s c o u n t e r p a r t . The n a r r a t o r ' s p o i n t of view, which f u n c t i o n s almost l i k e the chorus i n a p l a y , i s shaped l a r g e l y through the use of c e r t a i n p i v o t a l words and phrases i n c o n j u n c t i o n with the a l l u s i o n s : L e t t e r s from L o f t y Garden are e n t r u s t e d f r e q u e n t l y to cranes as messengers. Upon Lady's Bed, phoenixes perch on every t r e e . Unless you meet Xiao S h i , don't you t u r n your head. Nor ever pat Hong Ya on h i s shoulder. ? P r i n c e E gazes w i s t f u l l y from h i s n i g h t boat. Under an embroidered q u i l t , with incense burning, he s l e e p s alone! What i s i n Emperor Wu's Private Biography j s p l a i n f o r  a l l to see, Do not say t h a t no one ever knows about i t ! The v o i c e t h a t comes through i s not so much m o r a l i z i n g as c a u t i o n a r y , with a s l i g h t l y i r o n i c tone i n i t s admonition. Despite the s e r i o u s n e s s of these poems, I f i n d the l i n e s "Unless you meet Xiao S h i . . . " and the ones i n which the n a r r a t o r d e p i c t s the l o v e r as a P r i n c e E m i l d l y amusing and somewhat p a t h e t i c . I t i s t h i s i n t e r e s t i n g l y detached and bemused p o i n t of view which prompts me to r u l e out readi n g t h i s sequence as a u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l . Apart from the c h a r a c t e r s and p o i n t of view i n the poems, 195 the main a c t i o n s and events too are suggested through the use of a l l u s i o n . T h i s i s e s p e c i a l l y n o t i c e a b l e i n the f o l l o w i n g l i n e s from the s e r i e s : L e t t e r s from the L o f t y Garden are e n t r u s t e d f r e q u e n t l y to cranes as messengers. Upon Lady's Bed, phoenixes perch on very t r e e . The p u r p l e phoenix d i s p l a y s her charm, with a Chu-pendant i n her mouth. The red f i s h dances w i l d l y to the music of the strumming z i t h e r . The hare i n the jade wheel i s beginning to grow a s o u l . The c o r a l i n the i r o n net has not sent f o r t h any branches. In s h o r t , the drama i n the s e r i e s u n f o l d s , b u i l d s up to a climax and reaches a r e s o l u t i o n , a l l through the use of a l l u s i v e images. Because the a l l u s i o n s are presented as independent s t r i n g s of images i n s t e a d of a smooth-flowing, e v o l v i n g d i s c o u r s e , there i s an i n e v i t a b l e ambiguity which c r e a t e s t e n s i o n i n the poems. Because the l i n e s communicate predominantly through " a s s o c i a t i o n " and "suggestion", the reader has to be i n v o l v e d i n a s p e c i a l way, c e r t a i n l y much more a c t i v e l y , when e x p e r i e n c i n g t h i s k i n d of poetry. He has to supply, so to speak, much more "glue" i n the reading process, c o n s t a n t l y b r i d g i n g gaps to r e s o l v e the t e n s i o n s and to achieve a coherent r e a d i n g of the s e r i e s . The a l l u s i o n s a l s o generate m u l t i p l e l e v e l s of reader response. One may i n i t i a l l y i n t e r p r e t a l i n e such as "Over the 196 Jade Pond l o t u s leaves are spreading l a r g e and round--"simply as a r e a l i s t i c s e t t i n g . However, as soon as one re c o g n i z e s that both the "Jade Pond" and the " l o t u s leaves spreading l a r g e and round" are t e x t u a l a l l u s i o n s , one w i l l r e c o n s i d e r the s i g n i f i -cance of these images i n the poem. Maybe the l o v e r s never met by a pond a t a l l . The a l l u s i o n s are used on l y to h i n t a t the b l i s s -f u l n e s s of the meeting and the excitement of the l o v e r when he i s with h i s beloved. T h i s i s tr u e a l s o of the a l l u s i o n to P r i n c e E. The a l l u s i o n i s used probably because the poet, w r i t i n g of the l o n e l i n e s s of the l o v e r , r e c o g n i z e s a s t r i k i n g c o n t r a s t between h i s s i t u a t i o n and th a t of P r i n c e E. I t i s not necessary t h a t the e n t i r e s e t t i n g of "the n i g h t boat," "the embroidered q u i l t " and the "burning incense" be taken l i t e r a l l y . In a c h i e v i n g a coherent rea d i n g of t h i s s e r i e s , the reader must be abl e to rec o g n i z e i t s major chords and melodic l i n e s which u n f o l d as he i n t e r p r e t s the a l l u s i o n s . The many minor echoes and a s s o c i a t i o n s r e s u l t i n g from the same a l l u s i o n s are l i k e the ornamentations and f l o u r i s h e s i n a p i e c e of baroque music. While they e n r i c h the poems by adding c o l o r , mood, t e n s i o n , t e x t u r e and o v e r a l l complexity, they should not be taken too l i t e r a l l y , or be so overread t h a t we l o s e o u r s e l v e s i n the ornamentation a t the expense of h e a r i n g the whole p i e c e . 197 ( I I I ) "Yaochi (The Jade Pool) i s an example i n which a group of m y t h o l o g i c a l a l l u s i o n s drawn from the same source makes up both the s u b j e c t and the n a r r a t i v e of a poem. The a l l u s i o n s are interwoven i n such a way t h a t they not o n l y t e l l an i n t e r e s -t i n g legend e v o c a t i v e l y , but a t the same time present a u n i v e r s a l human s i t u a t i o n through the poem's i m p l i e d n a r r a t i v e and comment on i t . "The Jade P o o l " Over the Jade Pool, Mother's l o v e l y window opens wide. The w a i l i n g songs of Yellow Bamboo rock the e a r t h . His e i g h t d i v i n e horses running at t h i r t y thousand m i l e s a day, Why i s King Mu not back again? (FH: 268) There are three a l l u s i o n s i n t h i s poem, a l l to the Biography of King Mu They are examples of No.l on High-tower's scheme of a l l u s i o n s because they are connected i n such a way t h a t , t o gether, they make up the s u b j e c t of the poem. The f i r s t s t o r y i s that King Mu (of Zhou) once v i s i t e d the F a i r y Queen Mother of the West and f e a s t e d at her palace over the Jade Pool, a m y t h i c a l p a r a d i s e on Mt. K u n l u n . 