Considering the End: Mortality in Early Medieval Chinese Poetic Representation 900422209X, 9789004222090

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Considering the End: Mortality in Early Medieval Chinese Poetic Representation
 900422209X, 9789004222090

Table of contents :
Considering the End:Mortality in Early Medieval ChinesePoetic Representation
Preface and Acknowledgements
Introduction: As the End Approaches
1. Wang Yi on Integrity and Loyalty
2. A Young Lady on Yellow Pongee Silk
3. Ruan Ji on Apocalypse
4. Tao Qian on His Deathbed
5. Xie Lingyun on Awakenin
6. Composed on the Verge of Unnatural Death
7. Epilogue: The Fisherman in Reclusion
Works Cited

Citation preview

Considering the End: Mortality in Early Medieval Chinese Poetic Representation

Sinica Leidensia Edited by

Barend J. ter Haar Maghiel van Crevel In co-operation with

P.K. Bol, D.R. Knechtges, E.S. Rawski, W.L. Idema, H.T. Zurndorfer


The titles published in this series are listed at

Considering the End: Mortality in Early Medieval Chinese Poetic Representation By

Timothy Wai Keung Chan


Cover illustration: Li Jian 黎簡 (1747–99), “Xiao’ao yanxia” 嘯傲煙霞. Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Acc. No.: 1973.0764 (4). Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Chan, Timothy Wai Keung.  Considering the end : mortality in early medieval Chinese poetic representation / by Timothy Wai Keung Chan.   p. cm. — (Sinica leidensia ; v. 107)  Includes bibliographical references and index.  ISBN 978-90-04-22209-0 (hardback : alk. paper)  1. Chinese poetry—221 B.C.-960 A.D.—History and criticism. 2. Mortality in literature. 3. Death in literature. I. Title.  PL2313.C36 2012  895.1’1209—dc23 2012003513

ISSN 0169-9563 ISBN 978 90 04 22209 0 (hardback) ISBN 978 90 04 22902 0 (e-book) Copyright 2012 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. Koninklijke Brill NV incorporates the imprints Brill, Hotei Publishing, IDC Publishers and Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal use is granted by Koninklijke Brill NV provided that the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910, Danvers, MA 01923, USA. Fees are subject to change. This book is printed on acid-free paper.



Contents Timeline. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii Preface and Acknowledgements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   ix Introduction: As the End Approaches. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   1 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Wang Yi on Integrity and Loyalty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7 A Young Lady on Yellow Pongee Silk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  41 Ruan Ji on Apocalypse. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  65 Tao Qian on His Deathbed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  97 Xie Lingyun on Awakening. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  127 Composed on the Verge of Unnatural Death. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  159 Epilogue: The Fisherman in Reclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  187

Works Cited. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  209 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  229


contents Contents

Timeline vii

Preface and Acknowledgements ix

As the End Approaches


Wang Yi on Integrity and Loyalty

1 7

A Young Lady on Yellow Pongee Silk


Ruan Ji on Apocalypse


Tao Qian on His Deathbed


Xie Lingyun on Awakening


Composed on the Verge of Unnatural Death


Epilogue: The Fisherman in Reclusion

works cited







Timeline ca. 2100–ca. 1600 bc Xia Dynasty ca. 1600–ca. 1050 bc Shang Dynasty ca. 1046–256 bc Zhou Dynasty Western Zhou (ca. 1046–771 bc) Eastern Zhou (ca. 771–256 bce) Spring and Autumn Period (770–ca. 475 bc) Warring States Period (ca. 475–221 bc) 221–206 bc Qin Dynasty 206 bc–ad 220 Han Dynasty Western/Former Han (206 bc–ad 9, 23–25) Xin Dynasty (9–23) Eastern/Later Han (25–220) 220–589 Six Dynasties Period Three Kingdoms (220–265) Wei (220–265); Shu Han (221–263); Wu (222–280) Jin Dynasty (265–420) Western Jin (265–316) Northern and Southern Dynasties (386–589) Southern Dynasties: Eastern Jin (317–420), Liu Song (420–479), Qi (479–502), Liang (502–558), Chen (557–589) 581–618 Sui Dynasty 618–907 Tang Dynasty 907–960 Five Dynasties 960–1279 Song Dynasty Northern Song (960–1127) Southern Song (1127–1279) 1279–1368 Yuan Dynasty 1368–1644 Ming Dynasty 1644–1912 Qing Dynasty 1912–1949 Republic Period 1949–present People’s Republic of China



preface and acknowledgements


Preface and Acknowledgements The contents of this book have been inspired by my adventures over the last decade or so. The name of the book, “Considering the End,” was reminiscent of the vicissitudes I experienced along the way. During the long process of rewriting and revision, frequent scenes from my past were replayed to remind me how I embarked on and continued the research. Two stand out. In early September 2000, on a most dismal journey from Columbus, Ohio, to San Diego, California, with my wife and son in our old car loaded with household belongings, we passed through Boulder, Colorado. Notified of my arrival, Professor Paul W. Kroll drove overnight from Minnesota (where he had just dropped off his own son at college) for a brief reunion fourteen months after my graduation. In our conversation, I likened myself to Wang Bo 王勃 (650–75?), a Tang poet who suffered from political setbacks, journeyed to the far south, and ended his life there. With similar disappointment I was on my way Down Under, to take up a position at the University of Sydney. Professor Kroll responded, “No, this is not an apt analogy—you will not be dying there!” Despite the unflagging spiritual and academic support he lent me in the years following, my sky seemed shrouded even under the Californian and Australian sun. During these years, I started revisiting my favourite writers from an eschatological perspective. I first found Tao Qian, who knew well the situation of facing adversity (窮 qiong) in his career. The next unforgettable scene was a casual chat with my wife Zhang Hong at Strathfield train station in Sydney. Heaving a deep sigh, she compared our sojourning life with a dream, a realm to which we could no longer return. We talked of how life unfolds, and I explained to her the idea of kalpa in Buddhist cosmology. That conversation formed an important framework for my chapter on Ruan Ji, which subsequently yielded new insights for my reading of Xie Lingyun’s poetry. Xie sought enlightenment and understanding throughout his career, but his life ended in tragedy. When I picked up the Chuci again, ‘summoning the soul’ and ‘the fisherman’ assumed new meanings, which opened up further paths of exploration for me. The actual work on this book began in 2002, and the writing proper has since travelled to many corners of the world and undergone numerous


preface and acknowledgements

revisions. Most of the chapters were initially presented, in early versions, as conference papers in the United States, Australia, and Hong Kong. Here I would like to express my gratitude to my two mentors, Professors Ge Xiaoyin and Paul W. Kroll, for their work with me at Peking University and the University of Colorado respectively. For the present project, their guidance has been of foremost significance. In December 2003, Professor Ge invited me to participate in a conference on the literature and religions of the Han, Wei, and Northern and Southern Dynasties periods, held at Hong Kong Baptist University. This conference provided me with a new vision of medieval Chinese literature and prompted me to be aware of relevant religious backgrounds when reading literary texts. Professor Kroll brought me to the fields of Daoist and Buddhist studies, in addition to prompting deeper analysis of classical Chinese literature. These skills became a foundation for broad, interdisciplinary visions and insights for my scholarship. I am also grateful for his close reading of the manuscript and numerous suggestions for revision. My gratitude also goes to the following colleagues who gave valuable feedback on early drafts of different chapters, on specific arguments, or even choices of words: David R. Knechtges, Donald Holzman, Ralph J. Hexter, Derek Herforth, Barbara Hendrischke, and Michael Schimmel­ pfennig. Robert Gimello and Jan Nattier generously shared their expertise in Buddhist studies. The anonymous readers of the manuscript are thanked for their feedback and criticism, which prompted me to reconsider problematic arguments, structure, style, and format in early drafts. I alone, however, am responsible for all remaining errors. Various sources of funding and research programs lent significant support to the project. During my years at the University of Sydney, I received several grants under different schemes from the Faculty of Arts, College of Humanities and Social Science, and School of Languages and Cultures. These funds enabled me to conduct research and present early drafts at conferences from 2002 to 2004. The one semester of leave under the Special Study Program (i.e., ‘sabbatical leave’) that I took from July to December 2004, which came with a travel grant, offered essential support for the research. The most recent funding I received from Hong Kong Baptist University under the ‘Faculty Research Grant, Category I’ scheme gave an important boost in the final stage of the project. In conjunction with my Special Study Program leave in 2004, I held a five-month Visiting Scholar position at the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Harvard University. I thank Stephen Owen and Wilt Idema for their sponsorship and Susan Kashiwa for coordinating this

preface and acknowledgements


program, which facilitated my access to excellent resources and services at the Harvard libraries. This book could not have been completed without support from many friends and colleagues. Tyler Pike played a pivotal role in the final preparation of the manuscript. He deserves my special thanks for his editorial work and research assistance. Others who have helped in various important ways include Helen Dunstan, Robert Ashmore, Stephen West, Mabel Lee, Zhao Yi, Hidemi Tokura, John Makeham, Scheherazade Rogers, Stephan Kory, Matthew Carter, Sue Wiles, Lily Hayashi, Jennifer Wong, Nick Williams, Helen Riha, Merrick Lex Berman, and Minae Savas. Most crucial of all in the final stages has been the assistance and support of Dr. Albert Hoffstädt, Ms. Patricia Radder, and Ms. Karen Cullen of Koninklijke Brill NV. I am fortunate to have had their editorial assistance and support. Access to adequate library resources has been indispensable, and I would like to acknowledge the assistance provided by the following libraries: University of Sydney, especially its East Asian Collection (supervised by Magdalen Lee, Nancy Li, and Sharon Tian) and Inter-library Loan Services; the Harvard-Yenching Library, Widener Library, and AndoverHarvard Theological Library (all at Harvard); the Hong Kong Baptist University Library, especially its Inter-Library Loan Services; and the East Asian Library of the University of California at Berkeley. The book’s cover design is a reproduction of a painting by Li Jian, from the collection of the Art Museum of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. I am grateful to the Museum for granting permission to reproduce the painting. Finally, my heartfelt thanks go to my parents, teachers, my wife Zhang Hong, and son Andrew, who, respectively, gave me life and spirit, education and edification, great help in sustaining a good family in adversity, and perpetual support and inspiration in many ways. I quote the ending lines in a poem by Xie Lingyun to express my ­feelings: At dawn, I already hear the rushing evening breeze, At dusk, I seem to see the morning sun rising. Among stooping cliffs light cannot stay long, Inside the deep woods sounds travel freely. When I think of my sad past, my anxiety returns, But when I grasp the Truth my attachments are all gone. I wish to travel on the sun chariot,

早聞夕飆急 晚見朝日暾 崖傾光難留 林深響易奔 感往慮有復 理來情無存 庶持乘日車


preface and acknowledgements So that I can compose my restless soul. This thought is not to be shared with just anyone; I wish to have discussions with the wise.

得以慰營魂 匪為眾人說 冀與智者論

   (XLYJ, 174)

TC December 2011 Note on Translation and Convention All translations in this book are mine, unless otherwise noted. Pinyin Romanization is used for transliteration of Chinese. All other Romanized spellings have been converted to pinyin, with the exception of book titles, article titles, names of certain authors (such as Jao Tsung-i), and certain toponyms (such as Taipei).

introduction: as the end approaches


Introduction: As the End Approaches This book is a study of the literary representation of the worldview, psyche, and attitude of selected writers who lived in political turmoil, and how they reacted to the predicament confronting them. The period in which the works we shall examine were produced is commonly defined as the ‘early medieval’ era in Chinese history, covering the early third to late sixth centuries ad in the Western calendar. The literary works of this period are of complexity often caused by unstable political conditions. Those selected for discussion here will be studied with a focus on their authors’ common concerns of how to deal with the ‘end.’ The political atmosphere during these three centuries in early medieval China seems to have been a cause of significant anxiety for intellectuals. Despite Emperor Guangwu’s 光武 (r. 25–57) reclamation of the Han throne from Wang Mang’s 王莽 (45 bc–ad 23) short-lived Xin 新 Dynasty (9–23), the second half of the Eastern Han witnessed the centralized regime’s gradual decline to disunity. As young emperors were unable to hold sway, eunuchs, empress dowagers, regent ministers, warlords, religious leaders, and rebels rose from all quarters, striving for political power. Taking the same path as Wang Mang, some overpowered politicians such as Dong Zhuo 董卓 (d. 192), Cao Cao 曹操 (155–220), and Liu Bei 劉備 (161–223) conspired to usurp or (for Liu) reclaim the Han sovereignty. This background gave further rise to oracle forging and reading, used by some in search of heaven’s mandate to ascend the throne. The political turbulence also contributed to the burgeoning growth of Buddhism and Daoism. Belief in the cyclic movements of Yin and Yang and the Five Agents played an important role in these early religious developments.1 These new trends were politically motivated, to a large degree. For example, as early as the Eastern Han the epiphany of the apotheosized Laozi 老子 (trad. sixth century bc) occupied a significant place among the populace and exerted an important influence on the worldview of some intellectuals who were primary actors on the political stage. On the Confucian side, upholding loyalty and filial piety remained a 1 For oracle forging and reading, see Dull, “A Historical Introduction.” For correlative thinking, see Tjan, Po Hu T’ung. For histories of Daoism and Buddhism in this period, see Robinet, Taoism and Zürcher, Buddhist Conquest, respectively.


introduction: as the end approaches

major educational task in writing activities for all men in official life. In roughly the same period, Buddhism began to make inroads into intellectual and literary writings, until it would become a major part of the philosophy and poetry of the Eastern Jin 晉 (317–420) literati, many of whom were victims of political intrigue. Xie Lingyun 謝靈運 (385–433) brought this prevalence to a literary zenith. The fall of the Han marked the beginning of China’s Period of Disunity. In the many ephemeral dynasties that followed the Han, political struggles never ceased. Founded by Cao Cao and his son Cao Pi 曹丕 (187–226; posthumously Emperor Wen of the Wei 魏, r. 220–26), the Wei dynasty, which lasted only forty-five years (220–65), was unable to rule the entire territory of the Han. This was because some parts were under the control of two contenders for sovereignty, namely the Shu Han 蜀漢 (221–63) and Wu 吳 (222–80) kingdoms. The Western Jin (265–316), which replaced the Wei, unified China in 280, but this unification was transient as it only lasted thirty-six years. Corruption, struggles, and coups among factions within the Western Jin court turned into bloodshed and battles among feudal lords. These battles led to the invasion of non-Chinese peoples from the north, which eventually brought down the dynasty. China was again divided into two halves. The southern part, roughly south of the Huai River, was sustained at first by fugitive Jin officials, who held the de facto ruling power and contributed to the continuation of the regime by establishing the Eastern Jin. This new, small dynasty existed in the south for a century before it was overthrown by the warlord Liu Yu 劉裕 (363– 422, posthumously Emperor Wu of the Liu Song, r. 420–22). How could anyone feel secure living in this political turmoil? Most of the writers with whom we will be concerned in this book lived through more than one dynasty, and some chose at times to seclude themselves. Huangfu Mi 皇甫謐 (215–82), for example, did not accept the Jin court’s offer of an official post. Tao Qian’s 陶潛 (365?–427) final determination was to retire from the corrupt world. For Xie Lingyun, his reclusion may be seen as a gesture of protest against the fact that he was deprived of the privileges of a Jin-dynasty Duke in the new Liu Song dynasty. The price he eventually paid for his discontent and anger was persecution and capital punishment. Xie and most of our writers died of unnatural causes. Kong Rong 孔融 (153–208), Ji Kang 嵇康 (223–62), Lu Ji 陸機 (261–303), Fan Ye 范曄 (398–446), Ouyang Jian 歐陽健 (d. 300), and Bao Zhao 鮑照 (414– 66) were either put to death or killed in battles. Although Ruan Ji 阮籍 (210–63) managed to live out his natural life, he sought to suppress his high aspiration, anger, and disappointment at the venal reality of his

introduction: as the end approaches


times and played the fool in order to avoid trouble. We detect in the works of such writers elements of helplessness, frustration, anguish, and desperation. When these emotions were catalyzed by the prevalent new religio-philosophical thought, the volatile juxtaposition gave rise to literature that embraced a spectrum of human responses to death and mortality. This newly prominent literary theme can be loosely construed under the term ‘eschatology.’ The concern with human mortality in literary creations of this period may be seen at multiple levels. The works selected for examination in this book grapple with personal mortality, dynastic mortality, the mortality of posthumous fame, and with questions of the place of human beings within larger cosmic structures. Often these concerns are commingled within a single literary work. Here we shall attempt to observe and reconstruct such concepts through the contextual and intertextual analysis of the work of eminent writers of the period. Although the concern with persistence after death figures prominently in earlier poetry, especially ritual poetry such as those works belonging to the pre-Han song 頌 genre and parts of the Chuci 楚辭, the Eastern Han dynasty and first Period of Disunity saw a new trend that revealed a more individuated, personal, and non-ritual treatment of mortality, thus distinguishing it from that evident in earlier ‘religious’ poetry. This new development in the poetic tradition is often concerned with such themes as apocalypse, enlightenment, and the quest for extension/persistence beyond death, whether realized in Daoist, Buddhist, or Confucian terms. This preoccupation involved an interest in the after-life, both in the individual, quasi-eschatological, religious sense and in the broader context of social morality. These concerns were expressed in different ways, depending on a writer’s exposure to certain early traditions of Buddhism, sym­ pathies with the evolving cultures of religious Daoism, adherence to traditional Confucian values, and the evolving cultural landscape. In each chapter that follows, a particular topic emerges from an analytic focus on an individual writer and his distinct perspective on mortality. Although attention is given mainly (in chapters three to six) to the poetry of Ruan Ji, Tao Qian, and Xie Lingyun, when dealing with a certain topic, the discussion takes in other relevant works. In addition to these poets, others such as Zhang Heng 張衡 (78–139), Ji Kang, Lu Ji, and Bao Zhao played an important role in the poetic traditions of ascension and roaming, introspective meditation, grievance and regret, and self-dedicated elegies. These lyrical themes have little to do with patent social


introduction: as the end approaches

criticism, although they all find their root in and point to a disappointment with reality. Before turning to these poets, we survey, in the first and second chapters, the moral politics that define the literary treatments of two historical figures famous for the manner in which they perished. In addition to writing political-ethical treatises in reaction to the perceived corruption of his times, Wang Yi 王逸 (fl. 89–158) compiled a hermeneutic work on the Chuci, a major focus of which was the resurrection of respect for the famous exiled official and poet Qu Yuan 屈原 (trad. ca. 339–ca. 278 bc). For Wang Yi, Qu Yuan’s suicide and Wang’s own tribute to it were both final acts of a loyal spirit. The moral urgency in Wang Yi’s works is a direct result of his efforts to rescue what he saw as the true significance of Qu Yuan’s life, which was on the verge of oblivion due to undue criticism launched by Ban Gu 班固 (32–92). To Wang, this oblivion was an index of compromising attitudes among officials of his time. Like Ban Gu’s argument, Wang’s is also based on the Confucian codes as well as on Yin/Yang correlation theory. By redeeming and promoting the example of Qu Yuan, Wang Yi’s work embodies complex ideas about dynastic rise and fall. The same moral urgency is found in chapter two, in our analysis of the “Stele Inscription on Maiden Cao the Filial Daughter” (“Xiaonü Cao E bei” 孝女曹娥碑). We owe the existence of this fascinating stele to Du Shang 度尚 (115–66), who ordered his disciple Handan Zili 邯鄲子禮 to fashion the discursive figure of a paragon girl who followed her father to a watery grave as a model for later emulation. The legend surrounding the girl’s sacrifice and Du Shang’s erection of the monument reveal a fear that a fine paradigm might perish. To enhance its legitimacy, Handan endeavored to reference Confucian classics such as the Book of Odes (Shijing 詩 經) as well as the newly established authority, the Biographies of Unusual Women (Lienü zhuan 列女傳), by Liu Xiang 劉向 (ca. 77–ca. 6 bc). The girl was thereby ‘saved’ and received a new, ‘immortal’ life as she became an icon for chastity and filial piety. These straightforward, moralistic reactions to the transience of human endeavor provide a background to the more complex poetics of Ruan Ji, Tao Qian, and Xie Lingyun. These poets all benefited from the Chuci poetic innovation in its embellished description of pleasure-seeking flight to an imaginary heaven. Chapter three discusses Ruan Ji’s reaction to the reality of death, in the poetic expression of his pursuit of absolute transcendence. Borrowing the Western idea of apocalypse, we analyze some roughly equivalent elements and concepts in Ruan’s writings, allowing a new way of looking at his poetry. Ruan’s works are examined within the

introduction: as the end approaches


intellectual trends of the time. These trends include the deification and worship of Laozi in an organized fashion, the discussion of ‘inherited guilt’ in the Scripture of Great Peace (Taiping jing 太平經), and similar descriptions of world destruction in Daoist and Buddhist scriptures predating or contemporaneous with Ruan Ji. Tao Qian, as discussed in chapter four, felt misplaced in official life and decided to withdraw from the ‘dusty net’; in doing so, he feared he would be misprized in his afterlife. Justifying his choices to readers in posterity became a main theme of his poetry. Here we shall take his self-dedicated funerary writings as main texts for examining his pursuit of literary immortality. Clearly aware of the unavoidable extinction of his mortal life, Tao went against a then prevalent religious belief in the ‘unextiguished nature of the soul,’ a doctrine advocated by Huiyuan 慧遠 (334– 416) and his followers, and strove to leave an immortal name for later ages. One such method was to list himself among rosters of worthy men in poetic representation. For Xie Lingyun, Buddhist enlightenment became an alternative route to immortality since, according to Mahāyāna Buddhism, everyone has the potential to become enlightened. With the aim of fashioning a new account of the formation of Xie’s innovative poetics, we consider in chapter five the extent to which Mahāyāna Buddhist doctrines of ‘instantaneous enlightenment’ (dunwu 頓悟) figure in his writing career. It is then argued that Huiyuan, rather than Zhu Daosheng 竺道生 (355–434), was an important source for Xie’s dunwu theory. In this connection, the following issues are clarified: 1) the date of the importation, translation and distribution of the Mahāparinirvāna-sūtra, 2) doctrinal differences among monks on Mount Lu 廬山, 3) the idea that ‘hopeless unbelievers’ (icchantika 一闡提) can also achieve Buddhahood, and 4) certain terminological similarities between Xie and Huiyuan. Here we also venture an opinion on the formation of Xie Lingyun’s poetic ‘flaw,’ traditionally termed ‘a tail of mysterious words’ (xuanyan weiba 玄言尾巴). Xie Lingyun’s fame as a writer, his knowledge of Buddhism, the resources of his villa and the activities he undertook there were all decisive factors in the formation of this poetic style. The final theme we shall investigate (in chapter six) is the evolution of a formal poetic sub-genre written in anticipation of imagined, unnatural demise. This theme was treated in a type of verse first written in sao 騷 style and to the yuefu 樂府 (Music Bureau poetry) tune “Snapping Poplar and Willow [Branches]” (“Zhe yangliu xing” 折楊柳行, “Willow Songs”) in pre-Han and Han times. Kong Rong was an early poet who wrote to the


introduction: as the end approaches

title of “Poem Written on the Verge of Death” (“Linzhong shi” 臨終詩), which is also cited as “Snapping Poplar and Willow.” This particular poetic tradition, focusing on the articulation of sentiments when the poet-persona knows that his doom is imminent, differs drastically from poems composed on imagined death, such as those by Tao Qian and Lu Ji. The chapter is devoted to distinguishing the two different poetic considerations of death. This reveals the theoretical and practical ground for a new analysis of Xie Lingyun’s poem “Linzhong shi,” the purport of which has long been overshadowed by certain variants that have diverted, if not distorted, the poem into a discourse on Buddhism as an expression of altruism and philanthropy. These chapters reflect on the alternatives available for scholar-poets whose aspirations for a satisfying career were dashed. Why are these poets’ names still known and their works read? In our final chapter (‘Epilogue’) the implicit intent of our writers is unveiled through an analysis of the role played by the fisherman: an iconic, archetypal persona. The traditional representations of the fisherman and the firewood gatherer appeared quite early in literary and philosophical texts and became a stereotype for a mediator/advisor who spoke for the writer himself, not too unlike the Shakespearean fool. The fisherman persona continued to assume new roles in different contexts, adapting to serve the temper of the time. These evolving literary types reveal the differing views of intellectuals who had different goals. The dichotomy also helps to explain the mechanism of the poetic representation on mortality. It unveils the noble disguise of the poet, who is constantly mired in an artful dilemma between reclusion and service. The disguise is removed when a reclusive poet attempts to achieve fame through his writing.

wang yi on integrity and loyalty


chapter one

Wang Yi on Integrity and Loyalty Wang Yi 王逸 (ca. 89–ca. 158), the first known commentator of the Chuci anthology, attempted through his writings to restore the moral balance in the declining Han empire. For Wang Yi, there were two indicators that the Han era was approaching its end and in need of rescue. First, the ­legend of Qu Yuan 屈原 (ca. 339–ca. 278 bc), a poet who committed ­suicide after his efforts at political remonstration failed, was on the verge of disappearing from Confucian ethical codes, indicating for Wang Yi that his era was witnessing a major slip in essential core values required to sustain an empire.1 Wang Yi, an adherent of Heaven and Earth correlations, saw an increase in natural calamities as a second indication that the empire was in decline. In this latter belief, Wang was not alone, and indeed, we shall see that several of his contemporaries also memo­rialized about the links between a number of natural disasters and moral decline at court. Wang Yi, however, was unique in his response: he devoted ­himself to rescuing the spirit of Qu Yuan as a means of rescuing the empire. It is particularly fruitful, from a literary perspective, to read Wang Yi’s scholarly and commentarial writings in light of this historical context. Situating Wang Yi’s writings in this way not only enables us to better appreciate and appraise Wang’s work, but also sheds new light on the Chuci as well as on the intellectual history of the Eastern Han.2 Liu An 劉 安 (179–122 bc), a member of the Han royal family and a well-known literary figure, praised Qu Yuan highly, but after the Early Han Qu Yuan was assessed less and less positively, until Ban Gu 班固 (32–92) presented his negative criticism of Qu in the first century ad.3 In the preface to his Section and Sentence Commentary to the Songs of Chu (Chuci zhangju 楚辭 章句),4 Wang’s presentation of a political profile of Qu Yuan reveals that 1 For a longitudinal study of the appropriation of Qu Yuan in Chinese historiography and literature, see Schneider, A Madman of Ch’u. 2 David Hawkes points out that Wang “is unfortunately not one of the great Han annotators.” See Hawkes, “Ch’u tz’u 楚辭,” in Loewe, Early Chinese Texts, 52. 3 Liu’s laudatory words are quoted in SJ, 84.2482, and in Ban Gu’s “xu,” CCBZ, 1.49. 4 This is Michael Schimmelpfennig’s translation of the title of Wang’s book. See his “Tracing the Section and Sentence Commentaries.” The content of the Chuci zhangju was


chapter one

Wang Yi’s work is more than a zhangju commentary. Moreover, in his postscript (xu 敘) to “Encountering Sorrows” (“Lisao” 離騷)—the poem that is the centerpiece of the Chuci and the template for many of the other works contained within this anthology—we read Wang Yi’s writing as a counterattack against Ban’s views and as an expression of Wang’s restoration politics. As is demonstrated below, Ban Gu’s written views were representative of orthodoxy in Wang’s day, and therefore Wang’s commentary was a radical departure from the general attitude of his time towards Qu Yuan’s suicide. Through Wang’s work, the spirit of Qu Yuan thus became a renewed model of loyalty and martyrdom, which became the central themes Wang strived to highlight within the Confucian codes of the Eastern Han. An Overview of Sources The Hou Han shu biography of Wang Yi offers only meager information on his life. It says that Wang was promoted to Senior Accounts Clerk (Shang jili 上計吏) from his hometown Yicheng 宜城 (in modern Hubei province) and rose in later life to the high rank of Palace Attendant (shizhong 侍中). His son Wang Yanshou 王延壽, who died in his twenties through an accidental drowning, is remembered for his “Rhapsody on the Luminous Hall of Lu” (“Lu Lingguangdian fu” 魯靈光殿賦).5 This fu received accolades from Cai Yong 蔡邕 (132–92), who reportedly gave up his plan of writing on the same subject upon reading Yanshou’s magnum opus. Unlike his son, Wang Yi is not remembered for his creative writing, most of which is sao 騷 style poetry entitled “Nine Thoughts” (“Jiusi” 九 思), imitative of the Chuci tradition. Wang Yi won immortality with his Chuci zhangju, a collection of commentaries on poems that had been anthologized earlier as the Chuci by Liu Xiang 劉向 (ca. 77–6 bc).6 In addition to the Chuci zhangju, our examination of Wang Yi relies on contemporaneous materials that enable us to contextualize his thought through an effort to discern what may have been mainstream thinking. Determination of the date of Chuci zhangju will set our initial focus for investigation. Our main obstacle for reconstruction of an accurate date is that we must rely on Fan Ye’s 范曄 (398–445) brief biography of Wang, incorporated in Hong Xingzu’s 洪興祖 (1090–1155) Chuci buzhu (CCBZ), which was completed in the early to mid twelfth century, and includes Hong’s sub-commentary. 5 See translation in Knechtges, Wen xuan, 2: 263–78. 6 HHS, 80A.2618.

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the only source of information on Wang’s life.7 It is commonly agreed that Chuci zhangju was completed no later than ad 120. Evidence for this dating is Wang’s official rank of Collator-Gentleman (jiaoshu lang 校書郎), given in Hong Xingzu’s Chuci buzhu.8 In addition, a line in the Hou Han shu reads, “Since Emperor An 安帝 (r. 106–25) attended to governance, little attention was paid to belles-lettres.”9 This provides support for the view that Wang’s Chuci zhangju was presented before the death of Empress Dowager Deng 鄧太后 (81–121), for it was upon her death that Emperor An assumed his sovereignty. Wang’s work must therefore have been completed under the auspices of the Empress Dowager, who is recorded as having been a dilettante of classical studies and literature. “It would have been the wrong time,” as was commonly observed, “for Wang to present his Chuci zhangju to the throne during Emperor An’s reign.”10 Wang Yi’s preparation and presentation of this work is, therefore, generally dated from the period when Wang was Collator-Gentleman at the Dongguan 東觀 Imperial Library between 117 and 121.11 The Baihu tong 白虎通 (Comprehensive Discussions at the White Tiger Hall) is another important source in our discussion of Wang Yi, and will serve below primarily as a means of highlighting those views in Wang’s day that contrasted as well as mirrored his own. This book contains discussions about doctrine of the Han period that were held at White Tiger 7 Ibid. 8 Although Wang’s title as ‘Collator-Gentleman’ is recorded in Suishu, 35.1055, it does not appear in early editions of the Chuci zhangju. See Takeji, Soji kenkyū, 170–76. See also Jiang Liangfu, Chuci shumu wuzhong, plates 3, 4, and 5. A Tang manuscript of the Wen­ xuan jizhu 集注 preserves a note by Lu Shanjing 陸善經 (Tang dyn.), in which Wang Yi’s title is given as Chief Collator-Gentleman (jiaoshu langzhong 校書郎中). See Tangchao Wenxuan jizhu huicun, 1.788. This title is also given in a note as a variant in a different edition seen by Hong Xingzu. CCBZ, “Chuci mulu” 楚辭目錄, 1. 9 HHS, 79A.2546. 10 Li Daming, “Wang Yi shengping shiji kaolüe,” 417–21. This article forms a major part of chapter 5 of Li’s book, Han Chucixue shi , 345–408, in which he concludes that Wang Yi completed his Chuci zhangju when he was Collator-Gentleman (p. 353). Jiang Tianshu made this argument earlier in his “Hou Han shu ‘Wang Yi zhuan’ kaoshi” 《後漢 書·王逸傳》考釋. See his Chuci lunwenji, 200. 11 HHS, 10A.424, 428. Wang Yi’s main duties at the Dongguan Library seem to have included the collation of classical texts and compilation of the official history Dongguan Hanji 東觀漢記. Zhang Zhenglang argues that the title officially given to the Dongguan Hanji upon its completion was Hanshu 漢書, rather than Hanshi 漢詩 as recorded in HHS, 80A.2618. He also asserts that Wang Yi was one of its authors. Zhang, “Wang Yi ji yaqian kaozheng,” 244–45. As Wang claims his commentarial work had been “compared against the classics and their commentaries, and fitted to the old writings” (CCBZ, 1.48), the work must have been written no earlier than the commencement of his work at Dongguan around 117 when he had access to the imperial collection of the classics.


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Hall (Baihu guan 白虎觀) by a committee consisting of prestigious scholars of the time and, most importantly, patronized by Emperor Zhang 章 (r. 75–88) who convened and chaired the discussions. The historical significance of these discussions and the account of them in the Baihu tong is the recognition and abundant adoption of views from apocryphal texts (‘prognostic’ and ‘weft texts,’ chenwei 讖緯) in subsequent exegeses of Confucian doctrines.12 Heaven and earth, the sun and the moon, Yin/ Yang correspondence, the composition of the Five Agents, and natural phenomena such as hail, earthquakes, floods, eclipses, and so forth, were interpreted as manifestations of divine forces that maintain harmony in the human world.13 This kind of heaven/man correlative theory was first proposed by Dong Zhongshu 董仲舒 (179–104 bc), and developed by later scholars such as Liu Xiang and his son Liu Xin 劉歆 (d. 23). One of the most important early applications of these ideas was as theocratic support in political struggles such as Wang Mang’s 王莽 (45 bc–ad 23) founding of the Xin 新 dynasty and Emperor Guangwu’s 光武 (r. 25–57) restoration of the Han sovereignty.14 In the year 56, Guangwu legitimized apocryphal texts for the first time by officially adopting redactions of them. They remained orthodox even after opposition from scholars such as Huan Tan 桓譚 (ca. 23 bc–ad 56) and Zhang Heng 張衡 (78–139).15 Ban Gu must have played an important role in the meetings at White Tiger Hall, since we know that he held primary authority in the recording of the discussion outcomes for the Baihu tong.16 In such a prestigious position, Ban would likely have been required to comply with the cosmological, ethical, political, and social norms reflected in the Baihu tong. The idea that Ban Gu’s position required him to adhere to the philosophy of human-heaven correlation may also be found in his prominent ­discussion 12 Hans Van Ess points out: “The translation of the term ch’en-wei as ‘apocryphal texts’ is not itself uncontroversial.” For a detailed discussion of the nature and meaning of the term in Chinese and Western traditions, see his “The Apocryphal Texts of the Han Dynasty and the Old Text/New Text Controversy,” 31–36. Chen Pan argues that chen and wei are different names for the same thing. These texts originated with Zou Yan 騶衍 (ca. 305–240 bc) and were written by many hands for political purposes. See Chen, “Chenwei suyuan,” 326–34. 13 Horiike Nobuo, Kan Gi shisōshi kenkyū, 269–74. 14 Pi, Jingxue lishi, 109. See also Dull, “Historical Introduction,” 152–201. 15 HHS, 1B.84. Tjan, Po Hu T’ung, 147, 151–54; Dull, “Historical Introduction,” 239. 16 Zheng Hesheng, Ban Gu nianpu, 57–58. Some scholars argue that Ban Gu had a less important role in the meetings. Their argument is that “Ban Gu is only said to have compiled the material after the discussions had taken place, and nothing is said of his participation in them.” See Tjan, Po Hu T’ung, 162. See also Zheng Hesheng, Ban Gu nianpu, 55–57.

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in the “Monograph on the Five Agents” in the Hanshu, the official history of the Han, penned mostly by Ban Gu. Baihu tong is, therefore, an important reference in our examination of Ban’s criticism of Qu Yuan, and in our consideration of Wang Yi’s commentaries on the Chuci, in which he addressed and responded to Ban’s views.17 Fragments of two texts, namely Zhengbu lun (Discourse on Justice [?]) 正部論 (also cited as Zhengbu) and Lin Yuzhou jiao (Teachings in Yuzhou [?]) 臨豫州教, both attributed to Wang Yi, reinforce what we already know from the views he expressed in Chuci zhangju and from the brief biographical sketch that survives him. The titles and content of these two texts show that they contained political and historical essays. Although Wang is said to have written both texts in later life (no earlier than 126),18 extant fragments reveal that most of the ideas presented in these works are consistent with his early thought. Other texts to be considered below include those written by individuals roughly contemporaneous with Wang. The middle of the second century is thought to have witnessed a decline from the ‘Golden Age of Classical Studies.’19 It was also an important turning point in political history. Corruption, coups, and struggles between factions of eunuchs and consort families had been rapidly increasing and would eventually lead to the fall of the dynasty.20 In response to the increasingly corrupt system, many officials sought to display their own integrity. Their memorials and treatises contain copious arguments on personal conduct, the elimination of corruption, and various reforms. Also providing relevant context to Wang Yi’s writings are several intellectual treatises on current events. Below, we focus primarily on the writings of Wang Chong 王充 (27– ca. 97) and Wang Fu 王符 (ca. 90–165), men who lived, respectively, during and after this ‘Golden Age.’

17 Miyano Naoya has worked out a scheme to indicate Ban’s criticism and Wang’s responses. See his “Han Ko to Ō Itsu,” 38–39. 18 Li Daming, “Wang Yi shengping shiji kaolue,” 424, 426. 19 Pi Xirui dates the decline to after Emperor Shun’s reign. Pi, Jingxue lishi, 114. 20 Chü, Han Social Structure, 215–17. Eunuchs seized power through their service to empress dowagers, because the latter relied on them when giving orders to officials. HHS, 78.2509.


chapter one ‘Messengers of Doom’: Heaven/Earth Correlations in both Chuci zhangju and Baihu tong

From the time Dong Zhongshu presented his “Tianren sance” (“Three Disquisitions on the Correlations of Heaven and Man”) 天人三策 proposals for ideal governance to Emperor Wu 武帝 (r. 140–87 bc), oracular writings assumed an important place among the ruling class and literati of the Han. Among officials, the ability to interpret the correlations between natural phenomena and the moral foundations of the political regime of the day was considered a highly valuable talent. Although we shall see that Wang Yi’s position on Qu Yuan differed from that held by Ban Gu, the importance of oracular writings was reflected in both men’s work, and both owed a debt to the influence of Dong Zhongshu. Dong’s influence on political thought was so significant that he was known retrospectively as the primary founder of Han Confucianism. Ban Gu, for example, refers to Dong as the “ancestor of the Confucianists” (wei Ruzhe zong 為儒 者宗).21 The frequent quotations from ‘weft texts,’ such as some of Dong’s writings, in explanations of Confucian doctrines in the Baihu tong confirm the mainstream nature of what we now consider apocrypha. Under imperial auspices, first under Emperor Guangwu and later under Emperor Zhang, apocrypha exerted a significant influence in Later Han intellectual circles.22 The following examples from Wang Yi’s Chuci zhangju may not have been direct borrowings from the Baihu tong, but their similarities demonstrate that both texts rely on a common pool of material. In most cases, the similar phrases reveal a shared, standardized belief in a heaven-earth correlative worldview.

21 HS, 27A.1317. See discussion in Dull, “Historical Introduction,” 28–29. Dong’s main theories are found in his Chunqiu fanlu 春秋繁露. See Chunqiu fanlu yizheng, selections of which are translated in Wing-Tsit Chan, A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, 273–84. BHT, 4.166–70. 22 Tjan, Po Hu T’ung, 118–20, 167.

23 24

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Chuci zhangju

Baihu tong

Gaoyang was the reign title adopted by Zhuanxu when he ruled the world.23 高陽,顓頊有天下之號也。(CCBZ, 1.3)

When Zhuanxu ruled the world, his reign title was Gaoyang. 顓頊有天下,號曰高陽。(BHT, 2.60)

One whose virtue accords with heaven and earth is called Thearch. 德合天地稱帝。(CCBZ, 1.3)

One whose virtue accords with heaven and earth is called Thearch. 德合天地者稱帝。(BHT, 2.43) In later ages, one whose virtue is the same as [that of] heaven and earth is called Thearch. 後世德與天同稱帝。(BHT, 2.43) The rules for giving posthumous titles detailed in the Records of Rites: One whose virtue is similar to [that of] heaven and earth is called Thearch. 禮記諡法﹕德象天地稱帝。(BHT, 2.43)

August means beauty. 皇,美也。(CCBZ, 1.3)

August refers to the lord, meaning beauty. 皇,君也,美也。(BHT, 2.44)

朕,我也。(CCBZ, 1.3)

Zhen means “I”.

Zhen means “I”. 朕,我也。(BHT, 2.48)

The body of the moon is bright. It is a metaphor for the pure and upright [character of the subject] 月體光明,以 喻臣清白也。(CCBZ, 1.28)

The Ganjing fu says: The sun is lord. The moon is subject. 感精符曰﹕……日為君,月為臣也。(BHT, 9.424)

Gaoxin is the reign title of Di Ku when he ruled the world.24 高辛, 帝嚳有天下之號也。(CCBZ, 1.34)

When Di Ku ruled the world, his reign title was Gaoxin. 帝嚳有天下,號曰高辛。(BHT, 2.43)

It means Heaven, Earth, and Man combine three shares of virtue [into one]. 謂天地人三合德。(CCBZ, 3.86)

Why does our teaching refer to “three”? It models itself upon Heaven, Earth, and Man. 教所以三何﹖法天地人。(BHT, 8.371)

It refers to the mandate given to mortals by the Heavenly Way and the divinity. It is periodic, not eternally granted. It blesses the good ones and punishes the evil ones. 言天道神明,降與人之命,反側無常, 善者佑之,惡者罰之。(CCBZ, 3.111)

Why does Heaven send disasters and changes? They are punishments whereby Heaven warns the rulers, who may be aware of their conduct and who may be led to have remorse for their mistakes and to cultivate their virtue in their deep reflection. 天所以有災變何﹖所以譴告人君,覺悟其行, 欲令悔過修德,深思慮也。(BHT, 6.267)

23 Zhuanxu was a mythological king in prehistoric China. He was grandson of the Yellow Emperor. See SJ, 1.11. Both figures were important in the heaven/earth correlative worldview. 24 Di Ku, another mythical person important to the correlative worldview, was greatgrandson of the Yellow Emperor. SJ, 1.13.


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In the Baihu tong, natural and supernatural phenomena were seen as messages from Heaven; likewise, in his discussion of morality and government, Wang Yi stressed the importance of counteracting the influence of harmful terrestrial spirits through practicing the Dao. In a passage that typifies Wang Yi’s reliance on heaven-earth correspondences, we see: The spirit of a mountain is called chi. The essence of a thing is called mei … Once the Dao is in practice in the world, all these essences will be submerged and hidden away. 山神曰螭,物精曰魅,……天下有道則眾精潛藏。25

This kind of nomenclature and prescription were common in ‘weft texts,’ which derived from Dong Zhongshu’s writings.26 The main point was that bad government (i.e., one that does not accord with the Dao) results from an imbalance in Yin and Yang and arouses the anger of Heaven; these spirits are Heaven’s messengers of bad tidings. The Yin/Yang balance played a crucial role in Chuci zhangju in the portrayal of integrity. Qu Yuan’s date of birth, as announced in the opening lines of the “Lisao,” fit well in the Yin/Yang system and was thought to have produced perfection in Qu Yuan’s character. Wang Yi glossed Qu Yuan’s birthday, the gengyin 庚寅 day, in this way: The Classic of Filial Piety says, “Therefore the mother gives birth under her knees.” Yin as part of the cyclical sign gengyin [due to its being one of the earthly branches] is regulated by Yang. Thus when the male begins to be brought forth, it is positioned in yin. Geng as part of the cyclical sign geng­ yin [due to its being one of the heavenly stems] is regulated by Yin. Thus when the female begins to be brought forth it is positioned in geng. In other words, [Qu Yuan] says, since I myself came down from my mother’s womb, when Jupiter was positioned in Yin in the first month at the beginning of spring on the day gengyin, I reached the absolute balance of Yin and Yang.

25 Zhengbu lun, in Ma Guohan, Yuhan shanfang ji yishu, 2a; also quoted in Ma Zong, Yilin, 4.9a. In his article on “Nightmare Poem” by Wang Yanshou, son of Wang Yi, Donald Harper translates mei as “goblin.” Quoting Shirakawa Shizuka, Harper points out that chi and mei appeared as a single term and are “often used as a designation for harmful terrestrial spirits.” He also discusses some other demons mentioned in both Wang Yi’s and his son’s works, such as youguang 游光 (“Roving Shiner”). See Harper, “Wang Yen-shou’s Nightmare Poem,” 244, n. 15, 246, n. 18. Shirakawa, “Biko kankei jisetsu,” 471–72. 26 See, for example, Yiwei tongguayan 易緯通卦驗, in Yasui and Nakamura, Isho shūsei, 206. For Dong’s discussion, see Fung, A History of Chinese Philosophy, vol. II, 55–58.

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《孝經》曰:故親生之膝下。寅為陽正,故男始生而立於寅。庚為陰正, 故女始生而立於庚。言己以太歲在寅,正月始春,庚寅之日,下母之體而 生,得陰陽之正中也。27

In Wang’s discussion of Qu Yuan’s self-cultivation, Qu is said to have absorbed the essence of Yin and Yang. The “Lisao” reads: “In the morning I drink dewdrops from magnolia; / In the evening, I consume falling petals of autumn chrysanthemum.” Wang’s gloss reads: In other words: In the morning I myself drink dewdrops from fragrant trees—absorbing the nectar of absolute Yang; in the evening I eat falling petals of fragrant chrysanthemums—swallowing the pistil essence of the center Yin.28 He always uses fragrance and purity to nourish himself. 言己旦飲香木之墜露,吸正陽之津液;暮食芳菊之落華,吞正陰之精蕊, 動以香淨,自潤澤也。29

Plants such as magnolia (mulan 木蘭) and grasses (sumang 宿莽) are given an allegorical reading based on their natural characteristics.30 The former “does not die when trimmed back”; the latter “does not wither in winter.” Their virtues were reflected in the person of Qu Yuan, according to Wang, because: Qu Yuan rises in the morning, ascends to the mountain, and picks magnolia. Up above, he serves the Grand Yang, in compliance with the divisions [of routines] in Heaven. In the evening he enters the marshes to gather grasses. Down below, he honors the Grand Yin, in compliance with Earth’s quantifications [of routines]. He frequently cultivates and educates himself with [instructions from] spirits of Heaven and Earth. 言己旦起陞山采木蘭,上事太陽,承天度也;夕入洲澤采取宿莽,下奉太 陰,順地數也。動以神祇自勑誨也。31 27 CCBZ, 1.3. 28 The phrase “center yin” (zheng yin 正陰) must have been an error for “yin and yang” (yin yang 陰陽), as in the Tang manuscript of Wenxuan. The latter makes more sense in the expression of keeping a balance in Yin and Yang. See Tangchao Wenxuan jizhu huicun, 63.809. I thank Michael Schimmelpfennig for pointing this out. 29 CCBZ, 1.12. 30 In a private communication on 6 November 2011, David Knechtges highlighted two possible meanings for sumang: (1) same as mangcao 莽草, Illicium lanceolatum, Chinese star anise. See Zhao Kuifu, Qu sao tanyou, 220, n. 16. (2) a Chu dialect word that simply means cao 草 (plant or grass). See Fan Sanwei, “Shi ‘Lisao’ ‘sumang’,” 18–19. Knechtges is inclined to the second interpretation. He adds that Yang Xiong’s Fangyan 方言 actually identifies mang as a southern Chu word for cao. See Wang Zhiqun, Xie Rong’e, and Wang Caiqin, Yang Xiong Fangyan jiaoshi huizheng, 3.189. 31 CCBZ, 1.6. Cf., translation and discussion of this commentary by Michael Schimmelpfennig, “Qu Yuan Weg vom ‘wahren Manschen’ zum werklichen Dichter,” 738–41. See also Schimmelpfennig, “The Quest for a Classic,” 145–46.


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Qu Yuan’s own beliefs may or may not have accorded with the correlative views expressed in Wang’s commentary here, written several centuries after Qu Yuan died. Indeed, the characters yin and yang are not found in the “Lisao” itself, the only text for which Qu Yuan’s authorship is highly credible.32 However, Wang Yi’s position was likely in accordance with the commentary tradition he inherited (see below), leading him to claim a ‘correct’ understanding of the Chuci poems. He writes in his postface to another work in the Chuci that was traditionally attributed to Qu Yuan, the “Heavenly Questions” (“Tianwen” 天問): Now I compare the old sections and unite them with the classics and commentaries, so that they may display and illuminate one another. Then I make it all conform, like the two parts of a tally that are reunited. Now that the sections are separated and sentences are given definite ends, the contents can be known so that later students will forever be without doubts. 今則稽之舊章,合之經傳,以相發明,為之符驗,章決句斷,事事可曉, 俾後學者永無疑焉。33

The same claim of compliance with the classics appears in his preface to the “Lisao.”34 No one knows how much Wang Yi incorporated from earlier commentaries in his Chuci zhangju or how much interpolation there is in Chuci buzhu,35 but his claimed adoption of the pre-existing commentaries shows that he must have had reason to align his own commentary with those that preceded his. In order to further elaborate on the heaven/earth correlative aspects of Qu Yuan’s political views, Wang Yi comments on a couplet from the “Lisao” that reads: “Tang 湯 and Yu 禹 were both sincere in their search

32 Tim Chan, “The Jing/Zhuan Structure of the Chuci anthology,” 317–23. 33 CCBZ, 3.119. 34 CCBZ, 1.48. 35 Kominami Ichirō uses the commentarial style in “Lisao” and “Tianwen” as internal evidence to distinguish Wang Yi’s own work from preexisting materials that he incorporated intact into Chuci zhangju or with minimal modification. The latter materials are in tetrasyllabic verse attached to the Chuci poems and, according to Kominami, were written as harmonizing verse to be recited along with the original text. Although not fully warranted, in my discussion I use the “Type II” (non-verse) commentaries as examples to show Wang Yi’s views. Kominami, “Wang Yi Chuci zhangju yanjiu,” 2–9. I thank John Makeham for calling my attention to this article. Kominami discusses Wang’s commentarial style in his “Wang Yi Chuci zhangju zai Handai Chuci zhushishi shang de diwei,” 277–84. Known commentators who predate Wang include Liu An, Liu Xiang, Yang Xiong, Jia Kui 賈逵 (30–101), and Ban Gu. See Jiang Liangfu, Chuci shumu wuzhong, 7–9.

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for good matches. / Zhi 摯 and Gao Yao 咎繇 were the best for such harmony.” Wang Yi explains: This means: Tang and Yu were the most sagacious, yet they still paid sincere homage to the Dao of heaven in their longing for harmony with it (i.e., the Dao). Only when they found Yi Yin and Gao Yao were they thus able to harmonize Yin and Yang and bring peace to the world. 言湯、禹至聖,猶敬承天道,求其匹合,得伊尹、咎繇,乃能調和陰陽, 而安天下也。36

Wang Yi’s point was that a balance between Yin and Yang in the political sphere meant achieving a balance between loyal subjects (like Yi Yin and Gao Yao) and sagacious rulers (Tang and Yu). This kind of interpretation of political affairs reflects Han correlative thought, a facet of which concerns the correspondence between Yin/Yang and the lord/subject relationship. This same correspondence is also seen in the Baihu tong, which quotes a Han ‘weft text,’ the Chunqiu Ganjing fu 春秋感精符 (Tallies of Spiritual Resonance, in Spring and Autumn Annals), as follows: According to the Three Principles, the sun is the lord, the moon the subject. 三綱之義,日為君,月為臣也。37

Similarly, in another passage, the Baihu tong posits what appears to be a numerological concept: The subject is Yin, and its corresponding numbers are even numbers. 臣陰,故數偶也。38

In both passages, the ruler is mapped to sun or Yang, and the subject to the moon or Yin. The Yin/Yang dichotomy, and its correspondence between ruler/subject, became Wang Yi’s rationale in his interpretation of the female personae that appeared in the Chuci. In the “Lisao” the poet is disguised as a beautiful lady, but is envied by other ‘ladies.’ Wang Yi glossed the line, “Other ladies are envious of my moth eyebrows” as follows: “Ladies” refers to other subjects [of the lord]. “Ladies” are Yin, which has no means of acting in its own right, in accordance with [the rule that]

36 CCBZ, 1.37–38. Yi Yin had a given name Zhi 摯. He was a minister of Tang. Ibid. 37 BHT, 9.424. 38 BHT, 5.244.


chapter one when the lord moves the subject follows. Therefore a “lady” is an analogy for the subject. “Moth eyebrows” is a description of beauty. 眾女,謂眾臣。女,陰也,無專擅之義,猶君動而臣隨也,故以喻臣。蛾 眉,好貌。39

The female personae in the Chuci are traditionally considered to be among some of the earliest forms of allegorical self representation in the poetry tradition. In his discussion of the female roles in the Chuci, You Guoen 游國恩 (1899–1978) identifies nine stereotypes.40 It was Wang Yi, or the unknown commentator whose work was absorbed in Chuci zhangju, who imposed the reading that the female personae in the Chuci may be interpreted according to yin/yang dichotomy. Let us compare this idea with the following discussion in the Baihu tong: Fire is for Yang. It is the image of the lord. Water is for Yin. It stands for the duties of the subject. 火陽,君之象也。水陰,臣之義也。41

Both passages express the principle or rule that the posture of a subject towards his lord should be one of passivity and servitude. Violation of this rule was a breach of the harmonious lord/subject cycle, and hence a usurpation of political power. This belief was held among ruling classes in most other periods of Chinese history, but in Wang Yi’s time violations of it were thought to call down destruction from Heaven. In a memorial presented in 123 by Yang Zhen 楊震 (d. 124), for example, Yang argued that a recent earthquake was the result of an imbalance in the Yin/Yang cycle which had become manifest in natural disasters. To regain harmony, the lord must dismiss his overly powerful subjects. Yang said: I once heard from my teacher: “Earth is Yin essence. It should stay peacefully and support Yang.” But now it quakes; Yin is overgrowing. It was a wuchen day and, [with the year and month], it makes three signs corresponding to “earth.” Their corresponding location is the middle of the ­palace. This is a sign that inner officials are too privileged with special power … I hope that Your Majesty will exert the power of the strong [hexagram represented by] qian 乾 and dismiss those supercilious subjects, so as to stop mouths from speaking evil words. You should follow the precepts of august heaven and not let your might and good fortune pass to those under you. 39 CCBZ, 1.14–15. 40 You, Chuci lunwen ji, 192–202. Note that in his discussion, You does not mention the Yin/Yang correlation. 41 BHT, 4.189.

wang yi on integrity and loyalty


臣聞師言:「地者陰精,當安靜承陽。」而今動搖者,陰道盛也。其日戊 辰,三者皆土,位在中宮。此中臣近官盛於持權用事之象也。……唯陛下 奮乾剛之德,棄驕奢之臣,以掩訞言之口,奉承皇天之戒,無令威福久移 於下。42

This belief stemmed from the ideological and political situation of Han times; indeed rarely can we find alternative explanations of the causes of natural disasters.43 Harmony in Yin/Yang was a goal commonly sought in pre-Han and Han political history. The following excerpt from a memorial presented by Chen Zhong 陳忠 (d. 125) in the late 110s or early 120s offers further support that this belief was common among Wang Yi’s contemporaries: I, your subject have heard that the first of the ‘five matters’ recorded in the “Hongfan” [chapter in The Book of Documents] is ‘bearing.’ The ‘bearing’ must be reverent. To be reverent one must perform respectfulness. If the ‘bearing’ is harmed, there occurs craziness and it brings in incessant rain. The torrents in Spring and Autumn all resulted from the superior lord’s failure to ensure solemnity in his ceremonial rites and from his laxness in holding sway. [Thereupon,] his subjects became frivolous and disrespectful, and the noble vassals usurped power. When the Yin force grew strong, the Yang could not check it. Therefore, incessant rain was sent. 臣聞洪範五事,一曰貌,貌以恭,恭作肅,貌傷則狂,而致常雨。春秋大 水,皆為君上威儀不穆,臨莅不嚴,臣下輕慢,貴倖擅權,陰氣盛彊,陽 不能禁,故為淫雨。44

It is unlikely that the “Lisao,” when it was first composed, would have been understood in terms of a well-elaborated allegorical yin-yang correspondence. Rather, it was Han-dynasty exegetes such as Wang Yi who imposed this belief on the Qu Yuan persona in the poem in accordance with the yin-yang correlative politics that were prevalent in Wang’s day, several centuries after the “Lisao” was written.

