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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


Poetic Formulas and Local Metaphor-Based on the Formulas in the hills... in the Marshes and in the South of the Shijing

Vol. 39 No. 1   3/2009    


Poetic Formulas and Local Metaphor-Based on the Formulas in the hills... in the Marshes and in the South of the Shijing


Yu-yu Cheng









Key words

Shijing(Classic of Odes), poetic formulas, local metaphor, in the hills... in the marshes, in the South   


    Poetic formulas (phrases that recur in the same metrical position in one or several poems) are an acoustic pattern employed frequently in the Shijing. In Modern Chinese they are called chongfu duanyu, xiyu, taoyu, or xiangtongju. The formulas sometimes appear in xing ("stimulus") lines, and xing lines have been considered the principal reason for their frequent use. The precise relationship between xing lines and the overall poetic meaning has long been controversial. The xing lines that appear as formulas can be treated negatively as mere copying or blind tradition, but if they are understood properly in a system of oral expression, they can then be seen as a free and creative use of repetition, with fixed phrases representing a set theme or related images. In this paper, I examine the formulas "in the hills there is... in the marshes there is..." and "in the South there is...", I show that, since the early Zhou Period, these formulas do not just indicate a fixed mood or set of images but are really metaphors for a certain geographical region, and especially from the area around the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River to the Jiang and Han Rivers. In other words, these formulas are a concretization of this dry, cold region`s thirst for moisture and warmth, and the source of metaphors for longing and hope.



Author: Yu-yu Cheng
Genre: Article
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