7 3 Before he l e f t , the Queen Mother extended her i n v i t a t i o n i n a song: "With white clouds i n the sky, and mountains r i s i n g from among them, t h i s 198 road i s f a r and wide, i n t e r r u p t e d by r i v e r s and mountain ranges. I f you do not d i e , you should be able to come back a g a i n . " The King promised the Queen Mother t h a t he would r e t u r n i n three y e a r s . 7 4 Another s t o r y t e l l s of a tragedy the King witnessed when he passed by Yellow Bamboo, a p l a c e w i t h i n h i s own domain. Many of h i s people d i e d of severe c o l d and hunger i n a snowstorm, and the King wrote a poem i n three stanzas to mourn t h e i r d e a t h . 7 5 The t h i r d r e f e r e n c e i s to the e i g h t famous horses of King Mu which were supposed to run three thousand m i l e s i n a d a y . 7 6 T r a d i t i o n a l commentators such as Zhu Yizun, Yao Fengyuan and Qu Fu t h i n k t h a t t h i s poem i s a g e n e r a l s a t i r e on the D a o i s t p u r s u i t of immortal l i f e . 7 7 Others such as He Yimen and Cheng Mengxing b e l i e v e t h a t i t i s d i r e c t e d s p e c i f i c a l l y a g a i n s t Wuzong, and w r i t t e n soon a f t e r he d i e d of an overdose of e l i x i r d r u g 3 . 7 8 These two are both p l a u s i b l e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s s i n c e L i q u i t e o v e r t l y c r i t i c i z e d the emperors i n poems such as "Jiasheng" (Scholar J i a ) , "Guo J i n g l i n g " (Passing the J i n g Mausoleum), and "Maoling" (The Mao Mausoleum), p a r t i c u l a r l y Wuzong's i n t e r e s t i n s p i r i t s , ghosts and i m m o r t a l i t y d r u g s . 7 9 Yu Shucheng and L i u Xuekai have o f f e r e d a c o n s i s t e n t and i n t e r e s t i n g r e a d i n g of t h i s poem based on the f i r s t i n t e r p r e t a -t i o n . Because they i d e n t i f y the speaker throughout the poem with the Queen Mother, t h e i r r eading suggests t h a t even the Goddess h e r s e l f wonders why King Mu i s not back a g a i n . In other words, she i s , i r o n i c a l l y , as u n c e r t a i n , or has as l i t t l e c o n t r o l over 199 the d e s t i n i e s of men as men themselves! Since King Mu never r e t u r n e d to the Jade P o o l , i t i s obvious t h a t he had d i e d and f a i l e d to a t t a i n immortal l i f e . To support t h e i r r e a d i n g , Yu and L i u suggest t h a t l i n e 2 i n d i c a t e s the death of the King, i n t e r -p r e t i n g , t h e r e f o r e , the " w a i l i n g songs of Yellow Bamboo" as the c r i e s of the people mourning the death of t h e i r King r a t h e r than v i c e v e r s a . 8 0 They have completely c o n t r a d i c t e d and misread the source meaning of the a l l u s i o n , something which, i f ever intended by the poet, i s not r e a d i l y apparent i n the t e x t . So much f o r these r e a d i n g s . Because of the suggestiveness of the a l l u s i o n s and the l a c k of a s p e c i f i c r e f e r e n c e , I b e l i e v e t h a t t h i s poem a l s o warrants a symbolic i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . The poem opens with a very i n v i t i n g scene, with images drawn from the f i r s t a l l u s i o n . At the Jade P o o l , the Queen Mother ( a f f e c t i o n a t e l y addressed as "Amu" "Mother" here) i s p i c t u r e d as s i t t i n g by her wide-open window, as i f a w a i t i n g e a g e r l y the king's r e t u r n . The scene a l s o suggests an expectant and c a r i n g F a i r y Godmother, l o o k i n g from out of the window of her c e l e s t i a l home to view the human world. Yet a l l t h i s may very w e l l be j u s t the i m a g i n a t i o n of our poet. Does the Queen Mother a c t u a l l y e x i s t ? Is there r e a l l y an immortal l a n d , an u l t i m a t e s t a t e where happiness and p e r f e c t harmony can be a t t a i n e d ? L i n e 2 i s a s t a r k answer to l i n e l - - t h e two l i n e s being juxtaposed to b r i n g out the i r o n y i n the f i r s t one. Together they imply t h a t i f a Queen Mother d i d e x i s t , and i f she d i d have f e e l i n g s f o r the human world, men would not have 200 to endure a l l of l i f e ' s s u f f e r i n g s . L i n e s 3 and 4 are again two c o n t r a s t i n g l i n e s put s i d e by s i d e to b r i n g out the same ques-t i o n . King Mu's horses are known to be the s w i f t e s t i n the world. I f h i s steeds c o u l d run t h i r t y thousand m i l e s a day, why then i s he never back at the Jade Pool again as he promised? Does t h a t i d e a l s t a t e r e a l l y e x i s t , or have we been going through l i f e c hasing a f t e r an i l l u s i o n ? The a l l u s i o n s i n t h i s poem a l s o b r i n g out two p a r a l l e l s i t u a t i o n s . While the common l o t s t r u g g l e s j u s t to s u r v i v e c o l d and hunger, the King, immune to a l l t h i s s u f f e r i n g , has yet h i s own yearnings and d e s i r e s to f u l f i l l . Whether i t i s a s t r i v i n g f o r b a s i c w o r l d l y needs, f o r p h y s i c a l i m m o r t a l i t y , or u l t i m a t e s p i r i t u a l transcendence, as long as there i s l i f e , men are f o r e v e r caught i n a web of endless and hopeless l o n g i n g s , as L i Shangyin puts i t i n another poem: When l o t u s l e a v e s sprout, s p r i n g sorrow s t a r t s to grow; When l o t u s leaves wither, autumn sorrow i s f u l l ; Knowing f u l l w e l l t h a t emotions w i l l l a s t as long as l i f e remains, W i s t f u l l y gazing a t the r i v e r , I hear the r i v e r ' s f l o w . 