42 HHS, 54.1765. 43 Tjan, Po Hu T’ung, 120–28; Beck, The Treatises of Later Han, 162–73. Wang Chong’s anti-theological philosophy was exceptional in this cultural trend. To Wang Chong, the great cycle played a decisive role in order and disorder; it was not the sage’s merit that brought peace, and not the bad ruler’s wrongdoings that caused chaos. Hou, Zhongguo sixiang tongshi, vol. 2: 350–53. Lunheng, 17.14b–15a. 44 HHS, 46.1562.


chapter one The Recruitment of Fan Ying

Theological beliefs and reliance on mantic arts became major motives for the recruitment of the famous recluse Fan Ying 樊英 (fl. 128), an event in which Wang Yi played a major role. This incident appears to have been important in the history of the Later Han, whose rulers were in desperate need of competent individuals to assist the empire. The competence desired was for the most part proficiency in mantic skills.45 Wang’s role in Fan Ying’s recruitment reflects Wang Yi’s views on the importance of oracular ability, and dovetails with his interests in using the Chuci as a platform for promoting his restoration agenda. The poem collected in the Chuci that Wang Yi would have thought was thematically most relevant to Fan Ying’s recruitment is the “Great Summons” (“Dazhao” 大招). This piece may be read from two perspectives. On one level, it is a desperate appeal for the dedicatee’s soul not to depart his body. The conceit involves painting a rosy picture of conditions in the state of Chu, so that the soul may be persuaded not to depart to lands far away. On another level, the appeal to the soul may be seen as an effort to lure the figure of Qu Yuan back to the state. Read in this way, the “Great Summons” may be seen as propaganda for the Han ruling class. This was most likely Wang Yi’s understanding of the poem, as can be seen from his commentary on it, in which we find a statement: “All worthies should come together. None should be left out or lost.”46 Similarly, Wang Yi’s success in persuading Fan Ying to take office was a realization of his idealized view of the role of government. Recruitment of educated, qualified men who had, for various reasons, elected not to continue official service (i.e., ‘reclusive worthies’) became a concern for Emperor Guangwu and was an important issue throughout the Han. Wang Mang’s usurpation of the Han throne drew such indignation from numerous intellectuals that they gave up their official titles and retreated to the mountains, and/or pursued commercial interests. These men provided a focus for Guangwu’s recruitment efforts after he defeated Wang Mang. His recruitment efforts were two-fold. First, he was in keeping with the dictum in the Analects: “Promotion of recluses leads to submission of

45 It is noteworthy that Lang Zong 郎宗 (fl. early second century) ran away from state service because he refused to be recruited merely for his divinatory skills, while his son Lang Yi 顗 carved out an official career by means of those very same skills. HHS, 30B.1053–75. 46 CCBZ, 10.226.

wang yi on integrity and loyalty


the world.”47 Second, in the Later Han, the recruitment of recluses probably had a more immediate function: to replace those officials cast away after being labeled corrupt, often as a result of being identified through divination by a prognosticator that they were the cause of a natural calamity. Of course, these divinations may have only been concocted to obscure the real reasons that officials were dismissed. Nevertheless, the relationship between the recruitment of good men and the dismissal of bad ones is highlighted by Wang Yi in a memorial: An award of five hundred hu of grain will be given to those who can promote unrecognized recluses from mountains and forests and those who can dismiss evil officials from the state. 能舉遺逸於山藪,黜奸邪於邦國,給穀五百斛。48

Fan Ye records in his Hou Han shu that Fan Ying finally agreed to go to the capital in 127, after a number of imperial summonses. Xie Cheng’s 謝承 (early to mid second century) Hou Han shu, quoted in Li Xian’s 李賢 (651 or 653–84) commentary, credits Wang Yi with the successful recruitment: Wang Yi of the Nanjun Prefecture had been on good terms with Fan Ying. He then wrote a letter to Ying, in which he quoted writings of the ancients as analogies to urge Fan to accept the offer. Fan listened to Wang Yi. As a result, the expectation of the ‘pure criticism adherents’ (tanzhe 談者)49 was left unfulfilled.50

The ancient stories Wang may have quoted in his letter to Fan remain unknown, but his Chuci zhangju yields important hints. The “ancients” might have been those who recorded the stories about great officials such as Fu Yue 傅說, Yi Yin, and Lü Wang 呂望, who were models of good officials in the “Lisao” as well as in Wang Yi’s imitative work “Jiusi.” We observe Wang’s utilitarian principles in his criticism of Han philosophical and political writings in his Zhengbu lun: The Huainanzi is frivolous, uncanny, and intangible. The Taixuan is obscure, tenuous, and has but little effect. The Fayan is jumbled, mixed up, and has no thesis. The Xinshu is verbose and short on practical use. 47 HHS, 83.2757. Lunyu, 20/1. 48 Wang, Lin Yuzhou jiao, quoted in Beitang shuchao, 33.2a. 49 Usually referred to as the qingyi 清議, ‘pure criticism’ was a new movement that had developed in the capital as the number of students at the Imperial Academy rapidly increased but scholarship declined with the cessation of lectures by the Erudite Scholars (Boshi 博士). Eventually, this grew to a short-lived movement against social and political corruption; see HHS, 69A.2547; Pi, Jingxue lishi, 113–14. 50 HHS, 82A.2724.


chapter one 淮南浮偽而多恢,太元幽虛而少效,法言雜錯而無主,新書繁文而鮮用。51

What Wang Yi may have seen in common to all four texts is that they do not contain prescriptions for divination that, in his view, would have served a practical, political use. The Hou Han shu biography of Fan Ying bolsters this view: In his early years, Fan Ying studied under teachers in the Three Auxiliary areas. He studied Jing Fang’s 京房 (77–37 bc) commentary on the Book of Changes, and thoroughly understood the Five Classics. He was also proficient at ‘wind corner’ divination, astrology, the diagrams from the Yellow River 河圖 and the writing from the Luo Waters 洛書, the seven categories of apocryphal texts (Qiwei 七緯), and prediction of disasters and cataclysms. 樊英……少受業三輔,習京氏易,兼明五經,又善風角、星筭、河洛七 緯,推步災異。52

This passage reflects the common trend of reading the Five Classics in the light of apocrypha and mantic skills. Fan’s expertise was mostly related to divination. His knowledge of the Book of Changes came from Jing Fang, whose work formed the mainstream Yin/Yang and correlative theories in the Han.53 Fan’s commentary on the same classic, termed the “Fan school of studies” 樊氏學, was taught and transmitted by prognosticative diagrams and ‘weft texts.’54 This background might account partially for the Han emperor’s eagerness to recruit Fan, who was supposedly able to foresee and thus prevent disasters by taking proper measures so that the deities would not afflict the empire. For this reason, the emperor ordered 51 Zhengbu lun, 1b; also quoted in Yilin, 4.9a. 52 HHS, 82A.2721. Details of the qiwei are given in Li Xian’s commentary. For a discussion of Han mantic skills, see Loewe, “The Religious and Intellectual Backgrounds,” 676. Loewe’s explanation of ‘wind corners’ reads: “It was in the context of waiting for signs of the progress of qi that the twelve pitch-pipes were set up, and prognostication from the winds may perhaps best be understood in the same way, i.e., as predictions attendant upon signs of an expected development.” See Loewe, “The Oracles of the Clouds and the Winds,” 510; details of the method are on pp. 509–15. According to the Yishi fengjiao 翼氏 風角, “Each wind is a sign for Heaven’s command. It is a means of warning rulers.” HHS, 65.2141, n. 2. The ‘diagrams from the Yellow River’ refers to the legend that upon seeing the star-shaped spots on the back of a draconian horse (termed ‘longtu’ 龍圖) Fuxi 伏羲 was inspired and drew the eight hexagrams. The ‘writing from the Luo Waters’ refers to the legend about Yu 禹, who wrote the “Hongfan” 洪範 (a chapter in Shangshu) based on the cracks resembling writing on the back of a divine turtle rising from the Luo River. See Shangshu zhengyi, 18.127c, Kong Yingda’s 孔穎達 (574–648) commentary quoting Kong Anguo 孔安國 (ca. 154 bc) and Liu Xin; HS, 27A.1315, quoting Liu Xin. 53 HS, 75.3160, 3195; Dull, “Historical Introduction,” 77–90. 54 HHS, 82A.2724.

wang yi on integrity and loyalty


that an altar be set up and Fan be given ritual honors when he first arrived in the capital.55 Fan Ying’s appointment was not, however, universally applauded. He was, for example, ridiculed by Zhang Kai 張楷, who had been recruited at the same time: There are two dao in the world, namely going out [for civil service] and staying [in seclusion as a recluse]. In the beginning I thought your service would assist the lord and save the world. But, with your unyielding personality, first of all you offended the owner of ten thousand chariots (i.e., the emperor). Since you have received and enjoyed your official rank and salary, however, nothing has been heard of your method of assistance and salvation. You have now lost your footing and can neither proceed nor retreat. 天下有二道,出與處也。吾前以子之出,能輔是君也,濟斯人也。而子始 以不訾之身,怒萬乘之主;及其享受爵祿,又不聞匡救之術,進退無所據 矣。56

These two extremes of service and reclusion reached an apogee in the second century of the Later Han. As political persecutions increased, “name and integrity” (mingjie 名節) became the biggest concern voiced by intellectuals.57 Wang Yi’s promotion of integrity and recruitment of worthy people can be viewed as a similar reaction to political and social crises. 55 HHS, 82A.2723. It is difficult to know exactly what kinds of mantic skills Fan Ying may have possessed. In a memorial, Zhang Heng censured certain mantic practices of the age by distinguishing unusual methods from effective ones. The latter included laws and almanacs, the trigram-season (guahou 卦候) correlation system, the ‘nine palaces’ (jiugong 九宮) system, and the ‘wind corner’ method. “But none in the world wants to study them. Instead, they vie to give high praise to books on [unusual] non-divinatory methods,” continued Zhang. HHS, 59.1912. In the trigram-season correlation system, each season is assigned to one of the sixty-four trigrams in the Yijing. The ‘nine palaces’ consist of the eight directions in the names of the eight hexagrams in the Yijing plus the ‘center palace.’ One “possible reason for their (i.e., able men like Fan Ying) recruitment,” according to Gregory Young, was “to bring men with unusual skills under the supervision and control of the central government.” See Young, “Court Politics in the Later Han,” 32–33. 56 HHS, 82A.2724. 57 Zhao Yi, Nianershi zhaji, 5.61. Alan Berkowitz agrees with Aat Vervoorn’s view that the conduct of ‘exemplary eremitism’ often was no more than “an elaborate demonstration of lofty personal ideals designed to attract the world’s attention.” Giving Zhang’s criticism of Fan as his example, Berkowitz argues: “If he (i.e., ‘the man of consummate virtue’) comes forth, then as Moral Hero he gives succor to the age; anything less indicates that he was undeserving of his former reputation. Staying in reclusion in spite of the most compelling circumstances, however, was the measure of the mettle of practitioners of reclusion, those who actualized and assiduously maintained their principles.” Berkowitz, Patterns of Disengagement, 118, 121. Vervoorn, Men of the Cliffs and Caves, 139.


chapter one Ban Gu and Others on Remonstrating

Whereas Wang Yi’s views on heaven/earth and yin/yang correlations were similar to those held by other officials during his day, particularly those perspectives represented in the Baihu tong, his views on loyalty and, specifically, how to fulfill one’s duty, differed drastically from the views expressed in the Baihu tong. Traditionally, the most direct means to show one’s loyalty to the state was through remonstration. Ban Gu’s criticism of Qu Yuan concerned his view that it was not Qu Yuan’s remonstration, but rather it was his recklessness that brought him to ruin. In a recent article, Miyano Naoya 宮野直也 observes that Ban Gu based his argument on the social norms of the time. Quoting the Baihu tong, Miyano effectively argues that Qu Yuan did not follow the ‘proper’ way to remonstrate with his lord. Ban Gu’s main point was that Qu Yuan “was not a person of bright wisdom.”58 In its discussion of “remonstrance and protest” (jianzheng 諫諍), the Baihu tong aimed to promote the maintenance of a harmonious relationship between lord and subject. Its idea of ‘five methods of remonstration’ came from the Liji 禮記. They are: ‘suasive remonstrance’ (fengjian 諷諫), ‘compliant remonstrance’ (shunjian 順諫), ‘observant remonstrance’ (kuijian 窺諫), ‘pointing remonstrance’ (zhijian 指諫), and ‘courageous remonstrance’ (xianjian 陷諫). Like other works on the same topic, the Baihu tong points out that the best remonstrative method, and the one Confucius preferred, is ‘suasive remonstrance,’59 because

58 Miyano, “Han Ko to Ō Itsu,” 41–48. A major difference between Ban’s preface and a separate piece of writing, his ‘panegyric preface to “Lisao”’ 離騷贊序 (CCBZ, 1.51) must be noted. These two works are so contradictory that scholars have felt compelled to put forward various explanations for their discrepancies. The most common is that Ban Gu wrote the latter in his youth, and thus it contains the same high praise for Qu Yuan as recorded in HHS, 40A.1332. Li Cheng explains Ban’s ambivalence as resulting from different criteria. According to Li, Ban’s views varied according to his standpoint, be it scholar of the classics, historian, littérateur, etc. See Li, “Lun Ban Gu ping Qu,” 208–11. In the “Gujin renbiao” 古今人表 of the Hanshu, Ban categorized Qu Yuan as “humane” (ren ren 仁人) at the rank of “upper medium” (shangzhong 上中, the eighth grade out of nine). HS, 20.946. The genre zan 贊 refers to “panegyric words” (zanmei zhi ci 讚美之辭). See Wu Na, Wenzhang bianti xushuo, 47. Zan also refers to “succinct writing in the laudatory or denigrating tone” 約文而寓以褒貶. See Ren Fang, Wenzhang yuanqi, 9. Ban’s “xu” is quoted as “Chuci xu” by Li Shan. WX, 24.7a. 59 BHT, 5.235–36. The BHT version of the ‘five methods of remonstration’ was taken verbatim from Dai De’s 戴德 (W. Han) edition of Liji. HHS, 75.1854, n. 1. In all other variations of the five methods, ‘suasive remonstration’ is recorded as Confucius’s preference. See Shuoyuan jiaozheng, 9.206.

wang yi on integrity and loyalty


Suasive remonstrance is wisdom. Sensing the precursors of disasters and harm, seeing it to a certain depth, one persuades one’s lord of it before it (i.e., the disaster) becomes obvious.60

This gave Ban Gu grounds for his comment that Qu Yuan “was not a person of bright wisdom.” As mentioned above, the Baihu tong ideology was about maintaining a harmonious relationship between subject and lord. ‘Courageous remonstrance’ was placed last because of its radical, confrontational nature. Avoidance of such conflict was one of the main duties of a subject. The Baihu tong defined “the responsibility of a subject” (renchen zhi yi 人臣之義) thus: It is the responsibility of a subject to hide the wrongdoings [of his lord] and to praise his goodness … One who hides the lord’s wrongdoings is a subject who is able to extend virtue and transmit the rites. … Why should one hide the lord’s wrongdoings? It is because the lord is of utmost dignity. That is why he appoints prime ministers and remonstrant officials. [In this way,] there should not be any wrongdoing. 人臣之義,當掩惡揚美……掩惡者,謂廣德宣禮之臣。 ……


It has been observed that one of the purposes of the Baihu tong was to strengthen Han sovereignty by deifying it.62 It was the subject’s duty to foresee a problem and to remonstrate indirectly, so that a harmonious relationship between the two parties could be maintained. Although the lord might make mistakes, the subject should hide them in order to maintain the lord’s image as a paragon. One may apply this notion to the emperor’s high expectations of Fan Ying, because the latter’s proficiency in mantic skills would have allowed him to foresee problems in the future. Ban Gu’s argument in his preface to the “Lisao” on the proper behavior of a subject accords with the Baihu tong. He says: Moreover, it is destiny that a gentleman is [occasionally] obstructed in his career. Thus, [as the Book of Changes says,] “A hidden dragon not making its presence known knows no frustration.” The “Guanju” poem lamented without excessive sorrow the decline of the Dao of the Zhou dynasty. [The 60 BHT, 5.235. 61 BHT, 5.239. 62 Hou, Zhongguo sixiang tongshi, vol. 2: 240–47.


chapter one characters in the Analects] Qu Yuan 蘧瑗 kept his wisdom for himself, while Ningwu kept up the appearance of stupidity. These people all aimed to preserve their lives by avoiding harm, and stayed away from current disasters. Therefore the Greater Elegance includes the line “He is wise and logical, in order to preserve his life.” This [behavior] is honorable. 且君子道窮,命矣。故潛龍不見是而無悶。《關雎》哀周道而不傷。蘧瑗 持可懷之智,甯武保如愚之性,咸以全命避害,不受世患。故《大雅》 曰:既明且哲,以保其身。斯為貴矣。63

Qu Yuan’s death went against this Confucian-based principle.64 The Baihu tong implied that a good government needs no such morality in which harm comes through exposing the faults of the sovereign, who should not be criticized. Following this logic, Ban Gu went on to criticize Qu Yuan: Now, in the case of Qu Yuan, he flaunted his talent and exalted himself. He contended with the petty men of a state in decline and consequently suffered slander and harm. However, he reproached and criticized King Huai, blaming and hating [characters for whom the poet provides only the floral pseudonyms] Pepper (Zijiao 子椒) and Orchid (Zilan 子蘭). He suffered from sorrow in his mind and from bitterness in his thought. Forcefully condemning others, incurring hatred and grievance, he found himself in an isolated position [at court]. 65 Finally, he drowned himself in a river. This indeed denigrated the clean and pure, the radical and cautious, and noble-minded people.66 In his writings are frequent references to [mythical figures not mentioned in the classics, like] Mount Kunlun and the posthumously wed [river goddess] Fufei. None of these are in compliance with well-ruled governance, and are not found in classical texts. [Liu An’s comment that Qu Yuan] shares solar and lunar brightness is indeed excessive. 今若屈原,露才揚己,競乎危國群小之閒,以離讒賊。然責數懷王,怨惡 椒、蘭,愁神苦思,強非其人,忿懟不容,沈江而死,亦貶絜狂狷景行之

63 CCBZ, 1.49. 64 Cf. Liu Xiang’s discussion of Confucius’s emphasis on the importance of preserving one’s person while making efforts to preserve one’s state. See Shuoyuan jiaozheng, 9.206. 65 Contextually, the line qiang fei qi ren 強非其人 should be an elaboration of the preceding statement on “competing with petty men and thus bringing about trouble.” Cf. Michael Schimmelpfennig’s translation: “[Qu Yuan] stressed that [the man at the reins] was not the man [capable] for the [task].” Schimmelpfennig, “The Quest for a Classic,” 136. 66 The line “yi bian jie kuangjuan jingxing zhi shi 亦貶絜狂狷景行之士” has been proven by Tang Bingzheng to be a mistake for “yi bian qingjie kuangjuan jingxing zhi shi 亦貶清絜狂狷景行之士”. Tang, Chuci leigao, 87–89.

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士。多稱崑崙、冥婚宓妃虛無之語,皆非法度之政,經義所載。謂之兼 《詩》風雅,而與日月爭光,過矣!67

Ban Gu’s point was that the references he mentions at the end are not found in the classics and that it was therefore improper to accord the status of a classic to the “Lisao.” Ban Gu was not the first to condemn Qu Yuan’s suicide. Criticism of Qu Yuan’s final decision first appeared in Jia Yi’s 賈誼 (200-168 BC) “Lament for Qu Yuan” (“Diao Qu Yuan wen” 吊屈原文). Jia suggested that Qu Yuan should have renounced Chu and served a different state or lived in reclusion. This view was later shared by Sima Qian 司馬遷 (145–ca. 86 bc), Yang Xiong 揚雄 (53 bc–ad 18), Ban Biao 班彪 (3–54), and Ban Gu.68 These Han writers posed a common question on Qu Yuan’s final resolution: why did he have to commit suicide? The most elaborate of these discussions is found in Yang Xiong’s “Fan Lisao” (“Contra ‘Lisao’”) 反離騷. Here are some relevant lines:69 Knowing the jealousy and envy of those beauti ful ladies, Why did you still show off your moth eyebrows? So good is the divine dragon at submerging itself in a  gulf; It awaits propitious clouds and will someday arise. … In the past, after Confucius left the state of Lu, To and fro, late and lagging, he wandered about. In the end he returned to his former city. Why must you go to the depths of [the river] Xiang’s  wavy torrent?

知眾嫭之嫉妒兮 何必颺纍之蛾眉 懿神龍之淵潛 竢慶雲而將舉 昔仲尼之去魯兮 婓婓遲遲而周邁 終回復於舊都兮 何必湘淵與濤瀨69

Shared sentiment was one important motive for lauding Qu Yuan. If we accept the traditional position that Liu Xiang was the compiler of the Chuci in sixteen juan, Lin Weichun’s 林維純 argument as to Liu’s motives sounds logical. According to Lin, Liu might have compiled the Chuci because, just like Qu Yuan in Chu, he had the same surname as the royal house but was being slandered.70 Wang Yi’s motivation for writing his 67 CCBZ, 1.50. 68 For criticism of Qu Yuan before Wang Yi’s time, see Schneider, A Madman of Ch’u, 23–27; Li Daming, “Lun Wang Yi,” 22–24. 69 Quan Hou Han wen 全後漢文, QSG, 52.5a–6b. HS, 87A.3518, 3521. 70 Lin Weichun, “Liu Xiang bianji Chuci chutan,” 86–92. Lin’s view has recently been criticized for being speculative. See Kominami, “Wang Yi Chuci zhangju yanjiu,” 15; Li Zhi,


chapter one

commentary is explained by a later writer in the preface to Wang’s “Jiusi”: “Wang Yi shared the same soil and state as Qu Yuan. Therefore, his lament and mourning were different from that of others.”71 The highly moral conduct of Qu Yuan presented in the Chuci anthology thus became a core element to be transmitted, as Wang stressed several times in his prefatory notes: “The people of Chu praised Qu Yuan’s conduct and propriety highly; that is why they transmitted his work.”72 Promotion of this spirit is evident in all works imitative of the Chuci because Qu Yuan, rather than the author of the imitation, was treated as the main persona. The spirit of Qu Yuan came to the fore when the author faced a similar predicament. Jia Yi’s “Sorrow for the Oath” (“Xishi” 惜誓) and “Lament for Qu Yuan” are two examples of Jia sharing Qu’s sentiments.73 Ban Gu’s ambivalence in evaluating Qu Yuan arose from a conflict inherent in his position. Qu Yuan’s patriotism and literary achievement did arouse Ban’s sympathy and admiration in his early years. However, in compiling official documents such as the Baihu tong and the Hanshu, Ban’s imperative was to comply with orthodox views. Fan Ye made the following comment on Ban Gu’s treatment in his Hanshu of other cases of what Ban viewed as misplaced loyalty: In his discussion, however, Ban Gu constantly denies the kind of integrity that demands one’s life be devoted to it, negates uprightness and incorrupt conduct, and never gives credit to the goodness of those who achieved benevolence by sacrificing their lives. It is indeed bad that he places but little stress on benevolence and propriety, and belittles those who maintain their integrity. 然其論議常排死節,否正直,而不敘殺身成仁之為美,則輕仁義,賤守節 愈矣。74

The Baihu tong contains perfect examples of what Fan Ye was talking about, especially in its discussion of remonstration. The standard of “Guanyu Chuci zhangju ‘xuwen’ de zuozhe wenti,” 52–58. 71 CCBZ, 17.314. Hong Xingzu notes that the commentary on “Jiusi” should not have been given by Wang Yi himself, but by people like his son Yanshou. Takeji Sadao, Soji kenkyū, 48–54, asserts that Wang Yi’s edition should have contained sixteen juan, the content inherited from Liu Xiang’s compilation. 72 CCBZ, 4.121, 5.163, 7.179. 73 CCBZ, 11.227–31; SJ, 84.2493–95; WX, 60.14b–16b; Quan Han wen 全漢文, QSG, 16.7b– 8a. Laurence A. Schneider argues that the similarity between Qu and Jia was evidently a consideration for Sima Qian, who violated the chronological order of his history by putting the biographies of Qu and Jia together in the same chapter. Schneider, A Madman of Ch’u, 22. 74 HHS, 40B.1386.

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c­ onduct laid out in the Baihu tong might have been responsible for an increase in the number of recluses in the Later Han. One standard procedure of remonstration laid out in the Baihu tong is evident from the following: The [Han apocryphal prognostication text] Xiaojing Yuanshen qi says: “After remonstrating three times, the subject waits to be dismissed but returns in three years. This is to show attachment to one’s lord.” The reason that the subject is said to have been dismissed is that he concealed the lord’s wrongdoing. It is as though the subject was guilty and thus was dismissed. 援神契曰﹕「三諫,待放復三年,盡惓惓也。」所以言放者,臣為君諱, 若言有罪放之也。75

Qu Yuan’s remonstration differed from this standard procedure. Instead of hiding the faults of his lord, even in exile he kept criticizing him. This obviously went against what the Baihu tong advocated, as we can see in the following passage: When the matter for remonstration has taken effect, the subject should leave immediately. Those who wait to be dismissed are hoping that the lord will listen to their advice. Once the matter has been put into practice and disasters and scourges are about to come to pass, there is no point in staying. 所諫事已行者,遂去不留。凡待放者,冀君用其言耳。事已行,災咎 將至,無為留之。76

In his Shiji biography, Qu Yuan is recorded as having “expressed his views three times in each piece of writing.”77 According to Tang Bingzheng, Ban Gu’s censure of Qu Yuan’s “flaunting talent and exalting himself” referred to Qu Yuan’s “boasting of his deeds” and his presumptuous comparisons of himself with the sun and the moon, heaven and earth, and with Yao and Shun, all of which are evident in Qu’s works in the Chuci, and which are recorded as having prompted his political rivals to slander him.78 To Liu An, Qu Yuan’s conduct shared the brightness of the sun and the moon. But to Ban Gu, this praise was too high.

75 BHT, 5.229; cf. Tjan, Po Hu T’ung, 465. 76 BHT, 5.230. 77 SJ, 84.2485. 78 Tang, Chuci leigao, 84–85.


chapter one Wang Yi and Others on Allegiance

In the political climate of the second half of the Eastern Han, allegiance assumed a new meaning and became a major theme of the political struggles and intellectual integrity.79 Wang Yi’s argument in his Chuci zhangju contributed to and reflected this new trend. In response to Ban Gu’s criticism of Qu Yuan, Wang Yi expressed his views through creating a sharp contrast between good and evil. His praise and censure were not only an attempt to defend Qu Yuan, but also a discourse on how to practice allegiance. Beginning with the phrase “the responsibility of a subject” (renchen zhi yi 人臣之義), which was used in the Baihu tong to introduce didactic preaching, Wang stressed the importance of allegiance in his postface to the “Lisao”: Moreover, as for the responsibility of a subject, faithfulness and righteousness are highly regarded, and the sacrifice of one’s life to uphold integrity is considered worthy. Thus, there are those who use threatening words to preserve the state, and those who devote their lives to establishing humaneness. For this reason, Wu Zixu (d. 484 bc) did not regret floating on the river and Bi Gan (Shang dyn.) did not grieve over the cutting out of his heart.80 Thereupon, faithfulness is established and good conduct achieved; honor will come into view and renown will be heard of. 且人臣之義,以忠正為高,以伏節為賢。故有危言以存國,殺身以成仁。 是以伍子胥不恨於浮江,比干不悔於剖心,然後忠立而行成,榮顯而名 著。81

The final line of this passage from Wang Yi’s writings may be contextualized with a comment by Wang Chong, who was a generation senior to Wang Yi. In a relatively stable society, as Wang Chong pointed out, there is no such thing as ‘faithfulness’ (zhong 忠, literally “faithfully performing

79 Li Daming, “Lun Wang Yi,” 27. Asano Michiari observes that Wang Yi, Hong Xingzu, and Zhu Xi shared a common background. He assumes that imitative works, as well as commentaries in the Chuci, may not be mere imitations but may contain expressions of the authors’ own views. See Asano, “Kandai no soji: Soji shōku seiritsu e no katei,” 23–24. Kominami argues that, in his discussion of allegiance in his preface, Wang Yi may have been venting his discontent with Later Han intellectuals. He also argues that the imitative works in Chuci style were not written as an indirect criticism of the Han. See his “Wang Yi Chuci zhangju zai Handai,” 284, and “Wang Yi Chuci zhangju yanjiu,” 30, respectively. 80 These are two historical figures who both chose to remonstrate, remain in office, and willingly accept execution. See SJ, 3.107–8; 41.1743. 81 CCBZ, 1.48.

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duty”82). Faithfulness only exists when the state is in great peril and the ruler is incompetent.83 Wang Chong’s paradoxical view was illustrated in the politics of half a century later, when personal risks were greater because of the acceleration of the cycle of political persecution and new recruitment. Remonstration and allegiance were common themes in the official discourse throughout China’s recorded history, but these themes had achieved a particularly prominent place in the political arena around the time that Wang Yi wrote his Chuci zhangju. The Hou Han shu records a situation in 121: Since an imperial edict had opened up channels for remonstration and protest, Chen Zhong was concerned that remonstrance might bring forth vehement words that would result in expulsion. He therefore presented an early memorial broadening the emperor’s magnanimity: “I, your subject, have heard that a kind lord extends [his search for worthies] to mountains and marshes and accepts germane, straightforward plans; and that a loyal subject exerts his rightful integrity and has no fear of harm as a result of offensive words he offers up …” 忠以詔書既開諫爭,慮言事者必多激切,或致不能容,乃上疏豫通廣帝 意﹐曰:「臣聞仁君廣山藪之大,納切直之謀;忠臣盡謇諤之節,不畏逆 耳之害……。」84

The new channel for airing views and the concern Chen expressed, linked with his call for competent officials, were direct responses to the persecution of worthy subjects that had taken place under the dictatorship of the recently departed Empress Dowager Deng.85 Under the new leadership, it became especially important to acquire upright, loyal officials. Chen offered posts to upright individuals who were living in reclusion as a result of persecution, such as Feng Liang 馮良, Zhou Xie 周燮, Du Gen 杜 根, and Cheng Yishi 成翊世. In 126, Yu Xu 虞詡 (early second century), who was criticized for unrelenting governance, presented the following views to the emperor: I, your subject, have recently seen that most officials ranking below Duke and Chamberlain are always cupping their hands in obedience and silence. 82 Kong Anguo’s gloss for the line “at an inferior position one can be faithful” 為下克 忠 is “exerting one’s utmost honesty when serving one’s superior” 事上竭誠. Shangshu

zhengyi, 8.51a. 83 Lunheng, 27.6a/b. 84 HHS, 46.1556. 85 The ‘dictatorship’ is an appraisal given by Fan Ye and Li Xian. HHS, 10A.430; 5.243, n. 4; 57.1861, n. 1.


chapter one They regard currying favor as worthy and preserving one’s integrity [by sacrificing one’s life] as foolish. They even admonish each other: “[Purity like] a white jade disc is not to be achieved. Following the majority brings good luck in later life.” 臣見方今公卿以下,類多拱默,以樹恩為賢,盡節為愚,至相戒曰:「白 璧不可為,容容多後福。」86

In the same memorial Yu recommended Zuo Xiong 左雄 (d. 138), a person of great integrity and competence who in 127 presented to the throne a memorial that contained the following criticism: I, your subject, have heard that all rulers are fond of honest, upright subjects and dislike sycophants. Nonetheless, calamities in previous dynasties derived from the fact that the honest were punished and the sycophantic were favored. It is difficult to comply with honest words, but easy to listen to flattery. It is human nature that we most dislike punishment and guilt, and that we most desire honor and favor. Thus, there has sprung up a trend whereby very few people practice honesty and most are sycophantic. Thereupon, the ruler always hears of his goodness but rarely does he realize his wrongdoings. Deceived and never awake, he is thus led into danger and destruction. 臣聞人君莫不好忠正而惡讒諛,然而歷世之患,莫不以忠正得罪,讒諛蒙 倖者,蓋聽忠難,從諛易也。夫刑罪,人情之所甚惡;貴寵,人情之所甚 欲。是以時俗為忠者少,而習諛者多。故令人主數聞其美,稀知其過,迷 而不悟,至於危亡。87

Zuo’s criticism cast doubt on such elements of the Baihu tong ideology as hiding the lord’s faults and giving up remonstrating when the relevant matters had already been instituted. According to Yu and Zuo, sycophancy and fear of trouble were crucial factors in corruption and deterioration. Careless of self-preservation, officials such as Zhai Fu 翟酺 and Yang Zhen presented memorials in which were to be found proposals to eliminate overly powerful eunuchs and the family of the consort. Yang even ended his life in a battle with the eunuchs. Li Gu 李固 (94–147), a later contemporary, practiced further martyrdom by ending his life in a political struggle.88 The Hou Han shu records that after the deaths of Li, Du Qiao 杜喬, Li Yun 李雲 (d. 160), and Du Zhong 杜眾, “People inside and outside the Han court regarded ‘honesty’ as a taboo word.”89

86 HHS, 61.2015; Quan Hou Han wen, 56.3b–4a. 87 HHS, 61.2021; Quan Hou Han wen, 59.1b. 88 Loewe, “The Religious and Intellectual Backgrounds,” 305–7. 89 HHS, 61.2038.

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Examined within this historical background, Wang Yi’s notion of allegiance carries a different meaning than that ascribed to the concept in the Baihu tong. The following fragment from his Zhengbu lun gives us some hints to his political views: Be explicit in [explanation of] punishment; be careful in [implementing] laws. Show sympathy to the people; be kind to one’s inferiors. The living will not complain; the dead will have no regrets. A proverb says: “Once governance is like ice and frost, evil people from inside and outside will be eliminated. Once might is like thunder bolts, there will be no brigands or thieves.” 明刑審法,憐民惠下。生者不怨,死者不恨。諺曰﹕政如冰霜,姦宄消 亡。威如雷霆,寇賊不生。90

Although one ‘weft text’ includes verbatim the lines about the living and the dead and Wang’s understanding of law laid down by the sages—further proof of Wang’s belief in the Yin/Yang theory—Wang’s guidelines must have been responses to current problems, like Yu Xu’s unrelenting measures that incurred anger and criticism from other officials.91 He would not have remained unaffected by the trend of social criticism. The Qu Yuan-like sentiment recurs in one of Wang’s poems, “Encountering Difficulties” (“Zao e” 遭厄), number 5 of “Jiusi”: I lament for Qu Yuan who encountered difficulty. He sank his jade-like body in the Xiang and Mi Rivers. Why was the Chu State so difficult to enlighten? Up to the present it has not changed.

悼屈子兮遭厄 沈玉躬兮湘汨 何楚國兮難化 迄于今兮不易92

92 The pattern of representing oneself in sympathy with Qu Yuan, seen in the works of Jia Yi and Liu Xiang mentioned earlier as well as in the Qu Yuan-like personae of other Chuci works, leads us to understand Wang Yi’s lines, quoted above, in the same terms. The sly change in voice from Wang’s point of view as the first-person narrator, marked by the unstated ‘I’ and the ‘he’ in the first couplet, to Qu Yuan’s point of view in the second couplet is followed by criticism of corruption and by an imaginary journey. Wang’s ideas and imagery borrowed from “Lisao” may suggest agreement with Qu Yuan’s view that the promotion of competent, loyal people is the 90 Zhengbu lun, 2a; also quoted in Yilin, 4.9b. 91 Yuexietu zheng 樂叶圖徵, in Yasui and Nakamura, Isho shūsei, 558; TPYL, 582.7b, quoting the text under the title of Yuezhi tu 樂汁圖. 92 CCBZ, 17.321.


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only way to save the country.93 Wang writes, in the voice of Qu Yuan: I think of Wu Ding and King Wen, who were saintly,  sagacious, and wise. I lament King Ping and Fuchai for their confusion,  absurdity, and folly. After Fu Yue and Lü Wang were promoted, Yin and  Zhou prospered. When Fei Wuji and Zai Pi were overpowered, Ying and  Wu were ruined.

思丁文兮聖明哲 哀平差兮迷謬愚 呂傅舉兮殷周興 忌 專兮郢吳虛94

94 This speculative reading of Wang’s imitation finds support in the political and polemical background of Wang Yi’s time, which prompted him to take up writing as a means of criticism, as had Confucius with the Chunqiu. Thus, in his Zhengbu lun, Wang wrote: [During the reigns of Kings] You and Li [of the Zhou Dynasty], the heavenly principles slackened off and were [gradually] suspended; Rites and Music were ruined and violated. Feudal lords ruled by force, annexing and destroying each other’s lands. [The Zhou King] could neither use his virtue to conciliate, nor could he use his might to control them. When it came to the reign of King Nan, the jade dipper was thus lost. 自幽厲禮壞樂崩,天網弛絕,諸侯力攻,轉相吞滅,德不能懷,威不能 制。至於赧王,遂喪玉斗。95

Wang’s discussion of Zhou history likely referred to the situation in Han. Kings You and Li were frequently used by men like Jing Fang and Wang Fu as surrogates for bad rulers of the Han in discussions of current political issues.96 This helps us to determine Wang Yi’s contemporary referents. In Wang’s time, the eunuchs and the consort families alternated in usurping Han monarchical power. The “jade dipper” (yu dou 玉斗) in the last line in the quote above is a metonym for sovereignty. Wang Yi used the same term metonymically in his “Jiusi”: “[The state] is about to lose its jade dipper; / Its axle will disappear as well” 將喪兮玉斗,遺失兮鈕樞. The commentary, which glosses the two objects as metonyms for the sovereignty of the state, reads:

93 This is also Li Daming’s observation. See Li, Han Chucixue shi, 356. 94 CCBZ, 17.315. 95 TPYL, 765.5a. The fragment is quoted as Wang Yi zi 王逸子. The same quote appears almost verbatim in TPYL, 85.11a, though the source is listed as Zhengbu. 96 HS, 75.3161–62; Qianfu lun, 4.15, 33.160.

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The axle functions as a barrier for the jade dipper. As the jade dipper is lost, the axle is about to disappear too. This refers to the dismissal and banishment of the worthies. Another note reads: The axle and the jade dipper are both precious vessels. 鈕樞,所以校玉斗,玉斗既喪,將失其鈕樞。言放弃賢者逐去之。一注 云:鈕樞、玉斗,皆所寶者。97

This reading elucidates why “jade dipper” was replaced by a variant, “regime” (wangji 王計) in the same quote that appears in a different source, the Zhengbu lun.98 The context of this fragment in Zhengbu lun, according to the general structure of the genre of political essays, might have continued with a question: “Now the Han is repeating the Zhou story. What shall we do to rescue our dynasty?” It was a logical prelude to Wang Yi’s stress on allegiance, a central theme throughout the Chuci zhangju, as Qu Yuan’s state of Chu faced the same crisis. Summoning the Soul of Integrity and Loyalty One of Wang Yi’s missions in Chuci zhangju was to transmit the Chuci tradition. This tradition consisted of a poetic genre, the sao style, an important component of which was high morality. In combating Ban Gu’s criticism of Qu Yuan, Wang Yi in fact failed in many ways. His efforts did not gain full recognition during the Han. The Chuci’s achievement in complying with Confucian didacticism, especially its “words of faithfulness and grievance” (zhong yuan zhi ci 忠怨之辭), were not recognized until some three hundred years later, when the Chuci was still criticized in Wenxin diaolong for its uncanny and unhealthy content.99 Wang Yi’s failure resided in a want of reasoning when attempting to fit the Chuci tradition into the orthodox Confucian-based tradition. Qu Yuan’s loyalty to his state has been used as a response to the question as to what other state he could have served, but Wang’s high praise of Wu Zixu’s loyalty presents an inconceivable contradiction. Like Qu Yuan, Wu Zixu was descended from the Chu nobility. After his father and older brother were slandered and killed by King Ping of Chu 楚平王 (r. 528–516 bc), Zixu escaped to Wu. Thereafter, he assisted the king of Wu, attacked his home state, whipped the dead body of King Ping, and almost brought down Chu. His loyalty throughout the rest of his life was to Wu. During 97 CCBZ, 17.316. 98 TPYL, 85.11a. 99 WXDL, 1.46–47.


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the Warring States period it was not considered disloyal to serve under a different state. His desperate remonstrations and allegiance won accolades from Qu Yuan.100 However, even to Liu Xie this was “impetuous and narrow-minded” (juanxia 狷狹), an assessment in accord with Ban Gu’s view of Qu’s character.101 Wang Yi was the first to deviate from Ban Gu’s view. His praise for Qu Yuan’s ‘martyrdom’ found no support in theory or in practice. Ban Gu explained Qu’s suicide thusly: “Failing to win his lord’s faith, he felt angry and resentful and drowned himself.” He could have retreated and waited for another chance, as Yang Xiong suggested. Wang Yi said: “When proceeding, he never hid his plans [for his state]. When retreating, he did not begrudge his life.”102 One cannot help questioning: for what purpose did Qu Yuan die? Did he sacrifice his life for the interest of his state? If so, in what way? A record in the Hou Han shu provides a perfect illustration of the ‘hidden dragon’ theory. It is about the political careers of Du Gen and Cheng Yishi. Du Gen was upright and honest by nature; impetuous and straightforward in action. In the first year of the Yongchu reign-period (107) he was recommended as ‘Filial and Incorrupt’ and appointed a Gentleman of the Palace. At that time, Empress Dowager Deng was at court taking charge of state affairs. Members of the consort’s family had seized most of the political power. Du assumed that, as Emperor An had come of age, as the heir, he should attend to affairs of state. Allying himself with other Gentlemen, Du presented a petition. This aroused the empress dowager’s great anger. She ordered the arrest of Du and his group, put them in sacks of fine silk, and had them beaten to death. The executioner secretly asked those carrying out the beating not to hit hard because of Du’s good reputation … Du managed to escape. He became a porter in a wine shop in the mountains of Yicheng for fifteen years … After all the members of the Deng family had been executed, court officials praised Du’s faithfulness …Cheng Yishi, a functionary of Pingyuan prefecture, had also been punished previously because of his petition against the empress dowager’s continued regency. Now Cheng and Du were both recruited to court service.

100 Zhu Bilian, “Lun Qu Yuan yu Wu Zixu,” 108–9. Wu’s biography is in SJ, 6.2171–83. A comprehensive study of early sources for Wu’s story, including the Zuozhuan, Guoyu, Lüshi chunqiu, Wu Yue chuqiu, and Yue jueshu, is in Johnson, “The Wu Tzu-hsü pien-wen,” 119–43. 101 WXDL, 1.47. 102 Ban Gu’s words are a paraphrase from his ‘preface’; Yang Xiong’s view is quoted by Ban. Wang Yi’s words are from his ‘preface.’ See CCBZ, 1.49–50, 48, respectively.

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根性方實,好絞直。永初元年,舉孝廉,為郎中。時和熹鄧后臨朝,權在 外戚。根以安帝年長,宜親政事,乃與同時郎上書直諫。太后大怒,收執 根等,令盛以縑囊,於殿上撲殺之。執法者以根知名,私語行事人使不加 力,既而載出城外,根得蘇。太后使人檢視,根遂詐死,三日,目中生 蛆,因得逃竄,為宜城山中酒家保。積十五年,……及鄧氏誅,左右皆言 根等之忠。……初,平原郡吏成翊世亦諫太后歸政,坐抵罪,與根俱徵。103

If Du and Cheng had not ‘hidden’ away but had died in the first place, they would not have achieved anything greater than the posthumous name of ‘martyr.’ Their early suffering differs from Qu Yuan’s suicide because they made a substantial sacrifice for their loyalty to the Han heir and the interests of the empire. The polemics on Qu Yuan’s suicide raise a question on the importance of the writing and transmission of the Chuci. The assumption is that Qu Yuan himself must have been very concerned about the danger of being misunderstood. This informs the unique lyrical style of “Lisao” in which the poet continuously pledges his righteousness and loyalty to the state before deities, sages, and, above all, his readers. In their circumlocution of sentimental self-exculpation, the “Lisao” and most other Chuci poems center on this theme in an attempt to preserve the image of the Qu Yuan persona as a paragon. The Chuci tradition had to be preserved and transmitted lest Qu Yuan’s suicide be misunderstood or his martyrdom forgotten. This motive is clear in Wang Yi’s commentarial work on the Chuci. While the Chuci legacy was transmitted and recontextualized by Wang Yi, it was also modified in the literary and political spheres. Zhang Heng, to a certain extent, put into practice the position Wang Yi advocated. In his “Fu on Contemplation of Mystery” (“Sixuan fu” 思玄賦) the pessimistic “Lisao” theme became optimistic. As David Knechtges observes, Implicit in Zhang Heng’s solution of remaining in the world, regardless of how corrupt it might be, is a criticism of Qu Yuan who was so concerned about maintaining his purity that he completely divorced himself from human society. Although earlier scholars had criticized Qu Yuan, none had attempted to create a philosophical poem that directly countered the pessimism of the “Li sao.” Zhang Heng’s piece clearly is informed by a confidence in a cosmic moral order that is the source of ethical principles for the human world.104

Zhang Heng’s fu, according to the Hou Han shu, was a direct response to his suffering at the hands of the eunuchs who slandered him when he was 103 HHS, 57.1839–40. 104 Knechtges, “A Journey to Morality,” 178.


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Palace Attendant.105 The meditative journey in the fu leads him to a new understanding, as Knechtges says: “He in fact clearly equates the imaginary journey with lack of control and even dissipation,” and “declares that escape from the world is not necessary.”106 In other words, Zhang Heng’s ideas were a direct criticism of escapism in the motif of the imaginary journey that appears in literature written before him. His ‘awakening’ was a direct reaction to the practice common in his time of retreating from corruption. This anti-escapist trend allowed disagreements with the orthodox conformism in the Baihu tong to be aired in various ways. Wang Yi’s promotion of loyalty and direct remonstration appeared, temporally, between Wang Chong’s and Wang Fu’s criticism of superstition and socio-political corruption.107 People’s beliefs in divination, their methods of combating evil, and their maintenance of righteousness were all reactions to this political situation. Wang Yi’s effort to place the “Lisao” within Confucian orthodoxy resulted only in the preservation of the Chuci literary tradition. His ambition is made quite clear at the beginning of his preface: Long ago, Confucius was wise, sagacious, brilliant, and philosophical. He was gifted, of an unusual caliber. He made a model for later kings to emulate by means of establishing studies in the classics, abridging the Odes and the Documents, rectifying Rites and Music, and composing the Spring and Autumn. All three thousand of his disciples were enlightened and successful [in their studies]. In the days before his death, however, the great meaning had been distorted and the subtle words had ceased to be used. Later, as the Zhou ruling house declined, warring states contended. Morality declined and fraud arose … Qu Yuan … was the only one to follow the legacy of the Shijing poets and he composed his “Lisao” to remonstrate with his superiors and to console himself … 昔者孔子叡聖明喆。天生不群,定經術,刪詩書,正禮樂,制作春秋,以 為後王法。門人三千,罔不昭達。臨終之日,則大義乖而微言絕。其後周 室衰微,戰國竝爭,道德陵遲,譎詐萌生。……而屈原……獨依詩人之義 而作《離騷》,上以諷諫,下以自慰……108

105 HHS, 59.1914. 106 Knechtges, “A Journey to Morality,” 181, 175. 107 Qianfu lun was composed between 111 and 152. See Ch’en and Pearson, “Ch’ien fu lun 潛夫論,” 13, quoting Liu Jihua 劉紀華. Margaret Pearson argues that Wang Fu “wrote much of the comments between the mid-140s and his death, sometime after 163.” See Pearson, Wang Fu and the Comments of a Recluse, 31–32. 108 CCBZ, 1.47–48.

wang yi on integrity and loyalty


Wang’s lament for the decline in Confucian teaching was identical with what he said in his Zhengbu lun, quoted earlier. Interestingly, he wrote this during an epoch when Confucianism had become the only orthodox school. His effort to lodge the “Lisao” and other Chuci poems in such an exalted place with the Five Classics proves he disagreed with the canons, and shows he wished to supplement the current system with new elements. His mission to continue Confucian morality was in emulation of Confucius’ motives for compiling the Five Classics. Let us contrast Wang’s statement with a passage in the Baihu tong: Confucius lived at the end of the Zhou when the kingly way was lost and rituals and music were abandoned. The formidable states bullied the weak ones; several states would assault one helpless one. The Son of Heaven dared not punish them. Regional hegemons dared not suppress them. Sad that morals and virtue remained unpracticed, [Confucius] traveled extensively to seek office, hoping to put into practice his morals and virtue. When he returned to Lu from Wei, he realized that he would not be used [by the Lord of Lu]. Thereupon, he traced [back to the ancient traditions and] edited the Five Classics, whereby he practiced his Dao. 孔子居周之末世,王道陵遲,禮樂廢壞,強陵弱,眾暴寡,天子不敢誅, 方伯不敢伐,閔道德之不行,故周流應聘,冀行其道德。自衛反魯,自知 不用,故追定五經,以行其道。109

Wang Yi’s motive for attempting to canonize Qu Yuan is a complicated issue. Claiming the “Lisao” as a continuation of the interrupted line of Confucian teaching, as Laurence A. Schneider observes, Wang could not have been unaware that this placed him in a most prestigious position, for he now stood in relationship to the sao poetry as Confucius had stood to the Odes (which he reputedly compiled). Just as Confucius was a transmitter of the values of the Golden Age and of the dao via the Odes, so Wang Yi would do the same via the Lisao. This guaranteed the renown of Qu Yuan along with Wang Yi.110

Wang’s ambition was thus twofold. One important goal in his hermeneutic work in Chuci zhangju was to promote Qu Yuan-type patriotism, which might fit into the Confucian ideology of his times. As a literary anthology, the Chuci zhangju was intended to transmit the Chuci literary tradition. The tristia (personal expression) elements and the itineraria (magic-making flight) motif, in David Hawkes’ terminology, underwent various developments and gave rise to various cosmological outlooks and literary 109 BHT, 9.444–45. 110 Schneider, A Madman of Ch’u, 30–31.


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presentations.111 Rigorously following Liu Xiang’s compilation, Wang Yi excluded works that diminished Qu Yuan’s image as a paragon, such as Yang Xiong’s compositions, even though they were written in the same sao genre.112 The anthology also divorced sao poetry from works entitled fu. Even so, tristia and itineraria remained central in later works in different genres descended from the Chuci tradition.

111 The itineraria is “originally based on the magic-making flight of the shaman and used by secular poets as part of an allegorical representation of their flight from a corrupt society and a foolish and faithless prince …” The tristia element “nearly always accompanies the itineraria in the more private and personal expression of preceding poets.” Hawkes, “Quest of the Goddess,” 59–63. Zhang Hong analyzes the various images of Qu Yuan presented in imitations of the “Lisao” in Chuci zhangju, and argues that this anthology played an important role in the development of the motif of “journeying transcendent” (youxian). See his “Chuci zhangju de Quzi xingxiang he youxian moshi,” 142–46. 112 Takeji, Soji kenkyū, 157–58, 161. Kominami Ichirō challenges the common view that Liu Xiang was the first to compile the Chuci in sixteen juan. He reasons that there is no “synoptic report” 書錄 recorded in the “Monograph on Literature” of the Hanshu. See Kominami, “Wang Yi Chuci zhangju yanjiu,” 17–18. I hypothesize that the “front preface” to the “Lisao” was possibly Liu Xiang’s “synoptic report.” See Chan, “The Jing/Zhuan Structure,” 313.

a young lady on yellow pongee silk



A Young Lady on Yellow Pongee Silk Whereas the previous chapter concerns a literary effort to reverse moral and political decline, the current chapter shifts to the moral and literary response to death and female suffering. We focus on a circle of moral legends about suffering virtuous women, and on Cao E 曹娥 (Maiden Cao, 130–43), in particular. The Cao E legend, which evolved in southeast China around the same time Wang Yi produced his edition of the Chuci, enables us to draw interesting comparisons with the material covered in the previous chapter. Although the memorial of the drowning death of Cao E did not find significant cultural resonance in Han literary circles (or indeed for some 800 years afterwards), while in contrast Wang Yi’s writings exerted a powerful influence on contemporary literary culture that was to continue throughout Chinese literary history, a comparison of the two legends illustrates much about Han literary culture and the powerful didactic impulse that grew up around female suffering. The content of “A Stele Inscription for Maiden Cao the Filial Daughter” (“Xiaonü Cao E bei” 孝女曹娥碑; hereafter “Inscription”) survived mainly through the transcendent renown of Wang Xizhi 王羲之 (303–61 or 321– 79), who was reputedly responsible for transcribing the original “Inscrip­ tion” on a piece of pongee silk.1 Regarded in art history as a masterpiece, the textual content of this piece of artwork has attracted much less consistent praise in the literary tradition. Polemics on the evaluation of its literary achievement continue to the present day; two recent studies, for example, represent two opposite views, that the piece is of high literary value and that it is poorly written.2 The earliest extant promotion of the

1 This attribution has been widely accepted since early times, but is refuted by some. Quoting Huang Bosi’s 黃伯思 (1079–1118) Dongguan yulun 東觀餘論 in agreement, Chen Yuan attributes the artwork to the late Wang Xizhi. See Chen, “Ba Wang Xizhi xiaokai Cao E bei zhenji,” 58. For a summary of the different views on attribution, see Yang Renkai, “Ba Jinren shu Cao E Bei moji,” 14–47; Yang Renkai shuhua jianding ji, 183–94. See also below for more analysis on the authenticity and textual history of the work. 2 Disagreeing with Qi Gong’s criticism of the poor quality of the piece, Chan Shing Cheong credits it with literary achievement and ethical value. See Chan, “Juanben Cao E Bei,” 265–68; Qi Gong, “‘Juemiao haoci’ bian,” 52–56.


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former view is an authoritative appraisal by Cai Yong 蔡邕 (132–92), who is also credited with the addition of a riddle at the end of the “Inscription.”3 This chapter is devoted to a re-evaluation of the issues surrounding the piece. We first discuss the making and the altering of the tale recorded in the inscription, and attempt to delineate its textual circle.4 Taking into account the ethos and literary trends of the time, we will examine the cultural and literary motives that may have inspired an inscription like this one. The new approach and additional materials brought to bear, in combination with the material in chapter one, lead us to draw some initial conclusions about the Han and post-Han approach to didactic martyrdom. The “Filial Daughter” on a Stone In the case of Maiden Cao, we would not expect a stele memorializing her passing to be an accurate record of historical events. This memorial was written in the manner of ‘flattering the dead,’ a practice known from early times as ‘flattering the tomb’ (yumu 諛墓).5 The genre features of this practice would be formalized later in Liu Xie’s Wenxin diaolong, which seems to categorize all stele inscriptions as didactic obituary.6 The dead were to be lauded and, without exception, singled out as flawless in personal conduct. Even if mentioned, their shortcomings were usually treated euphemistically. The great virtues of the dead constituted the main content of an inscription. This practice had two main purposes. 3 The riddle reads: huangjuan youfu waisun jijiu 黃絹幼婦外孫齏臼, “yellow pongee, youthful wife, maternal grandson, ground in a mortar.” The solution is: juemiao haoci 絕 妙好辭, “utterly wonderful, lovely words.” SSXY, 6/3; Mather, Shih-shuo hsin-yü, 293. For a new, alternative reading of the riddle, see Tim Chan, “A New Reading of an Early ­Medieval Riddle.” 4 For a complete collection of materials on the Maiden Cao story, see Eberhard, Typen chinesischer Volksmärchen, 211. 5 Su Yongqiang, “Cao E de ‘xiao,’” 42. On the contradictions caused by this practice, see my discussion of Zhang Yue’s composition of Pei Xingjian’s tombstone inscription and the ensuing “proliferation of varying elements,” and the altered meaning of the narrative in its various adaptations. Chan, “Literary Criticism and the Ethics of Poetry,” 159. 6 WXDL, 3.193–94; Shih, The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragon, 82–85. Liu Zhisheng, who does not include the “Inscription” in his data for examination of bi-syllabic terms, sums up two reasons for the flourishing of stele inscriptions in the Eastern Han: first, to strengthen the privileged status of one’s clan after one died; second, the adherents to prestigious clans flattered their patrons by producing these inscriptions. These two motives do not seem to work in the case of Cao E. See Liu, Dong Han beike fuyinci yanjiu, 13–14.

a young lady on yellow pongee silk


First, by enumerating the good deeds and character of the dead, the author praised both the dead person and the mourning family. Second, the inscription was to be handed down to posterity as a model of morality, serving an educational purpose through the ages within the family and even in the community. The “Inscription” for Maiden Cao is typical in these respects. The “Inscription” reads as follows: 7 A Stele Inscription for Maiden Cao the Filial Daughter7 孝女曹娥碑  The filial girl Maiden Cao was the daughter of Cao Yu, a native of Shangyu District (in modern Zhejiang province). The ancestors of this Cao family had the same origins as the [royal] Zhou clan. As their brilliance diminished over time, the Caos came to dwell here. Yu was good at singing to the beats and dancing for the entertainment of spirits.  During a ritual performance for Lord Wu [Yun] 伍 員 (better known as Wu Zixu 子胥, d. 484 bc) in the fifth month of the second year of the Han’an reignperiod (142–44), Yu went against the waves and ended up drowning. His body was not found. Maiden Cao, who was then fourteen, wailed for her father Yu, crying in sorrow by the marshes. Seventeen days later she threw herself into the river and died. Five days afterwards, [her body] re-appeared with her father’s body clasped in her arms.  This event was not given due recognition from the Han’an reign-period until the first year of the Yuanjia (151), when the Blue Dragon constellation was in the xin-mao position. Du Shang performed a sacrificial offering ceremony and dedicated an elegy to it. It reads:

1. As for the filial girl— 2. Graceful and gorgeous was she—

孝女曹娥者 上虞曹盱之女也 其先與周同祖 末冑景沈 爰來適居 盱能撫節安歌 婆娑樂神 以漢安二年五月 時迎伍君 逆濤而上 為水所淹 不得其屍 時娥年十四 號慕思盱 哀吟澤畔 旬有七日 遂自投江死 經五日抱父屍出 以漢安迄于元嘉元年 青龍在辛卯 莫之有表 度尚設祭之誄之 辭曰 伊惟孝女 曄曄之姿

7 The Chinese text is based on the pongee version, which is photolithographically reproduced in Wenwu jinghua 2: 24–25. Missing characters have been inserted according to “Cao E bei” 曹娥碑, GWY, 19.434–37, in which the piece is attributed to Handan Chun 邯鄲淳. In the nine-juan edition of the Guwen yuan (a reprint of a Song edition, ed., Gu Guangyi 顧廣圻 [1776–1835], n.p.: 1809), 8.9b, the piece is attributed to Du Shang 度尚 (115–66), under whose name is listed Handan as author. I am indebted to David ­Knechtges for drawing my attention to this edition of Guwen yuan. For authorship of the piece, see the discussion below.

44 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34.

chapter two Swaying as if dancing. Her fine bearing and decorous character Made her a lovely, comely lady. Her dimples appeared with her ravishing smile. Would that she should enjoy her wedded life at her [future husband’s] home On the south bank of the Qia River [where there was a marriage made in Heaven]. She was ready for the wedding ceremony. Alas, she [suddenly] lost her loving father. Oh, azure heavens, what was your intent? “Without my father, upon whom can I rely?” She then appealed to the gods expressing her grievance. She then went towards the river wailing all along, Regarding death as a ‘return.’ Thereupon she lightly left her life far behind, Jumping into mud and sand. The filial girl, shifting and drifting, Now floating, now sinking, At times approaching islets and holms, At times in mid-stream, At times rushed along with the torrent and currents, At times returning on waves and ripples. Ten thousand men lost their voices; A myriad agonized in condolence. Onlookers packed the roads. Gathering like clouds, filling up passages, All bursting into tears, Startling and saddening the imperial capital. Thereupon, ‘Sorrowful Lady Jiang’ wailed at the marketplace; Qiliang’s wife cried and toppled a corner of the Great Wall; Like the widow who lopped off her nose in front of a mirror, Or the young widows who cut off their ears with a knife, The consort seated on Jian Terrace, awaiting [death by] floods,

偏其返而 令色孔儀 窈窕淑女 巧笑倩兮 宜其家室 在洽之陽 待禮未施 嗟喪慈父 彼蒼伊何 無父孰怙 訴神告哀 赴江永號 視死如歸 是以眇然輕絕 投入沙泥 翩翩孝女 乍沉乍浮 或泊洲嶼 或在中流 或趨湍瀨 或還波濤 千夫失聲 悼痛萬餘 觀者填道 雲集路衢 流淚掩涕 驚動國都 是以哀姜哭市 杞崩城隅 或有勀面引鏡 剺耳用刀 坐臺待水

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35. Or the lady who burned to death clutching a tree. 抱樹而燒 於戲孝女 36. Alas, our filial girl 37. Achieved flourishing virtue equal to all of these 德茂此儔 [historical examples].

何者大國 38. Even such a large state 39. [Set up] norms like embankments [for civilians] to 防禮自修

cultivate themselves by. How much less so the common, low-class people, Who live under coarse roofs covered with hay? Without support they stand upright themselves. Without sculpting they are carved spontaneously. She outdid Liang and surpassed Song. She possessed excellence when compared. How sad this stern uprightness. For a thousand years it will remain unchanged. Alas, how sad.

豈況庶賤 露屋草茅 不扶自直 不鏤而雕 越梁過宋 比之有殊 哀此貞厲 千載不渝 嗚呼哀哉

The coda reads: 1. An inscription is engraved on metal and stone. 2. It is to be judged by Heaven and Earth. 3. A sacrificial ritual is to be performed annually. 4. A tomb is to be built in a graveyard. 5. Your brilliance outshines that of a genius. 6. Illustrious, our lady shines. 7. In life you were humble, but after death you are

亂曰 銘勒金石 質之乾坤 歲數曆祀 丘墓起墳 光於后土 顯照夫人 生賤死貴

40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48.


8. Your righteousness contributes to the renown of 義之利門 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16.

your clan.8 How [sad], the flowers fell [from their branches] for ever, Failing and falling, separated so early. The blossom is so lovely and comely That it should be forever worshipped with other goddesses. You should be treated as the equal of Yao’s two daughters, Who became Ladies of the Xiang River. Let the people of our time emulate this model, Whereby we educate posterity.


何長華落 雕零早分 葩艷窈窕 永世配神 若堯二女 為湘夫人 時效髣髴 以招後昆

8 A variant of this line li zhi yi men 利之義門 is in GWY, 19.436. It means: “You have outdone the established righteous clans.”


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So the “Inscription” ended, but later variations proliferated and the story was embroidered. Indeed, the “Inscription” itself was but an elaboration on versions most probably in oral circulation.9 This assumption finds support in the absence of a rhyme scheme, a genre requirement for the ci of Han-dynasty elegies in epigraphic writing. Bidden by his master Du Shang, then local magistrate of Guiji 會稽 (in modern Zhejiang), Handan Zili 邯鄲子禮 was the original author of the “Inscription.”10 One may be surprised by the fact that Handan Zili was 9 One major problem we encounter in our discussion is the authenticity of the artwork. Although Shimomi Takao claims it was not his task to determine its authenticity, he clearly believes the piece was based on earlier sources but was created later. Shimomi, “Sō Ka no denki setsuwa ni tsuite,” 2557. The stele inscription is absent from Northern Song calligraphy catalogues, such as Jigulu bawei 集古錄跋尾 and Jinshi lu 金石錄; this has encouraged skepticism. Sueji, Shodō zenshū, vol. 2: 157. On the other hand, Yang ­Renkai convincingly argues in his careful, detailed examination that the artwork was produced by a certain Jin calligrapher, not Wang Xizhi. He also outlines a history of its ownership on the basis of evidence in the artwork itself. Yang, “Ba Jinren shu,” 146–51. Basing his argument on an analysis of the style of calligraphy in the “Inscription,” Nakata Yūjirō posits an early dating of this piece of artwork: it was likely produced in 358 but, if it was not, then it is at least a reproduction of the Jin work and was done by a Southern Dynasties artist. See Nakata, Chūgoku shoronshū, 139. For the purposes of this chapter, I am assuming the pongee silk version is an authentic Jin work, and that it was either transcribed by Wang Xizhi or was a Jin copy of his work. Despite the gap between the calligraphic work and the original Stele of the Han, we can still be sure that the fourth-century presentation followed the content of the stele. This can be proven by Wang Xizhi’s transcriptions of texts such as the Scripture of the Yellow Court (Huangting jing 黃庭經), “Yue Yi lun” 樂毅論, and so forth. Although Wang’s transcriptions are the oldest extant versions of the texts in question and there are minor variations, such as the use of tabooed characters, they are more consistent than other stemmatic descendants of the same texts. It can be concluded that Wang’s calligraphic works remained loyal to the content of their master copies. Therefore, the pongee silk version of the “Inscription” handed down to modern times was likely an exact reproduction of the content of the Han stele. Texts for comparison are Taishang huangting waijing jing 太上黃庭外景經, in Yunji qiqian 雲笈七籤 (HY 1026), comp. Zhang Junfang 張君房 (fl. early eleventh century), 12.28a–56b; Akatsuka, Shodō zenshū, 8–9; Xiahou Xuan 夏侯玄 (209–54), “Yue Yi lun”, Quan Sanguo wen 全三國文, QSG, 21.6a–7a, YWLJ, 22.407–9; Akatsuka, Shodō zenshū, 1–5. An excellent, detailed discussion of the calligraphic presentations of the Scripture of the Yellow Court can be found in Nakata, Chūgoku shoronshū, 85–136. 10 SSXY, 11/3, quoting Guiji dianlu. Du Shang’s biography is in HHS, 38.1284. Handan’s identity is an issue of much dispute. It is commonly agreed that Zili was the zi of Handan Chun 淳. See Guiji dianlu, quoted in GWY, 19.434. Yang Renkai does not accept this view, quoting dynastic histories and arguing that Handan Chun’s sobriquet was Zishu 子叔 and not Zili, and that therefore this Zili was a different person. Du Shang, Handan’s master, was thirty-six years old when the stele was erected. If Handan had been twenty then, he would have been over one hundred years old in the Huangchu 黃初 reign-period (220– 27), when Handan Chun was a famous writer. See Yang, “Ba Jinren shu,” 140. Wang Chang 王昶 (1725–1806) casts doubt on all the anecdotes surrounding the erection of the stele.

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only eight when Cao died; the only way he could have known anything about Cao’s life would have been from hearsay, i.e. from local, oral history. He may also have had access to a written account from a local gazetteer, but we have no evidence for the existence of such a hypothetical version. Something like an early gazetteer account, however, may have ended up in Yu Yu’s 虞預 (Eastern Jin) Guiji dianlu 會稽典錄 (Exemplary Individuals of Guiji), which was itself compiled after the original stele “Inscription” and was most likely the basis for Fan Ye’s account in his Hou Han shu.11 Neither of these later versions contain the part about the dead daughter clasping her father’s body to her breast when she was found floating in the river.12 There is of course no way to know if this extraordinary but unlikely detail of the story had any historical truth to it or not, but if it was included in the original stele as a story element, it would be hard to believe that any subsequent version of the story would leave it out due to its narrative, moral, and as we shall see, also cultural impact.13 The only way to explain this difference, it seems, is that Yu Yu might not have consulted the “Inscription” or the pongee silk copy (if it indeed the latter predated Yu Yu and was available when he wrote his version). There were likely at least two different versions of the story in circulation; one based on the original stele (later copied by Wang Xizhi and presented above), For example, he challenges the authorships of Wei Lang 魏朗 (d. 168) and Handan Chun for writing the inscription. He also provides geographical and historical evidence to gainsay Cai Yong’s writing of the “yellow pongee” riddle and Cao Cao’s visit to the southeast. See Wang, Jinshi cunbian, 140.22b–26b. A biography of Handan is in Wei lue 魏略, quoted in SGZ, 21.603, n. 1. In his “glyphomancy” analysis of the “Inscription,” Chan Shing Cheong claims that the author was “evidently” Handan Chun. See Chan, “Juanben ‘Xiaonü Cao E bei,’” 266. 11 Guiji dianlu, quoted in SSXY, 11/3; HHS, 84.2794. Liu Zhiji 劉知幾 (661–721) gives the Guiji dianlu as one of his many negative examples for the historiographers who absorbed information from local gazetteers and unofficial records and included it in dynastic histories. See Liu, Shitong tongshi, 1.76. 12 Nakata Yūjirō points out that in a Southern Song version of the “Inscription” going by the name Yuezhou Shishi ben 越州石氏本 and produced by Shi Bangzhe 石邦哲 (fl. 1133–53), the seven characters that tell of Cao having “re-appeared five days later with her father’s body clasped in her arms” 經五日抱父屍出 are missing. Nakata, Chūgoku shoronshū, 138, 141, plate 46. 13 There are also a number of discrepancies among the Guiji dianlu fragments that concern Cao E. These include the crucial appellation of the maiden at the beginning of the narrative. In YWLJ, 4.74, the fragment from Guiji dianlu begins “the girl Cao E” (nüzi 女子), but in other sources quoting the same text it starts “Cao E the filial daughter” (xiaonü 孝女). Some research shows that the Guiji dianlu fragments concerning Cao E may also have been creatively re-invented centuries after the Guiji dianlu was lost. See Tim Chan, “Searching for the Bodies of the Drowned,” 388–95. Our conclusion remains that the “Inscription” is the oldest and most reliable extant version of the Cao E story.


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and another or several other versions included in local gazetteers (one of which was reproduced in the Guiji dianlu).14 In any event, the fact that there were several variations circulating (or stashed away) in the first few centuries after Maiden Cao died demonstrates that the Maiden Cao legend was not yet firmly fixed into the cultural repertoire. When commanded by Du Shang to pen his version of the story, Handan Zili took the few facts that were available and exercised his own literary creativity. This practice, and particularly the exaggeration of feminine virtue for didactic purposes, was routine in similar Han biographical works, the most typical of which was Biographies of Unusual Women (Lienü zhuan 列女傳) by Liu Xiang, a text upon which Handan himself relied heavily for allusive material in the “Inscription.” Indeed, the term “Lienü” was to become a section title in dynastic histories such as the Hou Han shu. In his contribution to this ‘genre,’ Handan created an uncanny episode in the “Inscription,” namely that Maiden Cao’s body was found with her father’s body clasped in her arms. This scene was likely crucial in winning sympathy from the people of her time who may have read or heard of the account.15 Most importantly, it set up a model for emulation, a purpose explicitly articulated at the end of the “Inscription.” The process by which Handan wrote the inscription is also an illustration of how oral texts were transformed into written texts that satisfy specific genre-bound demands. In his discussion of how Homer’s poetry was put into writing, Albert B. Lord has the following to say: But writing, with all its mystery, came to the singer’s people, and eventually someone approached the singer and asked him to tell the song so that he could write down the words … Yet, unwittingly perhaps, a fixed text was established … Of course, the singer was not affected at all. He continued, as did his confrères, to compose and sing as he always had and as they always had. The tradition went on. Nor was his audience affected. They thought in his terms, in the terms of multiformity. But there was another world, of those who could read and write, of those who came to think of the written text not as the recording of a moment of the tradition but as the song. This was to become the difference between the oral way of thought and the written way.16

14 No one knows where the scroll of the Jin silk copy of the “Inscription” was kept immediately after it was executed. It might have been lost for some years before it went into the imperial collection of the Liang dynasty. See Yang Renkai, “Ba Jinren shu,” 147– 48. 15 Shimomi, “Sō Ga no tenki setsuwa nit suite,” 8. 16 Lord, The Singer of Tales, 124–25.

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Lord’s discussion elucidates the dualistic nature of literary creation. Two different, divided worlds were formed when the songs were put into writing. The written text assumed authority among those who could read and write. But the oral tradition never ceased; it left room for alteration and creativity with the same subject. “Bards never repeat a song exactly,” says Lord; story telling undergoes the same process. With the meager information obtained from the people in the local area, Handan’s written record would have been more mysterious to the tellers of the Cao E story than the fixed texts of Homeric epics would have been to early Greek story tellers.17 In Handan’s case, the generic demands required an image of Maiden Cao inflated and normalized by the oversupply of allusions to classics. The “Filial Daughter” of Shijing Allusions How should the conduct of Maiden Cao, as portrayed in the received texts discussed above, be evaluated? Su Yongqiang questions whether the unwitting, spontaneous suicide of the girl followed any Han-dynasty code of conduct. To be filial, Su argues, a child should not harm his or her own body, much less commit suicide. What made Maiden Cao filial is somewhat of a misunderstanding and an inappropriate judgment.18 In the “Inscription,” the first biography of Maiden Cao, didacticism is a major feature in the depiction of the image of the innocent girl. This is accomplished by the abundant allusions to the classics, especially to the Shijing. These allusions, some of which would be considered ‘incompatible’ according to traditional literary theory, are exaggerated in comparison to what few facts we have about the probably quite simple life and death of the girl. These allusions, along with other rhetorical devices employed in the “Inscription,” are necessary didactic features, but un­­ necessary for historiography. Liu Xie’s discussion of the genre feature of stele inscription sheds important light on the motive behind Handan’s literary embellishment of the Maiden Cao tragedy. Liu defines: 17 The tale of Handan’s impromptu writing of the story is recorded in Guiji dianlu, quoted in GWY, 19.434. 18 Su, “Cao E de ‘xiao,’” 42. Shimomi Takao has noticed the discrepancies in the story recorded in fragments from the Guiji dianlu in various sources and concludes that these variations each serve a different purpose when cited from the same single text. He also argues that the “Inscription” was a forged text. See his “Sō Ga no tenki setsuwa nit suite,” 2–8, 13.


chapter two The writing of the bei [epitaph] requires the talent of a historian. In organization it is biographical, and its language is that of the ming [inscription]. From its description of great virtues the reader should be able to visualize the benign countenance taking shape in the subtle breezes; and in its account of a successful life he should be able to perceive the glory of the craggy height which the one commemorated had attained. In these we have the substantial features of the bei. …  The Zan [Coda]: To give an account of facts and recapture what has passed into nothingness Are reasons for the creation of the lei [elegy] and the bei. In them, virtues are inscribed and life commemorated In clusters of colorful literary modes. The style in which the deceased is described gives one the feeling of seeing him in person, And listening to its language is like listening to mournful sobs. The flower incised in stone and ink Will not fade because of the collapse of the shadow [physical body].19

Two important features of the genre of epitaph best illustrate why Handan strove to embellish, posthumously, the life of the young girl. First, one foremost mission of an epitaph writer is to lead the reader “to visualize the benign countenance” of the deceased, by “recapturing what has passed into nothingness,” lest it would “fade because of the collapse of the shadow.” Second, the writing has to be in “clusters of colorful literary modes,” whereby the epitaph writer aims to “give one the feeling of seeing him in person.” The only resort for Handan, who did not witness the tragedy that he was bade to write on, was to make up some details based on the meager information in his possession. The most expedient way to achieve the mission was to create a ‘textual’ paragon by larding the writing with allusions from the Confucian classics. In the presentation of Cao’s status and character, we find two different types of allusions: to the classics in order to create the sense of elevated tone required to make Cao E into a paragon, and allusions to specific stories recorded elsewhere about famous filial women. The Shijing references listed below are fairly standard in this genre of writing, and do not contribute many specific details to the reader’s understanding of Cao E. The right-hand column lists Mao’s exegesis of the Shijing poem, which in some way reflected the ideas Handan intended to borrow. 19 WXDL, 3.214–15; Shih, The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragon, 94.

