On Poems of South Tang Dynasty
|School||Northwest Normal University|
|Course||Ancient Chinese Literature|
|Keywords||Zhonghua Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Jia Dao Bai Ju-yi Doctoral Dissertation Feng Yansi Leisure Poems Tang Bitter poetry and people Subject orientation|
This thesis, with four chapters, discusses the poets and their poems in the south Tang Dynasty. Chapter 1 deals with the political situation and its influence on poems, general characters of the poems and their influence on the poems in the early Song Dynasty. While Chapter 2 expounds the composition of the Bai’s style of poems, Chapter 3 elaborates the composition of the Jia Dao’s style and Chapter 4 the Li’s style. The writing way in the thesis is discussing overall first and discussing separately afterwards. There are about 120 thousand words in the thesis.During the period of the Five Dynasties and Ten States, many scholars moved to the south for making livings because of frequent wars, social upheaval and shifts of dynasties in the north. Among the southern states, the south Tang and the west Su were both much wealthy and stable. And the three dynasts in succession of the south Tang, Li Bian, Li Jing and Li Yu, treated scholars politely and positioned them officially. Especially in the period of Li Bian’s, Li Bian developed a series of policies beneficial to the domestic cultural development, such as promoting Confucianism, establishing schools, selecting officials through examination(named Keju), and putting literati in important positions. Another important cause of blossom of poems in the south Tang was that Li Jing and Li Yu both were accomplished and elegant in manners and fond of filling in Ci. Extraordinarily, Li Yu mastered poem, Ci, music, calligraphy, and painting, and lived to the reputation as a "imperial scholar"(—said by the first king of the Song Dynasty, Zhao Kuangyin). Thus, as the saying "birds of a feather flock together" goes, a lot of literati from both the north and the south were employed and influenced by him, and devoted themselves to writing poem and literature. With that, the south Tang’s poem was most blooming in this period.The south Tang experienced 39-year’s relative stable society, and blooming poem with numerous poets, poems, and schools. But it located at a remote part, did not thought about making progress, and did not accepted the literati’s idea—"march straight into and rule the Central Plain". That dampened seriously the scholars’ enthusiasm. Additionally, there were intensive quarrels and struggle for power between the northern and southern cliques in the dynastic government. They excluded those not of their ilk. Many scholars left the power center, either resigning their official posts and living in peace or muddling their time and not inquiring into matters not related to them, in order to avert potential dangers. By the period of Li Jing’s, wars increased, attacking Min (a state) and suppressing Chu, and exhausted state power. Due to the war with the later Zhou Dynasty, the south Tang lost all its territory north of the River and was forced to pay tributes to the later Zhou. By the period of Li Yu’s, the south Tang completely became a dependency of the north Zhou and the north Song, and eked out a meager existence. In this situation, the poets became aware that the south Tang was helpless and on the verge of doom, most of them felt that their hopes were vanished and their prospects bleak, and were in a mood of dealing passively with affairs, seeking comfort and ease, not thinking about progress, and being pessimistically tired of life. The personality of loyalty to state, achieving deeds of merit and establishing careers had changed; some changed to being ones who are worldly wise and playing it safe and leading a life of befuddled pleasure, and the others shifted to pond over human life, to sign the social reality and to describe the life and mood of comfort and ease. The poets with this kind of mood and personality are named as the Bai’s style poets. Some impoverished poets whose talents were not been used wrote about their feelings of melancholy and misery in their inner world, emphasized the description of cold and narrow matters and phenomena, and the style and melody of their poems inclined to gloomy and waning. They constituted the Yao Dao’s style poets. Some known high officials indulged in sensuality and sentiments, described scenery and females with gorgeous and florid words and sentences, in order either to amuse their feelings or to express their distress and worry. They formed the Li’s style poets. Because of poets’ narrow outlooks, the themes of poems in the south Tang were narrow and limited, the objects written in the poems were only scenery and phenomena in four seasons, social remarks, remembrance of the past, poets’ sentiments, and daily trifles. Among the poets in the south Tang, some preferred the flat and insipid style, some inclined to showy and gorgeous, the others pursued both lyric style and natural and exquisite style. Two schools of poets in the south Tang—after the Bai’s and after the Yao-Dao’s style succeeded to the poet style and the hard-reciting and scholar poets in the late Tang Dynasty, and inspired the hard-reciting and scholar poets in the early Song Dynasty. Especially, a poet, Xu Xian, lived from the south Tang to the Song and brought the scholar poets’ style directly to the north Song, influencing substantively the poets in the early north Song. Thus the poems in the south Tang played a role in serving as a link between the Tang and the Song Dynasties.The poets in the south Tang Dynasty were divided into three schools according to their poems’ theme orientation and poem style. Firstly, the Bai’s style poets followed Bai Juyi’s poem style of leisure and comfort, wrote about personal leisure and joyful mood: either leisurely enjoying flowers while drinking, or visiting one another to talk about friendships, or worshiping supernatural beings and yearning for accomplishment to hanker for freedom from conventions. This school of poems is popular, simple, plain, flat and fluid, such as poems of Li Jianxun, Shen Bin, Zhang Qiao and so on. Another type of the Bai’s poets followed Bai Juyi’s sentimental poem style, writing about their anxiousness about the state, sadness of their lives, and sorrowful feelings of their talents that had not been recognized and used. Their poems, however, were fresh, elegant, and natural, and no evidence of chisels, much like Bai’s poems. Among this type of poets, were Xu Xian, Yin Wenkui and so on.Secondly, the school of poets was known as the Jia Dao’s style. Some of they were officials, the others hermits. The reason they followed Jia Dao’s style was that their lonesome lives and what they pursued in poems were much similar to Jia Dao. But the theme orientation and characters of their poems were quite different because of their different experiences in life. The typical poets were Zou Yan, Liao Ting, Cao Song, Chen Tao, Li Zhong, Meng Binyu and so on. The themes and outlooks of their poems were narrow. They followed Jia Dao in seeking rarely used words and sentences and hard-reciting purposely. And most the themes were gloomy and lyric descriptions about natural scenery and phenomena, remembrance of the past and worriment about the present. They pursued indifferent, tranquil, secluded and satiric mood and lean, stiff, rough and rarely used style.Thirdly, the school of reviewing Li’s. The typical poets were Li Yu, Zhang Bi, Cheng Yanxiong, Li Jing, Feng Yansi and so on. Due to their different experiences in life, personal accomplishment and purposes of composition, the styles of their poems were markedly different. Some of them, such as Li Jing and Feng Yansi, with the purpose of amusement, described imposingness, splendidness and magnificence of occasions, depicted female beauty, and showed a style of false and showy gorgeousness. The others also used showy words to describe objects and phenomena, to make atmosphere, to portray deep or sad feelings, in order to express anxiousness for reunion, suffering from thinking of lover, and misery of life. And the style of their poems was widely in deep feeling, with a tranquil, cold, and miserable, or clear, tranquil and elegant conception.That are respectively the theme orientation and style of the Bai’s, the Jia Dao’s and the Li’s schools of poets and their poems.