8 1 Yet, t h e i r endless yearnings and p u r s u i t s are doomed to f r u s t r a -t i o n because the u l t i m a t e i d e a l i s by d e f i n i t i o n u n a t t a i n a b l e . In sum, a l l u s i o n has been used as the s u b j e c t of t h i s poem; tha t i s , the very substance of L i Shangyin's i m p l i e d n a r r a t i v e . By p i e c i n g together and o r g a n i z i n g c r e a t i v e l y three u n r e l a t e d 201 a l l u s i o n s to King Mu, L i accomplishes three t h i n g s - - t e l l s a s t o r y , presents a human s i t u a t i o n , and comments on i t - - a l l at the same time. The q u e s t i o n i n the c o n c l u d i n g l i n e , which i s a l s o p a r t of the n a r r a t i v e , f o r c e s the reader to make the connections among the a l l u s i o n s so as to come to an understanding of the poem's s i g n i f i c a n c e . (IV) 202 In "Mudan" (Pe o n i e s ) , we have a prototype of l a t e r yongwu poems i n which an o b j e c t i s c e l e b r a t e d o b l i q u e l y through a l l u s i o n s . Without making any e x p l i c i t r e f e r e n c e to the flowers themselves, the poet presents through v i v i d a l l u s i v e images a complex p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n of the peonies, s k e t c h i n g t h e i r shapes, movements, c o l o r s and s c e n t s . Although t h i s poem has been dis p a r a g e d by some c r i t i c s , i t i s i n f a c t a s u c c e s s f u l p i e c e , unusual and ingenious i n i t s a l l u s i v e e f f e c t s . 8 2 While i n most other cases an a l l u s i o n i s used to b r i n g out the analogy or comparison between two human s i t u a t i o n s , L i uses, i n t h i s poem, images from s t o r i e s and human events to r e - c r e a t e c e r t a i n p e r c e i v e d q u a l i t i e s i n a n a t u r a l o b j e c t . With t h i s technique, the poet has achieved through the use of a l l u s i o n what a p a i n t e r does with c o l o r s and p a i n t - b r u s h . F u r t h e r , the beauty of the peonies i s g i v e n more than l i t e r a l s i g n i f i c a n c e when i t comes to repre s e n t a whole range of p o s s i b i l i t i e s through the use of a l l u s i o n , a f e a t u r e which became more and more prominent i n the development of the yongwu genre. "Peonies" 1 The newly r a i s e d brocade c u r t a i n r e v e a l s a Lady Wei. The embroidered c o v e r l e t s t i l l heaps over P r i n c e E of Yue. Hanging hands, f r e e l y swaying carved jade pendants. Bending w a i s t s , dancing r i v a l s k i r t s of l u s h g o l d . 5 Candles of the Shi Family--have they ever been trimmed? 203 The incense burner of P r e f e c t Xun--who needs t h a t f o r perfume? I am the magic c o l o r - b r u s h which comes i n a dream, Wishing to sketch blossoms and leaves to send to the (FH: 24) There are e i g h t a l l u s i v e images i n t h i s poem, one i n each l i g h t i n g t h e i r v a r i o u s a s p e c t s . The d i f f e r e n t q u a l i t i e s of the peonies, t h e i r shapes and arrangements, t h e i r dance and movements i n the wind, t h e i r r e s p l e n d e n t c o l o r s and permeating f r a g r a n c e s come a l i v e by means of comparisons and p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n through the use of a l l u s i o n s . In the c o n c l u d i n g l i n e s , the speaker o f f e r s to send t h i s v i g n e t t e as a g i f t to someone s p e c i a l . Because of i t s prominent s i z e and v a r i e t y of c o l o r s , the peony has t r a d i t i o n a l l y been c o n s i d e r e d as "King of the f l o w e r s " by the Chinese. A f t e r years of c a r e f u l c u l t i v a t i o n , i t has become a flower which i s grown s p e c i f i c a l l y f o r l e i s u r e viewing, hence i t s a s s o c i a t i o n with n o b i l i t y , elegance and a f f l u e n c e . 8 3 A c c o r d i n g l y , L i ' s poem opens with two a p p r o p r i a t e a l l u s i o n s , Lady Wei and P r i n c e E--a b e a u t i f u l woman and a handsome man—both from noble backgrounds. In the Shi Ji the r a v i s h i n g Nan Z i V P J -7 » meet with C o n f u c i u s , s a y i n g : "Gentlemen from the f o u r c o r n e r s of the world have a l l , without e x c e p t i o n , come to pay me v i s i t s . " 8 4 The Master, unable to d e c l i n e , went to v i s i t her. As Lady Wei sa t behind her brocade c u r t a i n , Confucius, bowing deeply, greeted morning c l o u d . l i n e . L i n e s 1-6 present a v e r b a l p i c t u r e of the peonies, h i g h -i s s a i d to have asked to 204 her with utmost r e s p e c t . Thereupon she r e t u r n e d h i s g r e e t i n g from behind the screen, and the j i n g l i n g sounds of her jade pendants c o u l d be h e a r d . 8 5 In the Analects, i t i s s a i d t h a t Z i Lu was c r i t i c a l of the Master's v i s i t to Nan Z i . Confucius answered by impl y i n g t h a t he had committed no i m p r o p r i e t y . 8 6 A l l of t h i s , of course, enhances the sugg e s t i o n of how c a p t i v a t i n g Lady Wei was. Thus when the peony i n i t s i n i t i a l bloom i s compared to Lady Wei's newly r a i s e d brocade c u r t a i n , r e v e a l i n g her t r u e beauty, the l o v e l i n e s s of the flower i s p e r s o n i f i e d . In l i n e 2, an a l l u s i o n i s made to the s t o r y of P r i n c e E which we encountered i n "Emerald Walls." The P r i n c e was f l o a t i n g along one day i n h i s l u x u r i o u s p l e a s u r e boat. As the music came to a stop, a woman of Yue who was then a t the t i l l e r c o u r t e d him with a lo v e song. The P r i n c e thereupon embraced her and took her i n under h i s q u i l t . 