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20 21 22 23 Line in the “Inscription”

Shijing poem number. Line referred to. Mao’s synopsis, with my remarks occasionally included in parentheses.

3. 偏其返而

223. 翩其反矣. Fathers and elder brothers criticized King You, who estranged the nine kin clans but was fond of slanderers. Consequently there was hatred among close relatives.20 (Also could refer to a line from a Shijing poem in circulation in Han times but no longer extant: 偏其反而. The context of this poem is ‘thinking of others’ [i.e., the worthies]).21 1. 窈窕淑女. The virtue of a consort. (This relates to the first poem in the “Airs,” which functioned primarily as a didactic piece concerning proper behavior for relations between men and women.)22 57. 巧笑倩兮. Zhuang Jiang was worthy but bore no children and was finally estranged.23 6. 宜其室家. The consort brings about good social order, by means of which males and females became righteous and wed in a timely manner.24 236. 天作之合,在洽之陽. King Wen possessed bright virtue; therefore Heaven again appointed King Wu.25 131. 彼蒼者天. A lament for the three good men. People of the state wrote this to criticize Duke Mu of Qin (r. 659–621 bc) who ordered people to sacrifice themselves to accompany the duke in his tomb.26 202. 無父何怙. The filial child cannot nurture [his/her parents] to the end.27 9. 江之永矣. King Wen’s fine tradition pervaded the Jiang and Han rivers. None thought of violating the norms.28

5. 窈窕淑女

6. 巧笑倩兮 7. 宜其室家 8. 在洽之陽 11. 彼蒼伊何

12. 無父孰怙 14. 赴江永號

20 MSZY, 15.1.222c. This Shijing allusion was identified by Chan Shing Cheong. See Chan, “Juanben ‘Xiaonü Cao E bei,’” 270. 21 Traditional glosses all suggest that the lines are from a lost poem, not necessarily from the Shijing. See Lunyu, 9/30; Lunyu zhushu, 9.35c, He Yan’s 何晏 (d. 249) commentary; Dong Zhongshu, Chunqiu fanlu yizheng, 2.50. Zhu Xi glosses “swaying as if dancing” as a description of cherry blossoms. See Zhu, Lunyu jizhu, 5.116. In all other eight occurrences of the phrase Shi yue 詩曰 in Chuqiu fanlu are followed by quotations from the Shijing. Therefore, the one in question must also have been quoted from the Shijing. The edition used by Dong Zhongshu apparently contains variants and elements that were not transmitted to us. See Chunqiu fanlu yizheng, 8.229 (re: Mao 35/1), 10.288 (re: Mao 192/6), 15.405 (re: Mao 238/1–2), 15.408 (re: Mao 238/2, 3; Mao 258/1–2), 16.442 (re: Mao 207/5). In the same book, all references marked by Shi yun 詩云 also come from the Shijing. 22 MSZY, 1.1.1c. 23 MSZY, 3.2.54a.


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18–19. 翩翩孝 女,乍沉乍浮 37. 德茂此儔

162. 翩翩者騅,載上載下. A greeting for the arriving envoys. They feel pleased that their deeds were recognized. 175. 汎汎楊舟,載沉載浮. The Son of Heaven bestowed upon his various marquises a red bow. 172. 德音是茂. Feeling pleased to have found the worthies. Finding worthies means the ability to create a [good] state and family. It is the foundation of great peace.29

24 25 26 27 2829 These lines in the “Inscription” borrowed from the Shijing provide canonical embellishment of the two basic aspects of Maiden Cao. The first includes her appearance, virtue, and marriage status. The second is the unexpected, undeserved tragedy that befell her. The ‘Filial Daughter’ in the Shadow of Virtuous Ladies In addition to the references to Shijing, Handan Zili juxtaposes a number of parallel cases of famous virtuous women found in historical records. Most of these references are from the Lienü zhuan by Liu Xiang. Rather than emphasizing ‘filial piety,’ there were two main purposes in using these historical allusions in the “Inscription”: creating a sense of tragedy and emphasizing her principles, the former being a component of the latter. The practice serves in illustrating “the glory of the craggy height which the one commemorated had attained,” a main feature of epitaph writing defined by Liu Xie. Line 30, for instance (“‘Sorrowful Lady Jiang’ wailed at the marketplace”), alludes to a Shiji story whose theme was ‘lament for injustice’: Duke Wen [of Lu] (r. 626–609 bc) had two consorts. The first, [retrospectively] named Ai Jiang 哀姜 (“Sorrowful Lady Jiang”), came from the state of Qi and gave birth to two sons, named Wu and Shi. The second consort, Jing Ying, enjoyed the favor of the Duke and bore a son named Sui. Sui secretly attached himself to Xiangzhong, who wanted to make him heir. But Shuzhong disagreed. Xiangzhong then sought permission from Duke Hui of Qi 齊惠公. The newly enthroned duke wanted to build a good relationship with Lu; therefore, he agreed. In the winter, in the tenth month, Xiangzhong killed Wu and Shi and enthroned Sui, who was posthumously 24 MSZY, 1.2.11b. 25 MSZY, 16.2.238c. 26 MSZY, 6.4.105a. 27 MSZY, 13.1.191b. 28 MSZY, 1.3.13c. 29 MSZY, 10.1.151b.

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known as Duke Xuan 宣公 (r. 608–591 bc). Ai Jiang returned to Qi, crying as she passed through the marketplace: “Oh, Heaven, Xiangzhong did not comply with the dao, as he killed the first-born heir that I, the first consort, bore, and enthroned the one borne by the second wife.” Everyone at the market joined in, crying with her. The people of Lu therefore called her ‘Jiang the sorrowful one’ (Ai Jiang).30

This Ai Jiang is a different figure from the one more commonly referred to in literary works, namely Ai Jiang (d. 659 bc), the younger sister of Duke Huan 桓 of Qi (r. 685–643 bc) who was married to Duke Zhuang 莊 of Lu (r. 693–662 bc), committed adultery, brought about upheavals to the state, and was finally executed by her brother.31 The reader knows that Handan Zili refers to the later Ai Jiang because she suffered the loss of a close family member, which is (at a stretch) close to the Cao E story. Line 31 (“Qiliang’s wife cried and toppled a corner of the Great Wall”) alludes to the wife of a particular Qiliang Zhi 杞梁殖. This lady appears as early as in the Zuozhuan (in which one finds no record of her tears toppling the city wall), and then an elaborated version appears later in the Lienü zhuan. The narrative in the Lienü zhuan has it that, upon being presented with news [and, presumably, also a corpse] proving the death of her husband, who had joined the army and been sent on a military campaign, she cradled her husband’s body, crying for five days by the city wall. Her sad tears finally toppled the walls.32 In addition to the sad loss of a loved one, an additional narrative element that this story shares with the Cao E story is the wife’s holding the dead body of the husband in her arms. There is also a resonance between the allusions in lines 30 and 31: Qiliang’s wife was also named Jiang; she is more commonly known as Meng Jiang nü 孟姜女. Also, both allusions involve women who wail in their sorrow. In neither of these two allusions, however, does one see any relevance to the central tragic element of the “Inscription,” namely Maiden Cao’s filial character.

30 SJ, 33.1536. The commentator Sima Zhen 司馬貞 (fl. 713–42) points out in his note that Ai was not given as a posthumous title but was based on the “sorrow” suffered by Jiang during her life. 31 This Lady Ai Jiang had an affair with Qingfu 慶父 (d. 660 bc), who killed Duke Min 閔 of Lu (d. 660 bc), the Lady’s son whom the lovers enthroned. The Lady then wanted to enthrone her lover but Duke Xi 僖 (d. 627 bc) was made the new ruler by people of Lu. Duke Huan of Qi summoned his sister and put her to death. SJ, 32.1488, 1533; Zuozhuan, Min 2.5, Xi 1.10. 32 Zuozhuan, Xiang 23.13. LNZ, 4.5a.


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Maiden Cao’s suicide may also be construed in light of Liu Xiang’s notes in the Lienü zhuan on the ‘chastity’ of Qiliang’s wife.33 Liu continued the narrative with the wife’s monologue just after she had buried her husband: “Now where can I return to? A lady must have someone to rely on: when she has a father she relies on him; when she has a husband, her husband; when she has a son, her son. Now, above I have no father; in the middle no husband; below no son. Within, I have no one to rely on, so as to show my fidelity; outside, I have nothing to rely upon either, and there is no way to establish my chastity. How can I change [myself to serve a] different [family]?”34 In such a dilemma, suicide became the only means by which she could preserve her chaste character. In the “Inscription,” Handan sets up a dilemma so as to present two core feminine principles, namely filial piety and chastity. He spends the first nine lines on the description of Maiden Cao’s beauty and marital status. Line 10 is a transition to her father’s death. If the maiden stayed alive, any marriage match could not have been chosen by her father, nor could it obtain her father’s blessing. This would have been a violation of both the principle of filial piety and of chastity. In the narrative, therefore, Handan imposed a dilemma, similar to that voiced by Qiliang’s wife (“Now, above I have no father; in the middle no husband; below no son … there is no way to establish my chastity …”). This common theme of preserving chastity, put in the light of Qiliang’s wife’s circumstances, runs through several of the allusions in the “Inscription.” Three other chaste women in the Lienü zhuan are alluded to in the “Inscription.” The first allusion appears in line 32 (“the widow who lopped off her nose in front of a mirror”) and refers to Gao Xing 高行 of the state of Liang. In refusing the Liang king’s proposal of marriage, she grabbed a mirror and a knife to lop off her nose, saying: “Only the deformed one can be set free.” Hearing this, the king praised her integrity and gave her the title “high conduct” (gaoxing).35 The second reference, in line 33 (“the young widows who cut off their ears with a knife”) alludes to the wife of Liu Zhangqing 劉長卿 and the wife of Wu Sunqi 吳孫奇, both of whom

33 Like other issues regarding the textual history of the book, it is an issue of high dispute to ascertain the attribution of the tetrasyllabic verse appraisal on each figure at the end of each chapter in the Lienü zhuan. I follow the editors of the Siku quanshu and attribute these verse appraisals to Liu Xiang. For details, see Ji Yun 紀昀 (1724–1805), et al., Siku quanshu zongmu, 57.517c–518b. 34 LNZ, 4.5a. 35 LNZ, 4.8b–9a.

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were widowed at a young age. They each cut off their ears to prove their chastity, i.e., that they would not marry again.36 These allusions fit the “Inscription” context only very loosely, as none of the ladies referred to here are close matches to Maiden Cao in terms of social status or circumstance. These widows were turned into models for morally high conduct because they remained single after the death of their husbands, while Cao was not yet married, and her biography in the “Inscription” gives no evidence that any marriage had been arranged for her. The allusions in lines 34 and 35 deal, respectively, with the themes of ‘drowning’ and ‘dying for one’s principles,’ but are again only loosely-­ fitting references. The former (“The consort seated on Jian Terrace, ­awaiting [death by] floods”) alludes to another story from the Lienü zhuan. Jiang 姜, who was posthumously titled Chaste 貞, was originally from the state of Qi and became a consort of King Zhao of Chu 楚昭王 (r. 515–489 bc). She once accompanied him on an excursion. The king temporarily left her at Jian Terrace 漸臺 but, told that a flood was about to inundate the terrace, he sent an envoy to fetch her. Jiang refused to leave because the envoy had not brought an identification tally with him. By the time the envoy returned with the tally, the terrace had been flooded and Jiang had drowned.37 The allusions to the Lienü zhuan used up to this point lead us to determine the referent of the allusion in the next line (“the lady who burned to death clutching a tree”), which comes from the Lienü zhuan as well. Although the line sounds like a reference to the story of Jie Zitui 介子推 (mid seventh century bc), a famous loyal minister of Duke Wen of Jin 晉 文公 (r. 636–628 bc) who died with his aged mother in the mountains while fleeing a reward from the duke, Zhang Qiao points out that it should instead be an allusion to Boji of Song 宋伯姬.38 Boji’s story took place in the state of Song in 540 bc. When a palace caught fire, attendants of the then-widowed Lady Boji requested that she escape. Boji replied: “In 36 Liu’s story is found in HHS, 84.2797. According to YWLJ, 18.336, both stories were from the Lienü zhuan. 37 LNZ, 4.6a/b. 38 After Prince Chong’er 重耳 (posthumous title, Duke Wen of Jin [r. 636–628 bc]) returned from a nineteen-year exile and succeeded in reclaiming for himself the power that had been usurped, he rewarded his loyal subjects who had accompanied him into exile. Jie refused such a reward because he did not think it was right. He went into seclusion in the mountains with his aged mother and died there. So ends the narrative. ­Zuozhuan, Xi 24.1. However, the story was later changed: the duke set the mountain alight in order to force Jie out but Jie, and his mother with him, was burned to death.


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accordance with the rules for ladies, I cannot go down to the lower hall at night in the absence of my Tutor and Nanny.” She was burnt to death.39 Zhang Qiao notes that Liang refers to Gao Xing of Liang and Song refers to Boji of Song, which explains line 44 in the “Inscription” (“She outdid Liang and surpassed Song”). The two allusions were used in the same way in another early text the Mouzi lihuo 牟子理惑, in which the two ladies were referred to in the same couplet as highly principled exemplars.40 When he was bidden to pen the “Inscription,” Handan was assigned an important mission: to place Maiden Cao among the greatest female worthies in history, a task best facilitated by allusions to the Shijing and the Lienü zhuan. His last reference (appearing in the line, “You should be treated as the equal of Yao’s two daughters”) to the two daughters of Yao, whose biography comes first in the “Mother Models” (“Muyi” 母儀) chapter at the beginning of Lienü zhuan, reveals that he was fighting for no less than a paramount place for Maiden Cao. The allusion further elevates his already effusive ranking of Cao, apotheosizing Cao by equating her with two ladies who, through their own story of suffering, had long been seen as goddesses. Allusion, therefore, is clearly the main descriptive tool in the “Inscrip­ tion.” Handan Zili’s frequent allusions to the Shijing may be seen as an adaptation of an exegetic rubric in Lienü zhuan, by which a Shijing couplet is quoted as a conclusive appraisal for the lady in a given entry. In his “Inscription,” he first gathered his relevant Shijing lines and then gave parallel cases from Lienü zhuan, to show his compliance with the classics. It is not a question of whether Cao sacrificed her life to safeguard her virginity, her chastity, or the rites, as did the women in Handan’s allusions. These allusions merely remind the reader of similar cases and lack a directly parallel relationship between the narrative and the allusion. SJ, 39.1662. For a summary of the story and its variations, along with sources of adapted versions, see Donald Holzman, “The Cold Food Festival,” 53–54, n. 3. Perhaps coincidently, Jie also died on the fifth day of the fifth month. This allusion assumes even more relevance to the inscription because three figures died on that day in different years, i.e., Wu Yun, Jie Zitui, and Cao Yu. This may be the reason why the Jie Zitui story is alluded to. Nevertheless, the Cold Food Festival, commemorated in memory of Jie, was in wintertime. Because Jie’s death on the fifth day of the fifth month is recorded only in Yiwen leiju, scholars have doubted its credibility. See Holzman, “The Cold Food Festival,” 55, n. 6, quoting Nakamura Takashi. 39 GWY, 19.436. LNZ, 4.1b–2a. An older version of this story is in Chunqiu Guliang zhuan, 16.68a/b. 40 Mouzi lihuo, HMJ, 1.3a3. On the dating of this text, see Keenan, How Master Mou Removes our Doubts, 3–6.

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This reveals an important consideration of Handan, as a directly parallel relationship would have been created, for example, by allusion to an innocent girl who lost her father, but he did not opt for this treatment. Rather than allusive precision, Handan’s motive was to use the figure of allusion here to distinguish his subject, placing her in the company of history’s greatest paragons of feminine virtue. The purpose of this would be to not only distinguish her family and increase their local standing, but also on a broader level, Handan was endeavoring to create a document that would edify the general literary public about the highest principles of female virtue. The ‘Filial Daughter’ and the Tradition of Tragedy The success of Handan’s “Inscription” was marked by the fact that a cult was established around the drowned girl. According to Wolfram Eberhard, the drifting body was a major factor in establishing it and the apotheosis of the drowned lady.41 In Eberhard’s work and in other studies, however, little has been remarked upon the motives for Cao’s suicide, which have been defined only as ‘filial.’ Handan’s stress on filial piety in his inscription somewhat overshadowed the cultural motives that may have made her suicide more plausible. We shall restore relevant historical backgrounds in order to strip off the veneer. The most relevant among the common beliefs and practices of Han that may shed light on Maiden Cao’s conduct is shamanism. Wang Chong’s criticism of ‘superstition’ in southeast China reflected a prevalent belief in supernatural power. One of Wang’s examples goes: After killing Wu Zixu, King Fuchai 夫差 (of Wu; r. 495–473 bc) cooked his body in a cauldron, put it in a pelt-pouch, and threw it in the river. In a fury of grievance, Zixu[’s spirit] pushed the water and created waves, which killed people.42

Wu Yun’s death, on the fifth day of the fifth month, triggered the start of a new cult in the area to which the Fifth Day of the Fifth Month Festival was dedicated. This predated by some two hundred years the death of Qu Yuan, who has long been seen as the central object of worship in the festival.43 41 Eberhard, The Local Cultures of South and East China, 393. 42 Wang Chong, Lunheng, “Shuxu pian” 書虛篇, 37–38. 43 Ge Chunyuan, “Duanwujie qiyuan yu Wu Zixu kao,” 93–94. In this study, Ge also analyzes other supernatural phenomena surrounding the death of Wu that are recorded


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Wang Chong’s iconoclasm may help us construe the Caos’ story in light of the common belief in management of hun and po souls. An often overlooked part of the story is that Maiden Cao’s father, Yu, was a shaman. His job, according to the “Inscription” was to receive the spirit of Wu Yun at séances, most likely at the riverbank and then on a boat. But this unblessed shaman was swallowed by the waves. Wu Yun’s spirit was not appeased; one might speculate that he wanted to create another tragedy to match his own. To facilitate the shaman’s duties, the foremost task was to find the body of Cao Yu, the maiden’s father. All versions of the story contain the line: “Yu’s body was not found,” setting the stage for Cao E’s efforts to find the body through her own suicide. The daughter’s tears and her quest for her father’s corpse may be explained by the Han belief that the father might resurrect, or failing that, that the body may be preserved in order to achieve postmortem eternity. Regarding the Han belief in resurrection, Ying-shih Yü makes the following observation: It is possible … that if the departed soul can be summoned back the dead may be brought back to life. A person can be pronounced dead only when the fu ritual has failed to achieve its purpose.44

Here, the fu ritual is a short form for zhaohun fupo 招魂復魄, “evoking the hun-soul and returning the po-soul.”45 Why was there such a ritual? Another Liji passage accounts for the wish to resurrect the dead: in early historical sources. David Johnson observes that there was a Wu Zixu cult in the area that was four centuries old in the time of the Shiji. Johnson, “The Wu Tzu-hsü pienwen,” 473–74. In his survey, Wolfram Eberhard concluded that “originally the festival had nothing to do with the fifth day of the fifth moon” and that the festival “is designed to bring fertility.” See Eberhard, Local Cultures, 395–97. See also Wen Yiduo, “Duanwu kao,” 221–24, in which Wen provides plenty of sources for various possibilities of what the festival meant to commemorate, including Qu Yuan, Jie Zitui, and Wu Yun. 44 Yü, “‘O Soul, Come Back!’” 365. 45 Liji zhengyi, 44.344a (a similar ritual is recorded in Yili 儀禮, see Yili zhushu, 35.184c–185a): A funeral for a gentleman is: The dead man must lie in the middle chamber, covered by a funerary shroud. There is only one Soul Evoker, holding in his hand the official uniform of the dead man. On his left shoulder he wears the clothes of the dead man in a piece, the upper and lower garments sewn together, with the collars inserted in his own sash. He then ascends from the front east-side eaves to the middle of the roof. Facing north, he summons [the dead soul] with the clothes. In a long drawn-out wail he says thrice: “Sir, come back.” He then throws the clothes down to the front [of the house]. [Those down below] catch them with a casket, ascend from the east stairway, and dress the corpse in them. The Soul Evoker descends from the back west-side eaves.

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Some ask: “The body is not dressed and put into a coffin until three days after death. Why is that?” The answer is: “After his parent’s death the filial child is sad and his emotions are stuck; therefore he prostrates himself and cries, as if his parent will return to life. How can one dare to take away the dead body for dressing and coffining? This explains why the dressing and coffining ritual is not carried out until three days after the death. The purpose is to wait for resurrection.46

All these rituals for ‘summoning the soul’ of the dead require the presence of the body. This practice offers grounds for an episode, perhaps anecdotal, recorded in an alternative version of Maiden Cao’s search for her father’s corpse: Maiden Cao … then cast a melon into the river, [hoping to] preserve her father’s body, and said: “May the melon sink at the point where my father’s corpse is located.” Seventeen days later, the melon suddenly sank. Thereupon she threw herself into the river and died.47

In order to make Cao a ‘filial daughter,’ in his “Inscription” Handan granted her success in eventually finding her father’s body. As the funeral required the presence of the body, finding her father’s body would have been the family’s (and Cao E’s) immediate concern. The earliest time for burial was seven days after death.48 Asserting the Han belief in the existence of the underworld, Yü continues his discussion of the souls:

For translation and discussion of the ritual, see Hawkes, Songs of the South, 219–20; Eliade, Shamanism, 447–48. Eliade is but one of several scholars who identify this shamanic practice as the origin of the motif of ‘flying up to heaven’ (448–53). This view has been shared by scholars such as K. C. Chang, Arthur Waley, and Isabelle Robinet. David Keightley questions many of K.C. Chang’s arguments. Michael Puett goes one step further and argues that the “ascension literature” in early China was the result of a “self-divinization” process. See Puett, “The Ascension of the Spirit,” 193–222. A different explanation of the passage is given by Liu Zhaorui, who argues that the ritual was erroneously interpreted according to Confucianism. Citing a passage from the Shuihudi 睡虎地 bamboo slip inscription as evidence, Liu argues that the word fu 復 was an exclamation used in shamanic ritual for expelling devils. Liu, Kaogu faxian, 89. 46 Liji, 56.428c. Fujino Iwatomo gives reasons for the practice. Those who died suddenly have a chance to come back to life. The time of death of those suffering from serious illnesses is unpredictable and there is therefore some hope of resurrecting them. See Fujino, Fukei bungakuron, 210. 47 SSXY, 11/3, Liu Xiaobiao’s commentary quoting Guiji dianlu; Mather, Shih-shuo hsin-yü, 293. No divination method called ‘melon divination’ is recorded in Han times. A variant of “melon” (gua 瓜) is “clothes” (yi 衣), which is found in a note in SJZ, 40.20a. For a discussion of the variants and details of the ‘search method,’ see Tim Chan, “Searching for the Bodies of the Drowned,” 385–97. 48 The lag between death and burial varies from seven days to as long as 433 days. See Yang Shuda, Handai hunsang lisu kao, 132–44.


chapter two … it seems to have been a widespread idea in Han times that the life of the po soul in the underworld depends very much on the condition of the body. If the body was well-preserved and properly buried, then the po soul would not only rest in peace and remain close to the body but also last longer.49

In his recent study of these conceptions of souls, Stephen R. Bokenkamp takes one step further to point out that “… the spiritual components of personhood, whether singular or plural (and again reconstituted), could become what we call ‘ghosts’ to haunt the living.”50 This Han belief in ghosts construes why they believe Cao Yu, in his failure as a shaman, was killed: Cao Yu’s subject Wu Yun was wronged, put to death, and his soul was not at peace after death. Local people believed that his unappeased soul could and would harm people, and his target became, ironically, Cao Yu, whose mission as a shaman was to ‘summon’ Wu’s wandering soul.51 Similarly, facilitating the summoning of her father’s soul was likely the motive of Maiden Cao in striving to find his body. Regardless of what the true motives of the girl were, this shamanistic context forms a powerful narrative undercurrent in the Cao E “Inscription” which would have been easily divined by contemporary readers. The narrative was also made more powerful by the allusive summoning of the Qu Yuan story. This allusion to the Qu Yuan context is triggered by the turn of phrase that describes Maiden Cao’s crying alongside the river. Handan borrowed a line from the “Fisherman” that describes Qu Yuan’s dejected wandering after banishment (xing yin ze pan 行吟澤畔, “wandering and singing by the marshes”), which in our “Inscription” becomes ai yin ze pan 哀吟澤畔 (“[Cao E] crying in sorrow by the marshes”). As discussed in chapter one, in his Chuci zhangju Wang Yi sanctioned Qu Yuan’s suicide because Qu drowned himself for rightful principles. From the mouth of Empress Deng we learn that “although a lady is not obliged to follow her husband into death …[dying] is a way to express gratitude to the emperor.”52 These additional elements, when brought to bear on our reading of Cao E, provide her with a shade of Qu 49 Yü, “‘O Soul, Come Back!’” 385. 50 Bokenkamp, Ancestors and Anxiety, 66. Loewe, Faith, Myth and Reason in Han China, 114–15. This is in fact an old belief as recorded in Zichan’s 子產 (named Gongsun Qiao 公孫僑, ca. 580–522 bc) speech. Zuozhuan, Zhao 7.4: “With a proper place to return to, a ghost will not turn malicious” 鬼有所歸乃不為厲. 51 For a discussion of the tradition of summoning the soul as seen in the Chuci, see Loewe, Ways to Paradise, 33. A comparative study of this practice in ancient China and in other cultures is Hawkes, Songs of the South, 219–23. 52 HHS, 10A.420.

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Yuan-esque political motivation in her desperate suicide. This reading is supported also by the otherwise irrelevant allusion made in line 12 of the “Inscription” (Wu fu shu hu 無父孰怙, “Without my father, upon whom can I rely?”), to Shijing poem 202 (Wu fu he hu 無父何怙, “Without my father, upon what shall I rely?”). Zheng Xuan glossed this line in Mao 202 as: “The heart of the filial child relies passionately on his parents. He assumes that he can never lose them. Away from home he misses them and worries. Coming back home and not seeing them, it is as though he has come to nowhere.”53 The Shijing poem, with Zheng’s exegesis, gives a fully imagined picture of the forlorn daughter. According to the Mao synopsis, memorized by all literati in Handan’s day, Mao 202 means “The filial child cannot nurture [his/her parents] to the end,” and the ode also contains the line: “If I would return your kindness, it is like great Heaven, illimitable.”54 This allusion, in juxtaposition with the association with Qu Yuan’s politically motivated suicide discussed above, thus means that Cao had lost the opportunity to repay her father’s ‘kindness,’ and by extension, had failed to fulfill her duty to her society in general. This intensifies the sense of tragedy, and justifies her sacrifice as the only means left to her to satisfy her obligations. Another cultural-literary feature the “Inscription” inherited from the Chuci tradition was Cao E’s appeal to the gods in her quest for justice (“She then appealed to the gods expressing her grievance”; line 13). Her appeal fits the motive for the composition of most early rhapsodic works, which Ban Gu termed “the worthy one with an unfulfilled aim” (xianren shizhi 賢人失志).55 An audience with the gods was the most direct way to vent a grievance. In the “Lisao” we read: Ferrying across Rivers Yuan and Xiang, in my southbound voyage, I approach Double Brightness [Shun 舜] and present my words.56

In the “Inscription,” it might not have been the maiden’s wish to seek such an audience; it was the author who imposed this appeal process on the maiden. Unsurprisingly, her appeal was deemed a success—she was ‘given’ her father’s body, and thereby won a name for filial piety. The author commented: “Your righteousness contributes to the renown of your clan” (Coda, line 8). This renown was what was expected from the stele-erection ceremony. 53 MSZY, 13.1.191c, Zheng Xuan’s commentary. 54 Legge, The She King, 352. 55 HS, 30.1756. 56 CCBZ, 1.20.


chapter two

An astonishingly similar story is found in Yibu qijiu zhuan 益部耆舊傳 (Traditions Told by Elderly and Original Citizens of Yi Prefecture) by Chen Shou 陳壽 (233–97).57 The filial daughter Xiong 雄 was a native of Jiangwei 犍為 (in modern Pengshan, Sichuan). Her father, Jiang He 江和, worked in the district’s Labor Section. He was once sent by the Director of the district to have an audience with the prefect’s Grand Protector. [On his way] he fell from the boat into the torrent and died. His body was lost and never returned home. Xiong wailed sadly day and night. Resolved not to live, she made two pockets and filled them with pearls and jade discs, giving one to each of her two sons, who were both under ten years old. She said some words of farewell to them. The family constantly confined her, preventing her [from committing suicide]. After some one hundred days when [their vigilance] had slackened, Xiong took a small boat to the spot where her father had fallen. She cried sadly and then drowned herself there. In a dream that night, she told her younger brother, Xian, that she would appear with their father in six days. On that day Xian waited [at the riverbank]. As foretold, Xiong and her father floated along on the river, holding each other. The district Director praised her and erected a stele with her portrait on it.58

Like Maiden Cao, Xiong was identified as a ‘filial daughter;’ the similarity between the two stories yields some hints for our understanding of the criteria for winning the name of ‘filial daughter.’ Xiong’s family’s worry reflected a common belief that a daughter could redeem her and the family’s name and win fame by committing suicide upon hearing of her father’s death. When she succeeded, she gained the honorable name of a ‘filial daughter.’

57 This story is also quoted by Shimomi Takao as a model for the Maiden Cao story, as Shimomi argues that the stele inscription on Cao was a forged text. He also gives details for variations of the story. Shimomi, “Sō Ga no tenki setsuwa nit suite,” 8–9. Eberhard saw the drowning myth in the Chu area as being the origin of “the drowned women who became the patron goddesses of the river festivals.” This idea “spread into the Ba as well as Yue cultures.” His two examples, Wu Yun and Biling 鱉靈, were both from Chu. See Eberhard, Local Cultures, 393–94. 58 TPYL, 415.5a/b, quoting Yibu qijiu zhuan. The HHS, 84.2799–2800, records the same story with some variants. In this version, Xiong is named Shuxian Xiong 叔先雄 and her father’s name is Nihe 泥和. Other variants of the lady’s name include Shuguang Xiong 叔光雄, Guangxiong, and Luo 絡. Her father’s name has other variants such as: Xiannihe 先泥和 and Fu Nihe shi 符泥和氏. See SJZ, 33.16a; TPYL, 69.6a, 396.3a. Qian Daxin 錢大昕 (1728–1804) argues that the lady’s name should be Shuxian Luo 叔先絡. See Qian, ­Nianershi kaoyi, 12.234–35.

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The ‘Immortality’ of Maiden Cao The erection of a stele marks the sanction and recognition of the inscribed content given by high authorities. Liu Xie points out that the means by which the inscription assumed legitimacy was the material on which the content was engraved: When in later times bronze articles became scarce, stone monuments were used instead of bronze; both signify the immortal.59

Liu’s idea is elaborated on in the introductory notes to Mark Edward Lewis’s recent book, in which he extends his scope of discussion to writing in general by listing several functions. One of his points may fittingly conclude our discussion of Maiden Cao: The power of writing to outlast the moment of its inscription, and thereby to cross great distances without alteration, also granted authority to its users. The clearest form of power generated by the temporal range of writing was its ability to survive the death of its “speaker” and thereby make him or her “immortal.”60

From the time Maiden Cao was recast by Handan as a model of moral perfection, the long-silent girl had a proxy spokesman. This spokesman— Handan—became immortal through Cao, as did Du Shang, who assigned the writing task to Handan. Cao was also granted immortality, although she never had a voice to speak for herself. The “Inscription for Maiden Cao” occupies but a marginal place in literature, because of the mediocre quality and didactic style of its writing. This claim is supported by the reaction of the literary field to this text. First, it is not alluded to in any extant literary work. Second, its lucky survival relied solely on the renown of a great calligrapher, rather than on its literary merit. Third, it attracted no anthologist or literary critic and thus was not collected or mentioned in any such work, the most prestigious of which are the Wenxuan and Wenxin diaolong. Perhaps all these observations are one-sided, anachronistic. This is because, as Terry Eagleton argues: Just as people may treat a work as philosophy in one century and as literature in the next, or vice versa, so they may even change their minds about the grounds they use for judging what is valuable and what is not. This … does not necessarily mean that they will refuse the title of literature 59 WXDL, 3.214; Shih, The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragon, 92. 60 Lewis, Writing and Authority, 2.


chapter two to work which they have come to deem inferior: they may still call it literature, meaning roughly that it belongs to the type of writing which they generally value. … There is no such thing as a literary work or tradition which is valuable in itself, regardless of what anyone might have said or come to say about it. “Value” is a transitive term: it means whatever is valued by certain people in specific situations, according to particular criteria and in the light of given purposes.61

Wayne Booth, quoting Eagleton in agreement, adds that “works do not ‘possess’ or ‘exercise’ inherent value” but are only valued.62 In our case, the pseudo Cai Yong, who wrote a riddle with a solution of “utterly wonderful, lovely words,” might have wholeheartedly praised Handan’s writing skills and the prescribed ‘value’ of the text. But literary tastes change over time. The story of Maiden Cao obviously did not arouse interest among literary writers. On the other hand, the two daughters of Yao, whom Handan mentioned as competing models, retained in early medieval literature the vital role and high place they were assigned in the “Lady Xiang” 湘夫人 poem in Chuci. They became models for worthy ladies and were used in, for example, Li Bai’s (701–62) allegorical poems.63 Although Li Bai did mention Maiden Cao, his attitude towards her was somewhat playful and scornful. In his narrative verse dedicated to Wei Wan 魏萬 (Jinshi, 760) he wrote: “You read with a smile the ‘Inscription on Maiden Cao,’ and pondered the words beginning ‘yellow pongee’” 笑 讀曹娥碑,沈吟黃絹語. Neither Li nor Wei seem to have taken the “Inscription” seriously. By Tang times, the “Inscription” had lost its didactic function, but it regained some power from the Song on. In the Song, Maiden Cao was given honorific titles such as Lady of Numinous Filial Piety, Brilliant Obedience, and Pure Virtue 靈孝昭順純懿夫人. Her parents were also given the titles Marquis and Lady. The host of imitations and adaptations indicate that the “Inscription” was highly valued in Song and post-Song times when Confucianism became paramount.64 Ironically, the ‘end’ of Maiden Cao’s life was not an end but a beginning. This beginning came about through the mission to single out models for educational purposes.

61 Eagleton, Literary Theory, 11. 62 Booth, The Company We Keep, 85. 63 YWLJ, 15.276, 280, quoting Baihu tong and Zuo Jiupin 左九嬪 (Jin dyn.). Qu ­Tuiyuan, Li Bai ji jiaozhu, 3.191. 64 Shen Defu 沈德符 (1578–1642), Yehuo pian, 14.2a. For later works adapted from the Maiden Cao story, see Shimomi, “Sō Ga no tenki setsuwa nit suite,” 13–18.

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chapter three

Ruan Ji on Apocalypse A recurring theme in early literature is the imaginary journey to heaven. Found originally in the “Lisao,” this feature underwent significant changes in the Han and Wei. An important aspect of these changes, as David Hawkes argues in his discussion of the “Fu on the Great Man” (“Daren fu” 大人賦), is that “the tristia element which nearly always accompanies the itineraria in the more private and personal expression of preceding poets is, for obvious reasons, entirely excluded.”1 By “obvious reasons,” Hawkes is referring to Sima Xiangru’s intentional turning away from the “Lisao” melancholy (tristia) in favor of a Daoist pleasure-seeking theme (itineraria) designed specifically to fit in with Emperor Wu’s passion for Daoist fantasy. The itineraria fantasy was in full bloom in the “Lisao.” It came to maturity in a Chuci poem entitled “Far Roaming” (“Yuanyou” 遠遊), generally regarded as a product of the Western Han.2 To his assertion that this piece “displays far better acquaintance with Han-dynasty Daoist concepts and techniques than is evident in the “Daren fu” or any other of Sima Xiangru’s extant writings,” Paul W. Kroll adds: “… the return to that original state of ‘formlessness’ so often yearned for in Daoist writings” is achieved “through an exclusive, airborne passage through the cosmos.” As a result, Kroll concludes, “Both the motional and emotional patterns of the ‘Lisao’ are thereby superseded.”3 This literary tradition of poetic itineraria continued to develop and change in Han-Wei times.4 In his “Fu on Contemplation of the Mystery,” 1 Hawkes, “Quest of the Goddess,” 60. The paired terminology, tristia and itineraria, are proposed by Hawkes who defines that the former “expresses the poet’s sorrow, his resentments, his complaints against a deluded prince, a cruel fate, a corrupt, malicious and uncomprehending society,” while the latter “describes the poet’s journey, occasionally real ones but more often the imaginary, supernatural journeys.” Ibid, 54. 2 Kroll’s translation of the poem title. For a summary of scholarship on dating the composition of the “Yuanyou,” see Kroll, “On Far Roaming,” 653–54. 3 Kroll, “On Far Roaming,” 653. Michael Puett, on the other hand, makes the controversial argument that “labeling any of these third or second century bc ideas as ‘Daoist’ would be dangerous.” His view is that “ascension literature” was derived from self-divinization that had been practiced since early times. See Puett, “Ascension of the Spirit,” 194. 4 The lineage of the imaginary journey motif is of great interest to scholars. See, for example, Hawkes, “Quest of the Goddess,” 53–68; Fukunaga, “‘Daijin fu’ no shisōteki


chapter three

Zhang Heng re-adapted the theme by having his protagonist return from the celestial journey back to earth, where he resolved to continue his fight against corruption. Another new development in the tradition of celestial journey is evident in the “Biography of Master Great Man” (“Daren xiansheng zhuan” 大人先生傳) by Ruan Ji 阮籍 (210–63). This work contains new elements that can be termed ‘apocalyptic.’5 Apocalyptic themes were a significant literary element integrated within Ruan Ji’s writings, rather than simply an oddity. It must be acknowledged that Ruan was, however, famous for his eccentricity. Descended from Ruan Yu 瑀, one of the ‘Seven Masters of the Jian’an Reign-Period (196–220)’ 建安七子, his early biography is typical enough. As with most literary heroes in the Chinese tradition, Ruan was said to be unusually talented and proficient in the Confucian classics, by which means he aspired to devote himself to the state. His biography diverges from the norm, however, in Ruan’s adult years, when he pursued constant drinking as a means to avoid involvement in what he perceived to be a corrupt political world, which was controlled by the all-powerful Sima 司 馬 family. Ruan’s prudence in utterance, remarked upon by Sima Zhao 昭 (211–65, a military general whose son, Sima Yan 炎 became the first Emperor of the Western Jin [r. 265–90]), enabled him to avoid offending anyone and thus allowed him to live out his natural life and compose what were to become classics in the literary tradition.6 The apocalyptic themes that appear in some of his writings are not drunken ravings. In the pages that follow, I aim to demonstrate that his treatment of apocalypse was a coherent literary reaction to the complexity of living in his day and age. Borrowing a Western religious concept, the chapter analyzes Ruan’s apocalyptic fantasies of cataclysm and his cyclical cosmology. These visions were probably not a complete borrowing from either Buddhism or Daoism; rather, despite uncertainty about their ultimate origin, they were nourished in the intellectual soil of the Han-Wei period, when eschatology began to appear as a mainstream intellectual concern. Ruan’s keifu,” 97–126; Horiike, Kan Gi shisōshi kenkyū, 190–212. Takeji Sadao ends his list at the Eastern Han, assigning “Lisao,” “Yuanyou,” “Daren fu,” and “Sixuan fu” to the four top spots as the greatest works in the poetic lineage. See his “Soji enyū bungaku no keifu,” 23–38. 5 To my knowledge, Donald Holzman was the first to use the Western religious concept of the ‘apocalypse’ to discuss the “Biography of Master Great Man.” See Holzman, Poetry and Politics, 191–92. 6 Sima Zhao’s remarks are recorded at JS, 49.1359–62.

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visions differed from major religious accounts, however, in one crucial point: he did not represent the destruction of the world as paving the way for a new millennium. Rather, Ruan was preoccupied with individual transcendence. Apocalyptic themes in his thought can thus serve as new keys to understanding ambiguous images in his famous group of eightytwo “On My Inner Feelings” (“Yonghuai” 詠懷) poems. The sense of impending destruction found there helps recontextualize recurrent imagery such as the sunset and cold birds, which have always been taken as allegorical references to the decline of the Wei dynasty. The distinct paradigm of Chinese religious literature and its apparent lack of certain dramatic themes, such as apocalypse, that are foundational in some religious literature elsewhere, may be the main reason it has been neglected in the study of world literature outside of China.7 The subject of this chapter, Ruan Ji on apocalypse, requires, first, an outline of the tradition of apocalyptic literature; second, that these elements in Ruan’s work be identified and analyzed; and, finally, that these elements be compared with the Western concept of the ‘apocalypse,’ which has no exact equivalent in Chinese. But unless we borrow this term from the Western literary tradition, Ruan’s innovation will remain blurred and unrecognized. Tracing Early Chinese Apocalyptic Literature In pioneering studies of eschatology in the Chinese world, the concepts of ‘messianism’ and ‘millennialism’ have been used quite effectively. These ideas come from the Bible, in which a ‘messiah’ plays a central role in discourses concerning final judgment and destruction. Parallel roles in Chinese Daoist literature are the apotheosized Laozi in the late Han and Li Hong 李弘 in the Jin. Parallels in Buddhist literature include bodhisattvas, such as Mañjuśrī, Prince Moonlight, and so forth. They play the role of a prophet or savior, leading sentient beings to Nirvāna.8

7 In a recent article, Anne Birrell has suggested five reasons for Chinese myths constantly being neglected. Two of these reasons apply directly to Chinese apocalyptic literature: 1) the fragmentary nature of the textual data and 2) the terminology that does nothing more than obscure the subject. Birrell, “The Four Flood Myth Traditions of Classical China,” 219–20. 8 The role of Laozi and Li Hong has become an important subject in Daoist studies. See, for example, Robinet, Taoism, 162; Seidel, “Taoist Messianism,” 165–73; Strickmann, Chinese Magical Medicine, 50–53. For Buddhist messianism and the role of Prince


chapter three

The word ‘apocalypse’ is a more appropriate term in discussing Ruan Ji’s eschatology than ‘messianism,’ although neither works perfectly. Here is Edward F. Edinger’s explanation of the former: Apokalypsis is just the Greek word that was used for the Book of Revelation which is also more simply called the Apocalypse; in general the term means “revelation.” But, specifically, it refers to the “uncovering of what has been hidden.” The root is the verb kalypto, which means “to cover or to hide”; the prefix is the preposition, apo, which means “away or from.” So, apokalypsis means “to take the covering away” from what had been secret or covered—revealing thereby what had previously been invisible.9

This religious term has an important function: to serve as “the larger meaning of the ‘coming of deity to assert sovereignty’—or the coming of a Messiah to judge, to reward or punish humanity.” In sum, apocalyptic literature has four chief features: 1) revelation; 2) judgment; 3) destruction or punishment (as the consequence of judgment); and then 4) renewal in a new world.10 The last feature is termed apocatastasis, “generally translated ‘restoration’ and referring to the restitution of all things, a new heaven and earth, a new creation.”11 Whereas apocatastasis is not compatible with Ruan Ji’s thought, the other three features, as we shall see, describe elements of his writings quite accurately. Despite recent achievements in studies of Buddhist and Daoist eschatology, very little attention has been paid to Chinese apocalyptic literature, simply because of the apparent absence of such a literary theme in early medieval China. Therefore, employing this new terminology to the study of Ruan Ji will not only construct a new profile of this highly controversial writer, it will also add a new literary motif to the literary history of China. Further, it will provide a new perspective for the discussion of his poems under the collective title “On My Inner Feelings,” which have been seen as a milestone of “the formation of the symbolic mode” in Chinese poetry.12

­Moonlight, see Zürcher, “Prince Moonlight,” 1–47. For the role and mission of Bodhisattvas, see Paul Williams, Mahāyāna Buddhism, 49–53. 9 Edinger, Archetype of the Apocalypse, 3. 10 Edinger, Archetype of the Apocalypse, 3, 7. 11 Edinger, Archetype of the Apocalypse, 170–71. 12 A chapter title in Zong-qi Cai, The Matrix of Lyric Transformation, 147–88.

ruan ji on apocalypse


Chinese Apocalyptic Literature before Ruan Ji The examination of Ruan Ji’s innovation in Chinese apocalyptic literature must begin with a survey of the early elements of this tradition in China before his time. One early source is the cyclic thinking of the Warring States Period. It is commonly agreed that Zou Yan 騶衍 (ca. 305–240 bc) was the earliest theorist of the cyclic system of Yin/Yang and the Five Agents.13 Zou’s cosmogony helped establish the building blocks for what would later become an apocalyptic discourse in Chinese intellectual history. While he is usually defined as a Yin/Yang theorist 陰陽家, in his correlative thinking Zou was Confucian-based. His Five Agents, each representing the fate of a dynasty, rotated in a pattern of ‘begetting and defeating one another’ (xiangsheng xiangsheng 相生相勝). When a certain dynasty reached the end of its allotted time, it was to be superseded by a new one. This was presumably the main idea of his lost work Master Zou on the End and the Beginning (Zouzi zhongshi 鄒子終始) in fifty-six pian 篇.14 Zou’s discussion of the ‘end’ referred to the end of a reign, but did not envision the cosmic destruction that is a marked feature of Buddhist literature in China. The Buddhist vision of the march of time shares with Zou the idea of cycles of transformation, but ends in a definitive destruction that is more akin to the kind of apocalypse we shall observe in Ruan Ji’s writings. Our investigation into Buddhist cosmology begins with an amusing anecdote, which, though apocryphal, may tell us how the world was perceived by early Buddhists in China. Here is Erik Zürcher’s paraphrased translation of this anecdote: When in 120 bc the huge artificial lake of Kunming 昆明 (in Shansi) was dug (a genuine historical fact), a mysterious black substance was found at great depth. The emperor questioned the famous eccentric scholar Dongfang Shuo 東方朔 about its origin, and the latter is reported to have answered: “I do not know. But you may ask the barbarians from the West.”

13 As Qian Mu and others argue, Zou’s thinking had precursors in, for example, Zisi

子思 and Mencius. Qian criticizes Gu Jiegang’s view that Zou Yan was the first to create

this cyclic idea and that Liu Xiang and Liu Xin made up the relevant history. See Qian, “Ping Gu Jiegang,” 621–30. Gu’s article is in the same volume (pp. 404–617). Shima Kunio identified Deng Ling 鄧陵 as another of Zou’s predecessors, in addition to Zisi and Mencius; see his Gogyō shisō to Raiki Getsurei no kenkyū, 6, 17. 14 Gu Jiegang, “Wude zhongshi,” 419–20. HS, 30.1733.


chapter three When these were asked the same question, they answered: “They are the ashes which remain after the conflagration (at the end of a) kalpa.”15

Here, the “barbarians from the West” refers to foreign Buddhist monks. This record has been put forward as proof of Buddhism having been introduced to China as early as the second century bc, but the ex post facto composition of the source shows rather that, according to Zürcher, the tale “can hardly be older than the third century ad.” Thus, this early influence of Buddhist cosmology on the Chinese intellectual mainstream might be used as a perfect gloss of Ruan Ji’s worldview. Eschatological literature in early Chinese Buddhist lore is scanty. In spite of the continuous filtering process of the original and translated sutras transmitted to China, remnants of apocalyptic vision can still be found in early translated sutras.16 They include pertinent terms such as kalpa 劫 (aeon), and śūnyatā 空 (emptiness). The following lines from an early translation of the Vimalakīrti-sūtra by Zhi Qian 支謙 (fl. 223–53) outline the concept of kalpa: At the end of a kalpa everything will be burnt to nothing. Afterwards it will undergo changes and the shape of earth will be formed again.17

This cyclic structure of cosmic history divided by kalpa intervals is seen as early as in sutras translated in the Eastern Han by Anxuan 安玄, An Shigao 安世高, and Lokakṣema 支婁迦讖. These texts contain such notions such as that “life and death undergo countless kalpas” and that “I 15 Zürcher, Buddhist Conquest, 20. Sanfu gushi, 10. The same story with variations is found in GSZ, 323a19–23, in which it is recorded that Zhu Falan 竺法蘭 (mid first century) answered the question. 16 Zürcher gives an account of the fragmentary and cryptic status of early transmitted sutras: “It should be stressed that the Chinese Buddhist canon is the final product of many centuries of clerical censorship, a continuous process of expurgation (and, in a number of known cases, even wholesale destruction) of ‘heretical’ texts.” Zürcher, “Prince Moonlight,” 11. This kind of filtering censorship is best illustrated by the transmission of the Mahāparinirvāna-sūtra. No one knows why the sutra procured in 412 by Faxian 法顯 (ca. 337–ca. 422) and translated by Juexian 覺賢 in 418 contained only six juan and did not include the term icchantika. This term denoted those who were so impure they could never achieve nirvāna, and is found passim in the full forty-juan version translated by Dharmakṣema 曇無讖 (385–433) just a decade after Faxian’s version. This will be discussed in chapter five as it best illustrates Zürcher’s theory on the censoring of abridgements. The term icchantika for heretics must have been avoided on purpose, its motivation certain expurgation. 17 Vimalakīrti-sūtra 佛說維摩詰經, T. 474.2.530b8. Another text translated by Zhi Qian that contains elements of destruction is Taizi ruiying benqi jing 太子瑞應本起經, T. 185.3.472c10. This text was the earliest to be translated of those given by Fukunaga Mitsuji as Buddhist sources of the same motif. See his “Chūgoku ni ogeru tenchi hōkai no shisō,” 174–75.

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(the Buddha) come from countless kalpas.”18 The Pratyutpanna samādhi sutra 般舟三昧經 records that the bodhisattvas “understand all the sutras of original non-being, and are unafraid.” In this context, the Chinese term benwu 本無 is used for śūnyatā. The same sutra records the “destructive conflagration during the end of a kalpa” 劫盡壞燒 and the term kalpa occurs a number of times.19 These concepts were brought into China with very little explanation and most of them might have been transmitted orally. To reconstruct these ideas one must rely on relevant data preserved in sutras translated in later ages, the earliest of which is a thirdcentury translation of the Da Loutan jing 大樓炭經. According to Buddhist lore, fire is one of the three methods of destruction; the other two are flood and wind. Each cosmic cycle undergoes ‘four kalpas’: ‘formation’ (vivarta-kalpa 成劫), ‘abiding’ (vivartasiddha-kalpa 住劫), ‘destruction’ (saṃvarta-kalpa 壞劫), and ‘annihilation’ (saṃvartasiddha-kalpa 空劫). As a cycle is completed, the universe is formed again.20 Destruction and re-formation of the universe in Buddhist literature features an ethic of ‘making wonderful,’ a common theme in apocalyptic literature in world religions.21 In Buddhism, the destruction at the end of an era is predicated by a need for purification of “people failing to follow the correct norms” 諸人不行正法, and of “cruelty, violence, and waywardness; failure to do good deeds; not knowing how to make good fortune; saving no one from suffering and predicaments; corresponding to evil phenomena day and night; … Failure to abstain from killing, stealing,

18 Ugra-paṛipricchā 法鏡經, T. 322.12.15c2; Foshuo zhuanfalun jing 佛說轉法輪經, T. 109.2.503b8. 19 Pratyutpanna Samādhi Sutra, T. 418.13.904a2, 912c8; trans. Harrison, The Samādhi Sutra, 11. 20 There is an early record of the three methods of destruction in Fali 法立 and Faju 法炬 (both late third to early fourth centuries), trans., Da Loutan jing 大樓炭經, T. 23.1.302c18–19. The description of visitations in this chapter (12) called “Catastrophic Changes” (“Zaibian pin” 災變品) and the “formation of a new world” (“Tiandicheng pin” 天地成品) as chapter 13 is named, are regarded as the earliest source of Buddhist cyclical cosmology. A later source for the destruction theme is Paramārtha 真諦 (499–569), trans., Lokasthiti-abhidharma-śāstra 立世阿毘曇論, T. 1644.32.221b22–221c6. For the four stages see Xuanzang 玄奘 (602–64), trans., Abhidharmakośa-bhāsya 阿毘達磨俱舍論, T. 1558.29.62b28–62c6. For a description of the rebirth of the world after its destruction at the age of two million kalpas, see Jizang 吉藏 (549–623), Renwang borejing shu 仁王般 若經疏, T. 1707.33.345c8–17. 21 In his comparative study of the apocalypse in different religions, Norman Cohn argues that “an eschatological preoccupation is evident in all of them,” and that Zoroastrianism was the source of apocalyptic topics in Jewish and Christian traditions. See Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come, 220–26.


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evilness, and licentiousness,” and so forth. Other causes of world destruction include, of course, lack of respect for the Buddhist religion.22 Outside of strictly Buddhist circles, there were a number of other indications in early literature that world-destruction fantasies may have been part of the oral culture, but the written record does not contain any mature accounts of apocalyptic vision until much later, when religious doctrines started to mature. Fukunaga Mitsuji 福永光司 traces an early provenance of world destruction to the Zhuangzi, and a later elaboration of the same idea in the Liezi. He also quotes as an early source the Daoist scripture Three Heavens’ Orthodox Methods Scripture of Highest Clarity (Shangqing santian zhengfa jing 上清三天正法經), but this might have been produced later in the Jin dynasty.23 Kobayashi Masayoshi identifies Liu Xin’s 劉歆 (d. 23) “Calendar of the Triple Concordance” (“Santong li” 三統曆) as the earliest traceable source of the world-destruction theme. In Liu’s text, “Yang nine” 陽九 and “Hundred and six” 百六 are the last odd numbers and even numbers, respectively, in each calendar cycle when catastrophes happen.24 Liu Xin’s ideas are a tangible landmark of the destruction motif that was to evolve more fully in later religious writings. More specifically, it was not until the early fourth century that Liu Xin’s visions of destruction flourished in Daoist literature under Buddhist influence.25 Another text 22 Lokasthiti-abhidharma-śāstra, T. 1644.32.215c9–12; see also 216b6–7, 219b13–19. The Chinese text is: 佷戾難教,不能行善,不知作福,不救苦難,與邪惡法日夜相應。不能 遠離殺生偷盜邪淫。

23 Fukunaga, “Chūgoku ni ogeru tenchi hōkai no shisō,” 171–180. Zhuangzi, 5/5. Yang Bojun, Liezi jishi, 1.30–33. Santian zhengfa jing, in Yunji qiqian (HY 1026), 2.4b–8a. Although Jao Tsung-i argues that Daoist scriptures under the title of “Three Heavens’ Orthodox Methods” 三天正法 were first revealed to and transmitted by Zhang Daoling 張 道陵 (d. 156), genitor of the religion, Kobayashi Masayoshi argues that the scripture in question was revealed to Yang Xi 楊羲 (330–86) along with other Highest Clarity scriptures. LZXE, 96; Kobayashi, Rikuchō Dōkyō shi, 431–35. 24 Kobayashi, Rikuchō Dōkyō shi, 404. Liu Xin’s discussion is in HS, 21A.983–86. The rendering “Triple Concordance” for santong is Nathan Sivin’s. For Liu’s and others’ astronomical systems, see Sivin, “Cosmos and Computation on Early Chinese Mathematical Astronomy,” 1–73. See also Gu Jiegang, “Wude zhongshi,” 441–49; Knechtges, Wen xuan, 1: 374, l. 21. 25 The “Preface to the five talismans” (“Wufu xu” 五符序), dated early fourth century, is the earliest Daoist scripture that elaborates Liu Xin’s terms by giving a full description of the destruction scene. Obvious Buddhist influence includes the use of the terms “great kalpa” 大劫 and “small kalpa” 小劫 as measurements of cyclic time. See Taishang Lingbao wufu xu 太上靈寶五符序 (HY 388), 1.7a. Important studies of this scripture include Kobayashi, Rikuchō Dōkyō shi, 406–7; Chen Guofu, Daozang yuanliu kao, 64–66; Bokenkamp, “Sources of the Ling-pao Scriptures,” 450–58. Other Jin-dynasty scriptures containing eschatological themes include Nüqing guilü 女青鬼律 (HY 789), Taishang dongyuan shenzhou jing 太上洞淵神咒經 (HY 335), and Zhen’gao 真誥 (HY 1010), comp. Tao

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that has apocalyptic themes is the “Family Instructions and Precepts on the Great Dao” (“Dadao jialing jie” 大道家令戒). It contains a discussion of the end of the world when good individuals would be selected as “seed people” (zhongmin 種民) from whom the human race would multiply after the destruction. It is commonly agreed that this text was written in 255, when Ruan was forty-five years old. As Kobayashi Masayoshi argues, however, the term zhongmin and the theory of “Three Heavens” (santian 三天) in the text are anachronistic because they did not come into use until the late fourth century. One therefore hesitates to claim this as a Wei-period source.26 No one knows for certain whence Ruan Ji derived his apocalyptic worldview and to what extent he was influenced by any of the texts discussed above, or indeed by Daoism or Buddhism in general. In any event, of the extant texts discussed above, none contained a well-developed personal vision of apocalypse. But one final text that pre-dates Ruan Ji does contain a much more mature articulation of apocalypse. The second century Taiping jing, now considered a foundational text in the Daoist canon, will be discussed in some detail below, and juxtaposed with Ruan Ji’s writings.27 Ruan Ji’s Fantasies of Destruction Description of the strife brought about by a perceived struggle between good and evil in the author’s time is a concomitant of apocalyptic ­Hongjing 陶弘景 (452–536). The former features a Messiah whose character came directly from Buddhism. See Kobayashi, Rikuchō Dōkyō shi, 409–20. Hubert Seiwert devotes a section to the discussion of “Eschatology and Millenarianism” in his book. Relying mainly on studies by Seidel, Bokenkamp, Strickmann, etc., he assigned Taishang dongyuan shenzhou jing as a milestone for eschatological worldview in Daoist scriptures. Seiwert, Popular Religious Movements, 80–86. See also Lee Fong-mao, “Liuchao daojiao de moshi jiujie guan,” 138–45. 26 “Dadao jialing jie,” in Zhengyi fawen tianshi jiaojieke jing 正一法文天師教戒科經 (HY 788), 14a–15a, 16a. Ōfuchi, Shoki no dōkyō, 263–74, 301–4. Kobayashi, Rikuchō dōkyō shi, 328–36. References to dating by Ōfuchi, Chen Shih-hsiang 陳世驤 (1912–71), Yang Liansheng 楊聯陞 (1914–90), and R. A. Stein are given on p. 353, nn. 1–4. See also Yang Lian­sheng 楊蓮生 and Jao Tsung-i, “Youguan ‘Dadao jialing jie’ zhi tongxun,” in LZXE, 162–66. The term zhongmin appears as early as in the Taiping jing, but Wang Ming has proven this part of the book, the “jia” 甲 section of the Taiping jing chao 太平經鈔, to be a forgery. This is because some Daoist religious concepts were not developed until mid to late Jin. See Wang, “Lun Taiping jing chao jiabu zhi wei,” 375–84; also his Daojia he daojiao, 185–86, 201–20, esp. 213. 27 A comprehensive study of the Taiping jing is Kristofer Schipper, “Taiping jing 太平 經,” 277–80.


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l­ iterature.28 Apocalyptic scenes in St. John, for example, mostly pertain to St. John’s own time, written from a first person perspective (i.e. his view rather than a depiction of God’s view). Anna Seidel analyzes the yearning for paradise on earth and for the savior in this way: It is only in times of crisis and bewildering change, when ordinary behavior patterns are disrupted, that these yearnings can come to the surface, often with explosive force, and sweep away whole societies into irrational phantasies and inspire radical and often violent solutions to the problems at hand. When normal ways of coping with crisis have failed, the search for renewal continues on a religious and emotional plane: the messiah appears bringing his good tidings of an imminent earthly paradise.29

Just such explosive violence is presented in a prelude in Ruan Ji’s “Biography of Master Great Man,” and is presented before Ruan’s unveiling of a catastrophic destruction. The prelude, and the biography as a whole, is presented from the first person perspective of the Master Great Man himself. In Master Great Man’s discussion of lice, a locus classicus of Ruan’s caricature of the ‘gentleman,’ we find the first dark shades of ­apocalypse: Moreover, have you not seen a louse residing alone inside a pair of trousers? It flees deep into the seams, hides itself in the floss, regarding it as a propitious residence. As it walks, it dare not leave the edge of the seam. As it moves, it dare not go out of the crotch. It regards this as compliance with the norm. When it feels hungry it bites man, considering him an unlimited source of food. But, when fire rages down from a blazing mountain, when towns and cities are scorched and burnt down, flocks of lice cannot come out, and so they die inside the trousers. You gentlemen residing in the interior of the realm, how do you differ from these lice residing in trousers?30

Although the vitriolic metaphor likening lice to men may seem tongue in cheek to the modern reader, the theme of fiery destruction in this passage is, nevertheless, a serious and unique apocalyptic image. Pointing out the prevalence of the theme of destructive insects in the Han, Qian Zhongshu 錢鍾書 (1910–98) identifies the Zhuangzi, Lunheng, and Taiping jing as

28 R. H. Charles argues that apocalyptic literature “appeared at a time when fear and despair were at their height … there remains a certain prophetic or eschatological element in the book [of Revelation], which arises out of and yet is inexplicable from the events of the present.” Charles, Studies in the Apocalypse, 4–5. 29 Seidel, “Taoist Messianism,” 161. 30 RJJ, 1.166.

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sources for Ruan’s vision.31 The moral of these earlier tales is that a tiny insect may bring down a large creature. This microcosmic discourse points figuratively to a macrocosmic one. The moral in Ruan’s version worked in a different direction, namely, that destruction would occur as guilt accumulated and reached its limit. Likening the State to a man with lice in his pants is reminiscent of the ‘inherited evil’ (chengfu 承負) theory found in the Taiping jing. In the Taiping jing, chengfu is seen as a major cause of world destruction.32 The following quote from the scripture outlines a cosmobiological structure of the universe and its chengfu-oriented cyclic progress: Heaven, Earth, and man are called ‘the Three Sources.’ They rely on each other to stand up. Through reciprocal manifestation they come into being. This is comparable with man having a head, feet, a belly, and a body. When one Source suffers from misfortune and vanishes, all Three Sources will be destroyed and perish. This is like a person without a head, feet, or a belly. When any one component is destroyed, all three meet misfortune. Therefore, when man’s great Dao is badly ruined, Heaven and Earth will be destroyed. When all Three Sources crumble, there will be unceasing darkness and chaos. The myriad things will consequently vanish. When things die out, they cannot be immediately reborn. For how long, then, will they be lost? How long will the extinction take? In alternation, [the universe] arises. In some cases, it is restored at once. But in other cases it takes a long time and suffers great defeat before restoration.33

This anthropomorphized heaven is elaborated in the same chapter: “Heaven and Earth will be greatly pleased to see people possessing the dao and virtue, but will be greatly angered to see people doing evil things.”34 Cosmobiological and correlative theories are not only an obvious tool in Ruan Ji’s prelude to “Biography of Master Great Man,” they are also 31 Qian Zhongshu, Guanzhui bian, 1084. Qian’s sources are TPJ, 45.116–18; Zhuangzi, 24/90–91; Wang Chong, Lunheng, “Qiguai pian” 奇怪篇, 34; “Biandong pian” 變動篇, 146. 32 ‘Inherited guilt’ (or ‘original sin’) is a loose translation of chengfu, an explanation of which is given in the scripture itself, TPJ, 39.70. For a detailed discussion see Petersen, “The Anti-Messianism of the Taiping jing,” 1–19; the rendering ‘inherited evil’ is adopted from Hendrischke, “The Concept of Inherited Evil in the Taiping jing,” 28–29. Unless otherwise stated, my quotations from the Taiping jing are all “layer-A,” a group of texts “containing conferences between a Heavenly Master and his disciple.” See Hendrischke, “Concept,” 3; see also her The Scripture on Great Peace, 343–72, for an explanation of the layers of texts in TPJ. Jens Petersen sums this view up as “anti-messianism”: “According to the Heavenly Teacher the universe does develop cyclically, this cyclic progression is not seen by him as the actual cause of misery.” Petersen, “Anti-Messianism,” 3. 33 TPJ, 92.373. 34 TPJ, 92.374.


