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

Yim Tze, Charles KWONG

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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).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Yields of Transition: Literature, Art and Philosophy in Early Medieval China
PublisherCambridge Scholars
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9781443827140
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


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