8 7 Because P r i n c e E was the b r o t h e r of King Chu, both t r a d i t i o n a l and contemporary c r i t i c s t h i n k t h a t L i Shangyin should have r e f e r r e d to him as "Chu Ejun" ( P r i n c e E of Chu) r a t h e r than "Yue Ejun" ( P r i n c e E of Yue). They have unanimously c r i t i c i z e d L i f o r making a mistake matching p a r a l l e l ("Yue Ejun" /^Sf % tor "Wei Furen" or simply a l l u d i n g i n a c c u r a t e l y because he wants to c r e a t e a ) i n the f i r s t two l i n e s . 8 8 T h i s c r i t i c i s m i s r e a l l y i n v a l i d because L i c o u l d e a s i l y have s u b s t i t u t e d "Chu" f o r "Yue" i n l i n e 2, c o n s i d e r i n g t h a t they are both p l a c e names t h a t c o u l d be used a d j e c t i v a l l y , and t h a t they both belong to the o b l i q u e tone. There are, however, two reasons why L i Shangyin's phrase "Yue 205 Ejun" i s r e a d i l y j u s t i f i e d . F i r s t , i t c o u l d be understood as "Princ e E at Yue" s i n c e the s t o r y t h a t L i i s concerned with here very l i k e l y took p l a c e at Yue. More i m p o r t a n t l y , a r e f e r e n c e t o "Yue" makes more p o e t i c sense than one to "Chu" because i t i n c o r p o r a t e s the romantic background of the a l l u s i o n i n t o the l i n e , suggesting t h a t the p e t a l s of the peonies are h e a v i l y l a y e r e d , l i k e the p r e t t y c o v e r l e t heaping over both the P r i n c e and the g i r l from Yue. In l i n e s 3-4, the shapes, movements and c o l o r s of the peonies are s i m u l t a n e o u s l y evoked when they are p e r s o n i f i e d i n the b u s t l i n g and p i c t u r e s q u e dance of some s p l e n d i d l y dressed l a d i e s . While "hanging hands" (chuishou ) a l l u d e s to a p a r t i c u l a r type of dance, both "hanging hands" and "bending w a i s t s " {mba7mep\ t$T ) d e s c r i b e the movements of the dances as w e l l as the v a r i e d poses and arrangements of the p e o n i e s . 8 9 The phrases " f r e e l y swaying" (luanfan ) a n d " r i v a l l i n g i n dance" (zhengwu ) not onl y imply t h a t there are many peony blossoms, but t h a t they are a l l v i t a l and a l i v e . The " l u s h g o l d " (yujin ) i n l i n e 4 i s a r e f e r e n c e to an h e r b a l p l a n t of t h a t name which i s o f t e n used as a d y e . 9 0 Together, the images of "carved jade pendants" and " s k i r t s of l u s h g o l d " not on l y impart a feminine beauty to the f l o w e r s , they a l s o suggest a v a r i e t y of r i c h and resplendent c o l o r s . In l i n e s 5-6, the poet f u r t h e r d e p i c t s the s i g h t s and scents of the peonies. In the Shishuo Xinyu the a f f l u e n t f & and n o t o r i o u s l y extravagant Shi Chongy\2 -ttf^ °f the J i n Dynasty 206 i s s a i d to have f l a u n t e d h i s wealth by u s i n g candles as f i r e -wood. 9 1 Because the candles are used as firewood, they are, as L i suggests, never trimmed. While r e f i n e d and w e l l - t o - d o Chinese f a m i l i e s u s u a l l y wore c l o t h e s perfumed over incense burners, i n the Xiangyang Ji 1*"^) ^tS, i t i s s a i d t h a t Xun Yu ^ > a c e r t a i n shangshu ling ( P r e f e c t of the Masters of W r i t i n g ) d u r i n g the L a t e r Han, scented h i s c l o t h e s so h e a v i l y t h a t wherever he went, h i s perfume would l i n g e r f o r more than three d a y s . 9 2 Together, these two a l l u s i o n s suggest that the peonies o f f e r both a b l a z i n g s i g h t (the c a n d l e s , u s u a l l y r e d i n c o l o r , used as firewood) and a l a s t i n g f r a g r a n c e (scent which l i n g e r s f o r more than three days). The l a v i s h imagery from the two s t o r i e s f i l l s our i m a g i n a t i o n with the s u p e r l a t i v e beauty of the f l o w e r s . In u s i n g the two a l l u s i o n s i n these l i n e s , there i s a l s o the s u g g e s t i o n t h a t these peonies may have been brought to f u l l bloom by some a r t i f i c i a l warming e f f e c t (the verb f o r t h i s process i n Chinese i s xun » the same verb which d e s c r i b e s the process of " s c e n t i n g " ) . 9 3 Although t h i s poem i s w r i t t e n i n the r e g u l a t e d verse form, which t y p i c a l l y c o n s i s t s of two balanced middle c o u p l e t s e n c l o s e d i n the beginning and at the end by two s e t s of r e l a t i v e l y d i r e c t and l e s s d e n s e l y i m a g i s t i c l i n e s , L i Shangyin has c r e a t e d h i s own i n t e r n a l s t r u c t u r e here w i t h i n the p r e s c r i b e d framework. By c o n s t r u c t i n g an e x t r a , balanced opening c o u p l e t , he p r o v i d e s a t o t a l of t h r e e p a i r e d l i n e s ( L i n e s 1-6) devoted to the s k e t c h i n g of the peonies. T h i s o b j e c t i v e and d i s i n t e r e s t e d d e p i c t i o n of 207 the flowers i s giv e n s i g n i f i c a n c e i n the l a s t two l i n e s when the speaker steps i n to o f f e r h i s poem to "the morning c l o u d . " In l i n e 7, the poet takes p r i d e i n h i s t a l e n t by a l l u d i n g to tha t someone demanded the r e t u r n of a f i v e - c o l o r e d brush which J i a n g Yan had borrowed from him many years ago. A f t e r h i s dream, t h i s poem, however, L i Shangyin i s o n l y concerned with the f a c t t h a t he has such a magic brush, implying t h a t he i s a g r e a t l y g i f t e d w r i t e r who wishes to o f f e r h i s t a l e n t i n s k e t c h i n g the peonies and sending the poem as a g i f t to the "morning c l o u d . " Since t h i s i s a r e f e r e n c e to the s p i r i t of the Goddess d e s c r i b e d i n King Xiang's romantic dream, one p o s s i b l e meaning of l i n e s 7-8 c o u l d be t h a t the poet wants to send t h i s poem to a woman he lov e s and admires. Or, f u r t h e r s t i l l , as Cheng Mengxing has sug-gested, the p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n of the flowers c o u l d a l s o be under-stood c o n v e r s e l y as a comparison of the lad y to the p e o n i e s . 