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e­ vident elsewhere in his writings as a synthesis of Confucian and Daoist views. In his exegesis on the Zhuangzi, for example, Ruan attacked the wicked by again analogizing the world as a human body: Regarding the various functions of and the proper names assigned to ears and eyes, each organ has its own position but never changes its headquarters. They all comply with the body to which they belong. No one would cut off a hand or a foot. Nonetheless, in later generations those who are fond of novelty do not follow this foundational rule. They care only about their self. Why bother praising others? They harm lives and hurt Nature, making enemies and foes of each other. [This is just like] cutting off limbs; but they feel no pain. When an eye sees an attractive color, it does not care about what an ear hears, nor does it wait for what the mind thinks. The mind hurries to fulfill its desire, without caring about one’s natural disposition. Therefore, when sickness and rashes occur, liveliness comes to an end; when disasters and disorder arise, the myriad things wither.35

As the corporeal entity that is the world continues to be wounded, it will end in destruction. Ruan’s correlative idea was presented in a Confucian framework, i.e., a framework that predicted disaster when literati failed to fulfill their Confucian obligations. Since the major components of the world are Yin and Yang, all that needs be done to keep the world intact is to maintain a good balance between Yin and Yang through morally right action. In his discussion of the Book of Changes, Ruan argued: “As long as Yin and Yang are harmonious, disasters and calamities will cease.”36 A cliché throughout the Han, this view regarded social instability as the main cause of imbalance. More specifically, this was thought to be because: Since the death of the former kings, virtue and laws have been breached and changed. Superiors bully their inferiors, who are then eliminated. Lord and subjects fail to follow the norm. The hard and the soft are not well ordered; heaven and earth thus lose their harmony.37

When this happens, Ruan added, it is the responsibility of the sages, gentlemen, and the ‘great men’ to bring order back to the world. Any sensitive reader of this passage would easily relate this argument to the Sima family’s usurpation of the Wei royal house.38 This topical reading is even more plausible in Ruan’s exegesis of a hexagram: 35 “Da Zhuang lun,” RJJ, 1.142. 36 “Tong Yi lun,” RJJ, 1.99. 37 Ibid., RJJ, 1.110. 38 This is Holzman’s approach to the “Tong Yi lun” and “Yue lun.” See his Poetry and Politics, 93, 96.

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When all Yin are on top of Yang, the strong Yang is superseded. When lord and subject exchange their positions, there will be endless chaos. This is not what one calls the mean. Therefore a gentleman should ponder crises, take precautions accordingly, and make preparations for the defeat.39

This fiery destruction may be likened to the end of a dynasty. In this eschatological scene, Master Great Man analogized himself as a “solar bird” (i.e., a crane), and the ‘gentlemen’ as wrens. The crane can fly at a great height to avoid the fire, hence transcending the ‘recent’ destructions of the Shang, Zhou, and Liu (Han) dynasties. But the wrens fly only among fleabane and mugwort, and are doomed to die as an era ends.40 This fantasy reveals an eager desire long pent up in the poet’s mind. Edinger’s Jungian analysis of the motive behind John’s writing of the Apocalypse may guide us in our reading of Ruan’s fantasy of destruction. John is on the prison island of Patmos … Then we can imagine being “imprisoned” by a very narrow, confining, life-attitude or by one’s neurotic complexes … So right here at the beginning of the scripture, there is the image of “imprisonment.” The net result of that condition psychologically is a build-up of libido which is not permitted its normal, natural, spontaneous discharge. When this happens, the energy can reach explosive proportions; and indeed, the eruption of the numinosum is a psychological explosion. The Book of Revelation is itself a psychological explosion.41

Ruan Ji’s psychological explosion was a reaction to his world, one of the more corrupt eras in Chinese history. The Jinshu records: “Ruan Ji originally aspired to save the world. During the transitional period between the Wei and Jin, there were many troubles in the world and most scholars of renown could not be preserved. From then on Ruan was never involved in the affairs of the world.”42 In the guise of Master Great Man, Ruan starts with an attack on the ‘gentlemen’ by cursing them through the analogue of the lice. Next, Master Great Man uncovers the motive of the recluse. The recluse’s attachment to deeds and his pursuit of fame is exposed, frightening him to death. According to Ruan, the ends of these two types of people (gentlemen and recluses) result from violation of “what is so of itself,” or “self39 “Tong Yi lun,” RJJ, 1.117. This style of hexagram hermeneutics carries on the tradition initiated by the “Attached Words” (“Xici” 繫辭) commentary on the Book of Changes, and therefore demonstrates also Ruan’s affinity with the Daoist apocrypha. I follow Anna Seidel (“Taoist Sacraments,” 291–371) in treating the apocrypha as one important origin of the religion. 40 RJJ, 1.166. 41 Edinger, Archetype of the Apocalypse, 15–16. 42 JS, 49.1360.


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so” (ziran 自然).43 Master Great Man praises the wood gatherer for his “little merit” because he does no harm to “self-so,” and rather pursues the natural way. Ruan Ji’s destruction fantasy was predicated by his reminiscences on the pristine purity of high antiquity. The following passage epitomizes his charges against evil: In the past when heaven and earth were first opened up, the myriad things were born at the same time … Calamities: there was no way to avoid them; riches: there was no need to vie for them … Perhaps without a lord, all things were in a good order; without subjects, myriad matters were well organized … Now you make up musical tones to disorder natural sounds, and create attractive colors to deceive form. By changing appearances on the surface, you hide the reality inside. Possessed by desires you aim to gain much; with deception and hypocrisy you pursue fame. As lordship is established, cruelty arises; as subjects are assigned, harm comes about. You make rituals and rules to trample the lower classes.44

This quote was best summarized by Lu Xun, who defined rituals and rules as having become tools for usurpation.45 The archaic utopia may have been but a veneer. The formation of Ruan Ji’s eschatology illustrates a universal rule in psychoanalytical and religious studies: it is a reaction to the corruption he saw about him and his inability to change it. So the destruction must come, whether as punishment or self-solace: On towering, lofty mountains are emerging black clouds. In shrewd, sweeping-north winds, white clouds disperse. The accumulated water is like ice; its coldness harms people. Yin and Yang are dislocated; the sun and the moon fall. Earth cracks, rocks fissure; forests are liquidated. Fire turns cold, Yang congeals; the chill hurts one’s inner heart. The Yang warmth turns weak and feeble; the dense Yin is depleted. The seas are frozen, stop flowing; cotton floss is broken. Breathing is obstructed; the coldness delivers harm and cracks. Pneumas combine and move in alternation, change like spirits. Coldness leads and heat follows, jeopardizing humans. I play with the True Man, harboring Great Purity. My essence and spirit are unified, as my mind is calm. Coldness and heat will not hurt me—this startles everyone. Worries have no cause to be; my pure breath remains serene. Floating on fog, soaring to the sky, I pass by places at will— 43 The translation “so of itself” for ziran is A. C. Graham’s. See Graham, Disputers of the Tao, 226. 44 RJJ, 1.165, 169–70. 45 Lu Xun, “Wei Jin fengdu,” 502–3.

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To and fro amidst subtlety and wondrousness; the roads are endless. My fondness and joys are not of this world; what then need I struggle for? People are all dying; I alone live. 崔巍高山勃玄雲,朔風橫厲白雲紛,積水若淩寒傷人。陰陽失位日月隤, 地坼石裂林木摧,火冷陽凝寒傷懷。陽和微弱隆陰竭,海凍不流綿絮折, 呼吸不通寒傷裂。氣並代動變如神,寒倡熱隨害傷人。熙與真人懷太清, 精神專一用意平。寒暑勿上莫不驚,憂患靡由素氣甯。浮霧淩天恣所經, 往來微妙路無傾,好樂非世又何爭?人且皆死我獨生。46

Our cosmobiological theory guides us to read these terrifying scenes as the malfunction of a large machine. Yin and Yang cease to work normally simply because their proper balance has been lost. As all suffer and die, Master Great Man leaps with the True Man and departs from the ruins. The destruction is simplified in verse form, the first three lines of which read: As heaven and earth crumble and the six directions 天地解兮六合開  break up, As stars and asterisms fall and the sun and moon 星辰霣兮日月隤  collapse, I leap and ascend—what then remains in my heart? 我騰而上將何懷47

The Great Man in Itineraria 47 Where does Master Great Man go after leaping from the disintegrating world? Ruan Ji’s world-destruction fantasy marked a new development of the motif of ‘roaming transcendents’ (youxian 遊仙) in Chinese literature. His destruction fantasy circumscribed his poetic world within a unitary entity. The protagonist’s customary looking downward at his homeland, a prominent feature in the genre of early youxian literature, had changed lyrically and physically because ‘home’ no longer existed. The “Yuanyou,” a work that Paul Kroll identifies as the “forerunner” of the youxian genre, presents the protagonist’s final struggle, an unbearable renunciation of his homeland.48 Eventually, guided by deities, he submits to the pleasant journey and successfully detaches himself, albeit reluctantly, from 46 RJJ, 1.190. 47 RJJ, 1.177, in which the graph yun 霣 is mis-printed as xiao 霄. See Quan Sanguo wen, 46.9a. 48 Kroll, “On Far Roaming,” 655.


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worldly entanglements. Here is Kroll’s translation of a stanza from this poem: Suddenly glancing down, discerned my homeland of old. My coachman grew wistful, my own heart was grieved. The flank horses looked back and would not go on. Thinking on olden friends and time, pictured in imagination— I sighed long and greatly, then wiped the tears aside. Gliding with effortless ease, I was rising far-removed— But I curbed my will a while and slackened the pace.49

In this genre, the allegorical role of divine ladies such as Fufei 宓妃 and the two daughters of Yao 堯, whom the protagonist courts, is inherently that of the ladies in the “Lisao” repertoire, where they were a trope for the relationship between a loyal subject and his lord. The ‘lady-seeking’ theme had retained this traditional feature until Ruan sloughed it off. Nonetheless, this process of struggle was still central to the plot in his “Rhapsody on Purifying My Thought” (“Qingsi fu” 清思賦), although the protagonist finally did succeed in forgetting about the divine lady he met on his imaginary journey and moved on.50 The progress of this “mystical purgation,” to use Holzman’s term, has been completely removed from Master Great Man’s encounter with divine ladies, which is presented only as a moment of pleasure.51 This transcendence is accomplished by an eschatological view. Rather than bearing detachment from his homeland, Master Great Man roams in constant disagreement with and disengagement from the world of violated norms and values. This motif is a common theme in religion where human ignorance, insatiable desires, and evil deeds bring about a revelation or a visitation of providence and a final purification. In Zoroastrianism, as a parallel instance, the term frashokereti means renovation of the universe achieved by saoshyants (saviors), the last of whom will come when moral degeneration reaches its limit. This cyclic structure is similar to the idea of kalpa discussed above.52 In Hinduism, the idea of the ‘wheel of time’ is expressed in the words of Krishna, the eighth avatar of Viṣṇu, to Arjuna near the end of one such cycle: 49 CCBZ, 5.172; Kroll, “On Far Roaming,” 663. 50 RJJ, 1.35, 38–39. The inherited “Lisao” mode of lyricism fills the fu with allegories. One cannot help interpreting the ambiguous imagery as a means of remonstrating with the ruler. Chen Bojun suggests that the fu might have been an indirect remonstrance to Emperor Ming. RJJ, 1.40, n. 6. 51 RJJ, 1.181–82. 52 Clark, Zoroastrianism, 65–66.

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Time and I, wreaker of the world’s destruction, matured,—[grimly] resolved here to swallow up the worlds. Do what you will, all these warriors shall cease to be, drawn up [there] in their opposing ranks.53

A certain extreme of accumulated guilt marks a transitional point to the next kalpa. At this point, all except the selected ones such as Arjuna’s older brother Yudhishthira will be destroyed by time and by Krishna himself. This kind of formula resembles Master Great Man’s statement: “people are all dying and I alone live.” Although Ruan Ji might not have had a complex religious thought in mind, this eschatological view reflects the apocalyptic pattern evident in several world religions, as illustrated above.54 This motif is also in accord with Ruan’s traditionalist views on how to maintain a stable society. His radical reaction to the wicked world reveals a wish to eradicate evil. Therefore Master Great Man repeatedly calls for the restoration of the ancient world, a ‘new’ world order.55 The only means to do this is to destroy the current one. Unlike in the Buddhist or the Daoist cyclical cosmological systems, Ruan Ji envisioned only one complete cosmic cycle.56 The process of destruction ended when Master Great Man arrived at the ‘formless’ realm. The idea of rebirth of the world is an important view in the religious text Taiping jing, which indicates that each ending of the world, the ‘formless’ 53 The Bhagavad-Gītā, 11/32, trans. Zaehner, The Bhagavad-Gītā, 311. Zaehner’s reason for not using “except you” but “do what you will” to render ṛte tvām is that “at the end of the Epic it is only Yudhishthira who, because of his blameless life, ascends to heaven without having suffered bodily death. Arjuna, like his three other brothers, falls by the way.” On the concept of time cycles in Buddhism, see also Newman, “Eschatology in the Wheel of Time Tantra,” in Lopez, Buddhism in Practice, 284–85. On the concept of yugas in Hinduism, see Hinnells, Hinduism, 32. 54 Qian Zhongshu argues that the letter Master Great Man received from “someone” (huo 或) was a summary of Fu Yi’s letter to Ruan. RJJ, 1.163–64, 73–76. In this letter Fu criticized Ruan: “Now you argue that life is but labor, but you do not kill yourself to practice your theory …” Qian points out that Ruan Ji should have been able to respond to Fu Yi’s puzzle by employing the Buddhist theory of ‘Two Satya (Truths)’ 二諦, similar to Zhuangzi relativism. This supports the view that Ruan’s religious thought might not have come from Buddhism. See Qian, Guanzhui bian, 1083–84. 55 RJJ, 1.182, 186, 192. In his recent study of flood myths, Mark Edward Lewis sums up some common features of flood myths in world literature. Two of them fit well in Ruan Ji’s destruction fantasy. First, “In the story in Genesis, the flood ends with the establishment of a new relationship between God and his creation, and the institution of new rules for the human race.” Second, “the flood was a form of punishment or revenge.” Lewis, The Flood Myths of Early China, 5–7. 56 There is much debate concerning when, in the period of division, the Buddhist and Daoist cosmologies started to merge into a single ‘Buddho-Daoist’ synthesis. See Zürcher, “Prince Moonlight,” 10, who argues that genuine synthesis occurred in the fourth century ad.


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stage, is also a beginning because the new world has already been taking form therein—an idea that is found in Laozi 25.57 The same system might be at work in Ruan Ji’s worldview, but his work is evidently devoid of this resurrecting cosmic cycle. Regarding final judgment, however, Ruan Ji’s motif is the same as the Taiping jing’s theory of ‘inherited evil.’ Both agree that, as Barbara Hendrischke assumes: “the problem faced nowadays is more complex than can be mended by a simple return to the past.”58 This view best explains Ruan Ji’s destruction fantasy that emerged after he realized the impossibility and futility of returning to high antiquity. Man, Time, Spirit, Cosmos Discussion and presentation of terrestrial and cosmic histories as a cycle largely emerged from the two major Chinese religions. In early times, it was thought that the process from creation to the verge of destruction was manipulated by heaven. Visitations were frequently recorded and analyzed in the Spring and Autumn period. The most typical prophetic interpretations of natural phenomena are the Gongyang 公羊 commentaries on the Chunqiu and the “Monograph on the Five Agents” 五行志 in the Hanshu. However, global destruction was too novel a concept to be ‘recorded’ in these sources; perhaps this vision could not mature until it was catalyzed by religious thought. The history of the cosmos from inception to destruction was not presented systematically in Ruan’s writing. But his persona Master Great Man was pivotal in this discourse: Master Great Man is an old man—no one knows his surname or by-name. He gives illicit accounts of the beginning of heaven and earth and histories of the Divine Agriculturalist (Shennong 神農) and Yellow Emperor 黃帝. No one knows how many years he has lived.59

This piece owes its mythic nature to the perspective of the author of the Zhuangzi inner chapters. The following lines by Ruan are simply a different presentation of the relativist view in Zhuangzi 5/7: 57 TPJ, 109.678: “In the beginning, before heaven and earth were separated, there was no top, no bottom, and no three lights from the sun, the moon, or stars. The top and the bottom were open but dark, without division and pattern. Although there was no division or pattern, in the midst of it there were naturally top, bottom, left, right, outside, inside, Yin, and Yang, one against another, yet neither differentiated nor parting.” 58 Hendrischke, “The Concept of Inherited Evil in the Taiping jing,” 14. 59 “Daren xiansheng zhuan,” RJJ, 1.161.

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If we observe things from their differences, beard and eyebrows bear different names. Once we start discussing them as a category, they are both hair on the human body … If we see things from a broad perspective, the ultimate end has no exterior (wuwai 無外). If we analyze things from a narrow perspective, they all have a limit.60

The wuwai perspective forms a trans-universal worldview in Master Great Man,61 who argues thus in a debate with the ‘scholar-gentlemen’ (shi junzi 士君子), strict followers of rituals and rules (lifa 禮法): In the past, when heaven was on the bottom and earth on top, things inverted and reverted and had not been stabilized and secured; how could you have practiced regulated norms without breaching [today’s] rules and models? Heaven’s movements were a result of the earth’s. When mountains collapsed rivers rose; when clouds dissipated quakes caused damage; and when the Six Directions lost their normal pattern, how could you have walked on a ground chosen [according to rituals]?62

With this apparently unprecedented worldview, Master Great Man shares his vision of a cycle of creation and destruction. This vision well reflected Ruan Ji’s lament, “how can rituals be set up for me?”63 This ambivalence was evident because social norms had been distorted, so that a renewal was an imminent need. To Ruan Ji, this renewal had to be executed by a divine force: spirit (shen 神). In philosophical Daoist cosmology, ‘self-so’ (ziran) is regarded as the first cause. But Ruan Ji added spirit on top of ziran, and regarded it 60 “Da Zhuang lun,” RJJ, 1.142. Cf. Zhuangzi, 33/70: “The biggest has no exterior; it is called the big One. The smallest has no interior; it is called the small One.” 61 This worldview is also found in Liu Ling 劉伶 (ca. 221–ca. 300), who “takes heaven and earth as a house, house and chamber as trousers and clothes,” and “considers the universe narrow.” SSXY, 23/6; WX, 47.8a, Li Shan’s commentary quoting Zang Rongxu’s 臧 榮緒 (415–88) Jinshu 晉書. Master Great Man also appears in Liu’s “Eulogy on the Virtue of Wine” (“Jiude song” 酒德頌): “He takes heaven and earth as one morning, ten thousand years as one moment. His travel is in no rut and leaves no footprint. His abode has no rooms or huts. He takes heaven as a curtain, earth as a mat. He goes wherever he wants.” JS, 49.1376; WX, 47.8a; SSXY, 4/69, quoted in Liu Xiaobiao’s commentary. Therefore, the image of Master Great Man must have been Ruan and Liu’s topic for discussion. This view is also seen in Fukunaga, “‘Daijin fu’ no shisōteki keifu,” 120–21. 62 RJJ, 1.165. Holzman, Poetry and Politics, 188, defines these elements as “things Zhuangzi … knew nothing about; things that, under the influence of Buddhism, were to become part of later religious Daoist tradition.” As to what kind of Buddhist influence Ruan Ji was under, however, Holzman gives no details. 63 SSXY, 23/7. See also 23/2, 8, 9, 11 for other examples of Ruan’s failure to comply with rituals. Lu Xun’s argument that Ruan Ji and Ji Kang were both the most pious followers of the Confucian norms has long been the standard view. See his “Wei Jin fengdu,” 502–3.


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as the “root of self-so,” decisive force of first cause.64 The meaning of spirit is twofold, in Holzman’s definition: “Shen plays an extremely important role in religious Daoism because the word is used for ‘god’ as well as for the ‘spirits’ that reside in the body.”65 This idea is illustrated in Ruan’s “On Understanding the Zhuangzi”: Man lives between Heaven and Earth. He is a manifestation of ziran, and of the accumulated breath of Yin and Yang. His nature is the correct nature of the Five Agents. His feelings are the changed desires of the wandering soul. His spirit is the means by which Heaven and Earth rule.66

The possessive pronoun “his” at the beginning of each of the last three lines, added to fit the context, is crucial for our understanding of Ruan’s cosmobiology. His persona the Ultimate Man 至人 exemplifies the proper way of living out one’s life: The Ultimate Man remains serene in life and silent in death. A serene life causes no emotional confusion. A silent death keeps his spirit from wandering. Thus, he remains unchanged during the changes of Yin and Yang, and heaven and earth. Alive, he lives out his span; dead, he follows the proper course. His heart and breath are well managed; [his being] is not diminished within the circle of birth and death.67

Although Ruan Ji never explained the role of the Ultimate Man, the firewood gatherer in the “Biography of Master Great Man” seems to fit this category because he could remain aloof from worldly struggle in the corrupt system. Through this character, Ruan indirectly criticized worldliness.68 Unlike the Ultimate Man, Master Great Man could live more than one kalpa to see the transformation of the world. The death of the Ultimate Man marked a return to Nature, whence he attained his spirit. Despite its political overtones, his role shares a significant similarity with Stoic cosmology. The views of Marcus Aurelius (121–80) on the relationship between the individual and the cosmos (or simply the god) may be taken as representative of Stoic cosmology: “You came into the world as a part. You will vanish in that which gave you birth, or rather you will be taken up into its generative reason by the process of change.”69 In other words, 64 Laozi, ch. 25; RJJ, 1.185. 65 Holzman, Poetry and Poetics, 190. This is a common understanding in early Daoist meditation. See Tim Chan, “Yixiang feixiang,” 224–28. 66 RJJ, 1.140. 67 RJJ, 1.144. 68 RJJ, 1.176–77. Baba Hideo, “Gen Seki no ‘ji’ ‘sei,’” 28. 69 Aurelius, Meditations, 4/14, trans. Farquharson, 20.

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as William L. Davidson puts it, “The world is a macrocosm … to which man is exactly correspondent as microcosm. The Deity, therefore, is the soul of the world, and inhabits it as Divine Reason …”70 This kind of correlative theory may be used to understand Ruan Ji. The “Attached Words” commentator on the Book of Changes saw spirit, a mystical force, as the first cause.71 This force is invested in the human body and in Later Han philosophy is termed ‘spiritual breath’ 神氣, ‘essence breath’ 精氣, and ‘primordial breath’ 元氣. Cultivation of ‘essence, breath, and spirit’ 精氣神 became a major topic in the longevity practices in early Daoist texts such as the Zhouyi santongqi 周易參同契 (The Three-in-One Tally of Book of Changes), Taiping jing, and Xiang’er 想爾 commentary on the Laozi. This last source, for instance, defines: “As essences are gathered spirit is formed,” “as spirit is formed qi comes”; “As essences are accumulated spirit is formed; when spirit is formed one attains immortality.”72 Such beliefs and practices are recorded in both the “Biography of Master Great Man” and the Jinshu biography of Ruan Ji. The former has a line that reads: “My essence and spirit are concentrated in one, because I evenly use my volition” 精神專一用意平. The latter contains the term “The technique of allowing one’s spirit to perch and leading one’s breath” 栖神導氣之術.73 This is one of the subjects Ruan is recorded as having consulted Sun Deng 孫登 the recluse about. Correlation is elaborated upon in the following passage from the Xiang’er text, which properly elucidates Ruan Ji’s apocalypse: Thus people should accumulate meritorious actions so that their essences and [internal] spirits communicate with heaven. In this way, when there are those who wish to attach and injure them, heaven will come to their aid. The common run of people are all straw dogs; their essences and spirits are unable to communicate with heaven. The reason for this is that, as robbers and thieves with evil intentions dare not be seen by government officials, their essences and spirits are not in touch with heaven, so that when they meet with dire extremities, heaven is unaware of it.74

70 Davidson, The Stoic Creed, 90. 71 神無體而易無方。陰陽不測之謂神。 “Xici shang” 繫辭上, in Zhouyi zhengyi, 7.77c, 7.78c. 72 LZXE, 9, 10, 12. In his discussion of the immortality discourses in Taiping jing, Harada Jirō presents abundant sources surrounding this topic. See his “Taiheikyō no seimeikan,” 71–83. 73 RJJ, 1.190; JS, 49.1362. SSXY, 18/1. 74 LZXE, 8, trans., Bokenkamp, Early Daoist Scriptures, 82.


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The lines from Ruan Ji quoted above hint at a common exoteric practice termed shouyi 守一, generally rendered as ‘guarding the One,’ a technique for attainment of immortality. According to the Taiping jing: Man has a body that is constantly combined with essence and spirit. If one has no essence and spirit, one dies. If one has them, one lives. The stage at which Essence and Spirit are constantly combined makes One. With it, one lives forever. A constant worry is that essence and spirit will disperse, and not be gathered within one’s body … ‘Guarding the One’ refers to the combination of the True. One is born with sufficient essences and spirit. Once one can guard them and prevent them dispersing, one can transcend the secular world (dushi 度世), become parents of good citizens, see Lord of Great Peace, and be favored with divinity.75

This theory is elaborated in the Xiang’er commentary on the Laozi that, according to Bokenkamp, defines the One as a “physico-spiritual wholeness, the state in which a human being rejoins the Dao through reintegrating its pneumas through the body.”76 This is because the One, which the Xiang’er commentator equates with the Dao, does not reside in the human body but is constantly on the move between heaven and earth, going through the human body.77 The Taiping jing’s claim that the selected ones will be advantaged by “becoming parents of good citizens” echoes its cosmogonic dualism. Those who succeed in ‘guarding the One’ and attain immortality, when all others die, will be favored with divinity and selected as ‘seed people’ to go forth and multiply as the world is renewed. If we apply this theory to Ruan Ji’s writings, was Master Great Man not one of those selected to survive cosmic destruction? The pursuit of longevity by means of physical-spiritual or alchemical practices in the late Han formed a zeitgeist or, in Jungian terms, the collective unconsciousness. It is only speculative to claim any of these religious sects as the exact source of Ruan Ji’s apocalyptic vision, but it cannot be denied that his thinking was influenced by this cultural trend. 75 TPJ, 716. The origin of ‘guarding the One’ has been a matter of dispute. Tang Yongtong argues that it was an idea imported from Buddhism. Tang, Han Wei liang Jin Nanbeichao Fojiao shi, 71–79. Yoshioka Yoshitoyo provides details of the practice from early sources and questions Tang’s argument. See his “Taiheikyō no shuichi shisō,” 491–500. Although the Shuowen jiezi glosses shi 世 as “thirty years,” the phrase dushi has its derivation from the “Yuanyou” in Chuci, meaning, according to Hong Xingzu, leaving the secular world and becoming a transcendent. Xu Shen 許慎 (d. ca. 120), Shuowen jiezi, 3A.4a; CCBZ, 5.171, Hong’s commentary. 76 Bokenkamp, “Traces of Early Celestial Master Physiological Practice,”46. 77 LZXE, 12; trans., Bokenkamp, Early Daoist Scriptures, 89.

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The True Man, Messiah, Millennium The absence of a messiah and a new world in Ruan Ji’s writings may well be crucial in disqualifying him as a religious writer in the Judeo-Christian or Buddho-Hindu sense of the term, but the worship of Laozi that prevailed in Han-Wei must have had a significant impact on him. The theological belief in Yin/Yang balance, as discussed in chapter one, was a central theme in many Han works. It eventually became doctrine for intellectual and religious sects that were in frantic competition with each other.78 Worship of the apotheosis of Laozi, who was seen as a god-messiah, thrived in the competing religious sects. Fragments of a scripture from one such sect, entitled Scripture of Laozi in Changes and Trans­ formation (Laozi bianhua jing 老子變化經), survived at Dunhuang.79 This religious trend is attested to in the work of Ruan Ji and his contemporaries. The key term, ‘change and transformation’ (bianhua), is found in Ruan’s “Eulogy on Laozi” (“Laozi zan” 老子贊) as a description of Laozi, who was able to “drift about in Grand Purity” 飄颻太素 and “return to the Void and Genuine” 歸虛反真.80 Despite the meager information on the complex religio-intellectual background of the Han-Wei period, Donald Holzman assumes that the archetype of Ruan Ji’s Master Great Man, who also appears in “Yonghuai” number 73, might have been a philosophical version of this apotheosized Laozi.81 Speculative as this view may be, intellectual and religious trends 78 This kind of competition is revealed in the Xiang’er commentary on the Laozi and the Zhouyi santongqi. The former claimed to be the orthodox sect whose mission was to eradicate the “evil texts” 耶文 that deceived people. LZXE, 23. The latter claimed that “My words are not randomly made; / My theory does not arise for nothing,” and criticized the heretical sects in order to attract believers. See Peng Xiao 彭曉 (mid tenth century), Zhouyi santongqi fenzhang tongzhenyi 周易參同契分章通真義 (HY 1002), 1.6a, 27a, 2.20a. Wang Ming, “Zhouyi santongqi kaozheng” 考證, in his Daojia he daojiao, 241–42, 272–73; 280–81. The best Western-language introduction to Wei and his work is Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, vol. 5, Pt. 3, 50–75. 79 Dunhuang manuscript S. 2295. Studies of this scripture include Yoshioka, “Rōshi henka shisō no seisei” 老子變化思想の生成, in his Dōkyō to bukkyō, vol. 1: 2–29; Seidel, “The Image of the Perfect Ruler in Early Taoist Messianism,” 216–30, and Seidel, La Divinisation de Lao Tseu dans le Taoisme des Han, passim. 80 “Laozi zan,” RJJ, 1.193. 81 Holzman, Poetry and Politics, 185–88, quoting Seidel and Yoshioka as support. ­Holzman’s reading of the hero in “Yonghuai” no. 73 arises from his agreement with Huang Jie’s interpretation of the same poem. See Huang, Ruan Bubing Yonghuaishi zhu, 87. By juxtaposing the attributes of the Laozi of the Late Han and those of Master Great Man, Yoshioka treats the former as the archetype of the latter. Yoshioka, “Rikuchō jidaini okeru Rōshi henge shisō no tenkai,” in his Dōkyō to bukkyō, vol. 1: 48–51. Seidel’s argument is in her La Divinisation de Lao Tseu, 88–89. It is generally agreed that the archetype of


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have an inevitable impact on individuals. Wei Emperor Cao Pi 曹丕 (187– 226) strictly prohibited unorthodox offerings and worship in an edict issued in 224, but he had once made a concession to the populace by ordering the renovation of a Laozi temple in 222. The worship of Laozi was so popular that Cao’s intention to rank Laozi as a “worthy man” 賢人 under Confucius the “holy man” 聖人 came to nothing.82 Emperor Ming’s (r. 227–39) permission for the Celestial Sect to set up an autonomous system (231), which was a result of his affinity with the son-in-law of Zhang Lu 張魯, the sect’s leader, was directly responsible for the resurgence of the prestige of the sect, one of whose scriptures was the Xiang’er commentary on the Laozi, which will be discussed below.83 It may be wrong to read Master Great Man as a popular religious sect, but the trisyllabic poem at the end of this work points to a religious context. The interactions of the True Man, who appears in the refrain of the poem, with Master Great Man present a Daoist cosmology and cultivation practices, such as proper control of the vital breath and the pursuit of longevity.84 Yoshioka Yoshitoyo believes the archetype of Master Great Man in Ruan Ji’s work to be a religious figure, most likely Laozi.85 Like most other scholars, however, Yoshioka draws no distinction between the Great Man and the True Man in Ruan’s work, where the latter is depicted as a mentor of the former.86 The arrival and departure of the True Man Master Great Man was Sun Deng, whom Ruan Ji visited at Mount Sumen 蘇門山, where Master Great Man is also recorded as having left a letter. “Daren xianshang zhuan,” RJJ, 1.162. The JS, 49.1362, records that “Upon Ruan’s return from the trip he wrote his ‘Biography of Master Great Man’ … It is indeed his original interest, which comes from within.” See also SSXY, 18/1, Liu Xiaobiao’s commentary, quoting Zhulin qixian lun 竹林七賢論. Ruan actually saw Sun Deng on two occasions. See Tim Chan, “Ruan Ji’s and Xi Kang’s Visits to Two ‘Immortals,’” 141–65. 82 See Yoshioka’s discussion in “Rikuchō jidai ni okeru Rōshi henge shisō no tenkai,” 48–49, quoting Daoxuan 道宣 (596–667), Xu Gaoseng zhuan 續高僧傳, T. 2060.50. 630c19–631a4; “Wei xia Yuzhou cishi xiu Laozi miao zhao” 魏下豫州刺史脩老子廟詔, in Hong Gua 洪适 (1117–84), Lixu, 4.5a/b. 83 “Dadao jialing jie,” 16b–17a. Ōfuchi, Shoki no dōkyō, 301–2. Zhang Lu, alone or in collaboration with the Hanzhong community (as Bokenkamp suggests), is generally accepted as the author of the Xiang’er commentary. LZXE, 4; Bokenkamp, Early Daoist Scriptures, 58–61. 84 Holzman, Poetry and Politics, 188. The poem is in RJJ, 1.191: 真人遊,駕八龍,曜日 月,載雲旗……真人來,惟樂哉﹗時世易,好樂隤,真人去,與天回…… ; Holzman’s trans­lation is in his Poetry and Politics, 204–5. 85 Yoshioka, “Rōshi henge shisō no seisei,” in his Dōkyō to bukkyō, vol. 1: 50. 86 RJJ, 1.190–91. Wen Yiduo equated the terms zhiren, shenren, and zhenren in the Zhuangzi as “all variant names for transcendent beings (xianren 仙人).” Wen argued that cremation was an important means of acquiring eternal life, and that this idea came from the Qiang 羌 tribe in central Asia. See Wen, “Shenxian kao” 神仙考, 154–62.

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marks the prosperity and the decline of the world. He descends during the Millennium but leaves the world at the end of a kalpa, beckoning Master Great Man to join him. The role of the True Man here echoes that of Taishang laojun 太上老君 (an appellation of Laozi) who “from dawn to dusk travels within the Four Seas and beyond the Eight Culminations,” and “visits the mortal realm to select ‘seed people.’”87 As a comparison, the following heptasyllabic poem from a Wei-dynasty scripture delineates the image of a messiah in the voice of Celestial Master Zhang: Heaven and earth were first chaotically formed; its breath was like mist; The four seasons and five agents rotate, following one another. When heaven and earth meet and combine there will be no people. Stars become inverse and disorderly—an omen for people. … I run my breath to the eight culmens and return in cycles, Seeing the hundred clans, Chinese and non-Chinese, all vanishing. I see no “seed” of people but corpses. Following what you pursue with heart and mind, you will waste essence  and spirit. Your five viscera will become empty and you will turn into a corpse person. Your fate will be irredeemable as it will be in the possession of underworld  officials. Your form will have joined the group of ghosts, entering into the yellow  spring. Think and correct with penitence, and listen to my words. You will ascend, pass through [destruction], and become an immortal  being. 天地混籍氣如烟。四時五行轉相因。天地合會無人民。星辰倒錯為人 先。……走氣八極周復還。觀視百姓夷胡秦。不見人種但尸民。從心肆意 勞精神。五臟虛空為尸人。命不可贖屬地官。身為鬼伍入黃泉。思而改悔 從吾言。可得升度為仙人。88

Dating from the same period of Ruan Ji’s life, this poem shares astonishing similarities in form and eschatological views with Ruan’s poem at the end of his “Biography of Master Great Man” (quoted above).89

87 “Dadao jialing jie,” 15b; “Yangping zhi” 陽平治, in Zhengyi fawen tianshi jiaojieke jing (HY 788), 20b. 88 “Tianshi jiao” 天師教, in Zhengyi fawen tianshi jiaojieke jing, 19b–20a. 89 RJJ, 1.190. Despite the change of rhyme in Ruan’s poem, the end of each line is a rhyming word. This is typical in heptasyllabic poems of the Han. The earliest example of this poetic tradition is the Boliang 柏梁 style. A contemporary parallel is the “Yan’ge xing” 燕歌行 by Cao Pi, XQHW, 394–95.


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The image of the True Man first appeared in the Zhuangzi and underwent changes in the Han. The True Man was a product of the corrupt times when virtuous and capable people were depressed. The True Man is defined in the Zhuangzi as: 1) a rank below the Divine Man (shenren 神 人) but above the Ultimate Man (zhiren 至人); 2) one proficient in the theory of ‘equalizing things’ (qiwu 齊物); 3) one who can transcend the world.90 In early translations of Buddhist texts, the term carried new meanings, such as a missionary receiving instruction from the Heavenly Master (as in Taiping jing),91 one who makes and consumes the elixir of longevity (as in Zhouyi santongqi), and as a rendering of ‘Arhat.’92 These roles of the True Man formed new complexities in the Eastern Han. Its meaning as the avatars of the True Man, such as Master Red Essence 赤精 子, Guan Bo 管伯, and Liu Ying 劉嬰, had the greatest impact on politics. These new rulers were assigned by Heaven to overthrow the current sovereignty.93 The origin of these avatars was Laozi, who is recorded in the Scripture of Laozi in Change and Transformation as having made appearances throughout history and is described thus: “Nowhere does he practice [no deeds]; there is nothing that is beyond his ability to achieve. He is not scorched in fire; he feels no cold in water.”94 These attributes were taken directly from Zhuangzi 6/5. The role of the True Man in Ruan’s writings differs from that of a messiah. He is merely a messenger of Heaven and salvages from destruction those who have succeeded in nourishing morality and life, such as Master Great Man. Unlike its messianic antecedents, there was no intent in the “Biography of Master Great Man” to overthrow a dynasty. That Ruan’s apocalypse ended at the formless stage may reflect a traditional world90 Nomura, “Shinjin ron,” 8. The most up-to-date Western-language study of zhenren as depicted in Zhuangzi is Coyle, “On the Zhenren,” 197–210. See Zhuangzi, 6/4–9 for definitions of zhenren. 91 Translated as Perfected Men (usually in plural form), the zhenren appeared as the Master’s disciples. See Hendrischke, The Scripture on Great Peace, 18, 42–43. 92 The earliest borrowing of zhenren as a Chinese rendering of Arhat is in Tan Guo 曇 果 and Kang Mengxiang 康孟詳 (both E. Han dyn.), trans., Zhong Benqi jing 中本起經, T. 196.4.160c19–25, in which both zhenren and daren are used as two different figures. Jan Nattier remarks that before Zhi Qian’s time the term zhenren did not refer to a particular individual. See her “The Ten Epithets of the Buddha,” 213–14. 93 HS, 75.3192; HHS, 7.293, 11.473. Seidel, “Perfect Ruler,” 217, 219. Gan Zhongke 甘忠可 (d. ca. 22 bc) was the first to maintain that “the House of Han was approaching the end of a world period. Therefore the Celestial Emperor had sent down an immortal … to renew its Heavenly mandate.” See Seidel, “Imperial Treasures and Taoist Sacraments,” 303–4. 94 Laozi bianhua jing, S. 2295.

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view. One may venture that this ending might have been Ruan’s way of avoiding calling for a new ruler, most likely another Taishang laojun avatar, which would have cost Ruan his life in the same way that Gan Zhongke and Guan Bo were executed and the Yellow Turban rebels were eradicated.95 Ruan’s success in preserving his life by “making no oral comments on people and matters” bolsters this hypothesis.96 The World of the “Yonghuai” Poems A religio-philosophical interpretation of Ruan Ji’s cosmology offers insights for a new reading of his series of poems under the title “Yonghuai,” whose themes have been considered highly ambiguous since the time of Yan Yanzhi 顏延之 (384–456), Zhong Rong 鍾嶸 (d. ca. 518), and Liu Xie.97 This ambiguity arose from Ruan’s fear of getting himself into trouble if he expressed his political views openly. Traditionally, these poems have been given topical readings as references to specific political events that Ruan witnessed.98 This practice reached new heights in Chen Hang’s 陳 沆 (1786–1826) anthology Allegorical Readings of Selected Shi Poems (Shi bixing jian 詩比興箋), in which Chen gave definite historical references for most of the thirty-eight poems by Ruan that he selected.99 Speculation is unavoidable. However, in terms of I. A. Richards’s metaphor theory, the tenor cannot be identified by means of its vehicle, ‘tenor’ being the intended meaning and ‘vehicle’ the term employed.100 Inter­estingly, a unique aesthetic appeal is achieved by Ruan’s “speaking in a mysterious manner” 發言玄遠 when mystery (or ambiguity) is employed as a principle in poetry composition.101 Yan Yanzhi’s comment that Ruan “­constantly 95 For Taishang laojun as a messiah during the late Han, see Seidel, La Divinisation, 80–82. The fact that Laozi in Taiping jing and Celestial Master sects were not hailed as an emperor was the main reason for their unbroken lineage after the fall of the Han. Other sects were obliterated because their motive was to overthrow the Han. See Seidel, “Perfect Ruler,” 227–28. Seidel also points out that the Taiping jing was “so intimately associated with rebellion that the fledgling Daoist church of the third and fourth centuries … hid it away.” See her “Imperial Treasures and Taoist Sacraments,” 337. 96 JS, 49.1361. 97 WX, 23.2b, quoting Yan’s commentary; WXDL, 2.67; Zhong Rong, Shipin zhu, 1.15–16. 98 Huang Jie, Ruan Bubing yonghuaishi zhu, collects commentaries, most of which are allegorically oriented. 99 Chen Hang, Shi bixing jian, 2.40–51. 100 Richards, Principles of Literary Criticism, 217. 101 JS, 49.1361. Zong-qi Cai has this to say: “Ruan Ji’s poems become meaningful only through their play of indeterminacy, their life ends the moment it is bound to a fixed


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laments over his worries about life” provided a guideline to the reading of Ruan’s poetry. After Yan, readers grew conditioned to taking the ambiguous images that recur in the “Yonghuai” as symbols for Ruan’s personal worries and lamentations over “human frailty.”102 These symbolic images acquire new meaning and construct pictures once they are examined from the perspective of an apocalyptic worldview. Although no one knows how much autobiographical history there may be in Ruan Ji’s writings, his “Biography of Master Great Man,” according to Qian Zhongshu, is a direct response to Fu Yi’s 伏義 criticism of Ruan.103 If we hunt for an authorial subject in Ruan’s writings, the image of Ruan that may be constructed is a complex unity comprising the unexpressed ‘I’ in the “Yonghuai,” combined with the xiansheng or Master Ruan 阮子 that occurs in his more philosophical writings such as “On the Classic of Music” (“Yue lun” 樂論) and “On Understanding the Book of Changes” (“Tong Yi lun” 通易論) and the subjects that appear in his “Biography of Master Great Man.” The subjects in the latter which all may be read as representing Ruan Ji himself may be identified as Ruan the narrator, Master Great Man himself, and the divinity whose deeds are in turn manipulated by the narrator.104 Observed from the point of view of this composite authorial subject, the “Yonghuai” poems describe Ruan’s detachment from a corrupt, moribund world. Master Great Man and the “master” in “On Understanding the Zhuangzi” are depicted in lofty positions, like riding on clouds or on the wind. This is significant because in the roaming motif of the “Lisao,” such an elevated position is always reserved for transcending beings. Gods and goddesses inhabit the same position in the Greco-Roman epic tradition, where they do their work on mortals from above. This lofty position guarantees the invincibility of Ruan Ji’s protagonist. Unlike the meaning.” Cai, “Juan Chi,” 148. 102 Zong-qi Cai employs the term “frailty” as a main theme of the “Yonghuai.” Cai, “Juan Chi,” 157–63. 103 Qian Zhongshu, Guanzhui bian, 1083–84. 104 The idea that a divinity may be manipulated by the narrator is not only in line with the ‘inherited guilt’ theory in Taiping jing, but is also a general rule in the interpretation of writings of many world religions. Tyconius and Augustine’s interpretation of the delayed millennium is about church history, focusing on Donatists being persecuted by the Romans. It is not the end of the world but the struggle between good and evil. Paula Fredriksen, “Tyconius and Augustine on the Apocalypse,” 20–37; McGinn, “Revelation,” 531. As to the beliefs about Christ’s second coming taking place before or after the millennium, there were two sects called the ‘premillennialists’ and the ‘postmillennialists.’ They had different interpretations of God’s will. See Newport, Apocalypse and Millennium, 12–13.

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persona in “Lisao” who feels sadness for his state when looking down, Master Great Man uses this angle as a vantage point from which to observe the world. The persona of “Yonghuai” achieves an isolation of the authorial persona, and an absolute separation from those who are doomed to vanish. The recurring images of other characters usually appear as contemptible and are depicted with patent sarcasm: “scholars on the road” 塗上士, “the eloquent ones” 工言子, “the heroic and eminent ones” 雄傑士, “those from rural villages” 鄉曲士, “sycophants and evil ones” 佞邪子, and so forth.105 In Ruan’s apocalyptic worldview, these other people fall into the category of ‘scholar-gentlemen.’ The unenlightened also include the ranks of Ruan himself in his younger years, such as the teenaged authorial voice in some of the “Yonghuai,” as well as some of his ideal heroes.106 These other characters are presented disdainfully with criticism, irony, regret, or self-mockery, because they live but an ephemeral life and are destined to vanish as the wicked world ends. Another prominent feature in the “Yonghuai” is the image of the setting sun, which has been unanimously read as a representation of the decline of the Wei dynasty.107 This topical reading may also be understood together with the destruction theme discussed above. As the world ends, according to Master Great Man, the sun, the moon, and the stars will all fall. This mass destruction is a result of the imbalance of Yin and Yang. When these stop working in harmony, everything freezes and is broken. As the Taiping jing says: “In a state suffering from evilness and decline, the Three Lights all die out.”108 Ruan Ji’s frequent use of the setting sun image was a departure from the earlier poetic tradition. Generally setting suns in other poetry are interpreted as either a simple indication of the lateness of time,109 or an embodiment of the virtue of Shun 舜, an ancient ruler who cared much about the people’s lives—hence it was a symbol of a good ruler. But in Ruan Ji’s writing it is often a symbol of declining political power. For example, in “Yonghuai” poem 8, when the solar heat dies out, the birds feel cold and huddle together, not knowing what to do next.110 The 105 “Yonghuai,” nos. 20, 25, 38, 43, 56, in RJJ, 2.282, 293, 319, 332, 356. 106 “Yonghuai,” nos. 5, 15, 39, 61, in RJJ, 2.222, 265–67, 321, 365. 107 See, for example, “Yonghuai,” nos. 8, 18, 21, 24, 26, 32, 71, 75, 80, 81, in RJJ, 2.235, 276, 285, 292, 295, 310, 384, 392, 401, 403. 108 TPJ, 92.369. The Three Lights are lights of the sun, the moon, and stars. 109 Takahashi, “Gen Seki ‘Eikaishi,’” 6–11. 110 Kōzen Hiroshi applies relevant historical backgrounds to his comparison of Ji Kang’s use of bird images and Ruan Ji’s. He argues that the two poets express their


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­ ersona in this poem chooses not to fly with the yellow swan that symbolp izes those who pursue honor and wealth by transferring their loyalty to the new ruler. The best choice is, rather, to fly with the less conspicuous swallows and sparrows, keeping one’s desire under control to avoid destruction.111 When the world perishes, others meet their end, but Master Great Man survives. In his analysis of a group of poems on immortality, Holzman focuses on the poem’s shared theme of temporal transcendence. This idea evolved into a theme of escapism in later poems, “for in our world no one is safe.”112 Ruan’s world-destruction fantasy enables us to come to a new understanding of this theme of escapism. As the corrupt world is doomed to vanish, nothing will last, except Master Great Man, who can leap upward to flee the destruction. This idea gives rise to the most common flying imagery in the “Yonghuai” series, as seen in poems 10, 12, 21, 23, 24, 28, 30, 35, 36, 40, 43, 45, 49, 56, 65, 68, 72, and 81. These poems share a formulaic structure: the poet describes the corruption of the world from which the persona can find no way out. In the end, he conceives of transcendence as a bird or a transcendent being such as Wangzi Qiao 王子喬 as the final solution. This transcendence allows the persona to live through a number of shi (世, ‘generations’) or renounce the perverted world (e.g., poems 22, 42, 50, 52, 58, 68), just like Master Great Man, who witnesses the birth of the world and numerous generations. Poem 73 is usually read as a piece on Master Great Man: At the crossroads, there is an eccentric man. A yellow steed carries his cases. In the morning he sets out from the wilds of Yingzhou; At sunset he lodges at [Mount] Bright Radiance. Often, he makes trips to places beyond the Four Seas. With feathers and wings he himself flies and soars. He abandons the affairs of this world— Why would they deserve his concern? Once he departs, he leaves forever and cuts himself off. In a thousand years, he will be seen again.

橫術有奇士 黃駿服其箱 朝起瀛洲野 日夕宿明光 再撫四海外 羽翼自飛揚 去置世上事 豈足愁我腸 一去長離絕 千載復相望113

a­ spiration and frustration through the image of a bird in flight. Ruan’s bird, however, reveals a sense of depression and anxiety. See Kōzen, Ransei o ikiru shijintachi, 116–22. 111 “Yonghuai,” no. 8, RJJ, 2.235. This poem is interpreted as about Wei officials who attached themselves to the Sima family in the period immediately preceding the fall of the Wei dynasty. See commentaries quoted by Chen Bojun and Chen’s criticism of these views in RJJ, 2.237–40. 112 Holzman, Poetry and Politics, 152–66. 113 RJJ, 2.388.

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Holzman, following Huang Jie, identifies the hero here as Sun Deng.114 Therefore, according to our theory that Ruan’s writings contain a number of different authorial voices, this character is also Master Great Man and Ruan Ji himself. Interestingly, in poem 41, Ruan Ji casts doubt on immortality. This marks his sudden, reluctant return from his imaginary journey. The poet’s soul gains pleasure from soaring but the pain he suffers upon his return is usually doubled. Ruan Ji seemed to realize this, so he makes Master Great Man’s travel endless and free of entanglement. This happiness is ecstatic and rapturous but as soon as this veneer is removed his sorrow is deepened. This can be seen as a figurative interpretation of the tale about Ruan Ji crying as his chariot came to a dead-end in his search for alternative paths.115 Poem 41 in the series is the best quote with which to end this chapter, because it tells of Ruan’s motive behind his world-destruction fantasy and finally leads his reader (and himself) back to reality. The heavenly net reaches the four wilds. My six pinions are folded rather than extended. Sojourners flow along with the waves—in flocks and  swamps, Up and down, like ducks and gulls. There is no expected span of life and destiny. There is unpredictable [misery] at dawn and dusk. Those transcendent beings stop growing old. They nourish the mind, attaining emptiness. Roaming levitated between clouds and the sun— So far and distinct from the world’s roads. Honor and fame, I do not treasure. Pleasing sound and colors, why would I be amused? Before long I return [in vain] from a quest for the  immortal elixir. My wish to become a transcendent being remains  unfulfilled. Such a dilemma is indeed bewildering. Constantly I vacillate.

天網彌四野 六翮掩不舒 隨波紛綸客 汎汎若浮鳧 生命無期度 朝夕有不虞 養志在沖虛 列僊停修齡 飄颻雲日間 邈與世路殊 榮名非己寶 聲色焉足娛 採藥無旋返 神仙志不符 逼此良可惑 令我久躊躇116

This poem serves nicely as a conclusion to this chapter. The poet undergoes an itineraria in his imaginative pondering upon life and now returns to reality. The poem is also a dialogue with his predecessors, the late Han poets who penned the “Ancient Poems,” in which they espouse a carpe 114 Holzman, Poetry and Politics, 185–88. 115 JS, 49.1361; SSXY, 1/18, quoting Sun Sheng’s 孫盛 (ca. 302–73) Weishi chunqiu 魏氏 春秋. 116 RJJ, 2.326–27.


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diem view.117 Ruan Ji echoes them with a sweeping denunciative attitude towards the idea of pursuing honor, fame, and immortality, thus emphasizing the definitive break he made with the poetic tradition he inherited. His apocalyptic worldview was not novel in intellectual history, but was surely unprecedented in literary creation.

117 “Gushi shijiu shou” 古詩十九首, poems 4, 7, 11, 13, 15. WX, 29.3a–7a.

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Tao Qian on His Deathbed Imagined journeys through the heavens were composed mostly in the manner of fu during the Han times, but in the Wei-Jin period poets started to write about itineraria in shi poetry. Both Ruan Ji and Tao Qian contributed to this new trend. But unlike Ruan Ji, who imagined surviving apocalyptic destruction, Tao Qian often portrayed himself drinking, and sometimes wrote about his own imagined death. Neither Ruan nor Tao would likely have been considered a religious writer by people in their own time, but one can never dismiss the religious thought in their literary works or the impact of religion on them.1 In Tao’s case, his family’s faith in Celestial Master Sect Daoism and his intimate association with members of Mount Lu Sect Buddhism have invited speculation on religious terminology and belief in his writing.2 According to dynastic histories, which relied almost solely upon Tao’s writings as their source, Tao Qian seems to have been uninterested in public service from an early age. He allegedly took low-ranking functionary positions solely to relieve the pressure of earning a livelihood. 1 One reason these two men would not likely have been considered religious writers within contemporary religious communities is their drinking. There are “thirty-six losses” in drinking and getting drunk, according to An Shigao 安世高 (Han), trans., Foshuo fenbie shan’e suoqi jing 佛說分別善惡所起經, T. 729.17.518b24–518c29. Drinking is one of the “five precepts,” according to Chi Chao 郗超 (336–77), Fengfayao 奉法要, HMJ, 86b3–6. The prohibition of drinking in religious Daoism is found in TPJ, 69.269; Taiwei lingshu ziwen xianji zhenji shangjing 太微靈書紫文仙忌真記上經 (HY 179), 2a; trans., Bokenkamp, Early Daoist Scriptures, 363. 2 Chen Yinke argues that Tao Qian’s thought has nothing to do with Buddhism, only with Daoism. He terms Tao’s philosophy “Neo-Naturalism” 新自然. Chen, “Tao Yuanming zhi sixiang,” 197–202. One study worth mentioning is Bokenkamp, “The Peach Flower Font,” 65–77, in which the author finds a Daoist origin for the imagined Utopia Tao described in his “Taohuayuan ji” 桃花源記. The Daoist scripture that records a similar realm is the Taishang Lingbao wufujing xu (HY 388). Donald Holzman strongly objects to Chen’s view and defines Tao as a Confucian. See his “A Dialogue with the Ancients,” 89–91. Among the studies of Buddhist influence on Tao was an early attempt by Yoshioka Yoshitoyo, in his “Kikyorai no ji ni tsuite,” 25–44. In his discussion of two lines from Tao’s “Coffin Puller’s Song,” Shimura Ryōji finds one of its four origins as being Huiyuan’s 慧遠 (334–416) “Ming baoying lun” 明報應論, HMJ. See Shimura, “Tō Enmei ‘si qu he suo dao, tuo ti tong shan e’ kō,” 209–13. A thorough study of Tao’s Buddhist thought is Ding Yongzhong, Taoshi Foyin bian.


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Immediately before his final retirement from official service in 405, Tao was local governor of Pengze 彭澤 (in present-day Jiangxi province) for some eighty days. In his testimony, we are repeatedly told that taking office was a violation of his disposition, though we often need to read these kinds of pronouncements in terms of their literary function, rather than as historical fact.3 According to the Songshu, in response to a request for an audience with a district magistrate, which required that he be decently attired, Tao stated: “I won’t bend my back before a country bumpkin in order to receive five pecks of grain [as salary].”4 By contrast, however, there is in his extant works—most of which were written after his retirement—a serious concern about dying without achievement. Tao’s detachment from official life threw into question the standard path to success and illustrated an alternative means of achieving an immortal name. The pursuit of immortality had found a new interpretation nearly two hundred years earlier in the first Wei-dynasty emperor, Cao Pi’s emphasis on writing, which helped establish the potential of establishing one’s fame through the writing brush, and transmitting it to later generations.5 The attitudes that underlie this effort to achieve immortality through writing mark a radical departure from the theme of carpe diem presented in the works of late Han poets, as well as in Tao’s own earlier writing, superficially observed. This authorial motive is most apparent in his elegy on his own death and the “Coffin Puller’s Songs” (“Wan’ge” 挽歌) he wrote for himself. We observe in these texts Tao’s efforts to trace a spiritual ancestry among poor yet upright persons who preceded him, as well as his efforts at conversation with the ancients and with future generations. This way of reading these poems allows us to not only refute the traditional view that Tao wrote his dirges to himself on his deathbed, but also to radically revise the received view of Tao’s morbid agony in these macabre works. In these works, Tao turned the playful self-mourning tradition into a vehicle for autobiography. The genre features of these playful dirges are so easily overlooked that scholars tend to treat these works literally. By tracing these genre features and comparing Tao’s attitudes towards death as revealed in his other writings, we are in a much better position to understand Tao’s authorial intentions. 3 “Guiqulaixi ci,” TYMJ, 5.159. 4 Songshu, 93.2287. 5 Cao, “Lunwen” 論文, Quan Sanguo wen, QSG, 8.11a. Tao’s authorial intentions have been a focus in recent studies of the poet. See for example Owen, “Self’s Perfect Mirror,” 71–85; Ashmore, The Transport of Reading, 3.

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Drinking, Transcending Unlike Ruan Ji, who is said to have used drinking as a means of avoiding trouble but rarely wrote on this topic in his poems, Tao Qian portrayed himself drinking as a means of transcending the passage of time.6 The following poem, “Drinking Alone in the Incessant Rain” (“Lianyu duyin” 連 雨獨飲), is most typical of this kind of imaginary journey, for which drinking was a medium: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16.

The cycle of a life moves inevitably towards extinction— Since antiquity there has been common agreement. [If] Chisongzi and Wangzi Qiao were once in the world, In which quarter do they now reside? The old man gives me wine, Saying: “Drink it and you’ll attain immortality.” I try the first goblet, hundreds of conditions stay away. After a few more, I suddenly forget about heaven. How [far] away is heaven from this [place]? Following the genuine, it doesn’t matter what goes first. Cranes among clouds have wondrous wings. They return from the Eight Outsides in a trice. Since beginning this solitary life, Diligently have I worked for forty years. My physical form and frame have long since changed. My heart remains the same—what then need I say?

運生會歸盡 終古謂之然 世間有松喬 於今定何間 故老贈余酒 乃言飲得仙 試酌百情遠 重觴忽忘天 天豈去此哉 任真無所先 雲鶴有奇翼 八表須臾還 自我抱茲獨 僶俛四十年 形骸久已化 心在復何言7

The persona’s attitude toward transcendence is controversial because what he might have said in the last line remains unexpressed, but the message about time is quite clear.8 This message is that immortality may only be reached through intoxication and via the mythological crane, which transcends time and space. But the persona finds this intoxicating vision of immortality impossible to grasp upon returning to soberness. The last couplet is a revised reference to Zhuangzi 2/20, namely, the great 6 Han, “Ruanshi wujiu shuo,” 154–64. Xiao Tong 蕭統 (501–31) observed that drinking in Tao’s poetry served only as the vessel into which he might “entrust traces” (jiji 寄跡) of his personality, by which later generations of readers could know him. “Tao Yuanming ji xu,” TYMJ, 10. 7 TYMJ, 2.55. 8 Holzman points out this ambiguity but argues that Tao “is uninterested in contemplating the absolute dao.” See his “A Dialogue,” 94. Accepting the variant 形神久已死﹐在 心復何言, Xiaofei Tian argues that the last couplet references the ideal stage of “forgetting himself” in the Zhuangzi. With this reference, Tian reads the variant zaixin in the last line as: “it is all in the mind,” or “it all depends on the mind.” See Tian, Tao Yuanming and Manuscript Culture, 142. For Tian’s Zhuangzi-inspired interpretation of this poem see pp. 133–42.


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sorrow of having one’s heart die, along with the decay of one’s physical form. If we equate the authorial persona to the historical Tao Qian, Tao is claiming that by choosing to live as a recluse he has maintained his “unchanged” (cf., lines 14–15) ethical position, and his remaining great concern is that the passage of time will bring his mortal life to an end. His pursuit of a writing career best answers the question in the closing line: how others will know his unchanged heart becomes the purpose of composition.9 As the forty years of his solitary life have sped by unheeded, the poet feels it is time he was vindicated, reasoning that his motive is his “incapability of accepting traditional [Confucian] value in toto,” as Donald Holzman puts it.10 The extant works of Tao reveal his efforts to preserve for himself a legacy of high morality that he could transmit to later generations. His writings also reveal an attempt to place himself in the roster (drafted by himself) of worthies, from antiquity on. In this sense, Tao was in the category of recluses who pursued renown, and would thus have fallen prey to Ruan Ji’s attack.11 One notable aspect of recent studies of Tao Qian is that he is no longer held in such high esteem. Some scholars are offended by perceived blemishes in Tao’s character (his veiled pursuit of fame, in particular). From a literary perspective, however, this debate on his motives and personal values is not always fruitful; rather, it is of more import to explore how Tao achieved literary fame in part through the creation of dialogues with himself, with his readers, the ancients, and with generations to come. The two sets of writings I examine most closely below are three poems under the title “Coffin Puller’s Songs” and a prose piece called “A Sacrificial Elegy for Myself” (“Zijiwen” 自祭文; hereafter “Elegy”). The “Coffin Puller’s Songs” and the Yuefu Tradition The songs below are quoted from Tao’s collected works. The English translations are by A. R. Davis, with modifications.12 “In Imitation of Coffin Puller’s Songs”


9 Davis, T’ao Yüan-ming, 1: 1, 4; Hightower, The Poetry of T’ao Ch’ien, 4; Owen, “The Self’s Perfect Mirror,” 81, et passim. 10 Holzman, “A Dialogue,” 97. 11 Ruan, “Daren xiansheng zhuan,” RJJ, 1.173. 12 TYMJ, 4.141–42; Davis, T’ao Yüan-ming, 1: 172–73, 2: 131.

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[Poem One]

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

Where there is life, there must be death; An early end is no shortening of one’s destiny. Last evening, like others, I was a man; This morning I am in the register of ghosts. My soul pneuma, sundered, where has it gone? My withered frame is laid in the ‘hollow tree.’ My dear children, seeking their father, cry; My good friends, caressing me, weep. Gaining and losing, I’ll know no more; Right and wrong, how should I realize? After a thousand autumns, ten thousand years, Who will know my honor or disgrace? I only regret that when I was alive, In drinking wine I constantly did not get enough.

有生必有死 早終非命速 昨暮同為人 今旦在鬼錄 魂氣散何之 枯形寄空木 嬌兒索父啼 良友撫我哭 得失不復知 是非安能覺 千秋萬歲後 誰知榮與辱 但恨在世時 飲酒恆不足

[Poem Two]

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

In the past I had no wine to drink; Only now do they fill cups for me in vain. In the spring, wine dregs form; When may I taste it again? Tables of offerings are piled before me; Relatives and friends weep at my side. I would speak but my mouth is without sound; I would see but my eyes are without sight. Before, I slept in a high hall; Now I dwell in the ‘village in the wilds.’ [In the wilds no one sleeps; To the limit of one’s gaze it is simply desolate.] One morning I went out of the gate; But a return there can truly never be.

在昔無酒飲 今但湛空觴 春醪生浮蟻 何時更能嘗 肴案盈我前 親舊哭我旁 欲語口無音 欲視眼無光 昔在高堂寢 今宿荒草鄉 [荒草無人眠 極視正茫茫] 一朝出門去 歸來良未央

[Poem Three]

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

The grass in the wilds, how vast and vague; The white aspens too are bleak and bemoaning. In the harsh frost, in the ninth month, They escort me out of the distant suburbs. On every side no human dwellings, Only the high tombs tower up. The horses neigh to the sky for me; The wind itself makes moan for me. When the dark house is once closed. For a thousand years no more morning. For a thousand years no more morning. Wisdom and intelligence are of no avail.

荒草何茫茫 白楊亦蕭蕭 嚴霜九月中 送我出遠郊 四面無人居 高墳正嶕嶢 馬為仰天鳴 風為自蕭條 幽室一已閉 千年不復朝 千年不復朝 賢達無奈何

102 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18.

chapter four Those who till now escorted me, Return, each to their own home. My relatives may have further grief; The others for their part are already singing. When a man has gone in death, what more to say? They have given his body to become one with the hillside.

