a students' magazine

A special guest on: Origins of chinese poetry

 Hi guys! 😉 I’m back with news for you!

Last week I was wandering in the ancient literature area of a library when I chanced upon a funny weird-looking man who was grumbling on some books. He was wearing strange clothes that made him look like a man of the 15th century. I got closer to him to peek at his reading, and when I asked him if everything was all right he answered yelling at me that no, it wasn’t all ok because he wasn’t able to find a damned paragraph that he had been searching for more than two hours!

So I helped him to review dozens of books until eventually we found the book he was looking for. The book was “Appendage on Chinese culture” by Marco Polo.

Intrigued, I asked him the reason of his research and with my great surprise he told me he was a descendant of the Polo’s family and that he had to decipher a secret message hidden in that book by his notorious ancestor, something related to an apple and an ancient war. I didn’t understand very well what he was speaking of, but at the end he asked to me to publish this extract reviewed by him on the internet. Then he gave me a piece of paper on which his address (I suppose) was written  and ran away.

Still shaken because of these events I report to you the extract:

“We are generally used to consider poetry as a product of an oral process, invented in Ancient Greece, declaimed by an aoidos (ἀοιδός) before writing was invented. In China this is different. Since Chinese is a langue grafique  – written language-, according to the definition of the sinologist Leon Wandeermesch, even poetry was born as a product of the writing process.   

The very first collection of Chinese poems is the Shī Jīng 诗经 (Classic of Poetry), which contains texts written by anonymous authors in different periods under the kingdom of the Zhou Dynasty . They shows moments of everyday life, court life and ceremonies, showing how Men should live, therefore this book became one of the Five Classics of Confucianism.

However, another very important collection of poems exist, which is the Chǔ cí 楚辞(Songs of Chu), a series of texts which has a completely different origin: they derive from the shamanic rituals which were officiated in the State of Chu.

Mystery, magic, ecstatic journeys were their leading themes. The poems were assembled during the Han Dynasty and its own author was attributed to each of them. Indeed, it is during this period that a new conception of poetry was born, and it became a means to allow authors to express their own feeling and emotions of the   (life energy).

Poetry evolution will follow this way. It will be no more a means to express collective moral duties, but a way to let authors show their own creativity. “Shī yuán yú qíng”诗源于情 (Poetry stems from feelings):  this sentence by Lu Ji is the basis of all the following poetic composition. In particular, it was strongly influenced by Taoism and Buddhism, which guide Men to a more naturalist – the first – and spiritual- the second- view of life.

Giuseppe Polo aka Pepos

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