9 3 I f we review some p e r t i n e n t background i n L i Shangyin's biography, we may even i d e n t i f y other p o s s i b l e meanings f o r the l a s t two l i n e s . We mentioned e a r l i e r t h a t L i s t u d i e d the a r t of p a r a l l e l prose and c o n s c i o u s l y c u l t i v a t e d h i s w r i t i n g s k i l l s as an a r t i s t under Linghu Chu. In one of h i s poems to h i s patron, he went as f a r to r e f e r to t h i s g i f t as "the abbot's gown" which Linghu had passed on to h i m . 9 6 I f we r e c o n s i d e r l i n e s 7-8 i n t h i s l i g h t , we may understand i t to mean th a t L i has obtained h i s s k i l l as a f i n e w r i t e r from Linghu. With t h i s s p e c i a l g i f t , he the s t o r y J i a n g once dreamed J i a n g i s s a i d to have completely l o s t h i s w r i t i n g a b i l i t y . 9 4 In 208 would now l i k e to o f f e r h i s t a l e n t i n w r i t i n g to Linghu h i m s e l f , s i n c e Linghu i s s a i d to be p a r t i c u l a r l y fond of the p e o n i e s . 9 7 Or, i t might be a g i f t he i s o f f e r i n g to anyone who c o u l d help him i n h i s c a r e e r . A poem to the "morning c l o u d " would, i n t h a t case, r e p r e s e n t an encounter with someone s p e c i a l and i n f l u e n -t i a l . In such an a n a l y s i s , the beauty of the peonies c o u l d be equated with the poet's own t a l e n t s (which have been made to bloom through c a r e f u l c u l t i v a t i o n ) which he has v i v i d l y per-s o n i f i e d . Although c r i t i c s d i f f e r e d i n t h e i r exact d a t i n g of t h i s poem, 9 8 c o n s i d e r i n g i t s c o n f i d e n t tone and the a l l u s i o n t h a t L i uses to d e s c r i b e h i s own t a l e n t , there should be l i t t l e doubt t h a t t h i s poem was w r i t t e n d u r i n g the e a r l i e r years of h i s l i f e . 9 9 T h i s poem i l l u s t r a t e s p a r t i c u l a r l y w e l l how L i Shangyin uses a l l u s i o n i n a h i g h l y complex metaphorical process which c r e a t e s e f f e c t s of p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n . The flowers are endowed with l i f e and t h e i r q u a l i t i e s suggested not by simple, i s o l a t e d metaphors, or the d i r e c t use of verbs which p e r s o n i f y , ( f o r there i s no a c t u a l a n i m i s t i c p r o j e c t i o n ) , but by s u b t l e analogy, through a network of a s s o c i a t i o n s drawn from a l l u s i v e sources. The a l -l u s i o n s are c a r e f u l l y chosen to c r e a t e an aura of r i c h n e s s , elegance and s o p h i s t i c a t i o n , which b e f i t s the image of the fl o w e r s . The two r e f e r e n c e s at the end of the poem a l s o e l e v a t e the p i e c e from i t s o b j e c t i v e and l i t e r a l l e v e l to gi v e i t pe r s o n a l and a l l e g o r i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e . 209 (V) C o n t r a r y t o the impression of many c a s u a l readers and c r i t i c s , L i Shangyin does not concern h i m s e l f " s o l e l y with the anguish of lov e and the beauty of women." 1 0 0 N e i t h e r does he "ignore s o c i e t y " 1 0 1 nor " f a i l to d i s c u s s the o r d e r i n g of the S t a t e " . 1 0 2 Close to a hundred of L i ' s poems, as mentioned e a r l i e r , may be c l a s s i f i e d as " h i s t o r i c a l , " or " s o c i a l and p o l i t i c a l " commentaries, many of which c o n t a i n d i r e c t r e f e r e n c e to c u r r e n t i s s u e s . The f o l l o w i n g i s an example of L i ' s many s u c c e s s f u l yongshi p i e c e s w r i t t e n i n the seven-character r e g u l a t e d verse form. What i s worth n o t i n g here i s not o n l y the a l l e g o r i c a l meaning the poem generates and the s u b t l e comparisons i t makes on a contemporary f i g u r e and e v e n t s — s o m e t h i n g not uncommon i n yongshi p o e t r y . More i m p o r t a n t l y , i t i s the way h i s a l l u s i o n s u n i f y the d e s c r i p -t i v e , the n a r r a t i v e , the s a t i r i c a l and the l y r i c a l elements i n the poem. These i n t e r m i n g l i n g e f f e c t s are r e m i n i s c e n t of what we have d i s c u s s e d e a r l i e r i n "The Jade P o o l . " T h i s " h i s t o r i c a l poem" i s i n e f f e c t the c o u n t e r p a r t of the " m y t h o l o g i c a l " one i n t h a t they both demonstrate a s i m i l a r use of a l l u s i o n to c r e a t e m u l t i p l e e f f e c t s . In the case of the " h i s t o r i c a l " poem, however, t h i s technique has s p e c i a l i m p l i c a t i o n s . What L i Shangyin has done i n the f o l l o w i n g example i s to o f f e r a balanced t r i b u t e to a h i s t o r i c a l f i g u r e by c r i t i c a l l y a s s e s s i n g h i s s t r e n g t h s and 210 weaknesses, u s i n g a s e r i e s of a l l u s i o n s to form t h a t b i o g r a p h i c a l framework. He has done i t not i n the d i r e c t , o b j e c t i v e language of e x p o s i t o r y prose, but through the s u b t l e suggestion of a d e s c r i p t i v e l y r i c . In other words, he uses a l l u s i o n to i n f u s e p o e t r y with c r i t i c a l , b i o g r a p h i c a l commentary, so t h a t he serves h i s r o l e s i m u l t a n e o u s l y as a l y r i c i s t and a h i s t o r i c a l c r i t i c . "The Maoling Mausoleum" 1 The Han Family's Heavenly Horses came from Pushao. A l f a l f a p l a n t s and pomegranate flowers spread a l l over n e i g h b o r i n g f i e l d s . The Inner Imperial Gardens knew o n l y o f l i c k i n g phoenix beaks, The entourage of c a r r i a g e s no longer f l i e s a f e a t h e r y cock banner. 