向來相送人 各自還其家 親戚或餘悲 他人亦已歌 死去何所道 託體同山阿

The title “Ni Wan’ge ci” 擬挽歌辭 (“In Imitation of Coffin Puller’s Songs”) falls under the category of “Wan’ge” in Yuefu shiji 樂府詩集, and as “Wan’ge shi” 詩 in Wenxuan.13 The variant titles have invited speculation on the circumstances of composition of this cycle of songs. Zhao Quanshan 趙泉山 (Song dyn.) was an early critic who argued that the title in Tao’s collected works was incorrect: The couplet that reads “In the harsh frost, in the ninth month, / They escort me out of the distant suburbs” (poem 3, ll. 3–4) coincides with the line that reads “The correspondence of the pitch-pipe is wuyi” in [Tao’s] “A Sacrificial Elegy for Myself.” Hence, it is inferred that the “Coffin Puller’s Songs” were written on the evening Tao was dying. For this reason, when [Prince] Zhaoming [i.e., Xiao Tong] included [one of these] Song[s] in his Wenxuan, he titled it “‘Coffin Puller’s Song’ by Tao Yuanming.” Without knowing this, however, the compiler of Tao’s collected works titled [these songs] “In Imitation of Coffin Puller’s Songs.”14

Along with most pre-modern and modern scholars, Zhao maintained that Tao wrote the “Coffin Puller’s Songs” on his deathbed.15 We shall revisit the improbability of this stance below. Regarding the title, we can first observe that, in fact, there is no such yuefu title, “Ni Wan’ge ci.” Zhang Yugu 張玉穀 (1721–80) also explained that as long as the songs were written about Tao’s own death, it is not feasible to refer to them as ‘imitations.’16 Another rationale for the presence of the word “imitation” in the title is that it may well indicate that the songs were written according to the conventions of a particular poetry-writing practice. The Jin period saw the beginning of the convention of writing as ‘imitation.’ Fu Xuan 傅玄 (217–

13 YFSJ, 27.400–1; WX, 28.28a, in which only Poem 3 is collected. 14 Li Gonghuan, Jianzhu Tao Yuanming ji, 4.26a; also in Tao Yuanming juan, vol. 2: 311. 15 This common agreement is seen in most chronologies of Tao’s life. See, for example, Tao Shu, “Tao Jingjie nianpu kaoyi,” and Gu Zhi, “Tao Jingjie nianpu,” in Xu Yimin, Tao Yuanming nianpu, 113, 212–13. Gu’s essay is in a collection of chronologies of Tao, most of which date the “Elegy” to the year of Tao’s death. This treatment of both the “Coffin Puller’s Songs” and the “Elegy” as Tao’s last works is also accepted by the Japanese scholar Nishioka Hiroshi, in his Chūgoku koten no minzoku, 115, 134, 156, 176. 16 Zhang, Gushi shangxi, 14.323.

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78) is commonly identified as an initiator of this convention.17 Lu Ji 陸機 (261–303) stood out in this new vogue. He indicates clearly in his poems which ancient poem he is imitating. Likewise, there are nine poems under the title “Imitation of the Ancient Poems” (“Ni gu” 擬古) in the collected works of Tao Qian, the presence of which strengthens the argument that Tao was observing a similar compositional convention in those poems as well as in the cycle quoted here.18 Like Lu Ji’s poems, Tao’s “Imitations of the Ancient Poems” are also imitations of the “Ancient Poems,” nineteen of which were later selected in the Wenxuan.19 The titular word ‘imitation’ guides us to read his poems within the poetic tradition of allegory making, one that is drastically different from the compositional style evident elsewhere in his corpus.20 Strictly speaking, any poem written under an existing yuefu title is an imitation, since there is no such rubric as ‘imitation’ in the Yuefu shiji.21 All words that indicate ‘imitation,’ such as dai 代 and ni 擬 that prefix a poem’s title, were removed when such a poem was collected in Yuefu 17 Owen, The Making of Early Chinese Classical Poetry, 261. Nicholas Williams calls Fu “the inventor of imitation poetry proper.” See his “The Brocade of Words,” 105. 18 TYMJ, 4.109–22. 19 Yuan Xingpei, Tao Yuanming ji jianzhu, 4. 316. Davis argues that Tao’s poems “are actually not imitations of particular models, that is to say Tao was writing after an imagined rather than an actual poem.” Davis, T’ao Yüan-ming, 1: 119. Owen’s view is that “this title (i.e., ni gu shi in Tao’s corpus) was used by later editors for certain of Tao’s untitled poems—after the meaning of ni had broadened.” In the case of Lu Ji, whose imitations of the “Ancient Poems” reveal discrepancies from the originals, Owen argues, “an alternative hypothesis is that Lu Ji was working with versions of the ‘old poems’ that were slightly different from those that survived in the manuscript tradition in the early sixth century.” Owen, The Making of Early Chinese Classical Poetry, 260–61, n. 4, 263. 20 The “Nineteen Ancient Poems” have long been given topical readings. Early examples are the “Six Officials’” commentaries on the Wenxuan. For other such commentaries see, for example, work by Liu Lü 劉履 (1317–79), Wu Qi 吳淇 (1615–75), Zhang Geng 張庚 (1681–1756), etc. collected in Sui, Gushi shijiushou jishi. In Tao’s corpus, only one other poem is written according to the style of (a slightly modified) yuefu title. Guo Maoqian treated Tao’s “Yuanshi Chudiao shi Pang Zhubu, Deng Zhizhong” 怨詩楚調示龐主簿鄧治 中 as a yuefu title, renaming it “Yuanshi” 怨詩, and putting it under the same category. YFSJ, 41.612. Quoting Wang Sengqian’s 王僧虔 Jilu 技錄, Lu Qinli explained that “Yuanshi” was in the Chu tune, and that it was a variant name of “Yuan’ge xing” 怨歌行. TYMJ, 2.49–50, n. 1. 21 Hans Frankel states: “After the abolition of the Music Bureau in 6 B.C. … these new song words were either fitted to existing tunes or created with new music; their titles were sometimes traditional, sometimes new. Hence there are four kinds in this category: (1) old titles, old tunes, new words; (2) old titles, new tunes, new words; (3) new titles, old tunes new words; (4) new titles, new tunes, new words.” See Frankel, “Yǜeh-fǔ Poetry,” in Birch, Studies in Chinese Literary Genres, 69. Xiao Difei categorizes three ways to write poetry to a given tune, according to the relationship between content and tune title. See his Yuefu shici lunsou, 81–84.


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shiji. When Xiao Tong included Tao’s poem in Wenxuan, he provided “Wan’ge” as a category separate from the category he called “Yuefu.” Tao might have titled his own works “Ni Wan’ge ci” and, presumably, this title was kept intact in Yang Xiuzhi’s 陽休之 (509–82) edition, on which later editions depend. Attributes of the genre such as a suite comprised of three poems in the tune of “Coffin Puller’s Songs” and other formal features further illustrate the fact that Tao’s works were written in emulation of the yuefu tradition.22 Having established that Tao’s “Coffin Puller’s Songs” were written according to yuefu conventions, our next textual issue relevant to how we interpret the poems concerns the sequence of Tao’s “Coffin Puller’s Songs.” In Yuefu shiji, poem 3 is placed at the beginning of the suite.23 This discrepancy can be elegantly explained by analyzing the use of anadiplosis, a form of poetic repetition.24 Take Lu Ji’s “Coffin Puller’s Songs” as an example: How clamorous is the funeral hall— Lamenting sounds are seething in the middle chamber. In the middle of the chamber, please stop your clamor, And listen to my poem on “Dew on the Shallot.”

殯宮何嘈嘈 哀響沸中闈 闈中且勿喧 聽我薤露詩25

The term zhongwei (“middle chamber”) at the end of line 2 is repeated at the beginning of line 3 as weizhong (“in the middle of the chamber”), and

22 Ikkai Tomoyoshi convincingly argues from fragments that the earliest work under the title of “Coffin Puller’s Song(s)” by Miao Xi 繆襲 (Wei dyn.) should have comprised three poems. Ikkai, “Bunsen Bankashi kō,” 21–22. 23 YFSJ, 27.400–1. 24 Frankel, “Yǜeh-fǔ Poetry,” 78, 86–87, briefly discusses the feature of repetition and gives examples of what he treats as “incremental repetition.” Anadiplosis is a variation of repetition. Chinese terms such as chanlian 蟬聯 and dingzhen 頂真 loosely denote various kinds of repetition, including anadiplosis. Chen Wangdao, Xiucixue fafan, 220–23. Tao Qian habitually practiced anadiplosis in his poetry. Here are some examples, with anadiplosic elements underlined: 採菊東籬下,悠然見南山。山氣日夕佳,飛鳥相與還。 相見無雜言,但道桑麻長。桑麻日已長,我土日已廣。 道狹草木長,夕露沾我衣。衣沾不足惜,但使願無違。 幽室一已閉,千年不復朝。千年不復朝,賢達無奈何!

See “Yinjiu,” no. 3; “Gui yuantian ju,” no. 2; “Gui yuantian ju,” no. 3; “Wan’ge,” no. 3 (no. 1 in YFSJ, see above); TYMJ, 3.89, 2.41, 2.42, 4.142. 25 YFSJ, 27.399. Variants are found in LJJ, 7.82. “Dew on the Shallot” is a yuefu title for coffin puller’s songs. For explanations of the coffin puller’s songs based on YFSJ, 27.396, see Birrell, Popular Songs and Ballads, 96–98.

tao qian on his deathbed


marks the transition to new content.26 Likewise, line 11 in Tao’s “Coffin Puller’s Song” number 3 is a repetition of line 10 and leads to a new stanza with a new rhyme. As a generic feature of “Coffin Puller’s Songs,” repetition is an aid in establishing the sequence of Lu Ji’s series.27 Lu’s three “Coffin Puller’s Songs” have the same sequence in Wenxuan and Yuefu shiji, but poem 2 is placed at the end in the Song edition of Lu Ji’s collected works.28 The sequence in the latter edition seems the most reasonable. Lu’s work begins with the voice of a third person, who performs the poem on “Dew on the Shallot” at the funeral, and whose lament runs in anadiplosis: I have utterances but these utterances get stuck in my  throat. I shed my tears and my tears are a torrent.

含言言哽噎 揮涕涕流離

Translated here as “torrent,” the term liuli 流離 starts the next poem (according to the Song edition): In a torrent, [my thoughts] go to my relatives and friends. 流離親友思 In depression, my spirit lies uneasy. 惆悵神不泰

This alliterative binome carries on the anadiplosis. It describes both the tears pouring down and the agonized thoughts, shifting from the point of view of a third person to that of the dead, and from the scene of the funeral hall to that of the procession making its way to the graveyard. The last poem continues the scene from a first-person perspective.29 26 The term weizhong is, however, given as zhongwei in TPYL, 552.8b, and Lu Shiheng ji, 7.4a. 27 Although there is no textual evidence for this feature in the “Wan’ge” by Miao Xi, repetition appears to be formulaic in the “Wan’ge” by Fu Xuan. This feature is seen at the beginning of the first two poems: Poem 1: Poem 2: Poem 3:

人生尠能百﹐哀情數萬端。 人生尠能百﹐哀情數萬嬰。 靈坐飛塵起﹐魂衣正委移。

The fact that only fragments of Poem 3 are extant and the beginning is missing may explain its inconsistent, non-formulaic beginning. XQHW, 565–66. All fragments of Fu’s poems are collected from Beitang shuchao, 92.13a/b, 94.7b. Ikkai Tomoyoshi has analyzed the issue of ‘inconsistency,’ pointing out that the irregular rhyme scheme in Poem 3 might have been the result of the poem being mistranscribed. Ikkai, “Bunsen Bankashi kō,” 21–22. 28 Lu Shiheng ji, 7.4a–5a. The same sequence is found in the sixteenth century compilation. Feng, Gushi ji, 34.3a/b; XQHW, 5.653–54. 29 Fragments of three “Wan’ge” collected in TPYL, 552.8b, make a different threepoem suite. Fragments from poem 1 and from poem 3 in its entirety appear after the fragments from Lu’s poem called “Shuren wan’ge ci” 庶人挽歌辭 (XQHW, 654–55) in


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The linking function of liuli can be used as a formulaic rule to analyze the structure of Tao Qian’s “Coffin Puller’s Songs.” In poem 2, lines 11 and 12 that are found only in Yuefu shiji have been identified as interpolations, because they are repeated at the beginning of poem 3.30 Nonetheless, in prosodic terms, only with these two lines can the structure of the three poems be seen. The anadiplosis links the poems in a circular cycle. Poem 3 begins with the words “wild weeds” 荒草 and the last couplet ends with the word “dead” 死. Poem 1 begins with “dead” and ends with the words “drinking wine” 飲酒, which appear, reversed, at the beginning of poem 2 as “having no wine to drink” 無酒飲. Near the end of this poem, we find “wild weeds,” the words that are also used to initiate poem 3. These words also work as anadiplosis within the poem, linking lines 10 and 11. For those participating in the funeral procession, singing may begin with any of the three poems, and continue on with the cycle in the order presented above.31 The “Elegy” and Anticipation of Death An apparently minor textual issue in Tao’s self-dedicated “Elegy,” previously overlooked by scholars, will prove to be important in our discussion here. It is a variant character that forces us to drastically revise the common assumption as to the date of the elegy’s composition. Before we proceed with a discussion of this issue, let us look at the text, accompanied by Davis’ translation, again, with minor modification:32 “A Sacrificial Elegy for Myself” 自祭文

which all fragments from Tang and Song sources have been collected. The early eighthcentury encyclopedia, Chuxue ji, 14.363, quotes some lines from poem 1 and some from poem 3. 30 Wang Shumin, Tao Yuanming shi jianzheng gao, 4.500. Davis, T’ao Yüan-ming, 2: 131, agrees that these lines are interpolations. Giving no source for Tao’s three “Wan’ge,” Ōyane Bunjirō points out the repetition structure of these poems. See his “Enmei no banka,” 128. 31 Birrell’s translation of wan’ge is “Hearse-pullers’ Songs.” Popular Songs, 96. T. C. Russell’s is “Coffin-Pullers’ Songs.” See his “Coffin-Pullers’ Songs,” 105. This notion is based on the idea that the songs were written for hearse-pullers to sing while they were working, as proposed by Cui Bao 崔豹 (fl. 290–306), relevant discussion of whose Gujin zhu 古 今注 is quoted in YFSJ, 27.396. Poems 3 and 1 are quoted in TPYL, 552.8b–9a. Although this source does not offer concrete evidence to support my argument, the sequence of these two poems is the same as in YFSJ. 32 TYMJ, 7.196–97; Davis, T’ao Yüan-ming, 1: 240–43.

tao qian on his deathbed [Preface]

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

107 [序]

The year is dingmao [427] 歲惟丁卯 When the correspondent pitch-pipe hits wuyi. 律中無射 The weather is cold and the nights are long. 天寒夜長 The atmosphere is mournfully moving; 風氣蕭索 The wild geese are on their migratory journey; 鴻雁于征 Plants and trees turn yellow and shed their leaves. 草本黃落 Master Tao is about to leave the “traveler’s inn” 陶子將辭逆旅之館 To return forever to his original home. 永歸於本宅 His old friends are sad with grief for him; 故人悽其相悲 They will join in his funeral feast this very evening, 同祖行於今夕 Making offerings of fine vegetables and 羞以嘉蔬 Presenting libations of clear wine. 薦以清酌 The faces he sees already grow dim; 候顏已暝 The sounds he hears grow fainter. 聆音愈漠 [Elegy]


Alas, how sad! Vast is the Great Mass! Remote is high Heaven! It gives birth to the Myriad Things, And I had the good luck to become a man, From the time that I became a man, I have met with a paucity of fortune. My ‘basket and gourd’ were often empty; Linen clothes were placed out for winter. Yet full of joy I drew water from the valley; Walking with a song, I bore firewood on my back. Secluded and somber is my rustic home, Where I have spent my nights and days.

嗚呼哀哉 茫茫大塊 悠悠高旻 是生萬物 余得為人 自余為人 逢運之貧 簞瓢屢罄 絺綌冬陳 含歡谷汲 行歌負薪 翳翳柴門 事我宵晨

[rhyme break]

14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24.

As spring and autumn alternated, I always worked in the garden. Now I weeded; now I hoed; So crops grew, so they flourished. I delighted myself with books; I sang to my seven-stringed lute. In winter I basked in the sun. In summer bathed in the spring. My labors were without excessive toil; My mind was constantly at leisure. I rejoiced in my destiny, accepted my lot,

春秋代謝 有務中園 載耘載耔 迺育迺繁 欣以素牘 和以七弦 冬曝其日 夏濯其泉 勤靡餘勞 心有常閑 樂天委分


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25. And so lived out my ‘hundred years.’


[rhyme break]

26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37.

These ‘hundred years’! All men begrudge them. They dread to be without achievement; They covet the days and grudge the seasons; Alive, they seek to be prized by their age; And, after death, also to be remembered. Ah! I have gone my solitary way; I have always been different from this. Since favor is not a glory to me, How could mud blacken me? Remaining loftily in my poor cottage, I drank to the full and composed poems.

惟此百年 夫人愛之 懼彼無成 愒日惜時 存為世珍 歿亦見思 嗟我獨邁 曾是異玆 寵非己榮 涅豈吾緇 捽兀窮廬 酣飲賦詩

[rhyme break]

38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45.

I understood my destiny, I knew my fate, But who can be quite unconcerned? Yet now I am thus to be transformed, I can suffer it without complaint. My life has approached its hundred-year span; My person has yearned for contented retirement. From old age I have come to my end; What more could I desire?

識運知命 疇能罔眷 余今斯化 可以無恨 壽涉百齡 身慕肥遁 從老得終 奚所復戀

[rhyme break]

46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55.

Cold and heat have passed away; Not to be will differ from being. My wife’s relatives come in the morning; My close friends hurry in the evening. They will bury me in the wilds, To give rest to my soul. Somber is my journey! Desolate is my tomb door! Luxury made the Song minister seem immoderate;33 Frugality brought ridicule to Wangsun.34

寒暑逾邁 亡既異存 外姻晨來 良友宵奔 葬之中野 以安其魂 窅窅我行 蕭蕭墓門 奢恥宋臣 儉笑王孫

33 Huan Tui 桓魋 (fl. 500 bc), Minister of War of the Song state, had spent three years building a sarcophagus for himself but had not completed the work. Hearing this during his visit to Song, Confucius criticized Huan for his extravagance. See Liji zhengyi, 8.62a. 34 On his deathbed, Yang Wangsun 楊王孫 (early second century bc) bade his sons to bury him naked so he could return to his ‘genuineness’ (zhen 真). See HS, 67. 2907.

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[rhyme break]

56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64.

Into emptiness I shall have perished; Regrettably, I shall be remote. With no mound raised or tree planted, The days and months will pass away. Since I prized not praise before, Why should I care to be sung about after death? Man’s life is truly hard; What can he do about death? Oh! Alas!

廓兮已滅 慨然已遐 不封不樹 日月遂過 匪貴前譽 孰重後歌 人生實難 死如之何 嗚呼哀哉

The year dingmao in line 1 in the preface has been regarded as genuine, as Tao is believed to have written this elegy on his deathbed. But this is a disputable issue. A variant dingwei 丁未 appears in the early seventh-century encyclopedia Yiwen leiju 藝文類聚, the earliest source that preserves some relevant lines from the “Elegy.”35 This deserves careful consideration. The two graphs, mao 卯 and wei 未 are so distinct that it must not have been a mis-transcription due to graphic similarity. Thus, was dingwei emended to dingmao in order to make it fit the year of Tao’s death as recorded in biographical accounts? Dingmao was the year 427 in the Western calendar, the year of Tao’s death at the age of sixty-four.36 Dingwei corresponds to 407, twenty years before Tao’s death. It sounds absurd to accept 407 as the date of composition, if we accept that the piece was intended as a genuine self-authored elegy; but is it not even more absurd to suggest that Tao knew just when to write this “Elegy” so that it would fit the exact time of his death? Tao might simply have written the piece as self-amusement, a prevalent practice during the Jin dynasty (discussed below). This hypothesis provides an explanation for an early date of composition.37 Other funerary writings by Tao may shed further light on the date of composition.38 Tao’s mother and his younger sister died in 401 and 405, 35 YWLJ, 38.679. 36 Most scholars are in agreement on this point but there are differing views on the age at which Tao died. It is widely agreed to have been sixty-three, but Gu Zhi and Lai Yihui 賴義輝 say it was fifty-two and Liang Qichao 梁啟超 (1873–1929) says it was fifty-six. See Xu Yimin, Tao Yuanming nianpu, 212, 369–73, 163–64. Song Yunbin 宋雲彬 and Yuan Xingpei support and elaborate on Li Gonghuan’s argument that Tao was seventy-six when he died. See Song, “Tao Yuanming nianpu zhong de jige wenti,” in Xu Yimin, op. cit., 309–11; Yuan, Tao Yuanming yanjiu, 211–380. 37 Ōyane Bunjirō quotes Hashikawa Tokio’s 橋川時雄 (1894–1982) “excellent argument” that Tao wrote about his imagined death because he was that sort of person who “pined and whined without cause” (wubing shenyin 無病呻吟). See Ōyane, Tō Enmei kenkyū, 833. 38 Most scholars believe that Tao Qian used the ganzhi system to record the years after the founding of the Liu Song dynasty as a gesture of disapproval. The first such


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respectively; these deaths might have been the reason Tao contemplated his own death. In the fifth lunar month of 407, Tao wrote a sacrificial elegy for his younger sister.39 According to his “Rhapsody on Return” (“Guiqulaixi ci” 歸去來兮辭), the agonizing loss of his sister became a pretext for his retirement from official life in 406.40 Tao’s obsession with death during this gloomy period may well have been a motive behind his composition of the “Elegy” in the ninth lunar month of 407. Intertextual evidence from Tao’s other writings confirms the views and facts about his life that are described in the “Elegy.” The defense for his decision to withdraw from official life makes a poignant theme in the works written around the time he first retired. The following quotes, which date from this very period, correspond with certain lines in the “Elegy,” as indicated:41 42 43 “Elegy”

Identical theme and similar wording in other writings (followed by Hightower’s translation)

ll. 6–11


l. 19


ll. 38–45


I was poor, and what I got from farming was not enough to support my family. And take pleasure in books and cither to dispel my worries. Let us then follow the inclinations of the heart; … So I manage to accept my lot until the ultimate homecoming. Rejoicing in Heaven’s command, what is there to doubt?42

source is Songshu, 93.2288–89. This view has been modified by scholars such as Zhu ­Ziqing 朱自清 (1898–1948) and Lai Yihui, who argue that Tao did use the ganzhi system during the Jin and Liu Song, but did not use any of the reign-period names of the Liu Song dynasty. In this way, he still managed to show his disapproval of the new dynasty’s orthodoxy. See Zhu, “Tao Yuanming nianpu zhong zhi wenti”; Lai, “Tao Yuanming shengping shiji ji qi suishu xinkao,” Tao Yuanming nianpu, 271–74, 338–46. Therefore, dingwei (407) remains possible as the year Tao composed his “Elegy.” 39 “Ji Chengshi mei wen,” TYMJ, 7.191. Ōchi Takeo stresses also the impact on Tao of the death of family members such as his cousin, his stepmother, his first wife, and his younger sister. The theme of death became central after his final retirement from official life. For this reason, he calls Tao the “poet of death” 死を詠う詩人. See “Tō Enmei no shiseikan ni tsuite,” 89–90, 101–2. 40 “Guiqulaixi ci,” TYMJ, 5.159, 160, n. 13. 41 All the works cited in the right-hand column were written between 403 and 406. The dating is based on Yuan, Tao Yuanming yanjiu, 382–83. 42 “Guiqulaixi ci,” TYMJ, 5.161, 162; Hightower, T’ao Ch’ien, 268–70. 43 “Gui yuantian ju,” no. 1, TYMJ, 2.40; Hightower, T’ao Ch’ien, 50.

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Identical theme and similar wording in other writings (followed by Hightower’s translation)

l. 23


ll. 8–9


ll. 12–13


My home remains unsoiled by the worldy dust Within bare rooms I have my peace of mind.43 Although I never left my work undone, In cold and famine always poor man’s fare. …. To have coarse cloth enough to cope with winter, And netted hemp to meet the summer sun,44 In broad daylight I keep my rustic gate closed,45 門雖設而常關。

There is a gate there, but it is always shut.46 長吟掩柴門。

Then humming to myself I close the door.47 荊扉晝常閉。

Days the rustic gate is always closed.48 ll. 14–18, 37 既耕亦已種,時還讀我書。……歡然酌春酒,摘我園中蔬。 The fields are plowed and the new seed planted And now is time to read my books. …. With happy face I pour the spring-brewed wine And in the garden pick some greens to cook.49

44 45 46 47 48 49 Plenty of other intertextual evidence supports the view that Tao suspected that nameless other men were greatly concerned about failure in official life (lines 26–31; “These ‘hundred years’ / All men begrudge them / They dread to be without achievement / They covet the days and grudge the seasons / Alive, they seek to be prized by their age / And, after death, also to be remembered.”). This concern was presented as Tao’s own, from a first-person perspective, in his “Miscellaneous Poems” (“Zashi” 雜詩), dating from 405.50 In these poems, his fears of career failure are reflected 44 “Zashi,” no. 8, TYMJ, 4.119; Hightower, T’ao Ch’ien, 195. 45 “Gui yuantian ju,” no. 2, TYMJ, 2.41; Hightower, T’ao Ch’ien, 51. 46 “Guiqulaixi ci,” TYMJ, 5.161; Hightower, T’ao Ch’ien, 269. 47 “Guimao sui shichun huaigu tianshe,” no. 2, TYMJ, 3.77; Hightower, T’ao Ch’ien, 108.  48 “Guimao sui shieryue zhong zuo yu congdi Jingyuan,” TYMJ, 3.78; Hightower, T’ao Ch’ien, 111. 49 “Du Shanhaijing,” no. 1, TYMJ, 4.133; Hightower, T’ao Ch’ien, 229. 50 Yuan Xingpei, in his Tao Yuanming yanjiu, 322–25, points out that the reason scholars such as Wang Yao 王瑤 (1914–89) encountered difficulties is because they held


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in a more general fear of the passing of time. His disdain, expressed in the “Elegy” (lines 60–61), for pursuing a good name that would be honored after death fits the line in another of his poems: “Alas, posthumous fame, / is like drifting mist to me” 吁嗟身後名﹐於我若浮煙.51 This internal struggle with the merit of the pursuit of fame is relevant to our reading of the “Coffin Puller’s Songs” and will be discussed in more detail below. Tao’s three “Coffin Puller’s Songs” may appropriately be dated to the same period (i.e. around 407), as long as we accept the traditional chronology of Tao’s life. The character jiao 嬌 in line 7 of poem 1 is a reference to the “look of loveliness” and is used to describe young children.52 When Tao died in 427, his youngest son was at least twenty-five years old and would not have been considered a jiao’er; nor should he have been “crying, seeking [his] father.”53 An earlier period, around 407, when Tao had “a houseful of young children” 幼稚盈室54 and his youngest son was seven years old, fits the context better. The Introspective Dialogue The profile of Tao Qian that emerges from the lamenting style in “Coffin Puller’s Songs” seems incompatible with his efforts to present a confident, to the view that Tao died at the age of sixty-three. Gong Bin, who levels the same criticism at Wang, dates the first eight poems in the series to the time when Tao was fifty years old, i.e., 418. See Gong, Tao Yuanming ji jiaojian, 4.289–90, n. 1, “fulu 4,” 524. 51 “Yuanshi Chudiao shi Pang Zhubu, Deng Zhizhong,” TYMJ, 2.50; Davis, T’ao Yüanming, 1: 58, modified. The same view is found in “He Liu Chaisang,” TYMJ, 2.57; Hightower, T’ao Ch’ien, 76: “After the ever-marching years of life / Fame and body together vanish” 去去百年外﹐身名同翳如. We must take into consideration the background to these lines. In the former poem on ‘grievance,’ Tao’s imminent worry was subsistence; in the latter, Tao’s imperative was to express and ‘harmonize’ the enjoyment of reclusive life, which must have been a theme in the poem by Liu Yimin 劉遺民, whose original name was Liu Chengzhi 劉程之 (354–410), a famous recluse of the time. Tao’s criticism of others’ pursuit of fame in his “Drinking Wine,” no. 3, TYMJ, 3.88, should not be taken seriously. See the discussion below. 52 The character is glossed by zi 姿, which is in turn glossed by tai 態 in Shuowen jiezi, 12B.14b, 12B.10b. The ‘female’ radical in jiao and zi denotes a female appearance. A derived meaning of jiao in the Chinese poetic tradition is the lovely look of young children. Examples abound, such as Zuo Si 左思 (ca. 250–ca. 305), “Jiaonü shi” 嬌女詩, XQHW, 735–36; Du Fu 杜甫 (712–70), “Qiangcun” 羌村, no. 2: 嬌兒不離膝, in Dushi xiangzhu, 5.392. 53 Qi Yishou, “Lun Tao Yuanming ‘Wan’ge shi,’” 22–23. Yuan Xingpei dates these poems to 397, when Tao’s youngest son was about three or four years old. See his Tao Yuanming yanjiu, 303–4. 54 “Guiqulaixi ci,” TYMJ, 5.159.

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high-minded image of himself in his writings.55 As we saw in Ruan Ji’s complex array of different self-referential voices in his oeuvre, however, we would not necessarily expect a poet to project a consistent authorial persona throughout all of his writings over time. But there are other intertextual approaches to understanding this apparent incompatibility in Tao Qian’s self-presentation. Most scholars argue that “Coffin Puller’s Songs” had been a common form of entertainment since ancient times, and treating death playfully was particularly common during the Jin. The tumult of the times brought this tradition to a historical peak.56 The following records show there was a trend of playing with funerary writings, and that this trend dates from Han times. The first quote dates from the year 141, shortly before Liang Shang’s 梁商 death; thus, it is recorded as an omen: Liang Shang banqueted with his guests by the Luo River. When a bout [of drinking] ended and the singing stopped, songs of “Dew on the Shallot” (“Xielu” 薤露) were performed. Hearing these, the guests all burst into tears.57

This practice thrived into the late Han. According to Ying Shao 應劭 (ca. 140–before 204): At that time in the capital, puppet shows were performed at guest receptions, wedding banquets, and fetes. After everyone had enjoyed the carousing, the next performance was singing coffin puller’s songs.58

Playing with the theme of death became a new aesthetic among literati in the Jin. The following paragraph from the Jinshu is recorded with some humor, but its historical veracity is supported by other sources: Yang Tan 羊曇 (late fourth century) had been good at singing and playing music. Huan Yin 桓胤 (d. 407) was good at coffin puller’s songs. Yuan Shansong 袁山松 (d. 401) continued this legacy with [the yuefu tune] “The Harsh Journey” (“Xinglu nan” 行路難). People called them “the unsurpassed trio” (sanjue 三絕). At that time, Zhang Zhan 張湛 (late third to early fourth 55 The best example of the presentation of a high-minded self is “Wuliu xiansheng zhuan,” TYMJ, 6.175. Although Donald Holzman firmly maintains there is no irony in Tao’s sincere expression of his Confucian-based thought, he does admit there is “mild irony” because Tao expressed his “shame” about presenting “his recipe for living before the Sages.” See Holzman, “A Dialogue,” 78, 82, 88. 56 See, for example, Ōyane, “Enmei no banka,” 121–22; Ren Bantang, Tang shengshi, 421; Qiu Shuyao, “‘Wan’ge kao’ bian (shang [part 1]),” 175. Qiu’s two articles under the same title are a critique of Qi Tianju, “Wan’ge kao,” 277–85. 57 HHS, 61.2028; Yuan Hong, Hou Han ji, 19.8b–9a. 58 HHS, “Wuxing zhi 1,” 3273, n. 1, Li Xian’s commentary, quoting Fengsu tong 風俗通.


chapter four centuries) liked planting [the usual trees found at burial grounds, i.e.,] pines and cypresses in front of his studio. Every time Shansong went on an outing, he would order his entourage to sing coffin puller’s songs. There was thus a saying: “Under Zhan’s roof is placed a corpse. Along the route Shansong’s outing takes is a funerary procession.”59

These records construct for us the cultural background for Lu Ji and Tao Qian playing with the death theme in their writing. Like the others mentioned in the passages above, Lu Ji wrote a large number of works on this theme, but none of them was written immediately before his death. This is quite certain, because he died an unnatural death during a military struggle for supremacy at court, and was not likely to have anticipated his sudden demise. This background supports an earlier dating of Tao Qian’s “Coffin Puller’s Songs” as Tao’s contribution to a popular genre, rather than an orchestration for his own burial.60 Contemplation of death seems to have provided an entertaining contrast with the jubilation at banquets. The emotional change became a major feature of a new aesthetic in the writings of Jin poets. This special taste in literature reflected the corrupt, unsafe world people had known since the late Han.61 The sharp change from pleasure to sorrow was best stated in prefaces to occasional poems such as Wang Xizhi’s “Preface to Poems on the Thoroughwort Pavilion” (“Lanting ji xu” 蘭亭集序) and Tao Qian’s preface to his “An Outing to Xie Brook” (“You Xiechuan” 遊斜川).62 Poems composed within certain musical and thematic circles had to fit fixed themes and features in the yuefu tradition. Casual, playful imitations that they were, Tao’s “Coffin Puller’s Songs” contain formulaic elements. First, the notion that ‘death is unavoidable’; second, the customary couplet that reads, ‘yesterday I was still alive but today I am on the roster of ghosts’; third, the oft repeated ‘others are crying next to my corpse’; fourth, repetition as a device. Also, the composition from the point of view of the dead person followed a convention observed also in Lu Ji’s 59 JS, 83.2169; SSXY, 23/43. 60 Lu Ji’s other works on the same motif include “Shuren wan’ge ci” 庶人挽歌辭 (two poems), “Shishu Wan’ge ci” 士庶, “Wanghou wan’ge ci” 王侯, “Damu fu” 大暮賦, “Ganqiu fu” 感丘賦, “Richongguang xing” 日重光行. LJJ, “buyi,” 161–62, 3.26–28, 7.81. For the argument that Lu must not have written his “Coffin Puller’s Songs” at his death, see Yuan, Tao Yuanming ji jianzhu, 4.421. 61 Qiu, “‘Wan’ge kao’ bian (shang [part 1]),” 175; Uezato, “Tō Enmei ni ogeru kyokō no ari kata (2),” 131. 62 Wu, “Han Wei Liuchao Wan’ge kaolun,” 62–63. Giving Wang’s preface and Tao’s poem “Xie Brook” as examples, Kang-i Sun Chang singles out the “lyrical articulation of feelings” as Tao’s innovation. Chang, Six Dynasties Poetry, 7–12.

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poems under the same title.63 Although some critics are dismayed to discover that Tao’s poems contain lines that observe convention rather than the spontaneous whim of the poet, the reader’s awareness of the generic features enables us to learn more about Tao’s real contribution in the presentation of his views on life and death, the pleasure of drinking, his values, and so forth.64 The content in Tao’s “Elegy” fits his emotional state immediately after his withdrawal from official life.65 As most observers have pointed out, the division of the poetic self became a major device in Tao’s works.66 Stephen Owen observes a “double self” as a stylistic feature in Tao’s poetry, and argues further that “the act of autobiography irrevocably divides and subdivides the assumed unity of the self.”67 This double self in Tao’s poetry is presented in two ways: one is his presentation of himself as a historical figure who values drinking and self-reliance, and shuns socially-imposed career ambitions, and the other is an alternate articulation of himself positioned in dialogue with the first figure.68 Tao’s works often involve a third splintering of an autobiographical self, and so we may revise Owen’s assessment of Tao’s style from evidencing a double self to ‘multiple selves.’ The role of this complex authorial persona is a product of a process of autobiographical fission, which, according to Fujino Iwatomo 藤野岩友 (1898–1984), derived from a shamanistic tradition. This tradition had a decisive influence on literary works in which dialogue is a stylistic feature, and in which, essentially, all the interlocutors represented the writer in various voices.69

63 Miao Xi noted the first-person voice in the “Wan’ge.” The scenario and the feelings of the dead self were presented in detail in Lu Ji’s work. Tao was the first to use the firstperson narrative in all three poems. YFSJ, 27.399–400. For a discussion of these formal and thematic features, see Ikkai, “Bunsen Banka kō,” 40–42; Russell, “Coffin-Pullers’ Songs,” 105–11. 64 Wang Yiyuan discusses how the allusions and convention in Tao’s “Wan’ge” negate its personalized elements. See his “Liuchao wenren Wan’geshi,” 25. 65 Nanshi, 75.1859, is the only source to record that Tao was invited to take office in 427 and that he accepted the offer but died before he was able to take it up. If this record is true, all it does is contradict the view that Tao wrote his “Elegy” on his deathbed. 66 Ikkai, “Tō Enmei ni ogeru ‘kyukō,’” 194–202, 206; Uezato, “Tō Enmei,” 107, 116–17. 67 Owen, “The Self’s Perfect Mirror,” 74–75. Okamura Shigeru observes this “contradiction” in Tao’s character. Okamura, Tao Yuanming Li Bai xinlun, 50–52. 68 Kang-i Sun Chang observes: “Tao Qian seems to see no necessary conflict between fiction and autobiography. His is a technique that primarily seeks to create an objective perspective, to recreate a more public view of himself in poetry.” See Six Dynasties Poetry, 25. 69 Fujino, Fukei bungakuron, 117–18.


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The “Drinking Wine” poems are good examples of a style that involves complex self-dialogue. According to James Robert Hightower, the series was “to be sent to someone, perhaps circulated among his acquaintances generally.”70 These can be read as an artifact of Tao having had his audience in mind when writing them, or rather simply as a dialogue in which Tao plays the role of all of the interlocutors. In poem 9, the image of the old farmer, who has been interpreted allegorically, is one aspect of this dialogue device, although the influence of the “Fisherman” in the Chuci is also apparent.71 This setting of two interlocutors, one giving advice to the other, is also apparent in “Drinking Alone in the Incessant Rain” cited at the beginning of this chapter. Another example is “Drinking Wine,” poem 5 (with first and second person pronouns in italics): “I have built my hut within the realm of man, But there is no noise of carriage or horses.” “I ask you how it can be so?” “When the heart stays afar, the place becomes  remote.”

結廬在人境 而無車馬喧 問君何能爾 心遠地自偏72

The use of quotation marks helps us isolate the voice of an asker (line 3) authorial persona from that of the authorial persona who makes statements (lines 1–2), both of which, syntactically, make up the persona’s dual identity. However, to keep the unified voice of speaker in the first two lines, in our reading, we readers are made to play the role of this “you” (jun 君) whose identity is, paradoxically, indefinite. The ‘you’ is constantly present, whether asserted or not, in Tao’s poetic language. If we reverse the point of view, this ‘you’ in line 3 is Tao himself, and the questioner is the anticipated reader. In either case, the duality of authorial persona is a product of Tao’s imaginative division of his self. This division 70 Hightower, “T’ao Ch’ien’s ‘Drinking Wine’ Poems,” 5. Owen goes a little further, saying: “to copy them out and circulate them smells of ‘fishing for fame in the world’ … T’ao cannot let these poems go without assuring us that their ‘publication’ is none of his doing; he fears that others might believe that he had them circulated.” See his “The Self’s Perfect Mirror,” 81. 71 Hightower, T’ao Ch’ien, 138–39. A similar setting is seen in “Gui yuantian ju,” no. 4, TYMJ, 2.42, in which the poet conducts a dialogue with a firewood gatherer. The image of this firewood gatherer is as a high-minded person in Ruan Ji’s “Biography of Master Great Man,” RJJ, 1.176–77; trans., Holzman, Poetry and Politics, 199. 72 TYMJ, 3.89; Davis, T’ao Yüan-ming, 1: 96, modified. The literal translation of line 3 (問君何能爾) would have been “I ask you how it can be so.” This would make no sense in the context, in which the persona is the hut builder and dweller. Hightower’s translation has the same logic as Davis’: “You would like to know how it is done?” Hightower, T’ao Ch’ien, 130.

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is a key to the conducting of a dialogue between poem and reader. Once this division begins, and an anticipated reader is devised, the authorial voice(s) “look(s) at his shadow, finishing drinking all alone” 顧影獨盡. In the last poem in the series (number 20), he says: Only I regret my many errors; You must forgive a drunken man.

但恨多謬誤 君當恕罪人73

This mysterious ‘you’ comes onto the stage again. This second self marks a transgression from within the text.74 It is simply no one, if the poems are not read; but Tao’s intention of transmitting his works made room for his anticipated readers, the first of whom was, of course, the friend he bade inscribe these poems.75 Tao’s warning against taking his poems in the series too seriously applies also to other writings, such as his “Coffin Puller’s Songs,” in which more playfulness is seen. But how serious was this warning? The ‘dialogue’ between the two selves is always at work in Tao’s laments dedicated to himself. The second self always acts not only as an interlocutor, but also as an opponent of the first self. In the “Elegy,” the division of the self occurs twice. The voice of the preface is that of a third person, who is essentially a historian. In the “Elegy,” the point of view is that of an authorial persona. In line 26, this ‘I’ brings in others as a contrast of different values. This contrast immediately brings to mind Tao’s poem “Blooming Trees” (“Rongmu” 榮木) number 4: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

The bequeathed precepts of the former master, How would I ever abandon them? “If at forty one is not heard of, Then one is not worthy of respect.” I ready my famous chariot, Whipping up my famous horses! A thousand li, though far, How dare I not go?

先師遺訓 余豈之墜 四十無聞 斯不足畏 脂我名車 策我名驥 千里雖遙 孰敢不至76

The tone of this single self in the poem is that of a pious follower of Confucianism. It has been suggested that such was Tao’s ultimate goal;77 73 TYMJ, 3.99; Davis, T’ao Yüan-ming, 1: 102. 74 The notion of ‘second self’ was inspired by Owen’s ‘double self.’ See his “Self’s Perfect Mirror,” 75. 75 TYMJ, 3.87. A similar reading of this second-person pronoun is by Zhong Xing 鍾惺 (1574–1625) and Tan Yuanchun 譚元春 (1586–1637), whose views are translated and explained in Swartz, Reading Tao Yuanming, 231–32. 76 TYMJ, 1.16; Davis, T’ao Yüan-ming, 1: 17, modified. 77 Holzman, 81–84. Davis, T’ao Yüan-ming, 1: 17, reads these statements as ironical.


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but this theme became derisory in his “Elegy” (lines 26–31).78 The impossibility of fulfilling his ultimate goal was the high price Tao paid for renouncing his career. This heavy burden is surreptitiously compressed in this ironic voice, but it is inadvertently divulged. The ‘others’ in the “Elegy” play the role of an interlocutor divided from his self, and sarcastically engage in this dialogue as an introspective discourse. Tao’s retirement marked an end to his official career and may have been a kind of death to him, although this ‘death’ was an apparent release from Confucian values.79 His bitter pleasure was articulated by the recurring statement that he had no doubts he was complying with Heaven’s mandate. The title of “Rhapsody on Return,” as well as the diction and the theme of the poem, viz., ‘summoning back the soul,’ have their provenance in the “Summoning the Soul” (“Zhaohun” 招魂) in the Chuci tradition. This connection suggests the direct inspiration of the division into a living self and a dead self.80 In the “Elegy,” compliance with Heaven’s mandate is articulated in lines 24 to 25, and reiterated in lines 38 to 39 and 44 to 45, bringing the tension to a new height each time. The same idea is found in simplified form and clearly expressed in a pessimistic voice in his “Miscellaneous Poems” number seven: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

The days and months are not willing to linger; The four seasons press upon one another. A cold wind shakes the withered branches; Fallen leaves cover the long road. My feeble constitution declines with the Cycle; The black hair on my temples is early white.

日月不肯遲 四時相催迫 寒風拂枯條 落葉掩長陌 弱質與運頹 玄鬢早已白

78 “Forty years old” is an allusion to Lunyu, 9/23. 79 “Guiqulaixi ci”: “Aware ‘the past may not be censured,’ / I know ‘the future is to be striven for.’ / Truly I am not far astray from the road; / I feel today is right, yesterday was wrong.” TYMJ, 5.160; Davis, T’ao Yüan-ming, 1: 192. Although Tao alludes to the recluse’s words in Lunyu, 18/5, in fact he complies with what Confucius chose to do when the state was in chaos and when his theories could not be put into practice. Lunyu, 5/7, 8/13, 15/7. 80 Fujino Iwatomo was among the earliest to assign “Guiqulaixi ci” to the lineage of “Summoning the Soul.” See his Fukei bungakuron, 269–70. He is followed by Nishioka Hiroshi, in his “Tō Enmei no ‘Jisaimon’ to banka,” 22; also in his Chūgoku koten no minzoku to bungaku, 166. In these works, the authors focus on the two refrains that occur throughout the “Zhaohun”: hun xi gui lai 魂兮歸來 and gui lai xi 歸來兮. CCBZ, 9.200–2, et passim. For a discussion of life and death in “Guiqulaixi ci,” see Obi, Chūgoku no inton shisō, 148–52. If we accept Yoshioka Yoshitoyo’s argument as to the Buddhist origins of Tao’s “Guiqulaixi ci,” the return refers to enlightenment. The death of Tao’s sister was significant in this enlightenment process. Most relevant to this reading is a close comparison with the central sutra of the Mount Lu sect, the Pratyutpanna samādhi sutra (T. 418). See Yoshioka, “Kikyorai no ji ni tsuite,” 31–32, 34–35.

tao qian on his deathbed 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

Now the white sign is set upon my head, The way in front gradually becomes narrow. My home is an inn for a traveler; I am like a guest that must depart. Away, away, where am I going? On the southern mountain is my old home.

119 素標插人頭 前塗漸就窄 家為逆旅舍 我如當去客 去去欲何之 南山有舊宅81

The single self of this poem assumes the role played by the nameless others in the “Elegy.” The view on the course of life and certain diction are identical with the “Elegy.” It is thus the best commentary on the “Elegy,” in which Tao expressed a fear of vanishing without having achieved anything. This kind of concern resulted in the frequent appearance in his works of the concept of death or the euphemism for it, ‘transformation.’82 It is noteworthy that the ending couplet has the same question-answer structure as “Coffin Puller’s Song” number 3. This kind of self-addressed question illustrates Tao’s introspection and his anxiety about the possibility of vanishing. This anxiety arguably stemmed from his sensitivity to the passage of time, in turn derived from the termination of his official career. Therefore, the appearance of death in his works always carries metaphorical possibilities. Tao manipulates this metaphorical framework to great effect. He achieves a kind of fictional ‘death’ of the body while the mind remains alive and well. In other words, the dead persona has a living mind, through which the authorial persona expresses what he craves, such as a sip of wine and a hug with his children. Only by means of this division of body and mind is the device of ‘double-self’ dialogue between the dead and living selves possible. Tao expressed this dichotomy in the final couplet of a poem quoted at the beginning of this chapter: My physical form and frame have long changed. My heart remains the same—what then need I say?83

81 TYMJ, 4.119; Davis, T’ao Yüan-ming, 1: 132–32, modified. 82 Uezato, “Tō Enmei,” 108–9, n. 1. 83 TYMJ, 2.55, Davis, T’ao Yüan-ming, 1: 63. The poem has been dated to 404 due to the line that mentions “forty years” but Davis dates it to a later year, while Donald Holzman, in his “A Dialogue,” 93, dates the poem to 427 not long before Tao died. Chinese scholars tend to date the poem to an earlier year. Lu Qinli, dates it to 404, Yuan Xingpei to 407. TYMJ, 273, Yuan, Tao Yuanming yanjiu, 330. The word hua is understood as “death” in Holzman’s translation.


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Tao transcended the finiteness of life by “maintaining [his] ‘realized nature’” (ren zhen 任真).84 This device is seen in Tao’s laments where he looks at his own death from the standpoint of a transcending self.85 What’s Death Got to Do with Life? What could be more regrettable to a man raised and educated to serve in office than having achieved nothing in his official career? The possibility that his compositions evidence an irony born from divided selves guides us in differentiating Tao’s real intent from his playful, disguised statements, such as that his greatest regret is not having drunk enough before dying, found in his “Coffin Puller’s Song” number 2. The carpe diem theme arises from a fear of vanishing.86 According to the narrative voice in the poem, when the physical form dies, the soul is hopelessly tantalized by fragrant brews. He contemplates his afterlife: I will no longer know anything of getting and losing, right and wrong. Later generations will be unaware of the honor and disgrace I won and experienced (poem 1, lines 9–14). Once I am dead and the funeral is over, people will return to their homes and begin their singing (poem 3, lines 13–18). How easily I am forgotten! The closing stanza of Tao’s “Elegy” reveals this same fear through the voice of a broad-minded persona (lines 56–63). His attempt to eliminate the difference between ‘much and less’ and ‘having and not having’ seems to mark the successful transcending of secular values, but the contradictory idea in the “Coffin Puller’s Songs” exposes this disguise. This complexity leads to a different understanding of the message delivered in the last few lines. Hightower’s translation reflects the same ­understanding 84 This becomes the main theme in the poem. For a discussion of this idea, see Yuan, Tao Yuanming yanjiu, 16–20. 85 Even though the word hua is taken as meaning ‘transform’ rather than ‘die,’ as some scholars suggest, the effect of the “double self” is still at work in such a division of the self. Hightower, T’ao Ch’ien, 71 and 73, seems ambivalent on this point because he translates hua in the poem as “change” but in a note gives “die,” suggesting that one “take the line as expressing an attitude.” Yuan Xingpei defines hua as “the process of change in human life, from birth to death” 人由生到死的變化過程. This definition allows greater flexibility in treating various occurrences of hua in Tao’s work. See Yuan, Tao Yuanming yanjiu, 14. This understanding accords with Cheng Xuanying’s 成玄英 (ca. 631) commentary on Zhuangzi, 2/20, to which Tao’s lines allude. See Guo Qingfan, Zhuangzi jishi, 1B.61, n. 20. 86 Owen, “The Self’s Perfect Mirror,” 75: “Poetic autobiography arises from the fear of being misprized.”

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as Davis’. The former reads: “Man’s life is hard enough in truth; and death is not to be avoided.”87 But the meaning changes if ren sheng in line 62 is taken as the referent of the object pronoun zhi in line 63. The couplet becomes a compound sentence with an unexpressed conjunction: “Man’s life is difficult indeed. / What can my death do to it?” The word “difficult” (nan 難) denotes worldly values, as represented by the voices of ‘others’ throughout the “Elegy.” Can death become a means to escape these values? Sadly, we live in a world of judgment, throughout life and after death. Thus, the implicit conclusion is that we fear being undervalued after death. This radically contradicts the broad-minded voice of the “Elegy.”88 If the poet really did not care whether he was praised after death, then the self-portraits in these laments would serve no purpose. They were composed to be sung and read at funerary settings, with Tao as the sole dedicatee. More importantly, as written texts, it was intended that they would be transmitted to later generations. The Inextinguishable Soul Tao’s attempt to establish a lineage of worthy people in history nicely illustrates the famous “Discourse on the Inextinguishable Soul” (“Shen bu mie lun” 神不滅論).89 This refers to a theory apparently the opposite of 87 Hightower, T’ao Ch’ien, 6. Yuan Xingpei glosses the last three lines of “Elegy” as an allusion to Xiang Chang’s 向長 (early to mid first century) view of life: “I have known that wealth is not as good as poverty, honor not as good as humility. The only thing I do not know is how death compares with life.” HHS, 83.2759. Yuan, Tao Yuanming ji jianzhu, 7.562, n. 43. Yoshikawa Kōjirō was the first to interpret si ru zhi he 死如之何 (line 63 in “Elegy”) as Tao’s great fear of death. See his Tō Enmei den, 31–32. 88 Okamura Shigeru observes that Tao’s “determination to remain in adversity” was a way to decorate his life, and that this attitude reflected a worldly ambition that had undergone setbacks and transformation. His concern about how he would be seen after his death is revealed in his composition of biographies of himself as a recluse. Okamura, Tō Enmei: sezoku to chōzoku, 87–96, 208, 210, 222. Such motives for writing are revealed in his self portrait in “Biography of Mr. Five Willows,” as insightfully pointed out by Zhang Tingyu; see his Chenghuaiyuan yu, 1.17b. In this biography, Tao praised this Mr. Five Willows in the envoi by bringing in Qian Lou’s 黔婁 wife, who praised her husband for not caring about wealth and honor. Zhang argues that the self-descriptive lines do not fit the character of a broad-minded person. In addition, the poet’s eagerness to be known by his anticipated readers is further exposed in the three rhetorical questions at the end of the biography. 89 Tao has not been treated as a philosopher in the West. See Davis, T’ao Yüan-ming, 1:10. However, the philosophical background and Tao’s thinking remain a focus of interest. Examples are numerous and include Chen Yinke, “Tao Yuanming zhi sixiang, 201–29; Charles Yim-tze Kuang, Tao Qian and the Chinese Poetic Tradition (Ann Arbor: Center for


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Tao’s worldview (that the soul is extinguished) as illustrated in his “Elegy” and “Coffin Puller’s Songs.”90 According to Tao, the “soul breath” (hunqi 魂氣) gathered and made him a man. No one knows where the “soul breath” goes when one dies; nothing but one’s physical form is left in the coffin. In the first poem of “Body, Shadow, Soul,” (“Xing, Ying, Shen” 形影 神) a series that best demonstrates the ‘dialogue’ method, Body expresses great anxiety about the shortness of human life, which cannot compete with the length of time that mountains and rivers endure. At the end of “Coffin Puller’s Song” number 1, Tao states that after his death he will become part of the mountain. Shadow believes that establishing a good name is the solution.91 Writing is the means by which a good name is left; it renders one unextinguished. For Tao, the written record has another significant function. It is a gateway to communication with the ancients: In reading the books of a thousand years ago, From time to time I find heroic models. Such high morality I do not aspire to, But might at best achieve firmness in adversity.

歷覽千載書 時時見遺烈 高操非所攀 謬得固窮節92

Tao had a much more important motive for transmitting “firmness in adversity” (guqiong 固窮) than simply praising worthy ancients. We have seen in the “Elegy” that Tao presents himself occasionally as a broadminded person, the archetype of whom is the famous recluse Rong Qiqi 榮啟 期. Rong was in his nineties when Confucius met him at Mount Tai. He expressed his “three kinds of happiness” when asked by Confucius who found it strange that the destitute old man was so happy. Two of these kinds of happiness become Tao’s allusion: “Heaven begot myriad of things …. I was born as a human” 天生萬物……吾既得為人 (是生萬物﹐余得為 人 in “Elegy” lines 4–5); “I live out my natural span until the end” 處常得

Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1994), 1–20, 63–73; Lu Qinli, “Guanyu Tao ­Yuanming,” TYMJ, 213–21; Yuan Xingpei, Tao Yuanming yanjiu, 1–77. 90 Ding Yongzhong argues that the transcendent thought in these pieces illustrates a Buddhist idea of kongguan 空觀 (contemplation of Emptiness), an important thought of the prevalent Prajñā school. See Ding, Taoshi Foyin bian, 41–54. 91 Although ‘spirit’ seems to be the winner in the debate, Holzman does not believe that this was Tao’s deepest thought. Rather, “he seems to be indulging in a kind of halfplayful, half-serious imitation of the ‘metaphysical poetry’ (xuanyan shi) …” Holzman, “A Dialogue,” 91. 92 “Guimaosui shieryuezhong zuo yu congdi Jingyuan,” TYMJ, 3.78; Hightower, T’ao Ch’ien, 111, slightly modified.

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終 (從老得終 in “Elegy” line 44).93 Extracting his diction so adherently

from this figure who won high praise of Confucius, Tao patently models himself upon this paragon of “staying firm in adversity.” The textual borrowing and moral modeling of the image of Rong Qiqi marks an important feature of Tao’s writing of himself, a unique means by which he connects himself to the ancients as well as conveys the fine tradition, a part in which he plays, to later generations. He found an alternative way to become a gentleman, this time according to Confucius’ definition in Lunyu 15/2. This allusion is embedded in the following lines from Tao’s poem, “Composed at an Encounter” (“Youhui er zuo” 有會而作): ‘To go to excess’ is surely not my intention; ‘Firmness in adversity’ was early my resort. If one is hungry, that’s all there is to it. From the past there are many models for me.

斯濫豈攸志 固窮夙所歸 餒也已矣夫 在昔余多師94

The reference is to the story of a person who starved to death as a result of refusing food offered by Qian Ao 黔敖 (ca. late eighth century–early fifth century bc). Qian gave out food by the road during a great famine in the state of Qi. This person came with a sleeve covering his face. Giving this person food with the words, “You, come and eat,” and unveiling the sleeve and looking in this person’s eyes, Qian said, “Your suffering is because you refuse food given under a command.” This person declined the offer and finally starved to death.95 The variant reading of the first line that is recorded thus makes more sense: “As for throwing over all restraint, how could it be the case of this person?” 斯濫豈彼志. In the Analects Confucius contrasts the gentlemen with the small man: “It comes as no surprise to the gentleman to find himself in extreme straits. The small man finding himself in extreme straits would throw over all restraint.”96 Tao compares himself to the person who died for principle. He was visited and offered some meat by Tan Daoji 檀道濟 (d. 436), Governor of Jiangzhou (which includes modern-time Jiangxi and Fujian provinces). Tao refused the

93 These are the first and third kinds of happiness of Rong. The second one is “having been born as a male” because male was superior to female, as traditionally viewed. Tao’s source texts might have been one of the following: Kongzi jiayu, 4.7a/b; Liu Xiang’s Shuoyuan 說苑 (Shuoyuan jiaozheng), 17.429; or the Liezi 列子 (Liezi jishi), 1.22–23. 94 “Youhui er zuo,” TYMJ, 3.107; Davis, T’ao Yüan-ming, 1: 113. 95 Liji, 10.86c. 96 Lau, Analects, 132.


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offer and wrote this poem to record his new enlightenment through the allusion.97 Noble conduct links people of high morality throughout history. Tao felt it incumbent upon him to continue this legacy, and thus posed the following rhetorical question in the preface to this poem: If now I do not write them down, How shall those born after hear of them?

今我不述 後生何聞哉98

Not surprisingly, that which was to be transmitted was Tao’s own fortitude to survive his bitter life. He found this aspect of high morality in certain ancient people and linked himself to them: Remote in time are the minds of Changju and Jieni, Despite the thousand years there is affinity.

遙遙沮溺心 千載乃相關99

His motive of placing himself among his roster of worthy people is especially obvious in his seven-poem suite “In Praise of Poor Gentlemen” (“Yong pinshi” 詠貧士). Interestingly, the first two poems do not sing of (yong) any ‘poor gentlemen’ but function as an introduction to Tao himself. The final lines of each of these poems read: If he who knows my tunes does not exist, 知音苟不存 That’s the end and there is nothing else to feel sad about. 已矣何所悲100 By what means can I ease my inner feelings? I rely on antiquity when there were many such worthy people.

何以慰吾懷 賴古多此賢101

These two poems can be seen as a preface to the five that follow. This special design of the suite illustrates Tao’s definition of himself as one of the ‘poor gentlemen’ he praises and whom he is making known to later generations. Immortality is thus possible for him once his own noble conduct is linked to that of the others. One of Tao’s achievements was to gain a place as one of the Three Recluses of Xunyang 潯陽三隱, an epithet which might have been current before he died. This epithet fits perfectly the rubric he employed in his biographical sketches of worthies who were 97 TYMJ, 3.107, n. 1. 98 Preface to “Youhui er zuo,” TYMJ, 3.106; Davis, T’ao Yüan-ming, 1: 113. 99 “Gengxusui jiuyuezhong yu xitian huo zaodao,” TYMJ, 3.84; Davis, T’ao Yüan-ming, 1: 93. Changju and Jieni were two hermits who gave sarcastic replies to Zilu 子路 after they found out that Confucius had sent him to ask for directions to the ford. See Lunyu, 18/6. Tao praised these hermits highly in “Shanshang hua zan,” TYMJ, 6.176. 100 “Yong pinshi,” no. 1, TYMJ, 4.123; Davis, T’ao Yüan-ming, 1: 136. 101 “Yong pinshi,” no. 2, TYMJ, 4.123; Davis, T’ao Yüan-ming, 1: 137.

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grouped and named in the same way, such as the Four White-Headed Recluses of Mount Shang 商山四皓 and the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove 竹林七賢.102 Although it has been said that Tao believed that human life and the human spirit eventually come to an end, he found a way to enable his spirit to continue existing after death through the generation of alternate, literary selves. The division of his mind and his physical form, as discussed above, substantially illustrates the philosophical discourse on “the transmission of fire upon the burning out of the firewood,” which was first discussed by Zhuangzi. Discussions about this area of inquiry were current in Tao’s time, and became a major argument of the influential Buddhist monk, Huiyuan.103 Here is another example from Tao’s verse that illustrates this philosophical discourse: My body’s form has passed away with change, But my spirit’s abode continues solitary and quiet.

形跡憑化往 靈府長獨閑104

This couplet reflects a desire to be released from predicaments; it also indicates a desire to transcend the constraints of the physical form and of mortal life as a whole. From this angle, and taking into consideration his intention in writing it, Tao may be seen as one who believed in the infinitude of the soul. Lest he be misunderstood or forgotten after his death, he wanted to take an active part in the making of his biographical records. Thus, he acted as not only the writer but also the editor of his own profile. Tao’s name continued to be excluded from hagiographic biographies, in spite of his desire to be included, for some six hundred years. This pattern of exclusion was broken when Su Shi 蘇軾 (1037–1101) heaped wholehearted praise on Tao’s character and his poetic achievements. Tao’s investment in his legacy paid off in the end, and thus may be compared to an enigmatic prophecy. This prophecy was first deciphered by Du Fu, who wrote: “Looking through Tao’s collection of poems, one feels that / Tao Qian had regretted his impoverished life (kugao 枯槁).”105 The term kugao has unfortunately been misread as a description of Tao’s poetic style, and the enigma has persisted for centuries. From our exploration of 102 Yuan, Tao Yuanming ji jianzhu, “waiji,” 571–603. 103 Zhuangzi, 3/19; Huiyuan, “Shamen bujing wangzhe lun: Xingshen bumie lun” 沙門 不敬王者論﹕形神不滅論. HMJ, 31c23–32a14. 104 “Wushensui liuyuezhong yuhuo,” TYMJ, 3.82; Davis, T’ao Yüan-ming, 1: 90. 105 Du Fu, “Qianxing” 遣興, no. 3, Dushi xiangzhu, 7.563. This reading was given for the first time by Li Hua. Quoting Li, Kang-i Sun Chang discusses this issue further and expresses agreement. The translation of Du Fu’s couplet is Chang’s. See Chang, “Tao Qian and the Indeterminacy of Interpretation,” 177–78. Li Hua, Tao Yuanming xinlun, 227–28.


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the complex layering of dialogues, particularly around the subject of death and fame in posterity, we can conjecture that Du Fu meant to highlight Tao’s legacy of immortality born of the poetic conceit of the noble, suffering recluse. We also can appreciate Tao’s success in crafting and transmitting a conflicted but eternally compelling self-portrait to later generations.106

106 Kang-i Sun Chang points out that reading Tao’s works “will always imply a continuing process of masking and unmasking and even remasking.” See Chang, “Indeterminacy of Interpretation,” 184. Wang Kuo-ying also discusses Tao’s intention of leaving a posthumous name for later generations. See Gujin yinyi shiren zhi zong, 124–29.

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Xie Lingyun on Awakening At the end of his political life, Xie Lingyun 謝靈運 (385–433) produced a body of writings that articulated a strongly eschatological worldview. Sometimes his perspective is expressed through the ‘ascension’ motif, which not only benefits from the ‘poetry of roaming transcendents’ (you­ xian shi 遊仙詩) and ‘mysterious words poetry’ (xuanyan shi 玄言詩) Xie inherited, but, more importantly, this body of his late work depicts experiences of awakening.1 Although he may have been of little significance in the intellectual history of medieval China, his synthesis of Daoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism became a major factor in the formation of a new aesthetic and ethic in the literary tradition.2 Most prominent in Xie’s writing are the philosophical statements appended to most of his landscape poems, a practice that has been regarded as a poetic flaw. This unique aesthetic had much to do with the intellectual trends of his time, especially the influence of Buddhism. Xie Lingyun’s apparent devotion to Buddhism may have resulted from his turbulent political life. From an early age, Xie had enjoyed high praise from his grandfather Xie Xuan 玄 (343–88) and his uncle Xie Hun 混 (d. 412) for his unusual intelligence, learning, and writing ability. The Xie family was one of the most prestigious of the Eastern Jin dynasty (316– 420), mainly because of Xie Xuan’s and Xie An’s 安 (320–85) crucial exploits. Xie Xuan saved the vulnerable Jin dynasty when he won the critical battle of the Fei River 淝水 (in modern Anhui province) in 383, defeating the invasion from the north of Former Qin 前秦 troops led by Fu Jian 苻堅 (338–85). This victory was also ascribed to Xie An, Grand Marshal of the Jin troops, under whose direction the Jin later regained Luoyang and several prefectures captured by their enemies from the north.3 Lingyun 1 Xiao Chi, “Dasheng fojiao,” 60–68. I thank the author for drawing my attention to this article by sending me an offprint. 2 Examples of critics of his intellectual contributions include Tang Yongtong, who argues that Xie did not present any views of his own but merely elaborated the main arguments of Zhu Daosheng 竺道生 (355–434). See Tang, Wei Jin xuanxue lun gao, 112. More recently, Guo Peng criticizes Xie for his superficial, mistaken synthesis of Buddhism and Confucianism. See Guo, Zhongguo fojiao sixiang shi, 303–4. 3 JS, 79.2074, 2080–83.


