Nineteen Old Poems

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Nineteen Old Poems (simplified Chinese :古诗十九首; traditional Chinese :古詩十九首; pinyin :Gǔshī Shíjiǔ Shǒu), also known as Ku-shih shih-chiu shou is an anthology of Chinese poems, consisting of nineteen poems which were probably originally collected during the Han Dynasty. These nineteen poems were very influential on later poetry, in part because of their use of the five-character line (or, wuyen shi). [1] The dating of the original poems is uncertain, [2] though in their present form they can be traced back to about 520 CE, when these poems were included in the famous literary analogy Wen Xuan , a compilation of literature attributed to the Liang Crown Prince Xiao Tong. The Nineteen Old Poems have been supposed to date mainly from the second century CE. [3] The gushi, or old style, poetry developed as an important poetic form of Classical Chinese poetry, in subsequent eras. The authorship of the "Nineteen Old Poems" is anonymous, however there are indications as to the authorship in terms of class and educational status, such as the focus on "the carriages and fine clothing, the mansions and entertainments of the upper classes", together with the literary references to the Shijing . [4] One of the tendencies of these poems is towards a "tone of brooding melancholy." [5]

Simplified Chinese characters standardized Chinese characters developed in mainland China

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Contents

-- Burton Watson, describing the Nineteen Old Poems, as quoted in his book Chinese Lyricism. [6]

See also

Classical Chinese poetry

Classical Chinese poetry is traditional Chinese poetry written in Classical Chinese and typified by certain traditional forms, or modes; traditional genres; and connections with particular historical periods, such as the poetry of the Tang Dynasty. Its existence was documented at least as early as the publication of the Classic of Poetry. Various combinations of forms and genres exist. Many or most of these were developed by the end of the Tang Dynasty, in 907 CE.

Gushi is one of the main poetry forms defined in Classical Chinese poetry, literally meaning "old poetry" or "old style poetry": gushi is a technical term for certain historically exemplary poems, together with later poetry composed in this formal style.

Han poetry

Han poetry as a style of poetry resulted in significant poems which are still preserved today, and which have their origin associated with the Han dynasty era of China, 206 BC – 220 AD, including the Wang Mang interregnum. The final years at the end of the Han era often receive special handling for purposes of literary analysis because, among other things, the poetry and culture of this period is less than typical of the Han period, and has important characteristics of its own, or it shares literary aspects with the subsequent Three Kingdoms period. This poetry reflects one of the poetry world's more important flowerings, as well as being a special period in Classical Chinese poetry, particularly in regard to the development of the quasipoetic fu; the activities of the Music Bureau in connection with the collection of popular ballads and the resultant development of what would eventually become known as the yuefu, or as the rhapsodic formal style; and, finally, towards the end of the Han Dynasty, the development of a new style of shi poetry, as the later development of the yuehfu into regular, fixed-line length forms makes it difficult to distinguish in form from the shi form of poetic verse, and at what point specific poems are classified as one or the other is somewhat arbitrary. Another important poetic contribution from the Han era is the compilation of the Chuci anthology, which contains some of the oldest and most important poetic verses to be preserved from ancient China, as well as the transmission of the Shijing anthology.

Notes

  1. Watson 18-19
  2. Watson, 19
  3. Watson, 19
  4. Watson, 19 and 31
  5. Watson, 30
  6. Watson, 32.

Related Research Articles

Chinese poetry literary tradition of China

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

Burton Watson translator

Burton Dewitt Watson was an American scholar best known for his numerous translations of Chinese and Japanese literature into English. Watson's translations received many awards, including the Gold Medal Award of the Translation Center at Columbia University in 1979, the PEN Translation Prize in 1982 for his translation with Hiroaki Sato of From the Country of Eight Islands: An Anthology of Japanese Poetry, and again in 1995 for Selected Poems of Su Tung-p'o. In 2015, at age 88, Watson was awarded the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation for his long and prolific translation career.

Shi (poetry)

Shi and shih are romanizations of the character 詩 or 诗, the Chinese word for all poetry generally and across all languages.

Yuefu are Chinese poems composed in a folk song style. The term originally literally meant "Music Bureau", a reference to the imperial Chinese governmental organization(s) originally charged with collecting or writing the lyrics, later the term yuefu was applied to later literary imitations or adaptations of the Music Bureau's poems. The use of fu in yuefu is different from the other Chinese term fu that refers to a type of poetry or literature: although homonyms in English, the other fu is a rhapsodic poetry/prose form of literature.

Shen Yue, courtesy name Xiuwen (休文), was a poet, statesman, and historian born in Huzhou, Zhejiang. He served emperors under the Liu Song Dynasty, the Southern Qi Dynasty, and the Liang Dynasty.

The Three Hundred Tang Poems is an anthology of poems from the Chinese Tang dynasty (618–907) first compiled around 1763 by Sun Zhu (1722–1778), the Qing Dynasty scholar, also known as Hengtang Tuishi. Various later editions also exist. All editions contain slightly more than 300 total poems: in this case, three hundred means not exactly 300 but refers to an estimative quantification; the ten, twenty, or more extra poems represent a sort of a good luck bonus, analogous to the "baker's dozen" in the West. Even more, the number 300 was a classic number for a poetry collection due to the influence of the Classic of Poetry, which was generally known as The Three Hundred Poems.

<i>Wen Xuan</i> literary work

The Wen Xuan, or Selections of Refined Literature, is one of the earliest and most important anthologies of Chinese poetry and literature, and is one of the world's oldest literary anthologies to be arranged by topic. It is a selection of what were judged to be the best poetic and prose pieces from the late Warring States period to the early Liang dynasty, excluding the Chinese Classics and philosophical texts. The Wen Xuan preserves most of the greatest fu rhapsody and shi poetry pieces from the Qin and Han dynasties, and for much of pre-modern history was one of the primary sources of literary knowledge for educated Chinese.