5 For s t e a l i n g jade peaches, Fang Shuo was e s p e c i a l l y f a v o r e d . B u i l d i n g a golden chamber, A j i a o was e x t r a v a g a n t l y housed. Who c o u l d f o r e s e e t h a t when Su Wu r e t u r n e d to h i s cou n t r y an o l d man, Amidst b i r c h e s and p i n e s , d e s o l a t e and f o r l o r n i n the r a i n , a Maoling Mausoleum. (FH: 264) Although t h i s poem i s o s t e n s i b l y about Han Wudi V (Emperor Wu of Han), c r i t i c s have g e n e r a l l y agreed t h a t i t was w r i t t e n as a concealed r e f e r e n c e to Tang Wuzong T | I "*J"> (Emperor Wu of Tang), and there are good reasons to support such an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . 1 0 3 The t i t l e of the poem "Maoling" f^O^ ( l i t e r a l l y "Luxuriant 211 Mausoleum") i s the name of Wudi's Mausoleum. There are a l -together ten a l l u s i o n s , evenly d i s t r i b u t e d throughout the poem. Each a l l u s i o n i n l i n e s 1-3, 5-7 b r i n g s out an anecdote or h i s t o r i c a l f a c t which i l l u s t r a t e s one aspect of Wudi's r e i g n , while l i n e 4 and l i n e 8 each makes a r e f e r e n c e to the emperor's death, with the l a s t l i n e echoing the t i t l e of the poem. Han Wudi i s probably one of the best known of Chinese monarchs. He d i d a g r e a t d e a l to c o n s o l i d a t e the power of the c o u r t and the i n t e r n a l s t a b i l i t y of the country, a t the same time, launch i n g an outward-looking and e x p a n s i o n i s t f o r e i g n p o l i c y . Much t r a d i n g and c u l t u r a l exchange took p l a c e a f t e r h i s conquests of a number of c o u n t r i e s o u t s i d e of the western f r o n t i e r of China as w e l l as h i s development of the famous S i l k Road. Because of h i s a c t i v e a d m i n i s t r a t i o n , as w e l l as h i s e n e r g e t i c p e r s o n a l i t y , h i s o b s e s s i o n with the p u r s u i t of immortal l i f e , many anecdotes and c o l o r f u l s t o r i e s have been t o l d about him, some f a c t u a l , some f i c t i o n a l . L i n e s 1-2 i n "Maoling" c o n t a i n three r e f e r e n c e s which suggest Wudi's m i l i t a r y s t r e n g t h and h i s p o l i c y of aggrandize-of horses brought back from Ferghana a f t e r the conquest of t h a t country i n C e n t r a l A s i a . From the "Pushao," the Han c o u r t l a t e r bred the famous "Heavenly Horses" to f i l l the i m p e r i a l s t a b l e . 1 0 4 According to the Han Shu, the n e i g h b o r i n g areas of Ferghana were f i l l e d with a l f a l f a p l a n t s t h a t i t s horses l o v e d to feed on. In order to r a i s e the horses p r o p e r l y , the emperor had a l f a l f a seeds ment. i n l i n e 1 i s the name of a s p e c i a l breed 212 brought back to the c a p i t a l and p l a n t e d a l l over the f i e l d s surrounding the i m p e r i a l r e s i d e n c e s . 1 0 5 Other than t h i s , the Bowu Zhi a l s o mentions a v a r i e t y of e x o t i c f r u i t s and p l a n t s i n t r o d u c e d i n t o China f o r the f i r s t time by Zhang Qian ^p<.„ a f t e r h i s o f f i c i a l e x p e d i t i o n s to the f a r west v i a the S i l k R o a d . 1 0 6 Among them i s the pomegranate which L i Shangyin c i t e s i n l i n e 2. Thus i n two l i n e s and three a l l u s i o n s , L i Shangyin p r e s e n t s the d i p l o m a t i c and m i l i t a r y g l o r i e s of Han Wudi i n a v i v i d and p i c t u r e s q u e landscape. According to a m y t h o l o g i c a l t a l e i n the Shizhou Ji """j" ^ L-i , the immortals l i v i n g on the ( I s l a n d of Phoenixes and Unicorns) make a s p e c i a l glue by b o i l i n g the beaks of phoenixes. I t i s s a i d t h a t a western v a s s a l s t a t e o f f e r e d some such magic glue to Han Wudi as an o f f i c i a l t r i b u t e . When Wudi went hunting one day i n h i s i m p e r i a l park, an ambassador from t h a t s t a t e accompanying him at the time helped the emperor f i x h i s broken bow by wetting some of the magic glue i n h i s mouth. 1 0 7 Thus when the poet w r i t e s , "The I m p e r i a l Gardens knew only of l i c k i n g phoenix beaks," he i s o b v i o u s l y suggesting t h a t the emperor spends a g r e a t d e a l of h i s time hunting. The "entourage of c a r r i a g e s " i n l i n e 4 r e f e r s to the r o y a l p r o c e s s i o n which, a c c o r d i n g to the Hou Hanshu, c o n s i s t e d as many as eighty-one c a r r i a g e s . 1 0 8 "The f e a t h e r y cock banner" r e f e r s to the banner made up of c o l o r f u l f e a t h e r s of r a r e b i r d s hung upon an i m p e r i a l c a r r i a g e (which the people m i s t a k e n l y took to be made up of cock f e a t h e r s ) . 1 0 9 When the poet says t h a t the banner i s no longer seen on the r o y a l entourage, he i s symbolizing the death of the emperor. At t h i s p o i n t , the poet moves back i n time to r e l a t e other aspects of Wudi's l i f e . L i n e 5 a l l u d e s to the s t o r y of Dongfang Shuo mentioned e a r l i e r . 