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inherited Xuan’s title as Duke of Kangle 康樂公 and enjoyed high emolument and prestige during the late Jin. This privilege could have continued had Liu Yu 劉裕 (363–422) not overthrown the Jin and founded his new Song dynasty (420–79). As Xie Lingyun’s political power and status gradually declined, he attached himself to Liu Yizhen 義真 (407–24), Prince of Luling 廬陵 and heir presumptive of Liu Yu, hoping with his help to regain his losses. The premature, untimely death of Yizhen brought about the rapid decline of Xie’s political career, and slander, persecution, and demotion drove him further from political life. The life of luxury in which he indulged at his vast villa in Shining 始寧 (in modern Zhejiang province), a family property originally owned by Xie Xuan, provided fertile ground for writing his landscape poetry, which was often presented in conjunction with personal frustration, contemplation on life, and transcendent thought. His poetic works would lead one to believe that Xie Lingyun had succeeded in transcending worldly values, including personal political ambitions, but the cause of his tragic end—he was executed for revolting against the Song— proves that his efforts in this regard were not completely successful.4 Like monks and laymen of the Mount Lu 廬山 Buddhist sect, such as the famous recluse Liu Chengzhi 劉程之 (354–410) and the painter Zong Bing 宗炳 (375–443), Xie Lingyun was drawn to landscape as a medium for his religious meditation and poetic presentation of enlightenment. Xie portrayed enlightenment in his poems as a discovery, and usually included a dictum on enlightenment in the ending lines of his poems. Richard B. Mather’s article on Xie’s “landscape Buddhism,” published in 1958, represents a uniquely probing examination of Xie Lingyun’s relationship with Buddhism.5 Prior to this publication, there had been no serious critical attempt by modern scholars to analyze Xie’s works in light of relevant philosophical and religious backgrounds. In the early 1980s, Chinese and Japanese scholarship demonstrated a new appreciation and 4 Songshu, 67.1743, 1753–54, 1772, 1774–77. Historians now agree that Xie’s charge of revolt may have been fabricated and that the real reason for his execution was probably his unrepentant arrogance. See for example Lin Wen-yüeh, Xie Lingyun, 170; Gu Shaobo, “Qianyan” 前言, XLYJ, 15–16. See also chapter six for further discussion of Xie’s revolt. 5 Mather, “The Landscape Buddhism of the Fifth Century Poet Hsieh Ling-yün,” 67–79. This was the first use of the term “landscape Buddhism.” J. D. Frodsham’s discussion of the Buddhist background of Xie’s time is another great achievement. See Frodsham, The Murmuring Stream, vol: 1, 102–3. Paul Demiéville denies Buddhism had any significant influence on Xie’s poetry. He argues that Buddhism served as a catalyst only in new literary movements during the fourth and fifth centuries. Demiéville, “La montagne dans l’art littéraire chinois,” 377.

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in-depth use of texts from the Tripiṭaka—the Buddhist canon—in discussing Xie’s life and his writing career. For example, in his discussion of the Buddhist concept of “instantaneous enlightenment”6 (dunwu 頓悟) that may have influenced Xie’s poetry, Yabuuchi Takayoshi 矢渊孝良 notes that Xie produced markedly fewer poetic works during his seven- to eight-year tenure in Shining (423–26, 428–31) than he had during his one-year posting (422–23) in Yongjia 永嘉 (both places in present-day Zhejiang province). Yabuuchi argues that this was because during his demotion in Shining, Xie was more used to the kinds of frustrations he experienced and, more importantly, that his newly acquired dunwu ideology made it unnecessary for him to express his opinions in words.7 Xie’s acceptance of the dunwu theory is, as I shall demonstrate below, reflected in his Shining poetry, and an interest in depicting this kind of spiritual state can be observed in his poems written a few years earlier in Yongjia. The use of sources such as Buddhist sutras and hagiographies is unquestionably the most effective way to discover religious doctrinal influence on Xie’s writings. Writing, Instructing, Preaching Xie is well known for his beautiful depictions of the natural environment in his dukedom at Shining, a family property bequeathed by his grandfather Xie Xuan. This body of descriptive poetry was written in the shi form, but Xie adopted some techniques of the rhapsody (fu 賦) in presenting panoramic scenes.8 As we shall see, these panoramic descriptions served 6 The translation of the term dunwu is Derk Bodde’s. See his translation of Fung Yulan’s A History of Chinese Philosophy, vol. 2: 274. 7 Yabuuchi, “Sha Reiun sansuishi no haikei,” 157. This adds new insight to Takagi Masakazu’s views in his “Sha Reiun no shifū,” 75–76. The extant poems of Xie, Takagi argues, should be close to his complete output, because they are within the average range of the total number of writings by other writers of the time. In my opinion, Takagi’s argument, which is based on his statistics of works recorded in dynastic histories, is unsound because 1) no record shows that the thirty-odd extant poems of Xie were all taken from one uncorrupt source, and 2) we cannot be sure that Xie wrote many fewer poems during a seven- or eight-year period than he did during a one-year period. 8 Zhou Xunchu, “Lun Xie Lingyun shanshui wenxue,” 47–49. Francis Abeken Westbrook argues that “Xie’s fu is designed not to dissuade, but to persuade,” that the fu “has a clear line of argument,” and that “philosophical or other outside significance may be found in the enumerations and elaborate descriptive passages.” Westbrook, “Landscape Description,” 179–80. One typical fu technique that he used in his “Fu on My Mountain Dwelling” was the “column of fish” (yuguan 魚貫), as Liu Xie disparagingly referred to it in WXDL, 10.694.


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also as ideal media for Xie to communicate profound insights into the human condition. Our discussion begins with his “Fu on My Mountain Dwelling” (“Shanju fu” 山居賦), a poem to which Xie appended one of his brief postscripts. Including his own commentary to this fu was unprecedented in earlier poetry by him or by other writers, and revealed an important aspect of Xie’s literary thought. As discussed in chapter one, providing a commentary to a text authored by another person often took the form of illuminating the author’s intentions in order to achieve the commentator’s particular political or didactic goals.9 This hermeneutic technique explains why, as both author and commentator of the text, Xie endeavored to be so meticulous and inclusive in his presentation of scene and ideas. Take for example the following excerpt from the postscript to this fu: These are all beautiful scenes of the lake. But I fear that my words cannot fully express my ideas. Of ten thousand details, not even one is adequately described. The various brooks emerge from their sources and enter this lake; they are thus called Tarn-Tributary Brooks. They are called ‘deep and dim’ because they are long. The islet was made after the removal of wild rice stems and was accordingly named [Wild Rice Removed Islet]; this explains why it is sinuous. 此皆湖中之美,但患言不盡意,萬不寫一耳。諸澗出源入湖,故曰濬潭 澗。澗長是以窈窕。除菰以作洲,言所以紆餘也。10

The phrase, “of ten thousand details, not even one is described” (wan bu xie yi 萬不寫一) is a poetic conceit that purports to tell of Xie’s difficulties as he attempted to present in full detail what he saw.11 This commentarial tactic is typical also in Xie’s geographical work, Notes on My Travels to Famous Mountains (You mingshan zhi 遊名山志), in which glosses become an instructional tool. The practice of providing glosses and commentary on geographical points reveals Xie’s keen interest in the details in a scene.

This refers to the use of characters with the same semantic classifiers in a row. This important means of presenting a visual and auditory impression was first seen in the ornate writing style of Sima Xiangru, with its vivid description of landscape. 9 See also Tim Chan, “The Jing/zhuan Structure of the Chuci Anthology,” 299. 10 XLYJ, 324; Songshu, 67.1760. 11 The phrase appears also in Xie’s praise for the infinity of Buddha’s virtue. Xie, “Foying ming” 佛影銘, XLYJ, 247; GHMJ, 15.199b19.

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For Xie, the presentation of landscape in verse was a means of demonstrating how to discern the Truth (li 理) in a scene.12 This compositional motivation comes close to Zong Bing’s 宗炳 (375–443) understanding of landscape presentation, known as ‘similitude resemblance’ (xingsi 形似): The sages discover the Dao by means of spirit; and the worthies had full access to the Dao. Mountains and rivers represent the beauty of the Dao by means of their physical form; and the men who possess the virtue of humaneness take pleasure in them. Are these two methods not almost the same? …  With intuition, one may seek out—a thousand years later—principles that were extinct before middle antiquity. Delving into books and documents, one may retrieve that which is beyond words and images. 夫聖人以神發道,而賢者通;山水以形媚道,而仁者樂。不亦幾乎?…… 夫理絕於中古之上者,可意求於千載之下。旨徵於言象之外者,可心取於 書策之內。13

Huiyuan’s famous argument that “the spirit does not perish as the physical form does” (as mentioned in chapter four) is similar to Zong’s idea, in that both men believed that media such as painting and writing were a means of semblance presentation, and, therefore, that it was necessary to perceive the unrepresented through the represented in one’s act of reading.14 Huiyuan, a Buddhist monk and a writer of great influence in the Chinese tradition, took one step further in elaborating his argument: A person is moved by things, but is not of them. Therefore when a thing transforms, the person does not vanish. A person relies on numerals [i.e., on reason, knowledge] but is not of them. Therefore when numerals reach their end, the person will not end … One who attains thorough 12 The translation “Truth” for li 理 is Bodde’s. See his translation of Fung Yu-lan’s A History of Chinese Philosophy, 2: 280–83, passim. In his discussion, Westbrook distinguishes the li in philosophical concepts of Zhi Dun from those of Xie Lingyun. He offers “principle” or “reason” as translation of the term in Xie’s cases. Westrook, “Landscape Description,” 137–39. Leon Hurvitz argues that the concept of li “has both microcosmic and macrocosmic connotations.” He also points out that Zhi Dun “equates li with benwu 本無 or zhiwu 至無 (‘rein sprême’), and both of these, in turn with prajñāpāramitā.” Hurvitz, “Chih Tun’s Notions of Prajñā,” 247–48. David Knechtges accepts this explanation in his discussion of Xie’s “Fu on My Mountain Abode.” Knechtges, “Zhongguo zhonggu wenren de shanyue youguan,” 25. 13 Zong Bing, “Hua shanshui xu” 畫山水序, Quan Songwen 全宋文, QSG, 20.8b–9a. For a discussion and full translation of this piece, see Bush, ‘Tsung Ping’s Essays,’ 137, 144–46. 14 Russian Formalists have the same view in their discussion of ‘imagery’: “The purpose of imagery is to help channel various objects and activities into groups and to clarify the unknown by means of the known. See Shklovsky, “Art as Technique,” 6.


chapter five e­ nlightenment returns to one’s root. One who is bewildered by Truth can only pursue things. 感物而非物故物化而不滅。假數而非數。故數盡而不窮。……但悟徹者 反本。惑理者逐物耳。15

This philosophy may account for the detailed descriptions in the poetry of Xie Lingyun. For Xie, writing was a means to convey his discovery of li (Truth) by distinguishing the spirit embedded within (or beyond) natural scenes (composed of ‘things’). His poetry marked a leap from the ‘mysterious-words poetry’ of the Eastern Jin, because landscape had now become an important means to convey the Dao.16 Take the following tour de force landscape poem as an example: “Written on My Way Back to the Lake from Stone     石壁精舍還湖中作 Cliff Vihāra”

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16.

The course from dawn to dusk transforms the climate. Mountains and rivers teem with radiant rays. These radiant rays bring one joy— The traveler feels so pleasant that he forgets to go home. It was just daybreak when I left my vale, The sunlight has turned dim as my boat returns. Forest and ravine hold on to dusk’s hues, Clouds and auroras collect evening virga. Caltrop and lotus leaves grow together in exuberance. Calamus and barn grasses lean against one another. I clear my way, rushing toward the south path, Then take pleasure in reposing by the eastern gate. Once worries are relieved, the material becomes worthless; Once my mind is carefree, nothing is counter to the Truth. I send these words to my guests who nourish their lives: Try adopting this method as your rationale.

昏旦變氣候 山水含清暉 清暉能娛人 游子憺忘歸 出谷日尚早 入舟陽已微 林壑斂暝色 雲霞收夕霏 芰荷迭映蔚 蒲稗相因依 披拂趨南徑 愉悅偃東扉 慮澹物自輕 意愜理無違 寄言攝生客 試用此道推17

The poem unfolds a process of disentangling oneself from the beautiful landscape. The poet is first ravished by the beauty of nature, but retreats to his home where he finds pleasure in “reposing by the eastern gate.” “The material becomes worthless” describes the effect of getting rid of ‘entanglements’ (lei 累), a concept which occurs as a main argument in 15 Huiyuan, “Shamen bujing wangzhe lun,” HMJ, 31c8–9, 13–14. 16 Qian Zhixi argues that Xie Lingyun’s technique of including self-authored postscripts to his poems was not derived directly from the ‘mysterious words’ poetic tradition, but instead from the lyrical tradition in the poetry of Ruan Ji, Guo Pu 郭璞 (276–324), etc. See Qian, “Xie Lingyun ‘Bian zong lun,’” 42. 17 XLYJ, 112; XKLS, 3.7a.

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Xie’s “On Discerning the Truth” (“Bian zong lun” 辨宗論).18 The enlightenment process in this poem is well explained by the three aspects of cultivation in Mahāyāna Buddhism, namely, morality 戒 (śīla), meditation 定 (samādhi), and wisdom 慧 (prajñā). Morality refers to abstention from the sixteen offences, most of which stem from greed. It is a central point, particularly in the Mahāparinirvāna-sūtra.19 In the poem, cultivation of morality is presented as abandoning oneself to the natural scene (i.e., lines 1–10). The phrase pifu 披拂 in line 11, literally “splitting and passing through,” implies a confrontation with an object; it seems as though the natural scene, previously presented as a delight to the senses, has transformed into an obstruction. This marks his abandonment of entanglements, and a beginning of awakening as the poet hurries back to his abode. The perspective of samādhi (sanmei 三昧) is predicated upon removal of wrong views (ejian 惡見). All these processes are essential for the attainment of wisdom. These three steps are intended to achieve “tranquillity in body,” “tranquillity in mind,” and “breaking up doubts.” They further lead to the attainment of Supreme Buddhahood (anuttarasamyak-sambodhi 阿辱多羅三藐三菩提), which is the attainment of unsurpassed great Nirvāna.20 Huiyuan’s discussion of meditation illuminates Xie’s method. In his “Preface to An Anthology of Poems on Samādhi Recollections of Buddha” (“Nian fo sanmei shiji xu” 念佛三昧詩集序), Huiyuan says: What does samādhi refer to? It means concentrative thinking and serene meditation. When one’s thought is concentrated, one’s mind will not be distracted. When meditation is serene, all obscurities will be cleared up … Therefore he who achieves dhyāna (‘meditation’) will become benighted and forget about knowledge, as though becoming a mirror that reflects whoever studies it. As the images become clear they reflect each other. Then a myriad of images appear. They are not something ears and eyes can reach, hear, see, or practice. Thereupon, he manages to view the real substance [that is reflected] on the abysmal mirror. Then he realizes that the root of the spirit is limpid, transparent, clear, and natural. Once he hears and understands the mysterious sound tapping on his heart, then 18 “Yu zhu daoren bian zong lun,” XLYJ, 285–300, esp. 287–88, 295, 299; GHMJ, 18.225a1–227b11, esp. 225c22–226a3. Note that GHMJ (18.224c26) has a variant graph bian 辯 (‘debate’) instead of bian 辨 (‘discern’) in the title of the treatise. 19 Mahāparinirvāna-sūtra, T. 374.12: 538b8–15. An early meaning of śīla was adherence to the basic Buddhist precepts, originally the “five precepts” for the laity, later replaced in some circles by the “ten good deeds.” See Harvey, An Introduction to Buddhism, 199–200. 20 Mahāparinirvāna-sūtra, T. 374.12: 538b17–24; 538c3–10; T. 375.12: 783b19–783c3, 783c16–22.


chapter five accumulated layers of dust will disperse, and the hindrances and attachments will be smoothed out and illuminated. 夫稱三昧者何?專思寂想之謂也。思專則志一不分。想寂則氣虛神 朗。……故令入斯定者。昧然忘知。即所緣以成鑒。明則內照交映而萬像 生焉。非耳目之所至。而聞見行焉。於是覩夫淵凝虛鏡之體。則悟靈根湛 一清明自然。察夫玄音之叩心聽。則塵累每消。滯情融朗。21

The subject of Huiyuan’s discussion is Buddha-recollection (Buddhā­ nusmṛti 念佛). His ultimate aim is to call upon Buddha Amitaba and be reborn in the Pure Land in the next life.22 Xie’s poetic discourse might not explicitly share Huiyuan’s ultimate goal, but it demonstrates the same experience of awakening through meditation. Huiyuan and Xie both believed in the existence of such a realm and (Xie in particular) strove to access it through poetry. The poetry itself was part of the spiritual setting, as evidenced through the exhortation in the final couplet (“I send these words to my guests who nourish their lives / Try adopting this method as your rationale”). The Stone Cliff Vihāra was built for Buddhist sermons and discussion.23 Therefore, the religious orientation of Xie Lingyun’s audience was crucial in the formation of his poetic style. The utility of poetry as a medium for exploring Buddhist dharma in a group setting is also relevant in understanding his works. According to his “Fu on My Mountain Dwelling,” in his Shining villa there were buildings for Buddhist activities, such as the Sutra Terrace 經臺, Sermon Hall 講堂, Meditation Chambers 禪室, and Monks Rooms 僧房. Of the Buddhist monks in residence, we know the names of Tanlong 曇隆 and Faliu 法流, who gave instruction in Buddhist teachings.24 In his “Elegy on Dharma Teacher Tanlong” (“Tanlong fashi lei” 曇隆法師誄), Xie recalls: I shall remember nostalgically my whole life long: How we shared our interest in obscure and profound  [topics]. … We sought after the subtle and probed the hidden; No sentence was left unexamined,

緬念生平 同幽共深

尋微探賾 何句不研

21 GHMJ, 30.351b11–13, 22–27. See also the discussion of this piece in Tian, “Illusion and Illumination,” 24–26. 22 Tsukamoto, A History of Early Chinese Buddhism, trans. Leon Hurvitz, 849. For Huiyuan’s understanding of the Three Courses as a doctrine of the Pure Land sect, see p. 846. 23 Evidence for these activities is found in the final couplet of “Shibi li zhaoti jingshe” 石壁立招提精舍, XLYJ, 110; XKLS, 3.6b. See the discussion by Kinugawa Kenji in his “Sha Reiun sansui shiron,” 105–6. 24 XLYJ, 326, 332; Songshu, 67.1765, 1769.

xie lingyun on awakening No perplexity unexplained. We opened cases, unrolled scrolls, Stored up and drew out folded papers. Questions came and answers went, Prolonging the days far into the night.

135 奚疑弗析 帙舒軸卷 藏拔紙襞 問來答往 俾日餘夕25

The depiction here of a warm but scholarly approach to sharing ideas on dharma provides a social context in which poems like “Written on My Way Back to the Lake from Stone Cliff Vihāra,” quoted above, make better sense. The interactive and educational modes in his work are an important key to Xie’s motives and approach to poetry. The Two Dharma Teachers Treating writing as a means of illustrating the process of becoming enlight­ened, Xie Lingyun was sufficiently knowledgeable to attract a contemporary literary audience and religious teachers. He had long been well acquainted with Mahāyāna doctrines, although the revision of the Mahāparinirvāna-sūtra, a project to which Xie made a significant contribution, did not start until 430.26 The apparent influence of Zhu Daosheng on Xie’s “Bian zong lun” does not mean that Xie learned dunwu only from Daosheng. It is also problematic to assume that dunwu did not become a main feature until the poems he wrote in his Shining reclusive life, which began in the autumn of 423. Rather, Xie’s Buddhist learning most certainly came from various sources. Huiyuan and Daosheng were only the most tangible of these influences on Xie. Associated with Huiyuan as early as the beginning of the fifth century, Xie Lingyun had already by then established an ideological foundation in Buddhism. In his elegy on Huiyuan, Xie claimed that since his teenage years he had been eager to be a disciple of Huiyuan, but this wish was not fulfilled because of the latter’s death in 416.27 This statement allows us to assume that Xie must have been present at the famous assembly organized by Huiyuan in 402, when Huiyuan successfully attracted lay followers such as Liu Chengzhi, Lei Cizong 雷次宗 (386–448), and Zhou Xuzhi

25 XLYJ, 352; GHMJ, 23.267a3–7; trans., Mather, “Landscape Buddhism,” 71, with modi­ fications. 26 Erik Zürcher provides nine pieces of evidence for Xie’s interest in Buddhism. See his Buddhist Conquest, 215, 412, n. 125. 27 XLYJ, 263; GHMJ, 23.267a18–19.


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周續之 (377–423) to what was thereafter known as the Pure Land School.28

Xie’s early fame may have qualified him for inclusion in such an august gathering.29 The earliest datable interaction between Xie and Huiyuan is when the latter invited Xie to pen an inscription commemorating the completion of an image of the Buddha in 413.30 This tells us how highly Huiyuan thought of Xie and convincingly repudiates a record that has Xie excluded from the Society because of his “mind’s impurity” (xinza 心雜).31 The biography of Huiyuan in Accounts of Eminent Buddhist Monks (Gaoseng zhuan 高僧傳) provides evidence of Xie’s great admiration of Huiyuan: “Xie Lingyun of Chen prefecture was very proud of his talent and contemptuous of the world. Seldom did he praise anyone. On first becoming acquainted with Huiyuan, he wholeheartedly submitted to 28 For details of Huiyuan’s role in the founding of the Pure Land School of Buddhism and that of the White Lotus Society (which has been demonstrated to be an imaginary construction of later writers), see Tang Yongtong, Han Wei liang Jin, 259–64; Zürcher, Buddhist Conquest, 217–19. Tang (p. 309) dates Xie’s first acquaintance with Huiyuan to 412. Lin Wen-yüeh argues that because Xie was only eighteen years old at the time he did not yet qualify as a peer of Liu, Lei, and Zhou. Lin, Xie Lingyun, 24. On the Tang-era imaginative construction of the White Lotus society, see Tang Yongtong, Sui Tang fojiao shi gao, 223. 29 The following quotations from Songshu, 67.1743, 1754, 1774 confirm his growing reputation: 1. Early recognition of Xie’s literary talents came from the Prince of Luling, Liu Yizhen, and continued to grow rapidly. 2. Xie’s poetry and calligraphy were both the best of his time. As a sign of the high esteem in which he held Xie, Emperor Wen 文帝 (r. 424–53) named one of Xie’s compositions in Xie’s own handwriting a “double treasure” (erbao 二 寶). 3. The beauty of Xie’s compositions found no match on the southern bank of the Yangzi. 4. He did away with the attire and utensils of the old tradition. The whole world paid homage to him as a leader. 5. When a poem by Xie was transmitted to the capital, nobles and plebeians alike would vie to copy it. Within a single day, it would reach all the gentry and the commoners. Admiration would come from far and near. His fame then shook the capital. 6. Upon his return to the east, Lingyun held gatherings and made outings to mountains and marshes with his cousin Xie Huilian 謝惠連 (497–433), He Changyu 何長瑜 of Donghai, Xun Yong 荀雍 of Donghai, and Yang Xuanzhi 羊 璿之 of Taishan. People named them the “Four Friends of Letters.” 30 Huiyuan wrote his in 412 upon the completion of the spectacle, and invited Xie to write one in 413. Zürcher, Buddhist Conquest, 224. Huiyuan’s inscription is in GHMJ, 15.197c7–198b13. Xie’s is in XLYJ, 247–48; GHMJ, 15.199b6–199c12. A full English translation of Xie’s inscription is in Frodsham, Murmuring Streams, 1: 178–81. For a detailed discussion of the background and construction of this Buddha image and its significance in Chinese landscape Buddhism, see Xiao Chi, “Dasheng fojiao,” 71–78. 31 Hao, Xie Kangle nianpu, 7; Tang Yongtong, Han Wei liang Jin, 256–61, 309.

xie lingyun on awakening


him.”32 This record allows a hypothesis that Xie learned mainly from Huiyuan from his teens. Zhu Daosheng, allegedly the first to advocate ‘greater dunwu,’ once studied at Mount Lu and must have had some interaction with Huiyuan; he might have shared Huiyuan’s philosophy, including his idea that “one who attains thorough enlightenment returns to one’s root” 悟徹者返本.33 Daosheng once studied the Abhidharma literature that was initially the central topic of study at Mount Lu. Whalen Lai points out, “Daosheng was studying in Lushan, where in 391 Saṅghadeva had translated the Abhi­ dharma-hrdaya, to which Huiyuan contributed a preface.” Lai observes that in Huiyuan’s “Discussion of Three Kinds of Retribution” (“San bao lun” 三報論, dated 395) are “the essential elements of the two theses of Daosheng, namely, that ‘doing good incurs no reward’ and ‘by sudden enlightenment one becomes a Buddha.’” The Mount Lu sect was converted to Mahāyāna during Huiyuan’s later exchange with Kumārajīva 鳩 摩羅什 (d. ca. 412).34 After leaving Mount Lu, Daosheng traveled to Chang’an with Huirui 慧叡 (355–439) and Huiyan 慧嚴 (363–443) to study under Kumārajīva.35 After leaving Chang’an, Daosheng preached his new theories on dunwu and held that “everyone possesses Buddha nature.” His audiences in the Liu Song capital of Jiankang (present-day Nanjing) had never heard such notions and opposition to his novel theories resulted in his being expelled in 428 or 429.36 While Daosheng’s ideas were all attested to in the Mahā­parinirvāna-sūtra, Dharmakṣema’s 曇無 讖 (385–433) forty-juan Chinese translation of that text had not yet reached the south. Nonetheless, the Lalitavistara 佛說普曜經 translated in 308 by Dharmarakṣa 竺法護 (fl. late third to early fourth centuries) has a verse that reads: “All living beings can achieve Buddhahood.”37 Daosheng’s arguments might have been an elaboration of this existing doctrine.38 32 GSZ, 361a21–22; Seng You 僧祐 (445–518), Chu sanzang ji ji 出三藏記集, T. 2145.55: 110b29–110c1. 33 “Shamen bujing wangzhe lun,” 31c8–9, 13–14. 34 Lai, “Tao-sheng’s Theory of Sudden Enlightenment Re-examined,” 175. 35 Chu sanzang ji ji, 15.110c24–27; GSZ, 366c2–5. A general introduction to Daosheng is in Tsukamoto, A History of Early Chinese Buddhism, 457–60. 36 Tang Yongtong, Han Wei liang Jin, 309–10, 435–38. 37 Lalita-vistara 佛說普曜經, T. 186.3: 537c17. 38 There have been several hypotheses on Daosheng’s novel theories. Tsukamoto, A History of Early Chinese Buddhism, 458–59, makes three points: “(1) The encounter with doctrinal expressions that were at first sight, opposed to the Prajñāpāramitā scriptures, as had been true first of the new Mahāyāna doctrines that he had learned under Kumārajīva at Chang’an, then of the Hīnayāna doctrines, most notably those of the


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It is conceivable that Xie Lingyun heard of Daosheng’s argument when he was in the capital in 420 and later wrote his “Bian zong lun,” but this does not seem to have been the case. Daosheng’s preaching was not the only possible source for Xie’s knowledge of dunwu and the idea of Buddha nature. The Gaoseng zhuan records that Kumārajīva praised Huiyuan’s innovative view on the dharma nature (faxing 法性) highly, as it was a view recorded in sutras that Huiyuan had not even seen.39 This demonstrates that similar views can have multiple sources. These concepts must have been accessible to both Daosheng and Xie at different times and in different settings. The Buddhist Scholar-Poet The formation of Xie Lingyun’s philosophy is a complex issue; therefore, applying any single theory to the analysis of his work leads only to con­ tradictions. We find no dunwu ideology in the three eulogies he wrote at the request of Fan Tai 范泰 (355–428), who erected a statue of Buddha at the newly built Jetavana Monastery in Jiankang and commissioned the “Eulogy on Statues at Jetavana” 祇洹像讚. Xie’s contributions might have been written in 420 or 423, shortly before or after he wrote his “Bian zong lun.”40

Sarvāstivāda, that had been recently and uninterruptedly brought in and propagated; (2) the many doubts that he himself felt; (3) his quest, as a committed believer and thinker, for a solution to the problems raised by the apparent contradictions within what was, after all, the teaching of one and the same Buddha.” See also Fang, Zhongguo dasheng foxue, 116–17, 120–22. Fang argues that Daosheng’s theory of Buddhist nature was also influenced by Huiyuan. Lai traces the inception of Daosheng’s theory to a Hīnayāna source, the Abhidharma-hrdaya, as well as his interaction with Huiyuan. See “Tao-sheng’s Theory,” 175–77. Xiao Dengfu argues that Daosheng’s new theories were derived from early philosophical Daoist thinkers such as Laozi and Zhuangzi. Xiao, Daojia daojiao yu zhongtu fojiao, 343–48. 39 Tang Yongtong, Han Wei liang Jin, 446, quoting GSZ, 360a20–22 and Chu sanzang ji ji, 15.110a29–110b1. 40 Tang Yongtong, Han Wei liang Jin, 309. Gu Shaobo provides details to support his dating of 423. Gu argues that Fan Tai was greatly at odds with the potentate officials Fu Liang 傅亮 (374–426) and Xu Xianzhi 徐羨之 (364–426). In order to avoid trouble, he devoted himself to Buddhism after consulting with the Buddhist monk Huiyi 慧義. XLYJ, 309, n. 1.

41 42

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5. 6. 7. 8.

佛讚 “Eulogy on the Buddha” 惟此大覺 O this Great Awakening— 因心則靈 Following one’s heart, it becomes numinous. 垢盡智照 When stain is completely removed, intelligence shines; When counting [i.e., reason] reaches an end, wisdom turns 數極慧明 bright. 三達非我 The Three Omniscient Insights are not mine. 一援群生 My only mission is to save living creatures. 理阻心行 When Truth is obstructed, my heart is in practice. 道絕形聲 The Dao transcends shapes and sounds.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

菩薩讚 “Eulogy on Bodhisattvas” 若人仰宗 These people venerate the Initiator, 發性遺慮 Cultivating their inner nature, leaving behind worries. 以定養慧 Nourishing their Wisdom with Concentration, 和理斯附 They thus attain harmony and Truth. The process begins with the ‘four universal states of mind,’41 爰初四等 終然十住 And ends at the ‘tenth stage.’ 涉求至矣 They search only for the Ultimate; 在外皆去 All exteriors are abandoned.

1. 2. 3. 4.

“A Combined Eulogy on Pratyekabuddhas and Śrāvakas” Frequently held are feelings of suffering and bitterness; Seldom held is the intent of saving others. Just like the Conjured City,42 Where one can momentarily obtain treasure. It lures you with this Nirvāna, So as to save you in your living and aging. At first there were indeed ‘three chariots,’ Eventually, they will all turn to travel on a single path.43

緣覺聲聞合讚 厭苦情多 兼物志少 如彼化城 權可得寶 誘以涅槃 救爾生老 肇允三車 翻乘一道

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 43 These three eulogies convey a basic knowledge of Buddhism. The three levels of achievement in enlightenment are likened to ‘three chariots,’ or Three Vehicles 三乘 (trī-yānān). The Great Vehicle refers to the achievement of having become a Bodhisattva, the middle to that of achieving the state of a pratyeka-buddha, and the lesser to becoming a śrāvaka. Each of these will achieve ultimate Truth, but through different routes.44 41 The ‘Four states of mind’ 四等 (catvāri apramānāni) are kindness (maitrī 慈), compassion (karuṇā 悲), joy (muditā 喜), and equanimity (upekṣa 捨). 42 An allusion to the Lotus sutra, in which the “conjured city” is mentioned. There are two early translations of the sutra, T. 262 (Saddharma-puṇḍarīka-sūtra 妙法蓮華經) and T. 263 (Zheng Fahua jing 正法華經), by, respectively, Kumārajīva and Dharmarakṣa. Both translations contain the Chinese term huacheng. T. 262.9: 26a10; T. 263.9: 92c9. See below for a fuller discussion of the tale of the conjured city in the Lotus sutra. 43 GHMJ, 15.200a15–24; XLYJ, 309. 44 Sources for the trī-yānān abound. See, for example, Saddharma-puṇḍarīka-sūtra, T. 262.9: 6a24–27; Vimalakīrti-sūtra, T. 475.14: 548a22–25. The term zhaoyun 肇允 is first


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These eulogies contain ideas that are obviously inconsistent with Daosheng’s theories. Daosheng’s argument as quoted in Xie’s “Bian zong lun” reads: “The state of mirror-like void (of nirvāna) is abstruse and mysterious and does not admit of any stages (for its attainment).”45 In contrast, Xie stated in the first of the three eulogies quoted above that only the Buddha could attain this by abandoning stain and “counting,” or pursuit of worldly knowledge. The ultimate goal for those aspiring to become Bodhisattvas was the “tenth stage” (shidi 十地 or shizhu 十住) while scholars of ‘lesser dunwu’ such as the monk Zhi Dun 支遁 (314–66) aimed only at the ‘seventh stage.’46 Thus, only those at the level of a Bodhisattva could achieve greater dunwu. Those at the pratyeka-buddha and śrāvaka levels constantly suffered, although they eventually achieved Buddhahood via a different path. One of Daosheng’s most innovative yet radical arguments was that an icchantika 一闡提 (‘hopeless unbeliever’) also possessed Buddha nature.47 This is not seen in Xie’s eulogies, but is twice emphasized in his “Inscription on an Image of the Buddha” (“Foying ming” 佛影銘) composed at Huiyuan’s request in 413: 庶推誠心 I hope to extend my sincerity 頗感群物 To inspire various creatures, So that the flying owls will eventually change their sound 飛鴞有革音之期 And that icchantikas will have a way to redeem them- 闡提獲自拔之路  selves [from guilt]. …… … 嗟爾懷道 Alas, you who possess the Dao: 慎勿中惕 Be careful not to lose faith midway. 弱喪之推 Pressures from losses at an early age, 闡提之役 The ordeals of icchantikas, 反路今覩 On the returning path, you see it now (i.e., Buddha’s  image). 發蒙茲覿 May your ignorance be edified by this vision. 式厲厥心 Then your determination will be strengthened. found in Shijing, Mao 289. Zheng Xuan glosses the two characters as “the beginning” and “truly” (肇,始,允,信也). MSZY, 19.4.333a. Zhaoyun has a variant of Zhaoyuan 元 in XLYJ, 309. 45 XLYJ, 285; GHMJ, 18.225a3–4; trans., Bodde, History of Chinese Philosophy, 2: 275. 46 For a discussion of the ten stages, see Tang Yongtong, Han Wei liang Jin, 462–66. 47 A Song-dynasty definition of icchantika is: “One who does not believe in cause and effect, who has no sense of shame, who does not believe in karmic retribution, who does not see the present and the future, who does not get along with reliable friends, and who does not comply with the teaching and commandments told by Buddhas” (不信因果。無 有慚愧。不信業報。不見現在及未來世。不親善友。不隨諸佛所說教誡。). See Fayun 法 雲 (fl. 1143), Fanyi mingyi ji 翻譯名義集, T. 2131.54: 1084a27–29.

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時逝流易 Time elapses and currents change. 敢銘靈宇 I dare to lay my inscription in this sacred temple. With respect, I share my views with the scepter-holder.48 敬告振錫

48 Apparently the last line is an acknowledgement of Huiyuan’s invitation. Here, Xie shares Daosheng’s view on undifferentiated liberation (i.e., that liberation is possible, and indeed present, in all people), although it is unclear as to whether Xie is referring to the heretic or the criminal icchantikas, or both.49 The idea that icchantikas possess Buddha nature was raised by Daosheng, and later found textual support in the newly procured and translated forty-juan version of the Mahāparinirvāna-sūtra that arrived in Jiankang in 431.50 Xie used the term icchantika almost a decade earlier than Daosheng and at least four years before Faxian’s 法顯 (ca. 337–ca. 422) translation of the six-juan Mahāparinirvāna-sūtra (417 or 418).51 Moreover, the two occurrences of icchantika in Xie’s discussion prove that he did not learn this idea from Daosheng or the Faxian text; he learnt it from some unknown source.52 This hypothesis is supported by the different transliterations of the term icchantika, which is chanti 闡提 in Xie’s works rather than yichanti 一, as in Daosheng’s discussion and in the Mahāparinirvāna-sūtra (T. 374, T. 375). The use of chanti in Zong Bing’s “Illumination of Buddhism” (“Ming fo lun” 明佛論) and Xie’s preface to his inscription, neither of which is in metered verse form, supports 48 XLYJ, 248; GHMJ, 15.199b19–20, 199c10–12. 49 In his thorough study of the Mahāparinirvāna-sūtra, Mochizuki Ryōkō argues that eschatology produced icchantika, which were the result of conflict among sects and the decline of morality. The main cause of the appearance of icchantika was the insatiable desire for profit. There were two kinds of icchantika: one was those who committed the “four major offenses and five serious trespasses” 四重禁, 五無間 (Mahāparinirvāna-sūtra, T. 375.12: 660b29–660c1, et passim); the other included those “who obstructed and harmed the development of the Sangha and thus threatened its survival as an organization.” Despite the term not appearing in early sources, Mochizuki argues that the Saddharma-pundarīka-sūtra contained a detailed description of the guilt of icchantika. See his Daijō nehangyō no kenkyū, 39–44, 97–108 (in this same volume, the English summary by Paul L. Swanson on pp. 7–17 is useful; also see the detailed discussion of icchantika in different contexts in the Mahāparinirvāna-sūtra on pp. 97–135). 50 See, for example, the Mahāparinirvāna-sūtra, T. 374.12: 524c1–5; 554a20–23; 562b8– 10; 562b15–27. 51 Tang Yongtong, Han Wei liang Jin, 435–38. In Faxian’s text of the Mahāparinirvānasūtra (T. 376), the idea that ‘all creatures possess Buddha nature’ is found passim, e.g., 877b9–10; 881b26–881c4; 882a2–16. The Faxian text mentions a similar idea to the one Xie discusses: icchantika and other bad people commit crimes and are led back to the right track by the wise and kind ones in accordance with Buddha’s teaching (869c3–9). 52 This is also the argument of Nakanishi Hisanmi in his “Sha Reiun no tongo,” 426. See also Chen Daogui, “Xie Lingyun ‘Foying ming bing xu,’” 27–28.


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the argument that in Xie’s tetrasyllabic inscription this bisyllabic term was not an emendation made necessary by the constraints of the meter.53 Xie’s beliefs in equity in the attainment of Buddhahood provided a foundation for his statement that “all creatures possess Buddha nature and have a dao to follow.”54 The egalitarian elements in his “Fu on My Mountain Dwelling” breathed new life into the fu genre on ‘dwellings’ because it combined traditional Confucian thinking with Buddhism.55 One typical structure in this fu is that a lengthy, accurate description of a scene is followed by a discussion of Buddhist ideas. The newly attained Truth (li) becomes a guideline to the analysis of the scene. Xie writes: The two seasons in which they (i.e., the monks) stay, Are winter and summer, each lasting three months, Buddhist monks arrive from afar. None living nearby is absent from the sermons. … They explain the subtle words from many kalpas ago. They preach on the remaining purports of dharma. I take one feather from this heart, To save lives in myriad ways.

安居二時 冬夏三月 遠僧有來 近眾無闕

…… 析曠劫之微言 說像法之遺旨 乘此心之一豪 濟彼生之萬理 56

In order to display the idea of “myriad ways” (wanli 萬理), a traditional feature of the genre, Xie then listed a wide range of birds and fish.57 Below is David Knechtges’s translation of the section on fish: Of fish there are:  You, murrel, golden carp, silver carp,  Barbel, ide, white fish, white bream,  Black bream, paddle-fish, goby, mandarin fish,  Yellow-headed catfish, carp, mullet, and sturgeon.

魚則 鱧鮒鱮 鱒鯇鰱鯿 魴鮪魦鱖 鱨鯉鯔鱣

Describing their activities was an important means of guiding one to meditation: 53 Zong Bing, “Ming Fo lun,” HMJ, 12c26. This kind of emendation is found in Gunabhadra’s 求那跋陀羅 (Liu Song) translation of the Aṅngulimālīya-sūtra 央掘魔羅經, T. 120.2: 529c–530a. In the same gāthā, he uses chanti three times (529c18, 21; 530a3) as a short form for yichanti, which appears five times (529c11, 14, 16, 29, 530a2). The latter is treated as a standard translation because it is used consistently throughout the sutra. 54 物有佛性﹐其道有歸. “Bian zong lun,” XLYJ, 295; GHMJ, 18.227a10. 55 Saito, “Sha Reiun no sankyo,” 43. 56 XLYJ, 332; Songshu, 67.1769. 57 Juxtaposition of characters with the same radical, a practice initiated by Sima Xiangru, can be found in fu such as Sima’s “Zixu fu” 子虛賦, Zhang Heng’s “Nandu fu” 南 都賦, Zuo Si’s 左思 (ca. 250–305) “Sandu fu” 三都賦, etc. WX, 8.2b–4a, 4.3a–6a, 5.3b–5a. Liu Xie’s view of this practice is in WXDL, 10.694.

xie lingyun on awakening This concentration of colors, mixture of hues,  Is brilliant as brocade, as bright as clouds.  They nibble on mare’s tail, frolic on the ripples,  Drift among cattails, glide into pools.  Some vibrate their gills and jump in the rapids;  Some wiggle their tails and whirl in the waves.  Sculpins and anchovies at the right season enter   the shore;  False salmon and xun follow the riffle and emerge   from the springs.58

143 輯采雜色 錦爛雲鮮 唼藻戲浪 汎苻流淵 或鼓鰓而湍躍 或掉尾而波旋 鱸鮆乘時以入浦 鱤


This kind of detailed description has been seen as a parody of Sima Xiangru, but in this fu, Xie’s presentation serves to deliver a particular point about the meditative journey.59 This scene, in conjunction with a parallel description of birds, is used later on in the same fu as a trope for Xie’s discussion of life. In the following lines, he preached about his perception of Truth: Sincerity in sparing lives, 好生之篤 Taking myself as an example, 以我而觀 Is about fearing the end of life. 懼命之盡 Thus I begrudge my joy in the sunlight. 吝景之歡 One should use benevolence 分一往之仁心 To save ten thousand clans from danger and 拔萬族之險難  disasters, To summon the startled soul when it is about to 招驚魂於殆化  transform, And to save the unsecured body before it ends. 收危形於將闌 Let the fish go according to their nature and stay 漾水性於江流  afloat in the river; Let the birds breathe the cloud objects at the end of 吸雲物於天端  the sky. I gaze at the flight of the fluttering wings. 睹騰翰之頏頡 I observe the comings and goings of the bulging gills. 視鼓鰓之往還 [Through this meditation,] those who gallop in 馳騁者儻能狂愈  hunting may transcend their excessive rapture; The suspicious and envious may be enlightened by 猜害者或可理攀60  this Truth.

Xie’s egalitarian vision was a reciprocal process between his observation of animals and what he learned from Buddhist activities. He abstained 58 XLYJ, 326; Songshu, 67.1762. I thank David Knechtges for allowing me to use his unpublished translation of the “Shanju fu.” 59 Knecthges, private communication on 3 August 2010. 60 XLYJ, 332; Songshu, 67.1770.


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from killing, an idea inspired by animals and birds living in freedom at his villa, from an early age. Alluding to the Zhuangzi, for instance, Xie preached that, when possessed by desire, one is much more evil than tigers and wolves, which display a certain kindness. Interestingly, this idea is comparable to the argument that even icchantikas possess “good roots” (shangen 善根; Sanskrit, śuklâṃśa) and should not go to hell.61 A Poetic Key to Enlightenment Undifferentiated liberation and instantaneous enlightenment—two main aspects of Xie Lingyun’s understanding of Buddhist dharma—were decisive in shaping his poetic style. Surely the most effective method of analyzing the kind of ‘Truth’ expressed in Xie’s poetry would be to use Daosheng’s ideologies, in view of Daosheng’s strong influence on Xie (as discussed above). However, poetry is a different genre from philosophical argument, and therefore a deeper understanding of the central concept of Truth in Xie’s poetry can only be approached through closer examination of his poetic technique. Transcendence of attachment (qing 情) to worldly entanglement forms a main theme in Xie’s poetic works.62 Huiyuan has much to say about the separation of “attachment” and “spirit” (shen 神): He who returns to the Root and seeks the basic principle does not burden his spirit with life, and he who transcends the limitations of the (worldly) dust does not burden his life with attachments. Since he does not burden his life with attachments, his life can be extinguished, and since he does not burden his spirit with life, his spirit can be darkened. [In that highest state] the spirit is darkened and the world is eliminated—therefore it is called Nirvāna. 求宗者不以生累其神。超落塵封者不以情累其生。不以情累其生則其生可 滅。不以生累其神則其神可冥。冥神絕境故謂之泥洹。63

Here the word lei 累 is used in the verbal form, “to burden.” This “burden” stems from one’s attachment to things. As attachment accumulates, according to Huiyuan, one becomes obstructed and is thus burdened 61 Mahāparinirvāna-sūtra, T. 374.12: 562b8–23; 562c26–27. 62 I borrow this “more encompassing” translation of qing from Dore Levy, who emphasizes the Buddhist implications of the term in Honglou meng. See Levy, Ideal and Actual in the Story of the Stone, 9–10. 63 GSZ, 6.361a1–5, translation adapted from Zürcher, Buddhist Conquest, 251–52. This part of the discussion is taken from Huiyuan, “Shamen bujing wangzhe lun,” 30c13–16.

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more heavily.64 The word lei is central to Xie Lingyun’s discussion in his “Bian zong lun,” in which it is used as a noun, and is translated as “ties” by Derk Bodde: Ties arise because of the mind, and the mind, through its contact (with them), forms (further) ties. He whose mind is in constant contact with these ties, suffers ever from confusion, whereas he whose mind utilizes the teachings, ever subdues them. This subduing of the ties, if protracted, leads to their final extinction. The moment of their extinction, however, is subsequent to the period of their subdual. The subdual of the ties and the extinction of the ties, though identical in appearance, are actually different and need to be closely examined. In the state of extinction of the ties, (external) things and the self are equally forgotten, and being and nonbeing are viewed in one and the same way. 累起因心,心觸成累。累恒觸者心日昏,教為用者心日伏。伏累彌久,至 於滅累。然滅之時,在累伏之後也。伏累滅累,貌同實異,不可不察。滅 累之體,物我同忘,有無壹觀。伏累之狀,他己異情,空實殊見。殊實 空、異己他者,入於滯矣。壹無有、同我物者,出於照也。65

The proper arrangement of lei relies upon one’s ability to perceive Truth (li), which, in the ideology of Daosheng and Xie, is achieved through dunwu.66 The poetic style that arose from this ideology was not an innovation of Xie’s; Buddhism-inspired landscape poetry was already being practiced in some form by poets of the Eastern Jin, such as Sun Chuo 孫綽 (314–71), Wang Xizhi, and Yu Chan 庾闡. Xie Lingyun, however, took it to a new level of sophistication, in which the poem itself both embodies as well as depicts the spiritual experience. According to Donald Holzman, the work of these earlier poets actually marked the birth of Chinese landscape poetry, even though Zhong Rong 鍾嶸 (d. ca. 518) criticized their work as vapid and lacking embellishment. Despite the reforms of Xie Hun, an uncle of Lingyun who was the first to transform ‘mysterious-words poetry’ into landscape poetry, the search for Truth was still a crucial feature in Lingyun’s poetry.67 For example, Xie ends one of his poems with a 64 Huiyuan, “Shamen bujing wangzhe lun,” 30c6. 65 Xie, “Bian zong lun,” XLYJ, 288; GHMJ, 18.225c27. Fung, A History of Chinese Philosophy, 2: 280–81. 66 As Yabuuchi Takayoshi argues, the ultimate goal of Xie’s compositions was to “reveal the Truth.” See Yabuuchi, “Sha Reiun sansuishi,” 27–45. 67  Songshu, 67.1778; Zhong Rong, Shipin zhu, 3. Holzman, Landscape Appreciation in Ancient and Early Medieval China, 127–54. The quote from Tan Daoluan’s 檀道鸞 (Liu Song) Xu Jin yanqiu 續晉陽秋 in SSXY, 4/85, trans., Mather, Tales of the World, 137, is the locus classicus in discussions of the change from mysterious words poetry to landscape poetry. This view is shared by Shen Yue 沈約 (441–513), Songshu, 67.1778.


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c­ onclusion about his meditation on the landscape and its contrasting relationship with his worries over human matters: My attachment has undergone observation and achieved aes thetic appeal. When matters are unclear, in the end who can clarify them? As I view this [wonderful scene] I put aside my worries about  things. One glimpse of enlightenment equips me to get rid of them.68

情用賞為美 事昧竟誰辨 觀此遺物慮

一悟得所遣 68 The idea Xie is conveying in these lines is best elucidated by Zhu Dao­ sheng:

One suffers from trouble because one gets confused by attachment (qing). One should thus observe dharma and Truth to get rid of them. However, as one begins to observe, Truth is not yet clear, and one’s heart does not stay with Truth. One must have the power of mindfulness (smṛtibala 念 力) to be able to observe. 夫有煩惱出於惑情耳。便應觀察法理以遣之也。然始觀之時見理未明心不 住理。要須念力然後得觀也。69

Daosheng’s discussion explains the cause of trouble as well as the solution. The phrase “one glimpse of [sudden] enlightenment” (yiwu 一悟) appears in Xie’s “Bian zong lun” as a means of “removing a myriad obstructions” and “achieving [one’s goal] and arriving [at one’s destination].”70 Further illustration of this aesthetic is found in the final part of another poem: 71 At dawn, I already hear the rushing evening breeze, At dusk, I seem to see the morning sun rising. Among stooping cliffs light cannot stay long, Inside the deep woods sounds travel freely. When I think of my sad past, my anxiety returns, But when I grasp the Truth my attachments are all gone. I wish to travel on the sun chariot, So that I can compose my restless soul. This thought is not to be shared with just anyone; I wish to have discussions with the wise.

早聞夕飆急 晚見朝日暾 崖傾光難留 林深響易奔 感往慮有復 理來情無存 庶持乘日車 得以慰營魂 匪為眾人說 冀與智者論71

68 XLYJ, 121. XKLS, 3.17a. Quoting Liu Lü 劉履 (1317–79), Gu Shaobo states that the “matter that is unclear” (shimei 事昧) refers to the death of Liu Yizhen, Prince of Luling. XLYJ, 123, n. 20. 69 Yabuuchi, “Sha Reiun sansuishi,” 153, quoting Zhu Weimojie jing 注維摩詰經 (Annotated Vimalakīrtti-sūtra), T. 1775.38: 386a18–21. 70 XLYJ, 287, 295; GHMJ, 18.225b28–29, 227a24–25. The phrase also appears in Huiyuan’s verse, which will be discussed below. 71 “Shimen xinying suozhu …,” XLYJ, 174; XKLS, 3.4b–5a.

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In search of the Truth in a physical landscape, travel becomes essential. The lines quoted above appear in the poem after a statement of longing for a close friend. The scene presented in these lines thus symbolizes Xie’s lament over the transient nature of his gatherings with his friends. Alluding to the “Lisao,” the poet finds a way to transcend the passing of time. His means of doing this is to emulate Xihe 羲和 and take control of the “chariot of the sun” so that sunlight is always with him.72 Once the poet attains Truth, the beauty of nature that is formed by the work of attachment is transcended and is thus completely gone (理來情無存). This process is illustrated by Daosheng’s gloss on a line in the Vimalakīrtisūtra that reads: “Dharma involves no mortal lives; it is free from mortal stain.” Daosheng explains: This means: attachment comes from mortals themselves; it is not the work of Truth. If attachment does not comply with Truth, it is called stain. Once one views the Truth, the stained attachment will definitely be removed. 言眾生自出著者之情。非理之然也。情不從理謂之垢也。若得見理垢情必 盡。73

In Xie’s poetic discourse, transcendence is achieved through the display and disappearance of landscape, a process that requires the discarding of attachment. From the reader’s point of view, it seems that this process actually begins with a gradual detachment from the beautiful scene (perhaps akin to gradual enlightenment, jianwu 漸悟), and the mood in the poem is finally elevated to a fuller, more exalted awakening (something akin to dunwu). Reaching this height, as Li Shan explained, “as things and the self both vanish, no passion is left.”74 Again, in Daosheng’s words, Before seeing Truth, one must talk about the ford. Once one sees Truth, what is the use of words? This is just like the use of nets and snares that catch fish and rabbits. 未見理時,必須言津;既見乎理,何用言為?其猶筌蹄,以求魚菟,魚菟 既獲,筌蹄何施?75

72 CCBZ, 1.27, Wang Yi’s and Hong Xingzu’s commentaries. The variant riyong 日用 for riche 日車 has posed an interpretation problem. Most scholars follow Hu Sanxing 胡 三省 (1230–1302) in accepting riyong. See XLYJ, 177, n. 23. My reading of the line is based on the argument of Huang Jie, who accepts riche. XKLS, 3.5a. 73 Zhu Weimojie jing, T. 1775.38: 346a10–12. 74 WX, 30.9a, Li Shan’s commentary. 75 Zhu Daosheng, Miaofa Lianhua jing shu 15b1–3. The author’s name is given as Li Daosheng 笠道生, which the editors identify as a mistake (bottom of p. 1, n. 2). The character tu 菟, which occurs twice in the quotation, is a mis-transcription of tu 兔. This


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This theory was a cliché among xuanxue thinkers, who were in love with the discussion of fish and rabbit traps first seen in Zhuangzi. To Wang Bi 王弼 (226–49), for example, ideas must be conveyed by means of “Actuality” (you 有).76 This dualistic idea (i.e. dualistic in the sense of a dichotomy of “actuality” vs. “emptiness” kong 空) was adopted in the writings of another influential Buddhist monk, Zhi Dun. In Zhi Dun’s writings, the idea of Actuality was reborn as “Matter as Such” or “Identity with Matter” (jiseyi 即色義).77 Like Xie, Zhi Dun regarded li as a means of reaching the ultimate truth of śūnyatā (“emptiness”). In Xie Lingyun’s discussion, the Three Vehicles are likened to the net and the snare, while fish and rabbits are like prajñā. “The teaching has to be periphrastic, simply because most people are ignorant.”78 This explanation supports the idea that he used poetry as a means of preaching to his anticipated audience. In the poems quoted above, the poet makes a distinction between the “masses” (zhongren 眾人) and the “wise ones” (zhizhe 智者) in the final couplet, a direct allusion to two lines from Sima Qian’s 司馬遷 (145–ca. 86 bc) “A letter for Ren An 任安”: All these [views] can only be shared with the wise ones; they are difficult to convey to the uncouth ones.79

Xie surely did not want to say the word “uncouth” (su 俗) in his verse lest he offend his ‘ignorant’ readers, whom he wished to educate. The Landscape of Enlightenment In addition to presenting scenes and feelings, Xie Lingyun used landscape appreciation (and landscape poetry) as a metaphor for a process of enlightenment. As mentioned above, Zong Bing believed that landscape conveys the dao to any observer with enough sensitivity and training. Likewise, Xie intended that through careful reading of the verse, any ­sensitive reader could obtain the dao lodged in his presentation of landfamous analogue was first used in the Zhuangzi, 26/48–49: 筌者所以在魚,得魚而忘筌, 蹄者所以在兔,得兔而忘蹄。

76 SSXY, 4/8; trans., Mather, Tales of the World, 96. For the use of “net and snare” by xuanxue thinkers and Buddhist monks such as Seng Rui 僧睿 and Zhu Daosheng, see Tang Yongtong, Wei Jin xuanxue lun gao, 28–29, 44–46. 77 The translations of jiseyi are Zürcher’s. See Buddhist Conquest, 123. For a discussion of Zhi Dun’s dichotomy of li and the ultimate truth of ‘emptiness,’ see Holcombe, In the Shadow of the Han, 120; Zürcher, Buddhist Conquest, 123–24; Bush, “Tsung Ping’s Essay,” 141–43. 78 “Bian zong lun,” XLYJ, 295; GHMJ, 18.227a18. 79 Sima, “Bao Ren Shaoqing shu,” WX, 41.18a; Quan Han wen, 26.8b.

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scape. Xie wrote the following poem during his Yongjia tenure, before his alleged acquisition of the dunwu doctrine, yet it actually demonstrates features of dunwu ideology: “Ascending a Lonely Island in the River”          登江中孤嶼 江南倦歷覽 1. South of the river, I am weary from roaming and viewing; 2. North of the river, it has been long since I last went sightsee- 江北曠周旋


懷雜道轉迥 3. My mind is impure, thus the way is far away. 尋異景不延 4. I look for wonders but the sunlight will not last long. 5. Hurriedly as I cut across the torrential current, [I discover] 亂流趨正絕 孤嶼媚中川 6. A lonely island, standing beautifully in mid-stream. 7. Clouds and rays of sunlight shine and reflect one another, 雲日相暉映 空水共澄鮮 8. The sky and water share a lucidness and freshness. 表靈物莫賞 9. Revealed divinities, no beings would appreciate them. 蘊真誰為傳 10. Hidden perfections, who can transmit them to others? 想像崑山姿 11. I imagine the outward appearance of Mount Kunlun, 緬邈區中緣 12. It seems to exist right here in the mortal realm. 始信安期術 13. Now I begin to have faith in the techniques of Anqi.80 得盡養生年81 14. They allow me to live out my years of nourished life. 80 81 This poem exemplifies a process of sudden discovery of Truth through observation of evocative imagery. The extensive, exhausting search for places from which to appreciate the vista can be read allegorically as the poet’s quest for the dao, which refers to both the physical road and the spiritual Way. Fang Hui 方回 (1227–1307) explained the third line in relation to Xie’s failure to find good view points: “When one’s heart is impure, one is far from the Dao. I suspect that Lingyun is now expressing his own experience.”82 Facing the rushing currents, the poet might have shared Confucius’s sentiment about how quickly time passes. This represents an early poetic use of this trope, which originated in the Analects.83 His ­sudden discovery of a lonely island in the middle of the stream is unex80 Anqi is Anqi sheng 生, a transcendent being proficient in life-prolonging techniques. He lived in the mythological Penglai mountains. Emperor Wu of the Han once sent envoys to look for him for methods of immortality. See SJ, 12.455, 28.1385–86. Elsewhere Anqi sheng is recorded as a transcendent-recluse, dubbed by people of the time “an old man of a thousand years of age” 千歲翁. On his tour to eastern China, the First Emperor of the Qin (r. 246–210 bc) wanted to be acquainted with him, and eventually the two men sat for a three-day consultation. See Liu Xiang, Liexian quanzhuan, 2.63. An enhanced version is in Huangfu Mi, Gaoshi zhuan, 2.6a/b. 81 XLYJ, 83–84; XKLS, 2.21b. 82 Fang, Wenxuan Yan Bao Xie shi ping, 3.6b. The term huaiza 懷雜 is first found in WX, 26.27a. The variant huaixin 新 appears in Xie’s collected works put together in the Ming. 83 Lunyu, 9/17.


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pected success. If impurity is an obstacle to enlightenment, as Xie’s imagined opponents argue in his “Bian zong lun,” one will never achieve it until all entanglements are completely removed.84 In this poem, however, Xie demonstrates that a person with an impure mind can suddenly achieve his goal. Such enlightenment may happen during an exhausting search. The tale of the “conjured city” 化城 in the third of his eulogies (“A Combined Eulogy on Pratyekabuddhas and Śrāvakas”) quoted above throws light on this kind of sudden discovery. The relevant lines are as follows: “Just like the Conjured City / Where one can momentarily obtain treasure.” (ll. 3–4) The nature of the spiritual search, instantaneous enlightenment, and the ultimate attainment of eternity have the same logic and motive as the Buddhist tale that Xie alludes to here. The tale is found in the Lotus sutra: Here is an example of a journey of five hundred yojana.85 Out of fear, a group of people was taking a dangerous out-of-the-way road in order to reach a cache of jewels. A wise nāyaka (‘spiritual guide’) who knew the terrain was leading the way … The travelers said, “We are exhausted and cannot go any farther. The road in front of us is so long that we want to go back.” The nāyaka … pitied them but wondered why they wanted to give up on the jewels and go back. So, after traveling three hundred yojana, he conjured up a big city on this dangerous road and said to them, “Have no fear and do not think of going back. Stay in this big city and … renew your search for the jewels later.” … Once they entered the city and were rested, these people began to think of settling down. As soon as he realized they were no longer tired, the nāyaka destroyed the city he had conjured up and said to them, “Move onward, the treasure is nearby. It was I who conjured up the big city that was here. It was only a place to rest.” … Now Buddha plays the role of a great nāyaka. If people hear only of ekayāna, the Single Vehicle to Buddhahood, they will not want to have anything to do with it. Therefore he came up with this idea … and spoke of two nirvānas.86

In Xie Lingyun’s poem, the sudden discovery of the lonely island may be seen as an epiphany of Buddha, who revealed his avatar on Mount Sumeru 須彌山 emerging from the sea; this fantasy can be seen as a means of luring the poet on to continue his search for a good view.87 Fang Hui sees the character mei 媚 in line 6 as the “verse eye” of the poem, i.e., 84 “Bian zong lun,” XLYJ, 288; GHMJ, 18.225c24–26. 85 Each yojana equals seven or nine miles. 86 Saddharma-pundarīka-sūtra, T. 262.9: 25c26–26a19. 87 Kinugawa, “Sha Reiun sansui shiron,” 104, quoting Jao Tsung-i and Ogawa Tamaki 小川環樹.

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the word around which the interpretation of the poem revolves.88 The rich and vital connotations of this character make it difficult to give an accurate rendering in English, as it carries a sense of luring the viewer by exposing the island’s beauty. This adds figurative functions to the poem, in the final lines of which the poet discovers a new means of transcendence.89 This method of poetic presentation has its roots in dunwu ideology. This spiritual technique that aimed at bringing the adept to a sudden enlightenment was of course not invented by Xie Lingyun, and was in common practice among the Mount Lu sect. This method requires the ability to observe and discover spectacles within seemingly uninteresting scenes, as Huiyuan explains in his “Preface to An Anthology of Poems on Samādhi Recollections of Buddha” quoted earlier. On an outing to the Donglin Monastery 東林寺, Huiyuan wrote a poem about this kind of meditation: “A Pentasyllabic Poem on An Outing to Mount Lu” At the towering precipices are emanations of pure pneuma, In the secluded grottos reside traces of the divinity. Subtle sounds—the playing of choruses of nature’s pipes. Their echo resounds and lingers amidst the mountains. I roam in obscurity by myself, Heading for nowhere, forgetting where to go. I wave my hands and touch the Cloud Gate. How can I open the Numinous Pass? My mind flowing, I hear the tapping sound of the profound. Once inspired, I am not separated from Truth. How can I jump up to the Nine Heavens? I need not beat my sky-soaring wings. Once the miraculous is unified, paths of transmigration naturally become one. 14. One glimpse of enlightenment outstrips the “three benefits.”

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

五言遊廬山 崇巖吐清氣 幽岫栖神跡 希聲奏群籟 響出山溜滴 有客獨冥游 逕然忘所適 揮手撫雲門 靈關安足闢 流心叩玄聽 感至理弗隔 孰是騰九霄 不奮冲天翮 妙同趣自均 一悟超三益90


88 Fang Hui, Wenxuan Yan Bao Xie shi ping, 3.6b. Shimura Ryōji gives Xie considerable credit for the vitality with which he used verbs and stative verbs. One of his examples is mei in this poem. See Shimura, “Sansuishi e no keiki,” 19–20. 89 The Daoist symbols Kunlun and Anqi had been synthesized with Buddhism and absorbed into the repertoire of landscape Buddhism of the time. Xiao Chi, “Dasheng fojiao,” 65–66, 75–79, 93. 90 Huiyuan, Lushan ji lue, 3a. The character xiang 嚮 in line 4 has been amended to 響, which appears in Chen Shunyu 陳舜俞 (d. 1072), Lushan ji 廬山記, T. 2095.51: 1042b28– 1042c03. The last couplet is not found in Chen’s edition.


