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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Wang Anshi’s (1021-1086) seven-syllable jueju on nature themes Edmonds, Susan Elizabeth


This thesis attempts to introduce the main characteristics of Wang Anshi’s (102 1-1086) style as it manifests itself in his seven-syllable jueju on nature themes. I begin with a biographical sketch of Wang, highlighting his personality and motivations as a statesman! poet. Except for this section, any further discussion of his reforms, or New Laws, for which he is best-known, is avoided. Instead, the focus is on illuminating the salient qualities of his technique and his nature imagery. Chapters One and Two provide background information in order to establish an understanding from which to approach Wang’s poetry. First, the structural features of the jueju form, as well as its historical development, are outlined. Next, the influence of Wang’s predecessors, such as Du Fu, Mei Yaochen, Ouyang Xiu and others, on his typically “Northern Song” style is analyzed. This involves briefly touching upon the features of the pingdan style and Wang’s views on literary theory. Chapter Three examines in detail Wang’s positive response to nature in his landscape poetry, particularly during his retirement years. His voice as a poet is evident in the patterns which emerge. Copious examples are translated and explicated, many for the first time here in the English language, which illustrate his preference for rugged mountains, rippling rivers, fragrant flower blossoms, and man harmoniously interacting with nature in springtime. His poetry emphasizes the careful selection of words, simplicity of language, the judicious and subtle use of allusion, and everyday events enriched by philosophical overtones. Finally, I summarize Wang’s accomplishments and contributions, and suggest other aspects of the study of his jueju that warrant further investigation. This thesis shows that he was a poet bound by tradition, yet he managed to successfully express his individuality with freshness. Thus, as an adept craftsman of serene, sensitive, and sincere nature poetry, he earned a place for himself among the Eight Masters of the Tang-Song Period.

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