1 1 0 The focus here, however, i s on the emperor's p u r s u i t of p h y s i c a l i m m o r t a l i t y suggested i n the s p e c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p between him and h i s f a v o r i t e c o u r t j e s t e r . In l i n e 6, the poet a l l u d e s to an anecdote i n the Hanwu Gushi • When Wudi was onl y a few years o l d , he was asked i n j e s t i f he wanted to take i n a w i f e . The young Wudi p o i n t e d at the l i t t l e daughter of a Grand P r i n c e s s , s a y i n g , " I f I c o u l d marry A j i a o "PtT'H/'^" > I w i l l b u i l d a golden chamber to house h e r ! " 1 1 1 Although the s t o r y of A j i a o i s j u s t an extravagant image taken from Wudi's c h i l d h o o d anecdote, i t does suggest the emperor's indulgence i n s a t i s f y i n g the p l e a s u r e s of h i s women. 1 1 2 L i n e s 7-8 conclude with an a l l u s i o n to Su W u j j ^ ^ ^ j 1 who was sent by Wudi as an ambassador to n e g o t i a t e with the Xiongnu, a nomadic people t h r e a t e n i n g the no r t h e r n f r o n t i e r of China. Su Wu was f o r c i b l y d e t a i n e d by the Xiongnu f o r n i n e t e e n years b e f o r e he was f i n a l l y r e l e a s e d . When he re t u r n e d to the Han c o u r t , Wudi had been dead f o r a few y e a r s . 1 1 3 On i t s f i r s t l e v e l , t h e r e f o r e , "Maoling" i s a c r i t i c a l biography of Han Wudi. Since the t i t l e of the poem i s Wudi's Mausoleum, the i d e a of h i s death seems to be what i n s p i r e s t h i s poem. I t i s p o s s i b l e t h a t the p i e c e was w r i t t e n when L i Shangyin was a c t u a l l y p a s s i n g by "Maoling," which makes t h i s a huaigu as w e l l as a yongshi poem. On the other hand, i t c o u l d have been i n s p i r e d by the death of a Tang emperor, which L i Shangyin wishes to w r i t e o b l i q u e l y u s i n g the analogy of Wudi. In any case, the n o t i o n of death i s touched upon h a l f way through the poem and repeated again a t the end, echoing the t i t l e of the p i e c e , and the e n t i r e poem i s s t r u c t u r e d i n such a way t h a t i t i s almost l i k e a double q u a t r a i n . The f i r s t t h r e e l i n e s suggest the m i l i t a r y and d i p l o m a t i c e x p l o i t s of the emperor and comment on h i s fondness f o r hunting. The f i r s t q u a t r a i n c l o s e s on an ominous note t h a t c o n t r a s t s the pomp of the past with the omnipresent r e a l i t y of death. L i n e s 5-6 p a r a l l e l l i n e s 1-2 by opening with glowing c o l o r s , suggesting, but not a l t o g e t h e r endorsing, Wudi's v a i n r e l i g i o u s p u r s u i t s and l a v i s h p l e a s u r e s . The seventh l i n e undermines not o n l y the preceding three l i n e s , but, i n f a c t , subverts the e n t i r e poem by i n t r o d u c i n g Su Wu as an image of Time who r e t u r n s to oversee Death, as he contemplates the i m p e r i a l Mausoleum, which i s now no more than a d e s o l a t e , f o r l o r n monument i n the r a i n . Is t h i s poem onl y a m e d i t a t i o n on the v a n i t i e s of l i f e as seen i n the biography of Wudi? An a l l e g o r i c a l r eading i s a l s o p o s s i b l e . Since the Han i s a prominent e r a i n Chinese h i s t o r y , i t was a common p r a c t i c e among Tang poets to compare t h e i r own emperors to those of Han. As one of the l a s t r u l e r s of a d e c l i n i n g regime, i t seems h a r d l y a p p r o p r i a t e to compare Tang Wuzong to Han Wudi, but there are c e r t a i n aspects and t r a i t s 215 common to those two monarchs. Among the few emperors r u l i n g d u r i n g L i Shangyin's time, Wuzong was the one who showed the most promise, perhaps even r e v i t a l i z i n g the c o u r t and r e a s s e r t i n g i t s power. When Wuzong came to the throne, he appointed a capable a d m i n i s t r a t o r , L i Deyu, as c h i e f m i n i s t e r . Time and time again, he took L i ' s sound advi c e a g a i n s t the views of the m a j o r i t y . During h i s r e i g n , the Tang c o u r t managed to defuse the border t e n s i o n c r e a t e d by Uighur s e t t l e r s encroaching on i t s n o r t h e r n f r o n t i e r , and i n two years time, e l i m i n a t e d the Uighurs c o m p l e t e l y . 1 1 4 Under Wuzong, the c o u r t a l s o crushed the r e b e l f o r c e s a t Zhaoyi when, a f t e r L i u Congjian's death, L i u Zhen claimed the m i l i t a r y g overnorship as h i s u n c l e ' s h e i r , i n d e f i a n c e of the c o u r t ' s o r d e r . 1 1 5 The "Biography of Wuzong" i n the Jiu Tangshu has t h i s t o say about h i s achievements: "Astute i n h i s s t r a t e g i e s and brave i n h i s d e c i s i o n s , (Wuzong) recovered much of t h a t r o y a l presence l o s t i n the p a s t . . . . Under him, t h i n g s were r e s t o r e d to t h e i r proper order, and the c o u r t r e g a i n e d i t s s t a t u r e . " 1 1 6 D e s p i t e h i s s t r e n g t h s and m i l i t a r y triumphs, Wuzong had h i s p e r s o n a l weaknesses. He had a p a s s i o n f o r hunting, to the extent t h a t he was o f t e n absent from the c o u r t and had to be reminded of h i s r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s by h i s a d v i s o r s . 1 1 7 Wuzong was a l s o a D a o i s t devotee, who b e l i e v e d i n the p u r s u i t of p h y s i c a l immor-t a l i t y . He was e s p e c i a l l y fond of the D a o i s t adept Zhao Guizhen , a r r a n g i n g f o r him and other D a o i s t p r i e s t s to work f u l l - t i m e , conducting r e l i g i o u s r i t u a l s and producing D a o i s t 216 amulets f o r h i m . 1 1 8 I t was a l s o because of an over-indulgence i n e l i x i r drugs t h a t Wuzong d i e d a t the age of t h i r t y - t w o , only f i v e years a f t e r he came to the t h r o n e . 1 1 9 L i Shangyin wrote a s e r i e s of three poems with the e x p l i c i t t i t l e of "Zhaosu Huangdi Wangeci" mourn the death of Wuzong. The s e r i e s i s a eulogy on the emperor, p r a i s i n g h i s m i l i t a r y achievements. Without being c r i t i c a l , i t a l s o laments Wuzong's death as a r e s u l t of h i s D a o i s t r e l i g i o u s p u r s u i t s . 