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In this poem, Huiyuan illustrates how he immerses himself in the natural scene and communicates with the divine through meditative states. The phrase yiwu 一悟 and the syntax of “yi wu X Y Z” are both used by Xie Lingyun in his philosophical and poetical discourses on dunwu, as discussed above. It may be surmised that certain wording, imagery, and doctrine are peculiar to the religious poetics of the Mount Lu sect. In his poem responding to Huiyuan’s, lay Buddhist Zhang Ye 張野 (350–418) expressed his enlightenment upon viewing the spectacular landscape using the same method: 91 1. Viewing the summit—great simulacra in confusion, 2. Gazing at the cliffs, none would take the dangerous

覿嶺混太象 望崖莫由險

3. The vessel [i.e., my body] is far away, preserved in the


4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

超步不階漸 揭來越重垠 一舉披塵染 遼朗中天盼 向豁遐瞻慊 乘此攄瑩心 可以忘遺玷 曠風被幽宅 妖途故死減91


sky. I take leaps instead of stepping up gradually. Elevating, I pass tiers of borders. In a single rise, I split through dusty stains. I view from mid sky—so broad and bright. Facing the tract, my far-stretching sight suffices. Riding here, I set free my crystal-clear mind. Thus, I can forget about loss and flaws. Wild winds shroud the dark residence [i.e., the grave]. On this evil path, those who died in the past have reduced [in number].

Zhang’s poem is an illustration of Huiyuan’s idea that “one glimpse of enlightenment outstrips the ‘three benefits’” (in the last line of Huiyuan’s poem). The last line of Zhang’s response (for which I offer a makeshift translation due to the ambiguous meaning) is a quick spiritual progress displacing that of the gradual learning of the “three benefits,” which, according to the Analects, are learning from an upright friend, a forgiving friend, and a learned friend.92 We are also reminded of the last couplet of Xie’s poem, “A Combined Eulogy on Pratyekabuddhas and Śrāvakas,” discussed above, in which he proposes the superiority of a “single path” over the “three chariots.” In all of these poems, the quick and direct path is promoted over the arduous one. Instantaneous enlightenment is now likened to the imaginary “leaps” in the arduous climb up the peak (Zhang’s line 4), and hence as the opposite of gradual (jian 漸) progress. Zhang’s 91 “Wuyan fenghe Zhang Chang Ye” 五言奉和張常野, in Huiyuan, Lushan ji lue, 4a. See also Chen Shunyu, Lushan ji, T. 2095.51: 1042c17–20. 92 Lunyu, 16/4.

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immediate enlightenment is represented by the wild winds sweeping the grave yards. It brings in a fresh view that the number of the dead is reduced because their spirits are now on the way to reincarnation, a central doctrine of Huiyuan’s theory on the ‘unextinguished soul.’ While both Huiyuan’s poem and Zhang’s response are similar to Xie’s poem (“Ascending a Lonely Island in the River”) in that they all depict an experience of sudden enlightenment while viewing and travelling within a physical scene, Xie’s poem portrays a much more detailed and beautifully-described landscape. Xie is also much more adept at focusing his reader’s attention on a single moment in the poem (“Hurriedly as I cut across the torrential current, [I discover] a lonely island, standing beautifully in mid-stream.”). In enabling the structure of his poem to mimic the experience of sudden enlightenment described within the poem, Xie’s poetic mastery dwarfs that demonstrated by Huiyuan and Zhang Ye. Like other lay followers of Huiyuan, Xie Lingyun must have benefited from the religious atmosphere in which he immersed himself. These benefits were by no means limited to borrowing poetic diction and imagery from Huiyuan and others; they also included the proto-dunwu ‘technique’ for discovering this kind of spectacle.93 Huiyuan’s notion of “sky-soaring” meditation was articulated as “transcendence” (chao 超) in the writings of his lay followers, who included Zong Bing and Xie Lingyun: 1. Huiyuan: Looking at the trace of his transcendent paces, I realize that his enlightenment is broad indeed. 觀其超步之跡,所悟固已弘矣。

2. Zong Bing: As one’s spirit transcends, one obtains the principle. 神超理得。 3. Xie Lingyun: The Dao is brought to transcendence by means of spirit and Truth. 道以神理超。

4. Huiyuan: One glimpse of enlightenment transcends the “three benefits.” 一 悟超三益。

5. Liu Chengzhi: Truth and spirit are indeed transcendent and isolated. 理神固 超絕。

6. Wang Qiaozhi 王喬之: On my transcending journey rarely do I find luminous encountering. 超遊罕神遇。

7. Zhang Ye: I take leaps instead of stepping up gradually. 超步不階漸。94

93 Shimura Ryōji, “Sansuishi e no keiki,” 15–16. 94 Sources for these lines are Huiyuan, “Shamen bujing wangzhe lun,” 32b2; Zong Bing, “Hua shanshui xu,” 20.9a; Xie Lingyun, “Congyou Jingkou Beigu yingzhao,” XLYJ, 157; Huiyuan, Lushan ji lue, 12a–13a. The lines by Liu, Wang, and Zhang are also found in Chen, Lushan ji, 1042c4, 1042c10, 1042c18, respectively.


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Although the idea of chao as “transcending” was not invented by Huiyuan, it was evidently one of the central doctrines of the Mount Lu school.95 The fact that chao appears in Liu’s, Wang’s, and Zhang’s poems (items 5–7), written to match Huiyuan’s (item 4), reveals the venerable role of Huiyuan, whose teaching became doctrine in the circle. Huiyuan’s meditative method began with serenity, aiming to immerse himself in the natural scene, in order to feel, hear, and see that which is invisible to the untrained person. This relates to the ideas found in his “Preface to An Anthology of Poems on Samādhi Recollections of Buddha” quoted above, in which he says: “When meditation is serene, all obscurities will be cleared up. … Once he hears and understands the mysterious sound tapping on his heart, then accumulated layers of dust will disperse, and the hindrances and attachments will be smoothed out and illuminated.” This theory best illustrates the spiritual achievement described on his journey to Mt. Lu, in which he also “hears the tapping sound of the profound” (line 9). In Xie Lingyun’s poetry, the technique of achieving transcendence is referred to as “observation” (shang 賞) and cultivation and application of “an observant mind” (shangxin 賞心). They guide one to view the hidden Truth behind a certain scene.96 These terms and what they indicate about poetic process illuminates most of Xie’s landscape poems, in which enlightenment is usually presented through an unfolding process that shifts from a murky scene to a lucid one.97 Thus, the poet’s travel is not 95 In his explanation of Zong Bing’s line on chao, Hatano Takeshi quotes Ruan Fu’s 阮 孚 (fl. early fourth century) commentary on the line “my spirit transcends my physical form” 神超形越 from a poem by Guo Pu. Ruan defines the term shenchao as “a state of

mind that transcends worldliness.” See Hatano, “Sō Hei ‘Gasansuijo’ no tokushitsu,” 44–45; SSXY, 4/76. Lai suggests that Huiyuan used chao as an equivalent to the word “sudden.” See “Tao-sheng’s Theory,” 176. 96 In Xie Lingyun’s poetry, the terms shang and shangxin can be understood as ‘obser­vation [of landscape],’ ‘an observant mind [of the poet’s],’ and ‘one who appreciates another’s mind, i.e., a good friend.’ In his discussion of Xie’s poem, Fang Hui stressed the function of qing and treated shang and shangxin as an expression of the poet’s ‘­genuine passion,’ without which the landscape does not assume any beauty. See Wenxuan Yan Bao Xie shi ping, 1.27b, 1.28a/b. Fang’s examples are “Yu Nanshan wang Beishan …” and “Cong Jinzhujian yueling xixing,” XLYJ, 118, 121; XKLS, 3.15b, 17a. Gu Shaobo refers a loss of shangxin to Xie’s departure from Liu Yizhen, the Prince of Luling. Gu’s treatment of the term shangxin as related to loss of friendship does not fit all contexts of its occurrence. Li Binghai understands shangxin as a meditative method. See Li, “Huiyuan de Jingtu xinyang,” 79–80. The term should be treated loosely according to given contexts. ‘An appreciating mind’ can be that of the poet. It can also be read as ‘one with an appreciative mind’ (shangxin zhi ren 賞心之人). See Obi, Sha Reiun, 253–61; Chūgoku bungaku ni arawareta shizen to shisenkan, 291–94, 543–51. 97 Li Binghai, “Huiyuan de Jingtu xinyang,” 81–82.

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simply raw material, nor is this merely an exquisite scene without human activity; rather, it is part of Xie’s fusion of his poetry and spiritual experience. The process of transcendence in Xie’s “Ascending a Lonely Island in the River” requires a rapid change, as stated in line 5 (“Hurriedly as I cut cross the torrential current”): the sudden physical movement of crossing the current stands for a mental leap. This leap finds its match in Zhang Ye’s poem in which the imaginary ascent of the peak comes in “leaps.” Only with this initial burst of action can one abandon attachment to worldly values. According to Daosheng, one must use one’s “power of mindfulness” to observe Truth, and eventually attain realization. If shang is a means to achieve dunwu, and the first requirement is to subdue one’s attachment, it is substantially the same three-step process of cultivation in Buddhism: morality, meditation, and attainment of wisdom. In other words, this kind of dunwu involves a certain preparation and expectation before achievement of the goal. Therefore, as Wang Hong 王弘 (379–432) pointed out, Xie’s conception of dunwu in theory and in practice was contradictory.98 The Birth of a New Poetry The detailed, panoramic descriptions of landscape in highly ornate diction was not simply a conventional tool in the hands of Xie Lingyun; it was an important means of conveying a certain message to his anticipated audience.99 In his travels, Xie was on an arduous quest for means (i.e., features in the natural environment, in particular), that would illustrate his feelings and his philosophy. The detailed titles he gave his poems, an innovation noted by Suzuki Torao 鈴木虎雄 (1878–1963), sat well with his predilection to comment on places he visited, which was also evident in fragments of his letters.100 Upon seeing the title of a poem, readers familiar with Xie’s style would have had certain expectations of his aes98 Mather observes: “Wang Hong … pointed out that Xie’s technique of preparation for enlightenment by first subduing the passions was really no different from any other mental technique and thus not really different from that of his opponent. Xie had to admit at the very end of his discussion that what is gained by such preparations is a sort of anticipation of final enlightenment.” See Mather, “The Impact of the Nirvana Sutra in China,” 166. The Chinese text in question is Xie, “Bian zong lun,” XLYJ, 298–99; GHMJ, 18.227b17–20; 18.227c18–25. 99 This was observed by Bai Juyi 白居易 (772–846). See his “Du Xie Lingyun shi” 讀謝 靈運詩, Quan Tangshi, 430.4742. 100 Suzuki, “Sansui bungaku to Sha Reiun,” 89–91.


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thetic and philosophical elaboration of the landscape. The following fragment from his Notes on My Travels to Famous Mountains substantiates this practice: There are strange birds in the Hibiscus Mountain area. They love their physical form, look at their own shadows, and never hide away. Therefore they are caught by those who use nets. People call them zhaiyu .101

This descriptive style of writing had been common in geographical works such as the Bowu zhi 博物志 by Zhang Hua 張華 (232–300). But in Xie’s case, a sensitive reader would easily make the connection between the moral of this anthropomorphized account of a strange bird, and the poems Xie composed while he was languishing in Yongjia. His ruminations on his immediate career setback at that time were likely significant in determining the somber voice in his writings and his reclusive thoughts.102 One can construe Xie’s unfavorable evaluation of the quality of local products such as oysters and clams as a metaphor for his personal frustrations at this stage in his life.103 Although he claimed in the preface to his Notes on My Travels to Famous Mountains that the reason he took office was simply because of his mission as a savior of suffering people,104 as he retreated to the mountains after his political mishaps105 landscape became the truest reflection of his feelings. As Kang-i Sun Chang argues: “It is the visual perception that elicits the strong emotions in the poet, not the other way around.” She continues, “unlike Tao Qian, who often opens his poems like one who has already acquired Dao, Xie Lingyun is more interested in the ‘process’—of constant search and changing realizations.”106 Xie’s allegorical, parabolic mode may also have been influenced to some extent by the sermons and discussions of Buddhist doctrine regularly held at his villa. One thing that came out of these activities was his eight eulogies on the ten analogies in Vimalakīrti-sūtra, the first of which is on “bubble and foam”: 1. Water by nature has no bubbles. 2. After splashing and flowing, foam appears. 3. With unnatural motion they assume their form.

水性本無泡 激流遂聚沫 即異成貌狀

101 XLYJ, 275; TPYL, 928.2a. 102 Takagi, “Sha Reiun no shifū ni tsuite no kosatsu,” 80–85. 103 “Da di shu,” XLYJ, 271; TPYL, 942.2b. 104 XLYJ, 272; Chuxue ji, 5.94. 105 For Xie’s political life, see Tim Chan, “Cong Liu Song wangchao he Xieshi jiazu,” 76–82, 102. 106 Chang, Six Dynasties Poetry, 73–74.

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4. Upon dissipation they return to emptiness and vastness. 消散歸虛豁 君子識根本 5. A gentleman knows clearly about roots and origins. 安事勞與奪 6. How would he involve himself in labor and robbery? 愚俗駭變化 7. Ignorant men are startled by change. 橫復生欣怛107 8. Time and again, joy and fear alternate. 107 The need for discussion and elaboration of the sketchy analogies in the sutra gave rise to hermeneutic as well as literary creation. Which source Xie relied on is not known, because the tale is found in the two translations of the Vimalakīrti-sūtra by Kumārajīva and Zhi Qian.108 According to this sutra, Mañjuśrī asked Vimalakīrti what Buddha said about mortal life. The Kumārajīva version records the latter’s response: It is just like an illusionist (huanshi 幻師) viewing the figure that he has conjured. The way Buddha views mortal life is just like this. It is like a wise one viewing the moon reflected in the water, seeing one’s face in a mirror, the flame in heat, echoes of screaming, clouds in the sky, foam appearing in water, bubbles on water, the hardness of a plantain tree, the longevity of lightning …109

The Vimalakīrti-sūtra was so important a text that preachers strove to give explanations as guidelines for their audiences. The series of sermons on this text hosted by Kumārajīva resulted in a new edition that incorporated commentaries by him and his disciples, including Daosheng and Seng Zhao 僧肇 (384–414). These activities, termed ‘explanation of sutras’ (jiangjing 講經), produced substantial hermeneutic work.110 The variorum edition of Vimalakīrti-sūtra (T. 1775) contains glosses on the text and, most significantly, elaborations of concepts, ideas, parables, and so forth from the sutra. This religious tradition applied to similar settings in Xie Lingyun’s villa where he wrote his poems. Such a unique writing process explains the structure of his landscape poems, which are usually pre-

107 XLYJ, 314; GHMJ, 15.200b1–3. Gu Shaobo points out that the last word in l. 4 in most editions is he 壑 (EMC, *xak), and that the variant huo 豁 (EMC, *xat) in GHMJ is wrong. He presents no evidence for this assertion. I accept the latter because the former does not fit in the rhyme (*-at) in the poem. Reconstruction of Early Middle Chinese (EMC) is based on Edwin G. Pulleyblank, Lexicon of Reconstructed Pronunciation, q.vv. 108 Vimalakīrtti-sūtra, T. 474.14: 521b2–3. 109 Vimalakīrtti-sūtra, T. 475.14: 547a29–547b5. 110 Hermeneutics became a part of sermons and discussion between Kumārajīva and his disciples. What came out of these integrated activities was the Zhu Weimojie jing, T. 1775. See Lo, “Persuasion and Entertainment at Once,” 89–113.


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sented in a “narrative-descriptive-expressive” formula and deliver a moral lesson or an invitation for discussion at the end.111 Xie Lingyun’s belief in ultimate Truth accessible through the observation of li represents a dualism in his poetics. This belief might have descended from xuanxue, which had a crucial influence on Chinese Buddhism. Zhi Dun’s dualistic view, which “comes closer to the Hinayanist point of view,”112 was attacked by Seng Zhao, who argued that there is only one truth in the world.113 Xie Lingyun and Huiyuan’s quasi-xuanxue thinking was apparently exempt from Seng Zhao’s purism. Xie Lingyun’s early exposure to Buddhist learning and his later spiritual development were important in the formation of his poetic style. Although Zhu Daosheng’s theory of dunwu influenced Xie, the synthetic philosophy in “Bian zong lun” and the different understanding and practice of dunwu manifest in Xie’s poetry demarcate two different intellectual developments. Xie distorted Daosheng’s theory to some extent; his attempt to synthesize Confucianism and Buddhism may have been a total failure. Xie’s success, however, lies in his unique articulation of spiritual attainment, such that the poem itself becomes an embodiment of the experience that may then generate the same experience in other readeraspirants. This represented a new aesthetic in China’s poetic tradition.

111 Chang, Six Dynasties Poetry, 73. Puhui’s formula is travel-scene-feelings-attainment of Truth. He ascribes this formula to contemporary religious thought. See his “Dasheng niepanxue,” 22. 112 Zürcher, Buddhist Conquest, 123. 113 For Seng Zhao’s argument on jise 即色, feiyou/feiwu 非有/非無, see “Bu zhenkong lun di er” 不真空論第二, in Zhaolun 肇論, T. 1858:45, 152a17–26, 152b5–21, 152c4–7.

composed on the verge of unnatural death


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Composed on the Verge of Unnatural Death Faced with an imminent, unnatural death, one writer would express completely different sentiments from another who is merely exploring or playing with the idea of an imaginary death. As discussed in chapter four, Tao Qian wrote several examples of the latter type of poem. Tao’s motif, along with some borrowed diction and imagery, was derived from the carpe diem theme of the Han tradition, as observed in the “Nineteen Ancient Poems.”1 The cliché of turning the pessimistic attitude toward death into cardinal enjoyment was a major theme in poetry on imaginary death. When a real unnatural death loomed, however, pessimism disappeared; compositions on this dreadful occasion are characterized by expressions of fear, worry, and regret.2 The most representative, and the most controversial, work in this genre of ante-mortem poetry is the “Linzhong shi” 臨終詩 (“Poem Written On the Verge of Death”) by Xie Lingyun. The textual problems surrounding this poem have given rise to disputes on how to interpret it and how to re-evaluate the personality and philosophy of Xie Lingyun in his last moments. Xie’s contribution in this work is built upon a long tradition of “Linzhongshi” that he inherited. The Imaginary Death It is futile to contrast the different ways in which intellectuals saw imaginary and actual death if we rely solely on texts of dubious dating. However, one finds that all of the extant poems under the “Linzhong” title were most probably written just before their authors were executed, and they all share the theme of regret for having failed in political struggles. This latter feature is a useful criterion in demarcating the two sub-genres of macabre literature. 1 For discussions of this motif in the “Nineteen Ancient Poems,” see Ma, Gushi shijiu­ shou tansuo, 17–25, and Aoki, “Gokan no shi,” 44–46. 2 Ōyane Bunjirō points out this distinction and uses it as a criterion for distinguishing Tao’s “Coffin Puller’s Songs” from poems composed before execution, such as those discussed in this chapter. See Ōyane, “Enmei no banka,” 125–26.


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Writing “coffin puller’s songs” for oneself may not differ much from writing them for others because, as discussed in chapter four, “Wan’ge” was a yuefu title for works composed for coffin-pullers to sing during the funeral procession. Tao Qian’s innovation in this genre was that he personalized his “Coffin Puller’s Songs.” Given the playful manner in the poems, it is unlikely that these songs were sung by the procession. Rather, he wished that they would be performed in various settings after his death, if indeed he had any serious intentions that the songs would be performed at all. The tradition of personalizing formal poetry was inherited in Bao Zhao’s 鮑照 (ca. 414–66) description of his imaginary death in his “Pine and Cypress” (“Songbai pian” 松柏篇).3 But the “Wan’ge” genre underwent a depersonalization in Bao Zhao’s compositions “Dai Haoli xing” 代蒿里行 (“In Place of ‘Ballad of Wormwood Village’”) and “Dai Wan’ge” (“In Place of ‘Coffin Puller’s Song’”). These two yuefu titles, prefixed with dai, meaning “in place of,” thus deviated from Tao’s practice. It has been said of Bao’s “Coffin Puller’s Song”: “The only thing missing is the sting of genuinely expressed emotion … this piece is more oriented towards technical perfection than expression of first-hand emotion.”4 The prefix dai led scholars to suggest there were topical, political allegories in these poems.5 Bao Zhao’s view of death was permeated with the common theme of lamenting the evanescence of human life. It is unlikely, however, that Bao Zhao anticipated his own death, because he was killed by some soldiers in a turmoil.6 Therefore, it is possible that his sentiments were conventional rather than personal. The following poem, “Ni Xinglu nan” 擬行路 難 (“Imitating ‘The Harsh Journey’”), number 5, expresses his laments: 1. 2.   3. 4. 5. 6.

Can you not see, my lord: grasses by the river Wilt and die in the winter, but fill up the road in springtime? Can you not see, my lord: the sun on the city walls Submerges and vanishes this evening, But will rise again tomorrow morning? But when can I be the same?

君不見河邊草 冬時枯死春滿道 君不見城上日 今暝沒盡去 明朝復更出 今我何時當得然

3 Bao Canjun jizhu, 3.179. 4 Russell, “Coffin-Pullers’ Songs,” 112. Bao Canjun ji zhu, 3.142. 5 Bao Canjun ji zhu, 3.140–43. Stephen Owen isolates a category of dai poetry as: “there is a known author, speaking in his own voice, about his own case …. This is a privileged mode in poetry … That is, poems are in search of authors and particularly in search of an author who is speaking about his own case.” Owen, The Making of Early Chinese Poetry, 222. 6 Songshu, 51.1480.

composed on the verge of unnatural death 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

Once gone I perish forever and enter the Yellow Springs. Man’s life has much bitterness and little pleasure. His aspiration and virility are in joyful bloom in adolescence. For now I desire to fulfill my wishes and associate with a few And to have inexhaustible supply of wine and money by my bed. Deeds and renown inscribed on bamboo and silk, they are not my business. Life and death, honor and humbleness, I entrust them to August Heaven.


一去永滅入黃泉 人生苦多歡樂少 意氣敷腴在盛年 且願得志數相就 床頭恆有沽酒錢 功名竹帛非我事 存亡貴賤付皇天7

This lament finds its root in the “Nineteen Ancient Poems.” The broadminded tone is but the poet’s own sarcasm. Opposite to this was the anxiety Bao Zhao felt towards his official life. The pursuit of high position and corporeal enjoyment, two themes in the “Nineteen Ancient Poems,” were also recurrent themes in Bao’s life and works.8 The great fear of death was already a common theme in the Jin, and was one prominent feature of Lu Ji’s writing. Lu’s work is brimful of contemplation and descriptions of death. One may be naïve enough to date Lu Ji’s work to the end of his life—just as was erroneously done in Tao Qian’s case. The Shishuo xinyu has the following record: Lu Pingyuan 陸平原 (i.e., Lu Ji) was defeated at Heqiao. He was slandered by Lu Zhi 盧志 and was thus killed. Before his execution he said with a sigh: “I wish I could hear the cry of the cranes in [my hometown] Huating 華亭. There is no chance of this happening again!”9 7 Bao Canjun ji zhu, 4.230. The same sentiment is also expressed in poem number 10 in the series (4.237). 8 An early typical example of Bao Zhao’s struggle is in Nanshi, 13.360: “Once in his first audience with Liu Yiqing 劉義慶 (403–44) [who was then Prince of Linchuan], Bao Zhao[’s talents] had not been recognized and he was going to present his poems as an expression of his ambition. Someone stopped him, saying, ‘Your position is still too low. You should not act so rashly lest you offend our great prince.’ Bao replied in anger, “Countless fine talented men and scholars of unusual skill have sunk [to the bottom] and remained unheard of in the last thousand years. How can a great man hide his intelligence and competence, let thoroughwort- and moxa-like virtue remain undistinguished, keep laboring throughout the day, and flock with swallows and sparrows?’ Thereupon he presented his poetry. Liu Yiqing considered him wondrous and bestowed upon him twenty scrolls of silk.” Bao’s low social status was the main cause for his life-long struggle. He ended his life in the camp of his political patron Liu Zixu 劉子頊, Prince of Linhai 臨 海, during the Liu Song’s expedition to suppress the prince’s revolt. See Songshu, 51.1477– 80. 9 SSXY, 33/3, with Yu Jiaxi’s note 3 on p. 898.


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This sentiment has been seen as an adaptation of something Li Si 李斯 (d. 208 bc) expressed.10 This recurring, spontaneous response to unnatural yet certain death was quite distinct from Lu’s other writings on imaginary death. Here is what Li Si said to his son before all members of his three clans were put to death, a punishment Lu Ji was also sentenced to: I wish to take our yellow hound and go hunting with you again, chasing hares at the east gate of Shangcai 上蔡 (in present-day southeast Shangcai district, He’nan province). There is no chance of this happening again!11

What came to Li’s and Lu’s minds at their respective last moments was the life they had enjoyed in their hometown. The overtone of this unfulfilled wish is obvious: “How have I fallen into this trap, suffering this ending?” “Had I not taken this career path or done this wrong thing, I should have enjoyed a longer life.” To sum up, such morbid sentiments center on regret at having left it too late to withdraw from political life and return to one’s hometown. These examples differ most drastically from works on imaginary death. Within Lu Ji’s own corpus of poetry we can find a number of examples of this kind of writing, and these provide an illuminating contrast with his famous last words quoted above. In addition to his “Coffin Puller’s Songs” (see chapter four), Lu Ji’s “Rhapsody on My Departure” (“Tanshi fu” 歎逝 賦) contains similar descriptions from the perspective of a dying persona.12 The mystic excursion is now an after-death spiritual voyage. The process of this transmutation is recounted in his “Rhapsody on the Great Dusk” (“Damu fu” 大暮賦): Suddenly my breath has no more strength. 忽呼吸而不振 Abruptly my spirit goes while my physical form 奄神徂而形斃  dies. Looking back at the myriad things I have remaining 顧萬物而遺恨  regrets. Gathering hundreds of worries I leave for ever. 收百慮而長逝 …. …… In emptiness and broadness I see nothing when looking 仰寥廓而無見  upwards. In silence and serenity I hear nothing when looking 俯寂寞而無聲13  downwards.

10 Zizhi tongjian, 85.2688, Hu Sanxing’s commentary. 11 SJ, 87.2562. 12 WX, 16.13b–17a; Knechtges, Wen xuan, 3: 171–77. 13 LJJ, 3.27.

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The pure flights of imagination here are in sharp contrast to the sentiments quoted from the Shishuo xinyu above on the unfulfilled wishes he expressed before death. Although Lu Ji left us no works written immediately before his death, this contrast convincingly suggests there is a distinction between the two different settings for different utterances. Early Ante-Mortem Poetry It is no easy task to delineate the genre features of ante-mortem poetry. No one knows if Qu Yuan, for example, wrote his “Lisao” and “Huaisha” 懷 沙 immediately before his suicide, or even if indeed he did die at his own hands. Did the poet throw himself into the river after writing “I will follow Pengxian 彭咸 to where he abides”?14 If the phrase “great reason” (dagu 大故) at the end of “Huaisha” means ‘death,’ as Wang Yi glossed it, does the title “Huaisha” literally mean ‘embracing sand [when throwing myself into the river],’ as some have suggested?15 If we assume that Qu Yuan wrote his poems immediately before committing suicide, we are likely to fall into the trap of inventing a setting to fit the work. Another problem in defining ante-mortem poetry is that it is quite unlikely that the poet himself titled the poem; therefore discussion of this ‘genre’ may well include works written in similar settings, that is, when the date of death was clearly predictable. There are some general repertoire themes in this category of poetry: fear, regret, and reproach. 14 CCBZ, 1.47. 15 CCBZ, 4.145. The earliest source for this interpretation is a line by Dongfang Shuo: “[Qu Yuan] embraced sand and pebbles and submerged himself [in the river]” 懷砂礫以 自沉兮. See Dongfang Shuo, “Qijian,” CCBZ, 13.242. Wang Fuzhi 王夫之 (1619–92) believed this poem was composed immediately before Qu Yuan committed suicide. See Wang, Chuci tongshi, 4.85. Sima Qian assigns the poem as Qu Yuan’s last work, after the composition of which Qu “thereupon held a stone to his breast (huaishi 懷石) and submerged himself in the Miluo River and died.” See SJ, 84.2490. Hawkes translates the title as “Embracing Sand” and gives an explanation accordingly. See his Songs of the South, 169– 70. Quoting the Shiji in agreement, the “postface” to “Huaisha” in CCBZ (4.146) explains that the poem was Qu Yuan’s last composition before committing suicide. Zhu Xi argues otherwise, although he glosses the title in the same way. See Zhu Xi, Chuci jizhu, 4.18b. A later interpretation of ‘huaisha’ is “thinking of Changsha” 寓懷于長沙. See Li Chenyu 李 陳玉 (Ming dyn.), Chuci jianzhu, 3.24a. Wang Yuan 汪瑗 (d. ca. 1556) regards Dongfang Shuo and Sima Qian’s understanding of ‘huaisha’ as a mistake. He argues that huai means “to have a feeling of” (有感於懷); sha means Changsha. He also gives “Ai Ying” 哀郢 as a parallel with the same verb+object grammatical structure, with the object as a placename. See Wang Yuan, Chuci jijie, “Jiuzhang juan,” “Huaisha,” 1a–2b. This interpretation of sha as an abbreviation for Changsha is also mentioned in Hawkes, ibid, 170, quoting Jiang Ji 蔣驥 (fl. 1713–27), Shandaige zhu Chuci, 4.29a/b.


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Although another important feature is transcendence of these negative feelings, as discussed above, the positive attitude of rational realization is typically only found in works on imagined death.16 Some other early works in the same category as the “Lisao” and “Huai­ sha” contributed to this poetic tradition. A relatively reliable account of their historical background makes it credible that they were written when the poet was on the verge of death. A well-known example is the warlord Xiang Yu’s 項羽 (232–202 bc) poem written at his final defeat at Gaixia 垓 下 (modern Lingbi 靈璧 district, Anhui province), where he committed suicide. 1. My strength is such that I can remove a mountain, my 力拔山兮氣蓋世 might surpasses the whole world.

2. [But] the time is not favorable, my steed Zhui has ceased 時不利兮騅不逝 running.

騅不逝兮可奈何 3. Zhui has ceased running, what can be done? 虞兮虞兮奈若何17 4. Yu, my consort, oh, what can I do [to save you]? 17 The Shiji records two statements by Xiang in which he ascribed his defeat to destiny: “This defeat is the will of Heaven; our fighting is not at fault”; “Since Heaven has failed me, why should I bother crossing the river?”18 This was an important means of removing the blame for his wrongdoings from himself. Xiang expressed it as a final wish to seek understanding not only from his troops from East of the Yangzi 江東, but also from those who would hear his story. In an act of heroism, he refused to board the boat operated by the village headman of Wujiang 烏江, with whose help he would have been able to escape the enemies who were pursuing him. However, Sima Qian harshly criticized his sublime statements, ascribing Xiang’s defeat to his tyranny and hubris. Thus, in this sense, Xiang Yu met a second defeat at the hands of the great historian. Another early ante-mortem poem for our quest for genre features is a song by Liu You 劉友 (d. 181 bc), Prince of Zhao 趙, who died a martyr during the reign of Empress Dowager Lü 呂后 (241–180 bc). The Empress Dowager, usurper of the Han, assigned ladies from her Lü clan as consorts for the Han princes. In protest, Liu You excluded these consorts from his harem. Members of the Lü clan brought this to the attention of the

16 All of these features are treated as typical themes in the ‘genre’ of the literature of death. See Nishioka, Chūgoku kodai no sōrei to bungaku, 489–91, quoting Kojima Kenkichirō 兒島獻吉郎. 17 SJ, 7.333. 18 SJ, 7.334, 336.

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Empress Dowager, who ordered the prince’s residence surrounded and his food supplies cut off. The prince starved to death. While in detention, the prince wrote: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18.

With the kin of Lü in power, The Liu’s fall away. They threaten and persecute kings and marquises, And forcefully assigned me consorts. As these consorts became envious, They slandered me with malice. Slanderous women bring disorder to our empire, Yet His Highness has not awakened. We have no other loyal subjects, Why then should I leave my state? I could have delighted myself in the wilds, Letting the grey heavens see my impartiality. Alas, it is too late for regret. I should have killed myself earlier. As a king I have ended up starving to death. Who will pity me? The Lü breach principles; I wish to entrust revenge to Heaven.

諸呂用事兮 劉氏微 迫脅王侯兮 彊授我妃 我妃既妒兮 誣我以惡 讒女亂國兮 上曾不寤 我無忠臣兮 何故棄國 自快中野兮 蒼天與直 于嗟不可悔兮 寧早自賊 為王餓死兮 誰者憐之 呂氏絕理兮 託天報仇19

These last words of the prince won the sympathy of Emperor Wen (r. 180– 157 bc), who, after the death of Empress Dowager Lü, invested him with the posthumous title “detained” (you 幽). Like Xiang Yu, the prince had a choice of not dying. He claims in the poem that he could have fled the persecution by living a happy reclusive life. But unlike Xiang Yu, the prince won recognition as a martyr-victim. This kind of introspection, a struggle between confrontation and conformation, appears to be an important feature of the genre. In Xiang Yu’s case, the persona asks what can be done to preserve his Consort Yu. Both tragic heroes meditate on the past, present, and future before making a final decision. This discourse plays a crucial part in the poetic representation. Another Han work on the same theme but given here as a counter example is “At the End of My Life” (“Jueming ci” 絕命辭), also in the sao style, by Xifu Gong 息夫躬 (d. 1 bc). This poem falls into the category of poetry on imaginary death, as it was written a few years before the poet’s death.20 The motive and theme of this composition are a contrast to the two examples given above. Although the desperate emotion of this poem 19 HS, 38.1989. 20 HS, 45.2187.


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arose from a call for an injustice to be redressed, its hypocrisy drew Zhu Xi’s criticism: Gong committed a crime with his eloquence. His death cannot redeem his faults. In this poem he addresses Supreme God, saying, “I exert my loyalty and forget about my life.” This is too deceitful before Heaven.21

The criticism here is that the poet made a final effort to cloak himself in righteousness. The fear of being overlooked, similar to Tao Qian’s, was the main concern of the poet, who had been preparing for death. Unlike those who meet their death unexpectedly, Xifu Gong was concerned above all to portray himself as a loyal subject. But who would claim himself as an evil person? This question raises skepticism on the genuineness of the emotion expressed in poems written before one dies. No matter how long before the death, in his composition the poet seeks to emphasize his most noble intentions. The First “Linzhong shi” and its Provenance Despite the difficulties in isolating their genre features, early ante-mortem works written in the face of an unnatural death share the theme of regret for having failed in political struggles. This feature can be used as a guideline for categorizing such works. The earliest poem that bears the title of “Linzhong shi” is by Kong Rong 孔融 (153–208). While it is highly dubious that Kong himself titled the poem, the title indicates that whoever assigned the title believed the poem had been written at Kong’s death. More generally, Kong Rong’s contribution to the poetic tradition consisted mostly of his yuefu. Two early Tang sources, the Beitang shuchao 北 堂書鈔 and Li Shan’s commentary on the Wenxuan, cite some lines from Kong’s poem now known as “Linzhong shi” under the title “Old Ballad on [Snapping] Poplar and Willow Branches” (“Gu yangliu xing” 古楊柳行), an old tune under the yuefu title “Snapping Poplar and Willow Branches” (“Zhe yangliu xing” 折; hereafter “Willow Song”).22 Kong’s poem was evidently circulated under the latter title at least until the Tang, and it did

21 Zhu Xi, Chuci houyu 楚辭後語, in his Chuci jizhu, 3.1a. 22 Beitang shuchao, 158.22b; WX, 29.2a, Li Shan’s commentary. The former source cites two couplets containing some variants (compared with Kong’s “Linzhong shi” in GWY, 8.192). The latter source, which cites one couplet from Kong’s poem, does not give Kong’s name as author.

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not have the title “Linzhong shi” until it appeared in the Guwen yuan, an anthology reputedly compiled in the Tang.23 The existence of this early title allows us to hypothesize that Kong had a yuefu model when he wrote his poem. In his yuefu anthology, Guo Maoqian assigned the following “Willow Song” as an unattributed rendition under this title, and categorized it as “old words” (guci 古辭), a rubric used to differentiate the earliest extant poem under a given yuefu title from the more recently written works with definite attributions. In content it shows similarities with Kong’s “Linzhong shi,” which also reads like a diatribe on political intrigue. 24 25 默默施行違 1. Covert practice of wayward conduct 厥罰隨事來 2. Will consequently bring down punishment. 末喜殺龍逄 3. Out of passion for Moxi [Jie] killed Guan Longfeng, 桀放於鳴條 4. Jie was finally exiled to Mingtiao.24 祖伊言不用 5. Failing to heed his ancestors’ and Yi Yin’s advice, 紂頭懸白旄 6. Zhou’s head was eventually hung from a white banner.25 指鹿用為馬 7. [Allowing Zhao Gao] to call a deer a horse, 胡亥以喪軀 8. Huhai thus lost his life.26 夫差臨命絕 9. Only when Fuchai was at the very end of his life, 乃云負子胥 10. Did he admit to having mistreated Wu Zixu. 27 戎王納女樂 11. The Rong King accepted musician-courtesans 以亡其由余 12. And he lost his You Yu.28

23 GWY, “Yuanxu,” 5–10, prefaces by Han Yuanji 韓元吉 (1118–87), et al. The title “Linzhong shi” is also found in the nine-juan edition of the Guwen yuan, 4.4a. 24 Moxi was a consort of Jie, the last King of the Xia dynasty. Bewitched by the beauty of Moxi, Jie turned to be more and more profligate and tyrannical. Guan Longfeng was put to death because of his criticism of the king. See LNZ, 7.1a. The name of this chancellor appears in Zhuangzi and Shiji as Guan Longfeng 關龍逢 but the last character was changed to pang 逄 in later sources. For the former use, see for example, SJ, 83.2476, 87.2560, 88.2569; HS, 20.861, 51.2330, 51.2350; LNZ, 7.1a. In Zhuangzi 4/11, the earliest occurrence of the name, unfortunately is mis-typed as pang 逄 in the HY edition. The correct form is found in Lu Deming 陸德明 (556–627), Zhuangzi yinyi 莊子音義, 1.13a, in his Jingdian shiwen, 336. According to Wang Fu, this person’s ancestor was fond of and good at raising and taming dragons. He was bestowed a surname Dong 董 by the mythological ruler Shun. The clan’s name was Huanlong 豢龍 (lit., raising dragons) and the chancellor’s name was thus Huanlong Feng 豢龍逢. See Qianfu lun, 35.173. Perhaps due to the similarity in pronunciation, Huan was later changed to Guan. See Wang Liqi and Wang Zhenmin, Hanshu gujin renbiao shuzheng, 149–50, quoting Liang Yusheng 梁玉繩 (1744– 1819) and others. 25 Yi Yin was a faithful minister of Tang, first king of the Shang dynasty. Zhou was the last king of Shang. After Zhou fled to Deer Terrace 鹿臺 where he died in the blaze, King Wu of the Zhou beheaded him and hung his head at the tip of a white flag. See SJ, 3.108.


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13. As the jade-disc and horse brought disaster to the state of 璧馬禍及虢 Guo,

二國俱為墟 14. Both the two states [of Guo and Yu] were ruined.29 15. [By spreading rumors] three men can conjure up a tiger in 三夫成市虎

the marketplace;

16. The loving mother abandoned her loom and rushed away. 30 慈母投杼趨 卞和之刖足 17. While Bian He’s feet were lopped off, 31 接輿歸草廬33 18. Jieyu returned to his thatched hut.32 26 27 28 29 30 31 3233 The dubious authorship of this poem does not detract from our hypothesis that Kong Rong emulated it, because both poems belong to the same yuefu tradition and have similar features.34

26 Zhao Gao was a conspiring minister of Huhai, Second Emperor of the Qin dynasty. In order to usurp power, he once pointed at a deer and called it a horse in front of the emperor. When the emperor said it was Zhao’s mistake, Zhao asked all other officials at court. Some remained silent. Some said it was a horse so as to flatter Zhao. Those who dared to say it was a deer were slandered to have committed crime and executed by Zhao. Thereafter, all officials were afraid of Zhao. See SJ, 6.273. 27 On many critical occasions, King Fuchai disregarded his minister Wu Zixu’s advice, which could have led the Wu state out of trouble. Before Fuchai committed suicide, he said: “I regret that I did not adopt Zixu’s advice. I am the one who has led me to this [predicament].” See SJ, 31.1475. 28 You Yu was originally minister of the Rong region. Duke Mu of Qin 秦穆公 (r. 659–621 bc) heard about You’s virtue and competence and worried about the growth of the neighboring Rong. The duke was advised to give the Rong king some musiciancourtesans as gifts. The Rong king was thus indulged in the new pleasure. You admonished but to no avail. He left Rong and subsequently helped Qin to conquer Rong. See SJ, 5.193–94. 29 The jade-disc and fine horses were gifts from Duke Xian of Jin 晉獻公 (r. 676–651 bc), who succeeded in persuading the state of Yu 虞 to allow the Jin troops a safe passage to attack Yu’s neighboring state, Guo. In the end, Yu was also destroyed soon after the downfall of Guo. See Zuozhuan, Xi 2/3, 5/9. 30 When Zeng Shen’s 曾參 (505–436 bc) mother heard of two accusations of murder, which were in fact committed by another man with the same name, she ignored them because of her faith in her son. But upon hearing the third accusation she could not help but rush out to find out the truth. See Zhanguo ce, 4.150. 31 See explanation below. 32 Jieyu was a recluse from the state of Chu. See Zhuangzi 4/86–91; Lunyu 18/5. Jieyu was named Lu Tong 陸通 in Huangfu Mi, Gaoshi zhuan, 1.9a. 33 Songshu, 21.618; YFSJ, 37.547. 34 David Knechtges points out the dubious authorship of this “old words” poem, and argues that the style of this poem is more elegant than other old Han yuefu poems. This communication took place at the 2005 annual meeting of the American Oriental Society (Western Branch), Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. For the history of Li Yannian’s twenty-eight songs and the pseudo-classic composers in the Wei-Jin period, see JS, 23.715–16. Wang Sengqian 王僧虔 (426–85) notes that this song was played during the

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The “old words” poem juxtaposes a series of historical allusions, centering on a theme that mistaken beliefs bring about disaster and that the wrongdoer does not realize his mistake until it is too late. By concluding with the contrast between Bian He and Jieyu, the poem implies that an early retreat from politics may forestall persecution. According to the Han Fei zi 韓非子, Bian presented a stone he knew contained precious jade to King Li 厲 (d. 740 bc) and King Wu 武 of Chu (r. 740–690 bc) on two separate occasions. He was treated as a liar and, as punishment, lost a leg on each occasion. It was only upon presenting his stone to King Wen 文 (r. 689–677 bc), successor of Wu, that he was proven to be correct about the jade.35 Jieyu, on the other hand, is recorded in the Analects as a famous recluse who ridiculed Confucius for devoting himself to political affairs.36 The example above was one of a long tradition of using “Willow Songs” as a medium for voicing political concerns. As Zhu Jiazheng 朱嘉徵 (1602–84) observes, the “old words” poem concerns how to enlighten the ruler and thereby achieve good governance. In Cao Pi’s and Lu Ji’s com­ posi­tions under the title of “Willow Song,” continues Zhu, the same po­litically-oriented theme was maintained, and these became “famous dis­courses.”37 This theme underwent changes in Xie Lingyun’s second “Willow Song,”38 in which Xie discussed his attitude towards political life, as a result of his contemplation inspired by the transient natural scene. The political content and the ideas of failure and death in particular, formed a ‘genre feature’ of “Linzhong shi” in later times.39 Xie Lingyun himself contributed poems under the titles of both “Willow Songs” and “Linzhong shi,” two distinct poetic traditions likely derived from one provenance. The political content in the “old words” version is observed in both of Xie’s compositions.40 Wei and Jin. See Wang, Ji lu 技錄, quoted in Gujin yue lu 古今樂錄. YFSJ, 37.547, Guo Maoqian’s commentary. 35 Han Fei zi jijie, 4.66. 36 Lunyu, 18/5. 37 Zhu Jiazheng, Yuefu guang xu, 5.4a. Cao Pi’s and Lu Ji’s poems are in YFSJ, 37.547– 48. 38 YFSJ, 37.548. XLYJ, 226–27. 39 Masuda Kiyohide suggests a metaphorical use of the word zhe, “break,” in early yuefu poems under the title of “Willow Song,” in which there is a common meaning of “failure” 挫折. Masuda, Gafu no rekishiteki kenkyū, 245–46. 40 This holds true if we exclude the first “Willow Song,” which begins with “luxuriant are the trees on the riverbank” 鬱鬱河邊樹 and is attributed to Xie in YFSJ, 37.548. Quoting others, Gu Shaobo argues that “Luxuriant Trees” should be written by Cao Pi. See XLYJ, 227, n. 1. Given Gu’s convincing argument along with strong textual evidence, Zhu


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Some two centuries before Xie, Kong Rong took up the “Willow Songs” poetic tradition and presented political concerns in a more personal way. The personalization may be seen as pioneer for later development of the genre. Here is Kong’s poem: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

Too much talk causes plans to fail. A utensil leaks as, alas, it is not well sealed. A flooding river begins with a hole the size of an ant. The collapse of a mountain starts from a gibbon’s cave. Trickling streams become the Yangzi and Han Rivers. A skylight gives access to a dark chamber. Slander and wickedness damage impartiality. Floating clouds overshadow the white sun. Sleek words are devoid of honesty and fidelity. Flowers bloom but in the end yield no fruit. People have two or three different minds. How can they be unified? Three people [spreading rumors] can conjure up a tiger in the marketplace. 14. Soaking and dousing can melt glue and varnish. 15. There is much in life to worry about. 16. Sleeping forever brings an end to the myriad matters.

言多令事敗 器漏苦不密 河潰蟻孔端 山壞由猿穴 涓涓江漢流 天窓通冥室 讒邪害公正 浮雲翳白日 靡辭無忠誠 華繁竟不實 人有兩三心 安能合為一 三人成市虎 浸漬解膠漆 生存多所慮 長寢萬事畢41

41 The early “Willow Song” poems contain nearly identical lines, illustrating a formulaic feature. In the “old words” (line 15) and Kong’s poem (line 13), we find the same allusion to the Zhanguo ce that “Three people’s rumors can forge a tiger in the marketplace.”42 The poem “Gu yangliu xing” contains a couplet almost identical with the one in Kong’s poem (lines 7–8). The former is preserved in Li Shan’s commentary on the Wenxuan. It reads: 讒邪害公正,浮雲蔽白日 , and the meaning is the same as that of Kong’s couplet.43 Of these three poems composed to the tune “Willow Song,” Kong’s is the most personal in its lyrical approach. The poet feels regret for “talking too much,” which directly results in his failure. Although traditional Jiazheng’s speculation on the ‘unified theme’ (on political content) in Cao Pi’s and Lu Ji’s contributions to “Willow Songs” becomes intangible. It is implausible that Cao Pi conveys the same kind of political message in “Luxuriant Trees.” Therefore, we may conclude that the variation in themes within the circle of “Willow Songs” began as early as in Cao Pi’s time. 41 XQHW, 197. The character wan 萬 has a variant fang 方 in GWY, 8.192; nine-juan edition, 4.4a. 42 Zhanguo ce, 23.845–46. 43 WX, 29.2a.

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c­ ritics denigrated Kong’s poem for its lack of aesthetic appeal, saying it sounded like a stele inscription, its expression of personal sentiments wins our sympathy.44 Kong’s regret fits his personality as it is portrayed in various sources: he is recorded as having been arrogant, supercilious, contemptuous, and recalcitrant. His personality caused him to fail in governance early in his career, and was the main cause of his tragic end.45 Kong’s final statement in the poem adds information on the cause of his death. Historians comment that Kong’s death was a direct result of his frequent offenses against Cao Cao, who is recorded as “being envious by nature and unable to tolerate certain individuals.”46 In the first four lines, the poet presents and analyzes his confession. The poetic images accurately depict how “too much talk causes plans to fail.” The key concept is that a small hole or leak may cause a mountain to collapse or a river to flood. These images became Fu Xuan’s thesis on being cautious about what one says.47 Xie Lingyun’s conclusion in his “Willow Song” that “in speaking or remaining silent I entrust myself to sagely people of the past” 語默寄前哲 also echoes this concern in the poetic tradition. Lines 5 and 6 in Kong’s poem seem to be about the poet’s efforts to aid the state, but these efforts were futile because of slander. Zhang Qiao glossed the “skylight window” as a metaphor for the poet’s allegiance to the state.48 If Zhang was correct, the trickling streams merging as the torrential currents of the Jiang and Han rivers (line 5) stand for the poet’s contribution to the great deeds of the ruler. This reading of the couplet fits with Mou Rong’s “dark chamber” metaphor for enlightenment: Since I heard the dharma, it is as though the white sun has appeared as the clouds scatter, or as though a torch has entered a dark room. 吾自聞道已來,如開雲見白日,矩火入冥室焉。49

44 This criticism may be found in the sixteenth century work, Hu, Shisou, “waibian”

外編, 1.136, quoting Tanyi 談藝.

45 SGZ, 12.370–73, n. 1; HHS, 70.2264, 2280. 46 SGZ, 12.370; HHS, 70.2271–73, 2278. 47 Beitang shuchao, 158.20b; YWLJ, 17.317. The former text quotes Fu’s work as Fuzi 傅 子, the latter as “Koujie” 口誡. 48 GWY, 8.192, Zhang’s commentary. Zhu Jiazheng’s interpretation of lines 5–6 reads: “The trickling streams contribute to the water level of the Rivers Jiang and Han. A gap on the skylight may bring in light to a dark room. These analogues refer to the poet himself, who deems himself at least a little loyal, and may benefit state affairs and enlighten people’s minds.” See Zhu, Shiji guanxu, 5.6a. 49 Mouzi lihuo, HMJ, 1.5b27–28.


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But Kong’s “skylight” leads in an opposite direction—the dark room, because his noble goal of assisting the ruler has failed. The next lines give an account of this failure. “Floating clouds” and “white sun” were stock phrases in the Han. A similar evocative scene is found in Xifu Gong’s poem “Jueming ci” mentioned above: “When male and female rainbows grow bright the sun turns dim.” Early appearances of rainbows (hongni 虹霓 or didong 螮蝀) were inauspicious. Xifu’s line thus referred to “injustice in the chaotic world.”50 In Kong’s context, the clouds are a metaphor for the obstacles preventing the poet’s access to the emperor, a common connotation for this trope during the Eastern Han and Wei.51 This obstacle refers to the slanderers who Kong felt were directly responsible for his failure in his career. These kinds of complaints are similar to those in the Chuci tradition, in which the persona is constantly slandered. The idea of slow, lurking harm to Kong is presented as the infiltration of water, which eventually, after a period of soaking, separates materials that have been glued together (line 14). This process of ruination is accelerated by rumor mongering, which may forge a tiger in the marketplace (line 13). These metaphorical allusions center on the theme that slanderers have shattered the relationship between Kong and the emperor. In the hermeneutic and historiographic traditions, these slanderers were identified as Xi Lü 郗慮 and Lu Cui 路粹 (d. 214), who were directly responsible for Kong’s death.52 Although Kong’s poem has been criticized for its overly didactic style, his poem may be appreciated in its use of poetic imagery and allusion to 50 Liu Xi 劉熙 (second/third century) offered this: “When yin and yang lose harmony, marriage becomes chaotic, licentiousness prevails; it is the time when man and woman elope with each other.” Liu, Shiming 釋名, YWLJ, 2.38. The earliest use of rainbows as an omen for a couple’s violation of marriage is in Shijing 51, where rainbow is written as didong 蝃蝀. MSZY, 3.2.50c. The metaphorical reading of Xifu’s line is in Nishioka, Chūgoku kodai no sōrei, 488. 51 The most famous example of the two images is in “Nineteen Ancient Poems,” no. 1. WX, 29.2a. The metaphorical reading is widely accepted. See, for example, Sui, Gushi shijiu shou jishi, 2.2, 3.9, 3.24, quoting Li Shan, Liu Liang, Wu Qi, Zhang Geng, etc. A contemporary example of the allegorical use of these images is in Cao Zhi, “Xie deru biao” 謝得 入表, in which Cao compares his audience with the emperor as having been like “opening up the floating clouds and seeing the white sun.” YWLJ, 39.712; Cao Zhi ji jiaozhu, 2.268. Opposition to allegorical reading of the phrases comes from Ma, Gushi shijiu shou tansuo, 123–24. In his study of these poetic images, Tsuru Haruo observes three different meanings: a) the actual scene, b) a metaphor for one’s loyalty, and c) a metaphor for slanderers who cause fatal harm to the righteous persona. Tsuru also surmises that the line in question in Kong Rong might have been a proverb of the Eastern Han. See his “‘Fuyun bi bairi’ ni tsuite,” 196–99. 52 HHS, 70.2278. GWY, 8.192, Zhang Qiao’s commentary.

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present a personal political situation and his sufferings. The musical feature and choices of diction within the yuefu tradition must have contributed to the platitudinous style in Kong’s poem. The comparison above has shown that Kong’s composition followed this tradition. Its style and diction may have derived from the “old words” yuefu cited earlier, or perhaps an earlier song in the same tune. Too Late to Retreat Failure in political life was one important motive for writing “Linzhong shi.” This motive appeared as early as in Kong Rong’s poem and the “old words” version of “Willow Song.” It became a genre feature in other “Linzhong shi” by later writers before the Liu Song dynasty.53 In the Western Jin, a “Willow Song,” which was in circulation in the Luoyang area, carried on the political theme in Kong’s contribution. This tradition set the tone for the Jin-Song compositions within the genre circle. The following anecdote is attributed to Gan Bao 干寶 (fl. 317–22) in his Soushen ji 搜神記: At the end of the Taikang 太康 reign-period (280–89), a certain “Willow Song” was created [and in circulation] in the Luoyang area. In its beginning were words about the hardship of battles. It ended with matters of capturing and executing [the defeated]. Later [in 291], Yang Jun 楊駿 was put to death and the Empress Dowager [who was Yang’s daughter] died in detention. The prognostication of “breaking the willow” (zheyang zhi ying 折楊 之應) thus came true.54

It is clear that the prognosticative narrative plays with the pun-character yang 楊. The character, which means “willow” and is also the surname of Yang Jun, names the song and foretells the downfall and eradication of the Yang faction, including the regent-minister Yang Jun, his daughter Empress Dowager Yang, his two brothers, and his adherents.55 The 53 The theme of failure in political life disappears in poems under the same title after the Liu Song. See the “Linzhong shi” by Gu Huan 顧歡 (late fifth century), Emperor Xiaozhuang 孝莊 of the Northern Wei (r. 528–29), Shi Zhikai 釋智愷 (d. 568), Shi Lingyu 釋靈 裕 (d. 605), and Shi Zhiming 釋智命 (Sui dyn.). XQHW, 1381–82, 2625, 2776–77. This may be explained by religious influence. Except for Gu Huan, a Daoist scholar who opposed Buddhism, all later contributors to “Linzhong shi” were Buddhists. 54 SJZ, 16.26a; TPYL, 573.5b. Both books claim the Soushen ji as their source. The translation here is based on a collated version in Li Jianguo, Xinji Soushen ji, 14.223–24. The meaning of zhe in this context supports Masuda’s explanation of ‘breaking’ (see note 39 above). 55 JS, 31.955–56, 40.1179–81.


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a­ necdote reveals the established convention of macabre poetry, retrospectively titled “Linzhong shi.” Although the “Willow Song” in circulation is not extant, its content is clearly summarized. Historically, the coup marks a prelude to the ensuing political upheavals in the Jin and Song periods. In the literary tradition, this “Willow Song” continued the emphasis, in this poetic genre, on writing about political injustice. However, one important distinction about this “Willow Song” is that Yang Jun, conceivably, did not compose the poem. Whoever did write the poem anticipated Yang’s failure. Although it might have been written after the coup, it followed the convention and elaborated on the theme of ‘not knowing when to retreat.’ All compositions in this poetic genre contain political overtones and personal regret. We observe two themes common to poems bearing the title “Linzhong”: meditation on the cyclic nature of the human world, and regret for not having retreated earlier. These two themes are most typically seen in the “Linzhong shi” by Ouyang Jian 歐陽建 (ca. 269–300), an adherent to Shi Chong 石崇 (249–300), whose faction was eliminated in a coup led by Sima Lun 司馬倫 (d. 301).56 Before he was executed, Ouyang wrote: 57 1. Boyang [Laozi] headed for the [barbaric kingdom of] Rong 伯陽適西戎 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17.

in the West. Confucius wanted to live in the [savage domain of] Man. So long as one aspires to achieve in the four directions,57 [One can then] enjoy roaming anywhere. This is especially so when faced with predicaments, and When stumbling and suffering from mishaps. [Qu Boyu] of the past was able to decipher oracles. He fled on his horse through a nearby pass.58 Alas, so naïve and benighted I am: Performing my duty, holding my low position. Conspiracies have secretly been made, Bringing about good and ill fortunes. Boundless is the center of the six directions. Spacious is the area of the four seas. As the heavenly web and lassoes spread, One finds no security in taking each step. Pine and cypress wilt in deep winter;

孔子欲居蠻 苟懷四方志 所在可遊盤 況乃遭屯蹇 顛沛遇災患 古人達機兆 策馬遊近關 咨余沖且暗 抱責守微官 潛圖密已搆 成此禍福端 恢恢六合間 四海一何寬 天網布紘綱 投足不獲安 松柏隆冬悴

56 JS, 33.1009; SSXY, 36/1. 57 An allusion to Lady Jiang’s advice to her husband Chong’er, prince of the Jin state, who wandered in exile for nineteen years. Zuozhuan, Xi 23/4.

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然後知歲寒 18. Only then does one realize the yearly cold season. 不涉太行險 19. Without traveling to the dangerous Taihang Moun­tains, 20. Who would have experienced the difficulty of these roads? 誰知斯路難 真偽因事顯 21. The genuine and the fake are manifest in events; 人情難豫觀 22. But it is hard to observe man’s condition in advance. 窮達有定分 23. Predicament and achievement are predestined— 慷慨復何歎 24. What do I bemoan in my agitation and anxiety? 上負慈母恩 25. Above I disappoint my kind mother’s love— 痛酷摧心肝 26. Pain and regret ruin my heart. 下顧所憐女 27. Below I regard my beloved daughters— 惻惻心中酸 28. My aching heart is pierced with bitterness. 二子棄若遺 29. My two children will be abandoned, forlorn. 念皆遘凶殘 30. I think of them both suffering from ferocious cruel­ty. 不惜一身死 31. I do not begrudge my own death, as 惟此如循環 32. It is as though on the orbit of a cycle. 執紙五情塞 33. Paper in hand, I feel my five emotions are blocked. 34. Tossing off my brush I shed torrential tears. 揮筆涕汍瀾59 58 59 The earnest lyricism of this poem marks a new, fully-fledged development of the genre. One novel feature is a focus on political factions and their tragic consequence, which differentiate this poem from the “old words” version of “Willow Song.” The personalization of these conventional themes brought the genre to a higher level of lyricism. It is unknown whether Ouyang had any model when he wrote his poem.60 The evocative nature of the poem resembles those written in the “Yonghuai” style, and not surprisingly, led Mao Jin 毛晉 (1599–1659) to emend the categorization of poems in juan 23 of the Wenxuan by deleting the “Linzhong” heading and including Ouyang’s poem under the “Yonghuai” heading.61

58 An allusion to Qu Boyu 蘧伯玉 (fl. late fifth century bc), who managed to flee a disaster in time. Zuozhuan, Xiang 14/4. 59 XQHW, 647. Cf., Fusheng Wu’s translation in his “Composed at Execution,” 112–14. 60 The Laozi legend may have been another stock phrase in the genre line of “Willow Song” and “Linzhong shi.” The Laozi legend became a counter example in the “Willow Song” by Cao Pi, who ostensibly launched an attack on the idea of the pursuit of immortality. YFSJ, 37.547. Ouyang used it to express his regret for failing to follow Laozi’s (as well as Confucius’s) path of retreating before it was too late. In his poem Ouyang mentioned his two children; this, coincidentally, matches Kong Rong’s case. Kong’s children were killed immediately after Kong. SGZ, 12.272–73. Ouyang’s children are not mentioned in any historical record. 61 Gotō, “Rikuchō rinjūshi ronkō,” 50; also his Chūgoku chūsei no aishō bungaku, 4–5. Scholarly works cited by Gotō for support include Hu Kejia 胡克家 (1757–1816), Wenxuan kaoyi 考異 (appended to WX), 4.20b; Shiba, Monzen shohon no kenkyū, 37. As Ouyang’s poem is entitled “Linzhong shi” in the Wenxuan and it is also possible that Xiao Tong


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Ouyang’s poem posits that the cyclic structure of life is conditional. The corollary of a certain path that the poet is led to take unfolds before him. Before realizing all the fatal consequences for him and his family, the naïve and benighted poet-persona is lured into pursuing his goal, not knowing when to stop. This realization is experiential and has a temporal sequence. One never knows how cold winter is until one sees the pine trees withering; nor does one realize the harshness of the political road, which is as dangerous as the Taihang Mountains. Realization comes too late for the doomed to do anything about it. The cyclic structure of human history is also a focus of Fu Lang’s 苻朗 (Jin) “Linzhong shi.” Fu was the nephew of Fu Jian 苻堅 (338–85), a ruler of the Former Qin 前秦 kingdom. After submitting to the Jin, Fu Lang was slandered by Wang Guobao 王國寶 (d. 397) and was put to death.62 This biographical sketch is important to his “Linzhong shi.” In this poem, Laozi again plays a crucial role because the cosmology associated with this mythical figure influenced Fu’s worldview: 63 四大起何因 1. The Four Greatnesses, why did they arise?63 聚散無窮已 2. The cycle of gathering and dissipating is never ending. 既適一生中 3. Just as I have arrived in one mortal course, 又入一死理 4. I again enter the path of death. 5. Purifying my heart, ascending to harmony and comfort, 冥心乘和暢 未覺有終始 6. I am not aware of the beginning or the end. 如何箕山夫 7. Why would the man of Mount Ji, 奄焉處東市 8. Suddenly be at East Market? 9. I have wasted this hundred-year lifespan allotted to me, 曠此百年期 遠同嵇叔子 10. Sharing with Ji Kang the same fate throughout history. 命也歸自天 11. My life was given by Heaven, so 12. I follow the natural changes and mysterious rules. 委化任冥紀64 64 Although Fu Lang, a scholar of the Lao-Zhuang school,65 believed (like Ouyang Jian) in the cyclic structure of human life,66 his regret at not having retreated earlier is a prominent theme. Fu used the famous Mount Ji recluse Xu You 許由 (line 7) metonymically for shucking off commitment in favor of becoming a recluse, an act that brought the recluse, a guise created a separate category called “Linzhong,” Xiao may have been responsible for titling Ouyang’s poem. 62 JS, 114.2937. 63 Laozi, ch. 25. The “Four Greatnesses” are the Way, heaven, earth, and the king. Lau, Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching, 82. 64 XQHW, 932. 65 JS, 114.2937. 66 The cyclic theory is from Laozi, ch. 25.

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for the regretful Fu, to the Eastern Market where capital punishment was meted out. The failing Xu You, the framed Ji Kang, and the dying poet form a trinity. They illustrate a palingenetic scene in human history. This scene recurs, happening to those who fail to retreat from official life before it is too late. To Fu, this was an eternal cycle because most people fail to retreat even when they foresee the tragic ending. Realization dawns only at the end of one’s life. In the ante-mortem poetic tradition, the tragic story of Ji Kang served as a significant motif within the genre. Fu Lang’s poem was the first to include Ji’s story as a historical allusion. This marked another new development in the genre. After Kong Rong’s “Willow Song,” which was later titled “Linzhong shi,” the old yuefu tradition was divorced from the “Linzhong shi” genre. As the “Willow Song” tune was no longer used for “Linzhong shi,” the latter assumed a new life and became a new “genre.” The life of Ji Kang was so tragic that it aroused the sympathy of intellectuals67 and became a feature in the genre of ante-mortem poetry. The motif and poetic features in Ji’s last poem, “On My Suppressed Grievance” (“Youfen shi” 幽憤詩), fit perfectly in the “Linzhong” tradition, mainly because it recounts Ji’s regret before he died as a result of political struggles.68 This regret further enhanced the motifs of ‘being too late to regret’ and “dying too soon to make posthumous preparation.” In addition to the story about his “Guangling Tune” (“Guangling san” 廣陵散) music not being transmitted because of his sudden, unexpected death, one prominent theme in his “Youfen shi” is regret for not having gone into seclusion.69 Here are some relevant couplets: 70 71 惟此褊心 15. With my short-tempered heart, 顯明臧否 16. I wished to distinguish right and wrong. 感悟思愆 17. As I awaken to and brood upon my mistakes, 怛若創痏 18. My pain may be likened to wounds and scars. 欲寡其過 19. Although I wish to lessen my faults, 67 When Ji Kang was at the East Market for execution, three thousand students of the Grand Academy protested, requesting a pardon for Ji and becoming disciples of Ji. SSXY, 6/2; JS, 49.1374. 68 For background information on this poem, see Dai, Ji Kang ji jiaozhu, 1.25–26. 69 Dai Mingyang argues that the “Guangling san” was transmitted to later generations. He has gathered relevant material as proof. See his “Guangling san kao” 考, Ji Kang ji jiaozhu, 444–80. SSXY, 6/2, pp. 345–47, n. 3. 70 Yan Junping 嚴君平 and Zheng Zizhen 鄭子真 (both fl. first century bc) are known for declining for offers of official posts from high authorities. They both lived in reclusion throughout their lives. See HS, 72.3056. 71 XQHW, 480; WX, 23.13a/b, 14b.


