Li Po’s Reaction to the “Gorgeous” Poetical Tradition of the Six Dynasties

Vol. 20 No. 2   12/1990   


Li Po’s Reaction to the “Gorgeous” Poetical Tradition of the Six Dynasties


Feng-yu Shih 









Key words



 In the early T’ang, Ch’en Tzu-ang launched a sharp attack against the delicate style of the poetry of the Six Dynasties. He advocated the “Vigour [of the poetry] of the Han and Wei”, and, as practice of his standpoint, composed thirty-nine poems of that characteristic entitled “kan yu” (stirred by My experiences). Several decades later, Li Po also uttered such fierce anti-six-Dynasties words as “Since the Chien-an period, poetry has become gorgeous and worthless.” And like Ch’en Tzu-ang, he also wrote a lot of poems with the so-called vigour of the works of the Han and Wei. The bulk of these poems are the fifty-nine “ku feng” (Ancient Airs). Starting from these well-known facts in Chinese literary history, this article sets about the task of investigating (1) the thematic as well as formal characteristics of the “ku feng”, (2) the outstanding difference between the “ku feng” and the “gorgeous” poetical tradition of the Six Dynasties, and (3) the probable reasons why Li Po had despised the poetry of the “gorgeous” tradition. Next, this article tries to demonstrate how Li Po, unable to compose outstanding works in the “gorgeous” tradition and unwilling to be hampered by the “ku feng” tradition, had turned to other forms available to him when writing pent syllabic poems. 



Author: Feng-yu Shih
Genre: Article