The aesthetics of parallelism in Chinese poetry : the case of Xie Lingyun

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Book chapter

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The Yields of Transition: Literature, Art & Philosophy in Early Medieval China

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Cambridge Scholars Publishing


Natural grace and exquisite craftsmanship stand as polarities in the aesthetics of classical Chinese poetry. As early as the Chu ci, a style of ornate embellishment can be distinctly seen. This reached inundating proportions in the Han (206 B.C.-220A.D.) epideictic fu, and remained visible in shi poetry in a line of poets from Cao Zhi (192-232) through the Southern – Northern Dynasties (420-589), who display a penchant for flowery adornment that underpinned Chinese aesthetics until the early years of the Tang (618-907). The eager forging of parallelism in poetry represents one feature of this aesthetic of elaborate refinement; as Liu Xie (c.465-C.532) observes, poetry from Liu- Song (420-479) times up to his age has “adopted parallel couplets that extend to a hundred words” (Wenxin diaolong 6, Ming shi, Liu 1960, 67).

Additional Information

ISBN of the source publication: 9781443827140



Recommended Citation

Kwong, Y. T. (2011). The aesthetics of parallelism in Chinese poetry: The case of Xie Lingyun. In J. S. Rošker & N. V. Suhadolnik(Eds.), The yields of transition: Literature, art & philosophy in early Medieval China (pp. 203-224). Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

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