Classical Chinese poetry forms

Classical Chinese poetry forms are those poetry forms, or modes which typify the traditional Chinese poems written in Literary Chinese or Classical Chinese. Classical Chinese poetry has various characteristic forms, some attested to as early as the publication of the Classic of Poetry, dating from a traditionally, and roughly, estimated time of around 10th–7th century BC. The term "forms" refers to various formal and technical aspects applied to poems: this includes such poetic characteristics as meter, rhythm, and other considerations such as vocabulary and style. These forms and modes are generally, but not invariably, independent of the Classical Chinese poetry genres. Many or most of these were developed by the time of the Tang Dynasty, and the use and development of Classical Chinese poetry and genres actively continued up to until the May Fourth Movement, and still continues even today in the 21st century.

Classical Chinese poetry genres

Classical Chinese poetry genres are those genres which typify the traditional Chinese poems written in Classical Chinese. Some of these genres are attested to as early as the publication of the Classic of Poetry, dating from a traditionally, and roughly, estimated time of around 10th–7th century BCE, in what is now China, but at that time was composed of various independent states. The term "genres" refers to various aspects, such as to topic, theme, and subject matter, what similes or metaphors were considered appropriate or how they would be interpreted, and other considerations such as vocabulary and style. These genres were generally, but not always independent of the Classical Chinese poetry forms. Many or most of these forms and genres were developed by the Tang Dynasty, and the use and development of Classical Chinese poetry genres actively continued up to until the May Fourth Movement, in 1919, and still continues even today in the 21st century.

Qiu Wei (traditional Chinese: 邱為; simplified Chinese: 邱为; pinyin: Qiū Wéi, 694–789? was a Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty, with one of his poems being included in the famous anthology Three Hundred Tang Poems.

Pailü is one of the main forms of Classical Chinese poetry. It is a style of regulated verse (jintishi): the rules and regulations of the pailü allow for a poem composed of an unlimited series of linked couplets. The pailü form seems to have developed as part of 7th-century Tang poetry.

Midnight Songs poetry, also Tzu-yeh Songs, refers both to a genre of poetry as well as to specifically collected poems under the same name, during the fourth century CE. This is of major significance within the Classical Chinese poetry tradition, finding such practitioners of the genre as Li Bai ; as well as importantly influencing world poetry through translations, such as by David Hinton. The Midnight Songs have been much used as inspiration for later poetry.

Regulated verse – also known as Jintishi – is a development within Classical Chinese poetry of the shi main formal type. Regulated verse is one of the most important of all Classical Chinese poetry types. Although often regarded as a Tang Dynasty innovation, the origin of regulated verse within the Classical Chinese poetic tradition is associated with Shen Yue (441–513), based on his "four tones and eight defects" (四聲八病) theory regarding tonality. There are three types of regulated verse: the eight-lined lüshi, the four-lined jueju, and the linked couplets of indeterminate length pailu. All regulated verse forms are rhymed on the even lines, with one rhyme being used throughout the poem. Also, and definitionally, the tonal profile of the poem is controlled. Furthermore, semantic and tonal parallelism is generally required of certain interior couplets. During the Tang Dynasty, the "Shen-Song" team of Shen Quanqi and Song Zhiwen greatly contributed to the development of this Classical Chinese verse form.

Lüshi refers to a specific form of Classical Chinese poetry verse form. One of the most important poetry forms of classical Chinese poetry, the lüshi refers to an eight-line regulated verse form with lines made up of five, six, or seven characters; thus:

Six Dynasties poetry refers to those types or styles of poetry particularly associated with the Six Dynasties era of China. This poetry reflects one of the poetry world's more important flowerings, as well as being a unique period in Classical Chinese poetry, which, over this time period, developed a poetry with special emphasis on romantic love, gender roles, and human relationships. The Six Dynasties era is sometimes known as the "Age of Fragmentation", because China as a whole through this period lacked unification as a state, at least for any extended period of time; and, instead, many states rose and fell, often overlapping in existence with other states. Which of the various states and dynasties constituted the "6" dynasties of the Six Dynasties period varies somewhat according to which of the traditional selection criteria is chosen. The Six Dynasties era covers several somewhat overlapping main periods including all of the following: the Three Kingdoms (220–280), Jin dynasty, the Sixteen Kingdoms, and the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420–589). Sometimes, chronological discrepancies occur in regard to the turbulent political events of the time, from which these traditional historical-era designations derive, together with the somewhat different chronology of poetic developments. Thus, neither the lives of the poets nor the trends in their poetry fit gently and neatly together with these period dates. Furthermore, conversions to the Common Era dating system can create further complications. However, regardless of the chronological difficulties, major developments of poetry during the Six Dynasties include formalizing the distinction between the Jian'an era regular yuefu and the shi style poetry, further development of the fu, theoretical work on technique, and the preservation of both Six Dynasties and earlier poetry by collecting and publishing many of the pieces which survive today into various anthologies consisting all or in part of poetry.

Huaigu. is one of the Classical Chinese poetry genres. The huaigu is a type or style of poem, in which the poet looks back at some bygone time(s), place(s), or person(s), and the poem may be written in any of the Classical Chinese poetry forms. This is "one of the perennial themes of Chinese poetry," according to Burton Watson, in which "the poet contemplates the ruins of past glory."

Poetry of Cao Cao

Cao Cao (155–220) was a warlord who rose to power towards the final years of the Eastern Han Dynasty and became the de facto head of government in China. He laid the foundation for what was to become the state of Cao Wei (220–265), founded by his son and successor Cao Pi, in the Three Kingdoms period (220–280). Poetry, among other things, was one of his cultural legacies.

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