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Chinese Poetry - The Classic of Odes & Chu Ci

(People's Daily Online)

09:41, July 05, 2012

In ancient China, people had profuse feelings to express when historical events took place, both joyful or of grief. Classical literature possesses a profound culture, and is the epitome of the spirit, morals and wisdom of the Chinese people. It reflects the high level of civilization. The literary forms vary over this long period and each had its blaze of glory.

Long before the written word appeared, there was an oral tradition of tales of fairies and legends. However, it is a pity that most of these have been lost as they were not collected and duly recorded for posterity.

Poetry

Classical poetry cares a great deal for rhythm. Poetry is one of the earliest artistic forms as well as the most fully developed in China. Poems written in verse outpour strong sensibility through imagination and lyrics. Tone, rhythm and couplets are all strict. Only by having an embodiment of appreciation, can one feel the artistic conception and implication. The effect is like the after taste of a cup of tea, lingering and appealing.

The Classic of Odes

The Classic of Odes is the first poem collection covering 305 poems from the early Western Zhou Dynasty (11th century BC - 711 BC) to the middle Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC - 476 BC). As the starting point of Chinese literature, it enjoys a high reputation of artistic value and had a great influence on the works that followed. The works can be divided into three parts: Feng, Ya, and Song (Ode), which derived its name from music items. Feng indicates the local tune and collected folk songs of 15 states, Ya including Daya and Xiaoya are the movements for nobles; and Song is the music used during sacraments in temple. The writing skills rely on the 'Fu' (narrative), 'Bi' (figuration (simile and metaphor)), and 'Xing' (symbolization, and contrast), and give aesthetic feelings in tone. Throughout the book you can read by means of the connotation between the lines the reality of people of different classes.

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