A synthesis : rhythm, syntax, and vision of Chinese poetry

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While line configuration provides the foundation for the creation of poetic vision, poetic vision breathes life into poetic lines, making them dynamic and engaging. Traditional Chinese critics became aware of this con-nection long ago. As early as the sixth century, Zhong Rong (ca. 469–518) pointed out the connection between pentasyllabic lines and new pleasurable, inexhaustible tastes of poetry.1 More than a millennium later, the Qing critic Liu Xizai (1813–1881) went one step further to explore the deeper connection between internal rhythms of tetrasyllabic, pentasyllabic, and heptasyllabic lines and different poetic visions.2 In a way, our close reading of the 143 poems in this anthology is an inno-vative continuation of this millennia-old critical endeavor. Drawing from modern linguistic and aesthetic theories, many of us have sought to understand why poetic lines, if configured in certain manners, can yield ineffable aesthetic experience. Here I shall synthesize our findings and present a broad outline for a systematic study of the rhythms, syntax, and visions in Chinese poetry.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHow to read Chinese poetry : a guided anthology
PublisherColumbia University Press
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9780231139410
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


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