1 2 o With a l l t h i s i n the background, i t does seem p o s s i b l e to i n t e r p r e t "Maoling" on a second l e v e l as an i n d i r e c t r e f e r e n c e to Wuzong, a c r i t i c a l assessment of h i s l i f e as opposed to the eulogy of the "Zhaosu..." poems. In t h i s case, l i n e s 1-2 r e f e r to h i s m i l i t a r y accomplish-ments; l i n e 3 to h i s p a s s i o n f o r hunting; l i n e 4 to h i s e a r l y death; l i n e 5 to h i s s p e c i a l treatment of Zhao Guizhen and h i s p u r s u i t of D a o i s t i m m o r t a l i t y ; l i n e 6 to h i s fondness f o r Consort Wang and h i s i n t e n t i o n s to make her E m p r e s s . 1 2 1 The Qing c r i t i c Xu Fengyuan suggests t h a t Su Wu i n l i n e 7 i s a r e f e r e n c e to f i v e eminent o f f i c i a l s of the Niu f a c t i o n : L i Zongmin , Yang S i f u , Niu Sengru, L i Jue and Cui Gong , who were demoted d u r i n g the r e i g n of Wuzong and r e c a l l e d to the c o u r t when Xuanzong came to the t h r o n e . 1 2 2 T h i s i s not too c o n v i n c i n g , s i n c e L i was not p e r s o n a l l y c l o s e to these people nor d i d he p a r t i c u l a r l y i d e n t i f y h i m s e l f with the Niu f a c t i o n . A c c o r d i n g to Zhang E r t i a n ' s biography of the poet, L i had j u s t o b tained h i s f i r s t o f f i c i a l post as Sub-editor of the Imperial L i b r a r y d u r i n g the second year of Wuzong's r e i g n when h i s mother d i e d . L i resumed o f f i c e a f t e r s e r v i n g three years of mourning f o r h i s mother, l i v i n g away from the c a p i t a l . He had b a r e l y r e t u r n e d to h i s post when, a few months l a t e r , the emperor d i e d . 1 2 3 I tend to agree with Zhang t h a t Su Wu i n l i n e 7 i s b e t t e r read as a r e f e r e n c e to L i Shangyin h i m s e l f . 1 2 4 In so doing, we are not onl y r e a d i n g the poem p o l i t i c a l l y on an a l l e g o r i c a l l e v e l , but we a l s o i n c o r p o r a t e the poet's p e r s o n a l concerns i n t o the poem, something which occurs f r e q u e n t l y i n h i s poetry. In choosing to present and juxtapose a p p r o p r i a t e a l l u s i v e d e t a i l s from the biography of Han Wudi, L i Shangyin blends these s p e c i f i c s to c r e a t e a c r i t i q u e of the emperor i m a g i s t i c a l l y through s u g g e s t i o n and d e s c r i p t i o n . Although "Maoling" might have been w r i t t e n as a balanced commentary on Wudi when L i Shangyin was pa s s i n g by h i s Mausoleum, i t can a l s o be understood on another l e v e l as a mixed t r i b u t e to Wuzong, r e v e a l i n g the poet's complex f e e l i n g s about him and the r o l e he pla y e d as Emperor. 218 (VI) I f the poem " J i n s e " r e p r e s e n t s L i Shangyin's symbolic use of a l l u s i o n at i t s most s u g g e s t i v e , the f o l l o w i n g s e r i e s , "Mancheng Wuzhang" ( F i v e Casual P i e c e s ) , c e r t a i n l y demons-t r a t e s h i s a l l e g o r i c a l use of a l l u s i o n a t i t s most encompassing. Modelled a p p a r e n t l y on Du Fu's "Xiwei L i u J u e j u " (Six Q uatrains W r i t t e n i n J e s t ) , the s e r i e s assumes the same f r i v o l o u s t i t l e as Du's poems. L i k e Du Fu's sequence, however, i t i s a c t u a l l y s e r i o u s and engaging, and i t uses a sequence of q u a t r a i n s as i t s u n i f y i n g s t r u c t u r e . But t h a t i s where the s i m i l a r i t y between the two groups of poems ends. Du Fu's poems are an e x p r e s s i o n of h i s views on l i t e r a r y c r i t i c i s m and a proper a t t i t u d e toward past and present w r i t e r s . He c i t e s a number of names from the past, not as a l l u s i o n s , but as examples f o r d i r e c t , open d i s c u s s i o n . L i ' s s e r i e s , on the other hand, i s an a u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l review and p o l i t i c a l commentary, expressed c o v e r t l y throughout, by means of a l l u s i o n . " F i v e Casual P i e c e s " (1) T a i l o r i n g t h e i r v e r s e s , Shen and Song p r i d e d themselves on changing our prosody. P u t t i n g words on paper, Wang and Yang became good f r i e n d s . At the time, I thought I had found a model i n a f i n e master. Today, t h a t i s a l l but s k i l l i n w r i t i n g p a r a l l e l c o u p l e t s . 219 (2) L i and Du are equal i n t h e i r t a l e n t as w r i t e r s . The three u n i v e r s a l s t r a t a and myriad images were r e v e a l e d . A l a s , over the Immortals' Palace and the Golden B e l l Palace, The morning cock was confused with the f l i e s . (3) As f o r b e a r i n g f i n e sons, the a n c i e n t s had a Sun Zhengluo. To marry o f f one's daughter, there i s no more Wang Youjun. Well, how c o u l d spending a whole l i f e t o g ether amidst l u t e s and books, Be compared to one surrounded by t a s s e l e d c a r r i a g e s and the regard of o n e - t h i r d of the empire? (4) North of the Dai P r e f e c t u r e , l e a d i n g a regiment, he took the t i t l e of Commissioner. East of the Pass, the minor g e n e r a l b u i l t h i s outpost. Ignoring how he would u s u a l l y be sneered a t - -I t p l e a s e s one to see w i l d rushes used on the b a t t l e f r o n t . ( 5 ) C o u n c i l l o r Guo never advocated a m i l i t a n t p o l i c y . The Duke of Han meant on l y to keep peace on the f r o n t i e r s . S e n i o r s from both c a p i t a l s shed t e a r s - -As they witness, i n t h e i r l a t e years, n o r t h e r n a i r s i n the C e n t r a l P l a i n ! (FH: 402) T h i s s e r i e s i s a documentation and assessment of some of the most important events and aspects of L i Shangyin's