Recent-style Shi poetry : pentasyllabic regulated verse (Wuyan Lushi)

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Book chapter

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How to read Chinese poetry: A guided anthology

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Columbia University Press


The introduction of mandatory sets of rules radically changed the dynamix of poetry writing. The challenge faced by a lushi poet was not just to express himself, but to do so with self-imposed, severe constraints in practically all formal aspects. Inferior lushi poets could easily become prisoners of all these formal rules and turn their works into a trivial language game. But in the hands of great poets, lushi could become a most effective means of achieving the time-honored Chinese poetic ideal--to convey what lies beyond language. My close reading of four poems by Du Fu, Li Bai (701-762), and Wang Wei (701-761) will show how these three greatest Tang poets exploited various formal rules to the best advantage and created enchanting Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist visions of the universe and the self, with little use of abstract philosophical concepts.

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Copyright © 2008 Columbia University Press

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ISBN of the source publication: 9780231139410

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Recommended Citation

Cai, Z.-q. (2008). Recent-style Shi poetry: Pentasyllabic regulated verse (Wuyan Lushi). In Z.-q. Cai (Ed.), How to read Chinese poetry: A guided anthology (pp.161-180). New York, NY: Columbia University Press.