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20. Slander and criticism swarm and boil. 21. It is my nature to never harm others, 22. But I frequently incur resentment and hatred. …

27. I look up to Yan Junping and Zheng Zizhen,70 28. Who took pleasure in the dao and lived in leisure. 29. They had no dealings with the world; 30. Their spirit and breath are at peace. 31. Alas, I am not as good [as them], and 32. Am entangled in much worry and anxiety. 33. [My troubles] were not sent down by Heaven, 34. But rather are due to my own ineptitude and carelessness. …

35. I hope in the future 36. [My name] will have no scent or odor— 37. Gathering bracken in mountain nooks 38. With my hair disheveled, on cliffs and peaks, 39. Prolonging my whistle and chanting, 40. Preserving my inner nature, nourishing my longevity.

謗議沸騰 性不傷物 頻致怨憎 …… 仰慕嚴鄭 樂道閑居 與世無營 神氣晏如 咨余不淑 嬰慮多虞 匪降自天 實由頑疏 …… 庶勗將來 無馨無臭 采薇山阿 散髮巖岫 永嘯長吟 頤性養壽71

These lines may be read as a commentary on the upright yet impetuous character of Ji Kang as profiled in historical records; the final lines present a mere fantasy of living an enlightened life.72 He could have stayed out of trouble, but his righteous principles urged him to seek justice. According to the Jinshu, Ji mediated in a wrangle between his friend Lü An 呂安 (d. 262) and An’s older brother Lü Xun 巽, who had raped An’s wife. The disagreement seemed to have been settled, but then Xun slandered his brother An as having failed to fulfill his filial duties. Thereupon, An was imprisoned. Ji Kang then gave testimony in an attempt to rescue his friend Lü An but was framed by Zhong Hui 鍾會 (225–64), who had long been envious of Kang’s talents. As a result, both Ji Kang and Lü An were executed by imperial order. The charges against them included: a) Kang’s intention to join the recent Guanqiu Jian 毌丘儉 (d. 255) rebellion, and b) the unrestrained behavior of Kang and An and their criticism of the Confucian classics.73

72 See my discussion in Tim Chan, “Ruan Ji’s and Xi Kang’s Visits,” 147–51. Rather than treating the last few lines of Ji’s poem as regret, Zhuang Wanshou regards them as presenting a utopia. See Zhuang, Ji Kang yanjiu ji nianpu, 204. 73 JS, 49.1313.

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The Final Utterance of a Rebel The tragedy, injustice, and regret surrounding Ji Kang became a genre feature within the “Linzhong” poetic tradition. Two reactions to his execution reveal its great impact on people of the time. First, a large number of students (allegedly numbering “three thousand” according to dynastic history) of the Grand Academy requested that Kang be their teacher, in an attempt to save Kang’s life. Second, after Kang’s death “scholars from within the four seas all felt great pain for Kang. Before long, the Emperor (i.e., Sima Zhao) came to his senses and regretted what had happened.”74 Thereafter, the wronged, framed Ji Kang assumed an iconic meaning of injustice in intellectual history and in the poetic tradition. When composing a “Linzhong shi” in the later ages, a poet must have been reminded of the injustice and the great impact upon intellectuals of the tragedy of Ji Kang. In their search for an apposite vehicle for venting grievances and injustice, Fu Lang and Fan Ye both found in recent history the Ji Kang story and alluded to it.75 This new element is a crucial means of tackling a textual problem in Xie Lingyun’s “Linzhong shi.” Let us first look at this poem: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

Gong Sheng’s life ran out. Li Ye met his end. Mister Ji’s principles were imperiled. Student Huo’s fate was to perish. Rueful are leaves enduring the frost. Entangled are mushrooms facing the wind.76 When will I meet my good fortune? I do not lament that life may be long or short. I present my mind to self-realization: I have long endured this agony. My only regret is my noble goal, Should not be extinguished atop a cliff.

龔勝無餘生 李業有終盡 嵇公理既迫 霍生命亦殞 悽悽凌霜葉 網網衝風菌 邂逅竟幾何 修短非所愍 送心自覺前 斯痛久已忍 恨我君子志 不獲巖上泯77

The textual problems of the poem have given rise to controversy on its meaning. Here I use the Songshu version for discussion, as there are contradictory elements in the later interpolations in two other versions

74 JS, 49.1374; SSXY, 6/2. 75 Fan’s poem is in XQHW, 1203.


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in early Tang (early seventh century) sources—Guang Hongming ji and Fayuan zhulin 法苑珠林.76 Xie’s poem follows the “Linzhong shi” tradition in several ways. First, it recounts his failure in political struggles. Second, death informs the cyclic structure of humanity. Third, the poet regrets that it is too late to retreat. The most controversial issue concerns Xie Lingyun’s attitude toward his enemies, the Song rulers, mainly Liu Yikang 劉義康 (409–51) who, despite Emperor Wen’s (r. 424–53) intercession, insisted that Xie be executed. In order to persecute Xie, Liu had conspired late in Xie’s life to lead him to revolt against the Liu Song dynasty. The last official post Xie took was Administrator of Linchuan 臨川 (west of modern Linchuan, Jiangxi), in 431. He was relegated to this place due to a quarrel with Governor Meng Yi 孟顗 (early fifth century) over possession of some lands in Guiji, for which the authorities criticized him. In Linchuan, our unhappy poet failed to carry out his duties. In 433, Liu Yikang sent Zheng Wangsheng 鄭望生 to arrest him, but Xie turned the tables and caught Zheng instead. This was the first step in Xie’s rebellion. The Songshu records a poem written on this occasion. This poem is an important clue to understanding his “Linzhong shi.” 韓亡子房奮 1. When the Han State perished, Zifang was roused; 2. As [the] Qin [king] declared himself emperor, Lu Lian 秦帝魯連恥

felt ashamed.

3. They had long been men of the rivers and seas.


76 The poem in GHMJ, 30.356a20–24, contains some variants and two extra lines at the end. Shi Daoshi’s 釋道世 (fl. mid to late seventh century) version, in Fayuan zhulin. T. 2122.53.991c11–18, has four extra lines. The latter version reads: 龔勝無遺生,季業有窮盡。嵇叟理既迫,霍子命亦殞。屢屢厚霜柏,納納衝風菌。邂 逅竟慨時,脩短非所慜。恨我吾子志,不得巖上泯。送心正覺前,斯痛久已忍。既知人 我空,何愁心不謹﹖唯願乘來生,怨親同識朕。

My translation of these last six lines go: 13. I have now converted my feelings to saṃbodhi— 14. For so long I had suffered in agony. 15. Now I realize that I and everyone else are śūnyatā, 16. Why would I doubt the sincerity of my devotion? 17. My only wish is that in my next life, 18. Those hostile to me, as well as my intimates, all understand omens.

These additional lines probably accrued later, and appear to be a Buddhist interpretation of Xie’s feelings in his final moments. For a textual study of Xie’s poem, see Deng, “Sanjiao yuanrong de linzhong guanhuai,” 347–49. For a discussion of the contradictory elements, such as the incompatibility of the Buddhist idea of reincarnation with the settings of Xie’s poem, see Mori, “Tō Enmei to Sha Reiun,” 14; Kishiro, “Sōsho ni okeru,” 22–24.

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4. So loyal and righteous, these noble men have infected 忠義感君子79 me.

77 Zhang Liang 張良 (zi, Zifang; d. 186 bc) and Lu Zhonglian 魯仲連 (fl. mid third century bc) were both known for their efforts to prevent the Qin from destroying their home states. Zhang and Lu could have been “men of the rivers and seas,” staying out of worldly trouble, but they practiced “loyalty and righteousness.”78 Xie’s motive for singling out these figures was his indignation at the Liu Song’s usurpation of the Jin, a similar situation to that of Zhang and Lu.79 This sentiment was logically continued and elaborated in his “Linzhong shi,” written shortly afterwards. The charges against Xie were stamped by the emperor, and he was exiled to Guangzhou, where he was arrested for treason and finally executed. The four historical figures at the beginning of the poem are traditionally glossed as sharing a common theme, but thematically they fall into two categories: the first two highlight Xie’s loyalty to the Jin while the third and fourth are a self-portrayal of Xie late in his life. Gong Sheng (68 bc–ad 11) showed his loyalty to the Han by starving to death upon declining Wang Mang’s offer of appointment.80 Li Ye (early first century), another dissident who would not accept Wang Mang, succeeded in remaining in seclusion throughout Wang’s Xin dynasty, but died a martyr under Gongsun Shu 公孫述 (d. 36), another usurper of the Han. Li declined the ducal position offered by Gongsun, who then declared himself emperor in Shu (modern Sichuan). Gongsun sent Yin Rong 尹融 to offer Li two options: a dukedom or a cup of poisoned beverage. Li chose the latter.81 Shen Yue commented on these two allusions as follows: “These have the same meaning as the Zhang Liang and Lu Zhonglian allusions in the previous poem (i.e., the poem quoted above).”82 Shen implied that these two poems by Xie had a common moral: one may sacrifice one’s life to defend loyalty to one’s state/dynasty. The two other historical allusions in lines 3 and 4 in Xie’s “Linzhong shi” delineate the poet’s later life. After living in his mountain hermitage 77 Songshu, 67.1777. The poem was assigned titles such as “Linchuan beishou” 臨川被

收 and “Zixu” 自敘 in later editions, see XLYJ, 201, n. 1.

78 The phrase “river and sea” is a metonym for reclusion. Zhuangzi, 15/4–5. 79 Xie was gradually stripped of his privileges after the founding of the Liu Song dynasty. This was another important reason for his revolt. See my discussion in Tim Chan, “Cong Liu Song wangchao,” 76–82. 80 HS, 72.3085, 99B.4127. 81 HHS, 81.2669–70. 82 Songshu, 67.1777.


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for some years, Huo Yuan 霍原 (d. ca. 314) gathered some hundreds of followers. His renown grew so quickly that the over-powerful, rebellious Wang Jun 王浚 (d. 314) regarded him as a rival and finally killed him.83 This immediately brings our attention to Xie Lingyun’s mountain dwelling in Shining. Wang Xiu 王琇, Governor of Linhai, once mistook Xie’s men, who expanded Xie’s turf from Shining to Linhai, for bandits. So many people attached themselves to Xie in Guiji that the local government felt threatened. All of this came to a head in Meng Yi’s accusation that Xie was conspiring to revolt against the Liu Song dynasty. He later became a target of the Liu Song’s program to eliminate political rivals.84 The Mister Ji in line 3 is Ji Kang, rather than Ji Shao 紹 (253–304), Kang’s son who died a martyr for the Jin emperor during a coup at court.85 As discussed above, the Ji Kang reference in Xie’s poem is a conventional theme in this genre. When Xie was sent to Linchuan in 432, in a poem he mentioned two musical tunes: “Bright Moon Tune” (“Mingyue chui” 明月 吹) and “Guangling Tune.” These tunes expressed two kinds of feelings, the former being a “lament for parting” and the latter a prophecy of Xie’s death. The latter is a well-known composition by Ji Kang, who lamented that it would not be handed down after his death. Xie’s reference is not only to the music but also to its composer’s tragic life.86 In Xie’s “Linzhong shi,” the allusion to Mister Ji is a comparison with Xie’s own “principle being perilous.” Ji Kang was framed by Zhong Hui, who was directly responsible for his death. Ji’s righteous principle—attempting to rescue Lü An from unjust persecution—was crushed. Xie believed that his principles were righteous and were likewise in jeopardy. If these principles included his struggle with Meng Yi, the Huo Yuan allusion was a natural elaboration of this struggle, as Xie’s territory was also expanding, something the Liu could not tolerate. He was finally removed for the same reason that Huo was. The images of the mushroom and leaves (line 6) represent the cyclic nature of human life. The mushroom stands for an ephemeral, vulnerable 83 JS, 94.2435. 84 Songshu, 67.1775–76. 85 For the reading of Ji as Ji Shao, see XKLS, 4.22a; XLYJ, 205, n. 4; Funatsu, Sha Reiun: sansui shijin, 222; Kishiro, “Sōsho ni okeru,” 19. Scholars such as Lin Wen-yüeh, Qi Yishou, and Fusheng Wu take Ji to mean Ji Kang. See Lin, “Xie Lingyun Linzhongshi,” 243–44, in which Lin quotes three Western works in support: Frodsham, Murmuring Stream, vol. 1: 78; Mather, “Landscape Buddhism,” 73; Demiéville, Poémes chinois d’avant la mort, 146. See also Qi, “Xie Lingyun ‘Linzhongshi,’” 601; Wu, “Composed at Execution,” 122–23, n. 49. 86 Xie, “Daolu yi shanzhong” 道路憶山中, XLYJ, 189, 191, nos. 18–19. Cf. Qi Yishou’s discussion in “Xie Lingyun ‘Linzhong shi,’” 612.

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life and the leaves stand for endurance.87 Both end up dying, however. The couplet metaphorically concludes with the death of the four figures, and leads the reader to recognize the high value the poet places on life. How long one lives is not a matter for regret. Rather, Xie’s main concern is living at the right time and having good fortune (xiehou). Xie and the four figures he refers to all lived at the wrong time and ended their lives tragically. In studies of this poem, the phrase zijue (“self-realization,” line 9) is often superseded by the variant zhengjue 正覺, because the latter is the Buddhist term saṃbodhi, which fits Xie’s sudden enlightenment ideology at this point in his life.88 Nonetheless, this reading sharply contradicts the poet’s great regret in failing to achieve Buddhahood (if we accept Huang Jie’s commentary), an idea expressed in the last couplet.89 The phrase zijue may be, as Kishiro Mayako points out, an allusion to a statement by Qiuwuzi 丘吾子, Confucius’ interlocutor, recorded in Kongzi jiayu 孔子家 語 (The School Sayings of Confucius):90 I have three losses (sanshi 三失). In my later years I realized them myself (zijue 自覺). It is too late to regret … First, at an early age I was eager to study and traveled all over the world. But when I returned home my parents had already died. Second, when I grew up I served the Lord of Qi, who was nonetheless overbearing and extravagant. So I could not practice my fidelity as a subject. Third, all the good companions I had in my life have now left and I am separated from them.91

Rather than ‘enlightenment,’ the phrase zijue in this quotation marks a realization. In the context of Xie’s poem, the phrase marks the realization of his losses, as he always lived in the wrong time. His father Huan 瑍 died soon after he was born; the Jin was overthrown by Liu Song; friends such as Xun Yong 荀雍, He Zhangyu 何長瑜, and especially his political patron 87 Zhuangzi, 1/10. The image of morning mushrooms is used in the same sense of vulnerability in Xie Huilian’s poem, “Shun dongxi men xing” 順東西門行, YFSJ, 37.554. 88 The term is used passim in an Eastern Jin translation of the Huayan jing. See Dafang guang fo Huayan jing 大方廣佛華嚴經, T. 278.9.395a8, 28, 397c12, 402b19, 404c14, 405b4, et passim. A higher level of zhengjue is deng zhengjue 等. See 398b3, 404b14, 417c22, 437a15, et passim. 89 Huang Jie’s commentary is at XKLS, 4.22a/b. 90 R. P. Kramers’ translation of the title. See Kramers, K’ung tzu chia yü. Although it is a common agreement that the extant version of this text was mainly comprised of forged elements by Wang Su 王肅 (195–256), Kramers argues that Wang’s interpolation “constitutes only a minor portion of the whole.” See Kramers, “K’ung tzu chia yü,” 258. For a collection of studies on the authenticity of Kongzi jiayu, see Zhang Xincheng, Weishu tongkao, 609–18. 91 Kongzi jiayu, 2.6a.


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Liu Yizhen, Prince of Luling, had all died. With this in mind, Xie regarded his “pain” (tong) to be a result of this late realization. The subject of his long endurance would be his enlightened self, which did not come to light until his final realization. This regretful sentiment finds support in the genre feature of the “Linzhong shi,” tradition that enlightenment always comes too late. A similar statement by Gu Huan, who also uses the word jue in his “Linzhong shi” lends support to our reading of Xie. Gu said: “I wish I could have achieved realization earlier” 翹心企前覺.92 This theme of ‘regret at being too late’ in Xie’s “Linzhong shi” finds its root especially in Ji Kang’s work. In his “Youfen shi,” as quoted above, Ji regrets that he did not suppress his aspiration and principles and live out his natural life span. The “nobleman’s will” (junzi zhi) is for Xie derived from his righteous principles, parallel to the sentiments of the four historical figures.93 It was a noble goal; it cost the lives of Gong Sheng, Li Ye, Huo Yuan, Ji Kang, and Xie. In their poems, both Ji and Xie regretted that they could not extinguish (min 泯) this “nobleman’s will” at the cliff (yanxiu 巖岫 in Ji’s poem; yanshang 上 in Xie’s), with the cliff acting as a metonym for the reclusive life. Their unflagging, righteous character led to their tragic end. Proceeding and Retreating Poems properly categorized as “Linzhong shi” usually embody a genuinely lyrical inspiration, because in general the poet’s unnatural death has been predicted or scheduled. In the discussion above, we observe three genre features of “Linzhong shi”: the close relationship with political struggles, the lament for a short life and understanding its cyclic structure, and regret at not having retreated earlier. These features may be used as a guideline to the analysis of ante-mortem poetry. This guideline enables us to detect affected emotions expressed in playful works such as the “Coffin Puller’s Songs” and reconstruct the veneer the authors of these works had created for certain purposes. Although Kong Rong wrote his “Linzhong shi” under the yuefu title “Willow Song,” the former evolved into a new poetic genre. One may argue against there ever having been such a genre because the title “Linzhong” was always given retrospectively. It is therefore more 92 XQHW, 1382. 93 Kishiro, “Sōsho ni okeru,” 22–23, expresses a similar view.

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a­ ppropriate to call it a tradition. As this assumed its place in poetry, “Willow Song” continued on a separate path. Xie Lingyun’s works provide the best examples that elucidate the bifurcation of these two traditions. Besides his “Linzhong shi,” Xie wrote two poems in the yuefu tune “Willow Song,” which departed from the conventional theme and had nothing to do with death.94 Variants and interpolations in Xie’s “Linzhong shi” have formed an obstacle to our understanding of this poem. This complication is perhaps because Xie was so famous a writer, and above all, because he made a significant contribution to the literary treatment of Chinese Mahāyāna Buddhism (see chapter five). It was most likely for this reason that his “Linzhong shi” was included in Buddhist anthologies and encyclopedias, namely the Guang Hongming ji and the Fayuan zhulin. The editors, I argue, must have emended the content to make the poem fit Buddhist doctrine. This aim of glorifying, if not apotheosizing, Xie Lingyun resulted in an unnatural, contradictory ending of the poem. Exegetic commentaries changed him drastically, from an angry dissident sacrificing his life for his principles to an intellectual credited with synthesizing Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism in an expression of altruism and philanthropy. This conversion in the way Xie was perceived may have derived from the self-authored commentarial lines appended to his poems which argue for the eliminating of antagonism between one’s kin and one’s enemies. The Tang emendations of the poem have invited further dispute in the field.95 Although the Songshu edition of Xie’s poem was the only version available before the Tang, there is no good reason to put our trust in the much later editions most likely emended by Buddhist monks. Rather, the poetic tradition and biographical information are the most apt tools for understanding Xie’s poem. As we have seen, injustice, regret, and fear were the main themes of poetry composed on the verge of unnatural death. All of these sentiments arose from the benighted self of the poet who had proceeded in his political career without knowing when to stop. This reveals a fatal weakness of 94 XLYJ, 226; XKLS, 1.7a, YFSJ, 37.549. As noted above (note 40), “Luxuriant Trees” was written by Cao Pi. Ironically, in his “Zhe yangliu xing” (number 1 in YFSJ) Xie Lingyun expresses his wish to retreat early from political life. This poem records his new enlightenment, achieved through meditation on the cyclic structure of natural phenomena, and his consequent decision to live a reclusive life to avoid troubles. 95 Xie is credited with synthesizing Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism in his expression of altruism and philanthropy, as the last interpolated lines are a statement on eliminating hatred between intimates and enemies. Deng, “Sanjiao yuanrong,” 362–70.


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human nature. The pursuit of fame and achievement does not lend itself to moderation. Only when it exceeds the limit does one realize this, but for some people this realization comes too late. The contemplation of one’s end in this peculiar setting forms a discourse on retreat. This idea will be the focus of the “Epilogue” of this book.

epilogue: fisherman in reclusion


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Epilogue: The Fisherman in Reclusion In early literature, the fisherman was a stereotypical persona who mediated between the pursuit of, and retreat from, official life. This persona is typically presented with the outward appearance of a country bumpkin, but it becomes apparent that he is capable of speaking authoritatively on the topic of retreating from the world. His views and concerns perfectly sum up the complexity of contemporary attitudes towards the choices available to officials. This complexity (if not the fisherman himself) became important in the literary works discussed in this book. Although the Zhuangzi is the earliest known source of the fisherman persona, various archetypes of this kind, including the boatman and the firewood gatherer, are found in a number of other early texts. These figures were no ordinary peasants or uneducated people, but represented a sub-class that dissented from central political power. These two contesting sub-classes (reclusive and non-reclusive) comprised the class of scholars (shi 士).1 As discussed in chapter one, the trend of retreating from officialdom accelerated when Wang Mang founded his Xin dynasty. Upon rebuilding the Han, Emperor Guangwu made an effort to recruit these recluses but was unable to reverse the trend. During this period of “failure of the Confucian ethic” and “the rise of individualism,” the swelling sub-class of recluses had a significant impact upon other intellectuals.2 The opposing pulls of public service and reclusion constantly haunted the members of the shi stratum of society. This dilemma became an increasingly prominent motif in literary works, and was elaborated in the arguments presented by the fisherman, the firewood gatherer, and other such personae.

1 Zhuangzi classifies several types of people, who all belong to the shi class. Of these types there is one who “stayed in woods and marshes and lived a leisurely live, fishing and relaxing.” Zhuangzi called them “scholars of rivers and seas” 江海之士 and “men who shunned the world” 避世之人. Zhuangzi, 15/4–5. 2 The first quote is from Loewe, Divination, 249–66; the second is from Yü, “Individualism and the Neo-Taoist Movement,” 122.


chapter seven ‘Horizontal’ and ‘Vertical’ Reclusion

The increase in the number of dissident shi was traditionally considered to be an index of the current political atmosphere. In an essay entitled “Honoring the Recluses” (“Zun yin” 尊隱), Gong Zizhen 龔自珍 (1792– 1841) detected the artificial nature of this index and thus questioned how so many recluses could completely forget about gaining renown during and after their mortal life. He wrote: Therefore, human life is comprised of two perspectives, namely ‘vertical’ and ‘horizontal.’ The span of one hundred generations is ‘vertical’; a single generation is ‘horizontal.’ Those [who pursue fame] horizontally achieve a substantial outcome; those [who pursue fame] vertically gain a good name … [I] asked [the historian]: “Do these [reclusive] people have certain expectations?” His response was: “Yes, they do.” “What kind of expectations?” “Of historians of later generations.” “Then what about if they have no expectation?” [The historian] replied: “Their fame is not heard of. Their conduct may not be named. Their great anxiety is not traceable; their great disaster is borderless. Their great haughtiness is veneered by bowing; their great weariness is disguised by resting. They live in ‘formlessness’— although their brightness is brilliant, it turns dim and dark when seized. Historians of later ages want to find it but see nothing after seven attempts. How sad, indeed! For this reason, what they do is referred to as ‘vertical reclusion.’”3

Gong Zhizhen recognized that although reclusion is an option that appears to rule out pursuit of fame both in this life (“horizontal”) as well as in posterity (i.e., in a hundred generations, or “vertical”), in reality reclusion is an option that affords options to achieve fame on both counts. Gong praised vertical reclusion highly but the division between pursuit of achievements along the long-term vertical axis and the short-term horizontal axis was by no means absolute. In most cases, when the horizontal was obstructed the vertical became an alternative. Why, one may ask, did the achievements of Lü Shang 呂尚 (W. Zhou) and Fan Li 范蠡 (fl. late fifth century bc) become exemplary? The manner in which they pursued their reclusion guaranteed their fame in the history books. The fact that generations of people would pose questions about Qu Yuan’s suicide (as discussed in chapter one) might have baffled Qu Yuan himself. This is because Qu Yuan and his disciples advocated death only with a clearly articulated reason. Wang Yi’s success in persuading the famous recluse Fan Ying to take office might be put down to Fan’s underlying interest in 3 Gong Zizhen, “Zunyin,” Gong Zizhen quanji, 88.

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achieving fame. If Fan Ying did not pursue virtuous deeds, why was he such a famous recluse in his own day? Rather than the archetype of the fisherman, in the works of the writers discussed in this book we find a phantom, or a ‘second self.’ This second self is a persona representing the writer who continually worries about lack of longevity of his deeds and fame in his lifetime, and thus is determined to pursue fame in posterity. The duality of identity is derived from the atypical status of the disguise taken by the poet. Tao Qian is the best example to illustrate the “double self” structure. It is because Tao is not a mere peasant; he is an educated person.4 This derivation of the second self allocates the omniscient view to both the poet authorial persona and his interlocutor in a dialogue designed and manipulated by the former. The phantom may be seen as a natural evolution from similar themes in earlier works in which the primary authorial persona was presented in the guise of the fisherman or similar character. Mediator, Advisor, Commentator Despite the legendary nature of his identity, in intellectual circles in premodern China Lü Shang was commonly and fittingly regarded as the earliest to demonstrate the fisherman archetype. In his eighties, Lü is portrayed fishing by the banks of the Wei River as a means of recommending himself to Ji Chang 姬昌 (posthumously known as King Wen of the Zhou), the then Western Duke 西伯 during the Shang dynasty. As early as in the Shiji, Lü’s self-recommendation is recorded as jian 奸 (*kân), a loan word for gan 干 (*kân), “to encroach upon,” a word that means also to pursue actively or even aggressively.5 Ruan Ji compared Sima Zhao, then King of Zheng 鄭, with this fisherman in a petition requesting Sima to ascend the throne, penned at the request and on behalf of Zheng Chong 鄭沖 (d. 274).6 Here Sima’s great deeds were deemed unquestionably greater than those of Lü, and Sima was thus said to deserve regency then and eventually the transferral of sovereignty from the Wei emperor. Despite the sharp contradiction between the views in this petition, which Ruan is commonly believed to have written 4 Owen, “Self’s Perfect Mirror,” 76. 5 The reconstructed ancient pronunciation is from Karlgren, Grammata Serica Recensa, 56. Explanations of the interchangeability of the two characters are found in Gao, Guzi tongjia huidian, 183; Wang Li, Tongyuan zidian, 546. 6 “Wei Zheng Chong quan Jinwang jian,” RJJ, 51.


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under pressure, and Ruan’s discussion in “Biography of Master Great Man,” Lü Shang is referred to as a “fisherman” who won a great name for himself in political life and became a model of success among intellectuals.7 But why did Lü have to wait until he was so old? This question reveals a common concern of shi: that the fortune due to them should come at the right time. The “Monograph on Belles-lettres” in the Hanshu traces a major cause of this disillusion and desperation to the fact that shi were misprized among the populace despite their proficiency in the Shijing, a prerequisite for carrying out diplomatic missions in the Spring and Autumn Period. After the sharp decrease in visits between the states, the political utility of the shi declined, and they were scattered among the lower classes. After that time, fu (rhapsodies) on “the worthy one with unfulfilled aspirations” (xianren shizhi 賢人失志) were composed abundantly.8 According to legend, Qu Yuan was the first named poet to express his concern and frustration, which was caused by the corruption of others in office, and his “Lisao” was the first work devoted to the theme of anxiety over the passing of time.9 When he could see no alternative, as legend has it, he wrote of his intentions to commit suicide as a gesture of protest. The fisherman character that appears in the composition of that name in the Chuci directs the Qu Yuan persona to lead a more flexible life, rather than jumping in the river. The fisherman’s advice thereafter became a source of criticism of Qu Yuan throughout the Han. The fisherman can be understood as a second self of the Qu Yuan persona, who sought advice in an introspective dialogue.10 In this poem, the fisherman’s advice includes flexible methods for remaining in corrupt political situations. His first suggestion is: The wise man is not chained to material circumstances … but can move as the world moves. If all the world is muddy, why not help them to stir up the mud and beat up the waves? And if all men are drunk, why not sup their dregs and swill their lees? Why get yourself exiled because of your deep thoughts and your fine aspiration?11 7 See, for example, Li Bai, “Liangfuyin” 梁甫吟, Li Bai ji jiaozhu, 3.210; Quan Tangshi, 162.1681. 8 HS, 30.1756. See Wilhelm, “The Scholar’s Frustration,” 310–19; Tim Chan, “The ‘Ganyu’ of Chen Ziang,” 26. 9 Chen Shih-hsiang, “The Genesis of Poetic Time,” 1–44. 10 Fujino Iwatomo treats the conversation between Qu Yuan and the fisherman and that between Qu Yuan and the diviner as a religious activity. Shamanistic practices gave rise to dialogues in literary works. See his Fukei bungakuron, 124–26. 11 CCBZ, 7.179–80; trans., Hawkes, Songs of the South, 206.

epilogue: fisherman in reclusion


When Qu Yuan shows he is resolved to remain incorrupt, the fisherman sings: When the Canglang’s waters are clear, I can wash my hat-strings in them; When the Canglang’s waters are muddy, I can wash my feet in them.

滄浪之水清兮 可以濯吾纓 滄浪之水濁兮 可以濯吾足12

Wang Yi, or an early unknown commentator, appended the following gloss: “When political conditions are not corrupt, one can serve the court. When they are corrupt, one should live in reclusion.”13 This commentary became a standard guideline for reading the fisherman’s opinion, which can nonetheless be read paradoxically as conveying quite a different message. The fisherman was probably suggesting that Qu Yuan should stay in political life, flexibly going with the tide. This reading finds support in the fisherman’s view on “supping the dregs and swilling the lees if all men are drunk” as quoted above. His advice for Qu Yuan was that he should stay in the political world, regardless of its corrupt or uncorrupt condition. If this paradoxical reading holds true, the fisherman’s own choice to stay away from the political world contradicted what he advocated.14 Wang Yi’s interpretation of the fisherman’s theory became the focus of his criticism in his preface to the “Lisao,” in which he attacked the adoption of flexible measures in chaotic times; this is precisely what the fisherman advises Qu Yuan to do. This distorting exegesis lends support to Wang’s efforts at persuading the recluse Fan Ying to take office. This incident may be termed ‘anti-fishermanism,’ although it was Wang who ruined the good name Fan would have achieved as a famous recluse and tarnished Fan’s otherwise high achievement in public service.15 12 CCBZ, 7.180–81; trans., Hawkes, Songs of the South, 206–7. 13 The song was evidently commonplace during the Warring States period. Its basic moral of being flexible and adaptive to the political environment is similarly revealed in Confucius’s and Mencius’s referring to the same song. Confucius said: “Listen to this, my little ones. When clear the water washes the chin-strap, when muddy it washes the feet. The water brings this difference in treatment upon itself.” Mencius’s interpretation goes: “Only when a man invites insult will others insult him. Only when a family invites destruction will others destroy it. Only when a state invites invasion will others invade it.” Mengzi, 4A.9; trans., D. C. Lau, Mencius, 121. 14 Tim Chan, “Yan Yu zihao ‘Canglang Buke,’” 230–31. This traditional role of the fisherman was maintained and crystalized in the Liu Song period. When Sun Mian 孫緬 was Governor of Xunyang 尋陽 (in modern Jiangxi), he saw a fisherman and had a conversation with him. The short biographic entry is an obvious imitation of the Chuci and reminds us of the formidable impact of reclusive thought in these centuries. See Nanshi, 75.1872–73. 15 A comment by Zhang Kai. HHS, 82A.2724.


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Wang Yi’s possible misreading of the fisherman persona is in line with Confucian doctrines. Two examples from the Analects, spoken from Confucius’ perspective, are as follows: When the Way is practiced in the world, one proceeds; when it is not, one  retreats. When the Way is not in practice, I will travel on a floating raft in the sea.16

Perhaps with this Confucian notion in mind, Wang glossed the fisherman’s opinion in the same way. The character of this fisherman is similar to that of the fisherman in Zhuangzi, to whom Confucius is portrayed paying the utmost respect because of his noble worldview.17 Qu Yuan’s final resolution of committing suicide in spite of the best advice nonetheless remains an insoluble mystery, if we are to accept that the fisherman succeeded in ‘enlightening’ Qu Yuan.18 Such enlightenment, if it really happened, would have guided Qu Yuan to reclusion rather than suicide as a means of preserving the good name of a martyr. This cycle of aspiration, obstruction, and reclusion is part of the discourse in Zhang Heng’s work, in which the fisherman appears as a guide to the reclusive life. Zhang’s “Fu on Returning to My Field” (“Guitian fu” 歸田賦) reads: 19 20 21 For so long I have been wandering in the capital— For I have no brilliant schema to assist the time. In vain I covet fish when looking down on the  stream;19 [But] it is not expected that the river will become  clear. Moved by the sighs of Master Cai,20 I resolve my confusion with the help of Scholar  Tang.21

遊都邑以永久 無明略以佐時 徒臨川以羨魚 俟河清乎未期 感蔡子之慷慨 從唐生以決疑

16 Lunyu, 8/13, 5/7. Cf. Vervoorn, Men of the Cliffs and Caves, 29–31. 17 Zhuangzi, 31/40, 31/51. 18 Zhang Jinghua and Cui Shufeng, “You Zhuang Qu ‘Yufu pian’ lun Zhongguo gudai shici,” 9. 19 An allusion to the Huainanzi, 17.300: “One stands by the river and covets fish. One had better go home and make a net.” The source text discusses desire, an aspect of human nature. 20 Cai Ze 澤 (fl. 3rd cent. bc) was a prime minister of the state of Qin. He achieved a great deal in enhancement of Qin’s status by strengthening its power. He ended up resigning because of slander. See SJ, 79.2424–25. 21 Tang Ju 舉 once performed physiognomic and other prognostications for Cai Ze whose talent and competence had not been recognized. See SJ, 79.2418.

epilogue: fisherman in reclusion


Realizing that the Heavenly Way is obscure and  benighted, I follow the fisherman and play with him. I transcend dust and grime, roaming afar, And forever leave behind worldly affairs.

193 諒天道之微昧 追漁父以同嬉 超埃塵以遐逝 與世事乎長辭22

Zhang Heng’s portrayal of frustration and its resolution in “leaving behind worldly affairs” is not unique. One is immediately reminded of the Qu Yuan archetype, both in his interaction with the fisherman, but also in his seeking of advice from a diviner.23 Zhang’s work rejuvenates this conventional theme by using new allusions (to the Huainanzi, Cai Ze and Tang Ju). The diviner persona has become Tang Ju and Cai Ze represents the authorial persona Zhang Heng. The role of the fisherman in the fu remains the same as it was in Qu Yuan’s case. In light of my discussion in chapter one, this practice of following the fisherman away from the cares of the world would have incurred Wang Yi’s criticism. But, in fact, the roaming themes in the “Lisao” and the “Yuanyou”—works Wang Yi held in the highest esteem—demonstrate this same ideology. Zhang Heng’s presentation of the fish theme became typical in later presentations as a symbol of success in political life.24 He gives up fishing for political success when the water is turbid (i.e., when the political environment is risky) and, most significantly, follows the fisherman, who has stopped fishing for success at all. Zhang Heng’s vision of reclusion thus differs from the one in Wang Yi’s ideology. Zhang’s poem therefore marks a restoration of the ideals of the fisherman persona in the Chuci. The role of the fisherman as a figure who lures one away from political service works well in another poem by Tao Qian. Perhaps realizing that it was not the proper time to take office, Tao made up his version of the fisherman as a way to express his resolution to stay away from politics. In “Drinking Wine, Number 9,” his persona is now a farmer (tianfu 田父):25 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

In the morning I heard someone knocking on my door. In haste, untidily dressed I went to answer it. “Who are you?” I asked. It was a farmer with a kind heart. He came from afar with pots of wine for a visit.

清晨聞叩門 倒裳往自開 問子為誰歟 田父有好懷 壺漿遠見候

22 WX, 15.20a/b; cf. Knechtges, Wen Xuan, 3: 139, 141. 23 Qu Yuan’s diviner is named Zheng Zhanyin 鄭詹尹. The two characters zhanyin combine to make the official title of ‘diviner.’ See “Buju” 卜居, CCBZ, 6.176. 24 See Meng Haoran 孟浩然 (689–740), “Wang Dongtinghu zeng Zhang Chengxiang” 望洞庭湖贈張丞相, Quan Tangshi, 160.1633. 25 Hightower, T’ao Ch’ien, 138–39.


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疑我與時乖 6. He wondered why I failed to fit into the world. 繿縷茅簷下 7. “Living in poor conditions under the eaves of this hut, 未足為高栖 8. Is insufficient reason to become a great recluse. 9. Now to prevail over the whole world is to go with the tide. 一世皆尚同 10. I hope you can join them in stirring up the muddy water.” 願君汩其泥 深感父老言 11. I was deeply touched by the elder’s words. 稟氣寡所諧 12. “But my disposition finds but few matches. 13. Although I could learn how to loosen my [horses’] harness, 紆轡誠可學 14. Is it not to lose my conscience if I go against my own will? 違己詎非迷 且共歡此飲 15. For now let us enjoy this bout of drinking. 吾駕不可回26 16. My carriage will never turn back.” 26 The Chuci fisherman that is free of Wang Yi’s ideological distortion is evident here. Through the division of the self, Tao preaches his determination to stay in seclusion despite his poverty, which could be alleviated if he compromised. The couplet about “stirring up the muddy water” (lines 9–10) reminds the reader of the fisherman’s advice for Qu Yuan. Both the farmer and the Chuci fisherman argue with the authorial persona in both poems. Derived from the poet’s self, the farmer is now arguing as an opponent. His failure to persuade the ‘I’ works to further cement the latter’s already adamant will to stay away from the world. The same role of a mediator is played by the most famous fisherman in the poetic tradition, i.e. the one created by Tao Qian in his “Peach Blossom Spring.”27 This fisherman seems to have nothing to do with the mechanism of dividing the authorial self, but his adventure illustrates it. As we will discuss below, this fisherman is also an unnamed persona, a role assigned by the author in an attempt to eliminate any trace of his intent. This fisherman’s unintentional discovery of the utopia-like realm is, ironically, an intentional arrangement of the author. It is a common agreement that Tao’s creation of this realm is a reflection of his discontent with and indirect criticism of the world he lived in. The fisherman’s discovery of the realm works as introducing a reclusive life out of the dusty world, the ultimate choice of Tao. But again, this fisherman himself does not end up staying in this realm but leaves after a brief stay. When he gives directions to others who wishes to find the place, the utopia realm vanishes. Therefore, the fisherman does not belong to the realm in the first place. He himself lives a simple live but plays a role of paradise-destroyer, metaphorically urging people not to search for reclusion. 26 TYMJ, 3.91–92. 27 TYMJ, 6.165–68.

epilogue: fisherman in reclusion


The theme of living at the wrong time is observed in Tao Qian’s lament for the good old days of antiquity. The frequent references to the ancients are not only a criticism of the lack of “genuineness” (zhen 真) but also admiration for those who are remembered as models. He cannot make this motive explicit in his writings, however, lest it diminish his highmindedness, artificial as it is. After all, Tao did succeed in creating an image for himself as an esteemed recluse-poet. In the Maiden Cao story, we find a variation of the disguised mediator. Questing for justice is one of the main themes in the stele inscription, but it was imposed on the innocent girl by Handan Zili. The quest for justice follows the same form as in the Chuci: the girl cries on the riverbank, calling upon the deities for justice, and finally jumps into the river. Handan’s retrospective explanation of Maiden Cao’s behavior in light of Confucian ethics is an alternate ‘fishermanism’: the absolute power of prescribing recognition of Cao’s merit serves not in an advisory capacity but as a commentary. This commentary was striving to create a model for filial piety. The Named and the Unnamed Ironically, writing as an important, if not the only, means to be remembered creates the most radical contradiction. A recluse writes about his disinterest in achieving fame in the mundane world, but this act of writing is the means of pursuing a name for himself. The changing roles of the fisherman illustrate this ambivalent ambition. The fisherman in Zhuangzi and the Chuci is nameless and his role is thus unstable, depending on how the writer wants to depict him. After this archetype made his debut, similar figures began to appear in later hermeneutics and literary compositions. Cheng Xuanying 成玄英 (early seventh century) read the Zhuangzi version of the fisherman as Fan Li, who assisted Goujian 勾踐, King of Yue (r. 497–465 bc), in his longplanned revenge attack on the state of Wu. Fan Li was later said to have travelled by boat on lakes and rivers, and changed his name to Fisherman. Interestingly, Cheng asserted that this fisherman was also the same one Qu Yuan met. When this fisherman arrived in Qi, he named himself Chiyizi 鴟夷子, in Lu, Master Baigui 白珪先生, and in Tao 陶, Zhugong 朱 公. Cheng commented: “He hid his traces and obscured his brilliance, changing according to the times.”28 No doubt, Cheng aimed to recon28 Guo Qingfan, Zhuangzi jishi, 10A.1024, quoting Cheng’s commentary. Fan Li’s names being changed to Chiyizipi 鴟夷子皮 and Tao Zhugong is in SJ, 41.1752–53.


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struct a Daoist hagiography of the fisherman by blending apparently different individuals who shared a common archetype. In the process, this figure assumed immortality because Confucius, who is recorded as having been enlightened by the fisherman in the Zhuangzi, lived some three hundred years before Qu Yuan. This ‘immortality’ was carried on as the image of the fisherman underwent metamorphoses at the hand of different writers.29 Ruan Ji could not abandon writing as a means of exposing the recluse’s motive of pursuing fame, and with his works he left us traces for reconstructing his image as well as that of Master Great Man. It may be erroneous to use the tetrasyllabic “Yonghuai” poems to examine Ruan’s attitude toward what we may playfully term ‘fishermanism’ because the authorship of these poems is dubious.30 However, if Ruan Ji did not write these poems, their thematic incompatibility with the pentasyllabic poems in the “Yonghuai” sequence, which Holzman discusses, may be of some help as a contrast with Ruan’s views. The image of the fisherman appears in two poems in the tetrasyllabic “Yonghuai” series, the first ending with these lines: 31 I travel to the Yuan and Xiang rivers, Entrusting my allotted fate to the Fisherman. How good is my roaming— Living here, staying here.

適彼沅湘 託分漁父 優哉游哉 爰居爰處31

A cliché that is seen also in Confucius’ and Zhang Heng’s lines quoted above, this submission to the fisherman’s instruction tells us of the determination on the part of the author of these poems to become a recluse, and furthermore a transcendent. The term “washing my hat-strings” (zhuoying 濯纓) that appears in the Chuci, as we have seen, is a metaphor for taking up public service. In Poem 2 of the tetrasyllabic “Yonghuai,” however, the term is used as a metonym for the scene of ‘roaming with transcendents’: I wash my hat-strings on a sweet spring, Wearing clothes of melilotus and thoroughwort.

濯纓醴泉 被服蕙蘭

29 The fisherman is recorded as an ‘ancient’ person, who took the form of a firewood gatherer and was already one thousand years old during the time of King Xuan of the Zhou 周宣王 (r. 826–771). This fisherman predates the Zhuangzi one by at least 1,200 years. See Hanwudi waizhuan 漢武帝外傳 (HY 293), 16b–17a. 30 Holzman, “On the Authenticity of the Tetrameter Poetry Attributed to Juan Chi,” 89–92. 31 RJJ, 2.200.

epilogue: fisherman in reclusion I yearn to follow the two Ladies Heading for Rivers Xiang and Yuan.32 In the numinous and hidden realm, hearing the subtlety. Who can see their jade-like countenances?

197 思從二女 適彼湘沅 靈幽聽微 誰覩玉顏33

This is an elaboration of Wang Yi’s reading of the phrase: given the corruption of the entire political world, one may only travel to the immortal realm to wash one’s hat-strings, because that is the only clean place. The lines just quoted reveal a shift to the genre of ‘roaming transcendent’ poetry. While the sweet spring’s water in the “Yonghuai” runs clear, the persona does not choose to take office but rather to take leave of the mundane world. This theme is in fact central in Ruan Ji’s “Rhapsody on Purifying My Thought” discussed in chapter three. Another fisherman-like figure mentioned in Ruan’s series of tetrasyllabic “Yonghuai” is Xu You 許由, a famous, iconic recluse from high anti­ quity, through whom the poet, again, expresses his reluctance to pursue public service.34 This apparent noble-mindedness, however, is in conflict with his reproach of the recluse in “Biography of Master Great Man.” This may be another reason to argue that the tetrasyllabic “Yonghuai” series is a forgery, or it may just be an indication that Ruan did not always think the same way about figures like Xu You.35 The earliest extant adapted version of the biographies of Xu You and Chaofu 巢父, attributed to Ji Kang, presents a special attitude toward attaining a good reputation. This attitude parallels Tao Qian’s “secret motive.”36 The Xu You tale argues, through the voice of Chaofu, that making one’s presence visible means that one cares about recognition and fame: Chaofu lived in the time of Yao. He nested in a tree, where he slept, and was therefore given the epithet “Nest Elder.” When Yao 堯 ceded his throne to Xu You, the latter told Chaofu about it. Chaofu said, “Why did you not 32 The two Ladies, named Ehuang 娥皇 and Nüying 女英, were daughters of the mythological ruler Yao 堯, who married them to his successor, Shun. When Shun died in Cangwu 蒼梧 in the far south, the two Ladies went to search for him and ended their life in the Xiang 湘 river area. They were given a title as Xiangjun 湘君 by the local people. LNZ, 1.2a/b. The Shangshu records briefly Yao marrying two daughters to Shun. See Shangshu zhengyi, 2.11b. 33 RJJ, 2.202. 34 Ruan’s poem is collected in RJJ, 438, under the title “Siyanshi” 四言詩 instead of “Yonghuai,” which is given as a collective title for the thirteen tetrasyllabic poems attributed to Ruan Ji, in Huang Jie, Ruan Bubing youhuaishi zhu, 107–8. Xu You’s name is not used but Jishan 箕山, where he dwelt in reclusion, becomes a metonym for Xu. 35 Wang Chunting assumes that Xu You and Chaofu are the earliest archetypes of the firewood gatherer. See his “Lun Yuqiao,” 32. 36 Owen, “Self’s Perfect Mirror,” 79.


chapter seven hide your physical form and obscure your brightness? You are not my friend.” He thereupon struck Xu’s breast and pushed him down [from his tree-home]. Xu was upset and uneasy. He then found a pool of clear, limpid water, with which he washed his ears and wiped his eyes and said [to himself], “Upon hearing those words [about being offered the throne], I betrayed my friend.” This said, Xu left and never again saw his friend.  Having learnt that Yao had offered the throne to Xu You, Chaofu regarded it as contamination. [Xu You] then washed his ears in a pond. The owner of this pond said angrily, “Why do you pollute my pond?” 巢父者,堯時隱人也。山居不營世利,年老,以樹為巢而寢其上,故時人 號曰巢父。堯之讓許由也,由以告巢父,巢父曰:「汝何不隱汝形、藏汝 光?非吾友也。」乃擊其膺而下之。由悵然不自得,乃遇清泠之水,洗其 耳,拭其目,曰:「嚮者聞言,負吾友。」遂去,終身不相見。 巢父聞由為堯所讓,以為污,乃臨池水而洗其耳。池主怒曰:「何以污我 水?」37

These seemingly amusing tales were actually written as harsh criticism. Obviously, Ji Kang was not the first to adapt the Xu You tale from the Zhuangzi, in which Xu is recorded only as having declined Yao’s offer of the throne.38 The new ‘sequel’ was in circulation in Han times. The three characters in the tale were seen by Cao Zhi as models of high-minded paragons, to whom Cao dedicated an “encomium” (“Xu You, Chaofu, Chizhu zan” 許由巢父池主贊). Cao’s motive behind writing these pieces was to set up models for emulation.39 This was in line with Wang Yi’s and Handan Zili’s motives, as discussed in chapters one and two. In Ji Kang’s writing, however, the tales should have been written to satirize the current trend of pursuing fame through the veneer of reclusion. In the Hou Han shu, Fan Ye exposed this veneer held up by some recluses: Although they are as vulgar and stubborn as seekers of fame, by doing so (i.e., living in reclusion) they slough off the bustling dusty world and reach the ultra-mundane realm. Do they not differ from those who ornamented themselves with their wit and skills to pursue fleeting profits? 彼雖硜硜有類沽名者,然而蟬蛻塵埃之中,自致寰區之外,異乎飾智巧以 逐浮利者乎?40 37 YWLJ, 36.639. The repetition in these two records reveals some textual problems. Yan Kejun follows YWLJ and attributes them to Ji Kang, Shengxian gaoshi zhuan 聖賢高 士傳. See Quan Sanguo wen, QSG, 52.1b–2a. They are also found in Huangfu Mi, Gaoshi zhuan, 2a/b, where the last paragraph is absent. 38 Zhuangzi, 26/46. 39 Cao Zhi, “Xu You, Chaofu, Chizhu zan.” YWLJ, 36.649; Zhao Youwen, Cao Zhi ji jiaozhu, 1.87. 40 HHS, 83.2755.

epilogue: fisherman in reclusion


Xu You pursued fame by washing his defiled ears. Why and how was this tale told? The medium of transmission of the tale must have been writing, although it might have been disseminated orally before it was written down. As writing became the means of transmitting self-defined high morality, writers who consciously wrote on such topics were inevitably involved in the pursuit of fame. The earliest example is Qu Yuan, the first named Chinese poet. Xie Lingyun, who constantly expressed his desire to stay away from politics during his demotion to Yongjia, is the best illustration of a failure, as he finally resolved to revolt. In his Shining villa, he singled out the Xu You image in his commentary on “Fu on My Mountain Dwelling” as a model of contentedness.41 As this contentedness soured, his Xu You paragon became defiled. How many real noble-minded recluses, and their life stories, remain known to us by name? This question was the cause of Tao Qian’s frustration. He pondered thus: “If today I do not tell [these stories of my harsh life], how will the later-born learn about them?”42 The entries in Ji Kang’s Biographies of Sages and Worthy Noble-Minded Scholars (Shengxian gaoshi zhuan 聖賢高士傳) were mostly taken from old records. In those records, as in Ji’s, the men who did not have a name were given a sobriquet according to their age, appearance, where they lived, and what they did. Here are some examples: “the farmer of the stone household” 石戶之 農, “the old man of the north bank of the Han River” 漢陰丈人, “the elder donning a fur garment” 被裘公, “the elder on the river” 河上公.43 Another marked feature of the ‘unknown’ identity in these accounts is the frequently used rubric “no one knows what kind of person he was” 不知何許 人.44 Tao Qian’s invention of Mr. Five Willows 五柳先生 was in conscious imitation of this tradition of mystification of personae, in an attempt to enhance his noble-mindedness. This autobiography begins: “As for the master, no one knows what kind of person he was …”45 Tao hoped that this figure’s lack of a name might reduce the risk of his being implicated for pursuing fame. The unnamed individuals in an analysis by Shen Yue could also be implicated in this way. Shen questioned whether any of the figures in 41 XLYJ, 324; Songshu, 67.1760. 42 Preface to “Youhui er zuo,” TYMJ, 3.107. 43 Ji Kang, Shengxian gaoshi zhuan, 52.2b, 5b–6a, 9a. 44 Ji Kang, Shengxian gaoshi zhuan, 52.2b, 3a/b, 5a, 9a, 11b. 45 TYMJ, 6.175. This piece is a focus in Tian Xiaofei’s discussion of Tao Qian’s writing of his autobiography. Tian also discusses the issue concerning the pursuit of fame. See Tian, Tao Yuanming and Manuscript Culture, 56–94.


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Yuan Shu’s 袁淑 (408–53) Biographies of Genuine Recluses (Zhenyin zhuan 真隱傳) was “genuine” (zhen). Shen’s argument was based on his definition of two sub-categories of recluses: “the reclusive one” (yinzhe 隱者) and “the worthy man” (xianren 賢人). The former lived in caves among

the rocks and gained a name or a sobriquet, such as Chaofu or FurGarment Wearer. The worthy man stayed away from worldly affairs, not necessarily living in the wilderness, but was nameless and left no record.46 Shen’s view was derived from Dongfang Shuo’s discussion of “submersion in the land” (luchen 陸沉). Dongfang argued that “palaces and basilicas can be places where one detaches oneself from the world in order to preserve one’s person” and asked “why must it be in the midst of deep mountains or in a cottage of hao 蒿 (artemisia)?” So Dongfang went into seclusion at the Gold Horse Gate.47 No one knows how many of the proper names in Ji Kang’s record were unintentionally handed down, or by what means. In Shen’s view, all of these figures must have been “reclusive ones.” Tao Qian realized the immortality of writing and succeeded in preserving a list of individuals who had conducted themselves nobly. He could not have imagined that Shen Yue and Gong Zizhen would denigrate an intention of this sort, even though it had already been articulated in Ruan Ji’s attack on the recluse. Gong Zizhen’s frustration about history’s dearth of real recluses is reflected in Chaofu’s criticism of Xu You: “Why did you not hide your physical form and obscure your brightness?” Can one really hide himself while still preserving a noble name? Even Ruan Ji was compelled to use the poetic conceit of a hidden authorial identity. His Master Great Man is thus introduced as “an old man, with his name unknown.” This most respected figure becomes the means by which Ruan Ji is remembered. Master Great Man falls into the category of “the reclusive one” in Shen Yue’s parlance. By creating this character, Ruan reveals his interest in an immortal name. Historical figures named in literary works function as a symbol. The poet identifies himself with and speaks through the historical figure, inlaid in his poem as an allusion or reference. As discussed above, Xu You had long symbolized the high-minded recluse, but in some cases he was

46 Songshu, 93.2275–76. Cf. Tian Xiaofei’s discussion and translation of Shen’s words in Tao Yuanming and Manuscript Culture, 62–64. 47 SJ, 126.3205. Dongfang’s theory gave rise to the distinction between “greater reclusion” 大隱 and “lesser reclusion” 小隱 in Wang Kangju’s 王康琚 (W. Jin) poem “Fan Zhaoyin shi” 反招隱詩 that begins with: “The lesser recluse hides himself among hills and marshes. / The greater recluse ‘hides’ at court and in marketplaces.” WX, 22.4b.

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used as a counter example, metonymically standing for failure to retreat in time. This was most obviously the case with those poets on the verge of an unexpected, unnatural death, as discussed in chapter six.48 The regret that constituted the main theme in the “Linzhong shi” tradition transformed the image of Xu You from high-mindedness to failure. This was not, in fact, doing an injustice to an apparently innocent Xu You. In the legend of Xu You, he did not, after all, hide away from glory. When a poet speaks through Xu You, and expresses regret for failing to retreat in time, the poet is therefore also bemoaning his own failure to achieve the same renown that Xu You did. In turn, the poet’s own last articulation of regret and failure was an opportunity to achieve some fame out of untimely, underserved death. As the genre of “Linzhong shi” evolved, named figures and symbols formed a confluence. Allusions and references to figures such as Ji Kang, Xiahou Xuan 夏侯玄 (209–54), Boyi 伯夷 and Shuqi 叔齊 (the brothers who starved to death in the Shouyang mountains) marked the failure to retreat in time.49 On the other hand, Xie Lingyun successfully presented himself as a loyal but persecuted subject by means of allusion to Gong Sheng and Li Ye. This drive to achieve fame via juxtaposing references to historical figures with the author himself was, in short, a means to bring out the virtue of the author. This tradition went hand-in-hand with the poetic conceit of obscuring the author’s identity. Tao Qian’s roster of worthies in his sevenpoem suite in praise of poor scholars serves this dual purpose (see chapter four). The inscription for Maiden Cao differs only that she was the subject of the poem, rather than the authorial voice. But the motivation behind comparing her to a barrage of historical figures was the same. Although her given name has not been handed down, her posthumous sobriquet ‘the filial daughter’ overshadows all historical details about her life, if indeed any survive her. For Handan Zili, the main concern for his “inscription” is not about who the girl really was in life, but rather how she posthumously could be recreated as ‘the filial daughter.’ Like many of the other poets discussed in chapters three through six, Handan accomplished his mission through frequent allusions to model individuals, regardless of how historically apposite these allusions may have been. For the authors of the poems surveyed in the preceding chapters, their efforts bore fruit. The name of Tao Qian, for example, became a new symbol for 48 Xu You appears in Fu Lang’s and Fan Ye’s “Linzhong shi,” XQHW, 931, 1203. 49 All four figures are used in Fan Ye’s “Linzhong shi,” XQHW, 1203. For Boyi and Shuqi’s story, see SJ, 61.2123.


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a high-minded recluse, while that of Maiden Cao turned into an icon for filial piety. Mundane and Ultra-mundane In Ruan Ji’s writings, the fisherman and the firewood gatherer personae represent his desperate efforts to detach from worldly affairs. His fisherman appears at the end of his pentasyllabic “Yonghuai,” number 32 and is a direct borrowing from “The Fisherman” chapter in the Zhuangzi. 50 朝陽不再盛 1. No more will the morning Yang grow to full strength. 白日忽西幽 2. Suddenly the white sun dims in the west. 3. Abandoning this [course] is as quick as lowering and raising 去此若俯仰

4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16.

[one’s head]. How can it be compared with nine autumns? Man’s life is like dust and fog. Heaven’s Way is obscure and distant. When Duke Jing of Qi ascended the hills and mountains, His tears flowed in streams.50 When Confucius the Sage was standing by the long river, He lamented over the transient, fleeting passing of time. That which has gone, I can catch no more; The future, I keep no more. I wish to ascend Mount Taihua, On top I roam with Master Red Pine. The fisherman knows clearly about worldly evils— Flowing on the current, traveling on a light boat.

如何似九秋 人生若塵露 天道邈悠悠 齊景升丘山 涕泗紛交流 孔聖臨長川 惜逝忽若浮 去者余不及 來者吾不留 願登太華山 上與松子遊 漁父知世患 乘流泛輕舟51

Despite the complicated allegorical interpretation, Ruan Ji’s adoption of the fisherman’s role from the Zhuangzi is readily discernible. Here Confucius’s lament over the passing of time, likened to the flow of water (line 9), has been revised to become the poet’s resolution to remain far from the world.51 For Ruan, there is no “time to come” 來 者 which may bring a better life. Unlike Tao Qian who, in his “Rhapsody on Return,” used the same reference to the Analects and adopted reclusion as a better choice, Ruan’s journey does not end in reclusion. He echoes the sarcastic advice of Jieyu, the madman of Chu, who remonstrated with Confucius: “What is gone cannot be remedied, but the 50 Duke Jing of Qi (r. 547–490 bc) once roamed the Ox Mountain. He burst into tears when overlooking his state and city-walls, saying: “How magnificent is my state. But how sad that [one day] I will leave it and die.” See Yanzi chunqiu jiaozhu, 1.24. 51 Lunyu, 9/17.

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future can still be pursued.”52 The fisherman here plays the same role as the firewood gatherer in “Biography of Master Great Man” who resolves to detach himself from the world. By creating the fisherman and firewood gatherer personae, Ruan separated himself from the recluse persona in “Biography of Master Great Man” who craved fame. This is one step further from Confucian values than that taken by Tao Qian, who supposedly made his compromise because of the corruption of others. Ruan Ji’s reaction to the chaotic world was more radical. To him, the world was cursed and doomed. Observed in relation to his source text Zhuangzi, Ruan’s fisherman’s “evils” (huan 患) are the “four evils”: “avidity” (dao 叨), “avarice” (tan 貪), “obstinacy” (hen 很), and “bigotry” (jin 矜).53 As ethical as the Buddhist doctrine, Ruan regarded these “evils” as the main causes of world destruction (see chapter three). His fisherman needed to transcend as the world ended, as did Master Great Man and Ruan Ji himself. Ruan Ji’s borrowing of the fisherman from Zhuangzi further developed the master/disciple conversation as a kind of poetic presentation. As this mode of poetry evolved, it became a genre feature of fu. The conversation between the fisherman and Confucius in the Zhuangzi and the one between the True Man and the Heavenly Master in the Taiping jing both demonstrated that the ‘sage’ had become less than sage-like. This blasphemous denigration implied an intellectual revolt, and this revolt is seen in “Biography of Master Great Man,” particularly in this poem’s presentation of the step-by-step dismantling of the values of the world. The final step in Master Great Man’s journey is emancipation. Master Great Man’s victory is dependent upon the idea of apocalypse. The process is catalyzed by the fisherman-stereotype (in Master Great Man’s case, by the firewood gatherer) and by the True Man. In the hands of Xie Lingyun, the fisherman-stereotype becomes a means of venting discontent and unhappiness. As Takagi Masakazu observes, the poems Xie composed during his Yongjia tenure have a tone

52 Lunyu, 15/8; “Guiqulaixi ci,” TYMJ, 5.160. 53 Zhuangzi, 31/24–26. English renderings of the phrases are Burton Watson’s. See Watson, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, 348.


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of melancholy derived from the Chuci mode.54 This mode is most evident in the following poem: 5556 57 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

遊嶺門山詩 “On an Outing to Lingmen Mountains” 西京誰修政 Who took charge of governance in the Western capital? 龔汲稱良吏 Gong Sui and Ji An were praised as good officials.56 君子豈定所 Why should a gentleman stay in a fixed place? 清塵慮不嗣 I am concerned about failure to continue this fine legacy. 早蒞建德鄉 Early I arrive in this Merit Achieving Town,57 Where, unlike the states of Yu and Rui, mutual respect pre- 民懷虞芮意 vails.58 海岸常寥寥 Here the seashore is constantly quiet and serene. 空館盈清思 The empty office is full of pure thought. 協以上冬月 Harmonious are the early winter months. 晨遊肆所喜 With joy, I indulge in morning roaming. 千圻邈不同 Thousands of curving banks stretch afar, not alike. 萬嶺狀皆異 A myriad of peaks, their appearance all different. 威摧三山峭 Towering and soaring stand the three trimmed peaks. 瀄汩兩江駛 Burbling and gurgling are the two flowing rivers. The fishing boat; how could it remain peaceful in the current? 漁舟豈安流 樵拾謝西芘 The firewood gatherer declines shelter in the west. 人生誰云樂 In the mortal life course, who claims to be joyful? 貴不屈所志59 What is of most value cannot depress my aspiration.

7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 58 The poet expresses his unhappiness in a bitter yet optimistic voice. The word “west” (xi 西) occurs twice (lines 1 and 16) and can easily be read as a reference to the capital Jiankang, located northwest of Yongjia. Even without this allegorical reading, one still senses that the poem is laden with personal reflections, especially in the final lines. The penultimate couplet (lines 15–16), despite its direct elaboration of the preceding couplets in which “water” and “mountain” alternately come to the fore, shifts from depiction of scene to depiction of emotion. Why does Xie use the 54 Takagi, “Sha Reiun no shifū,” 82–84. 55 Gong Sui 龔遂 (d. 62 bc) and Ji An 汲黯 (d. 112 bc) are two exemplary, good officials of the Western Han (referred to as Western Capital in line 1 in the poem). See HS, 89.3637–41; SJ, 120.3105–11. 56 Merit Achieving Town is a pristine, utopia-like place of fabrication first mentioned in Zhuangzi, 20/15–16. Xie Lingyun uses it as a kenning for Yongjia. 57 Yu and Rui are two feudal states of the Zhou period. Their people once had a dispute over a lawsuit and decided to seek judgment from King Wen of the Zhou. In the Zhou territory, they felt ashamed to see the Zhou people giving away their fields to each other, and the respect paid to the elderly. Thereafter, they modeled themselves upon Zhou. See SJ, 4.117. 58 XQHW, 1163; XLYJ, 59.

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interrogative pronoun “how [could]” (qi 豈) to pose a rhetorical question? This question suggests a figurative reading of the word liu 流. It is not only the flow of water; it is also the worldly vogue. We are once again led to the Chuci repertoire. The fishing boat is now not staying in the current. This scene reflects the poet who is creating a pretext for his reclusion: the world is chaotic and he chooses to retreat from it. This reading, in turn, leads to a similar, though speculative, referent of the firewood gatherer in the next line. As the firewood gatherer declines political shelter in the west (the capital), so too does the poet express his feeling of rejecting/ being rejected by the political establishment. The couplet covertly brings out the sense that the poet’s aspiration (i.e., to be famous) is now depressed. Ironically, his declared pursuit of freedom reveals his worries about failing to achieve a good name. The firewood gatherer in this poem may be less involved in the political world than the fisherman stereotype, but variation in the way these personae are depicted in poetry is not unusual. Xie Lingyun’s ambiguous line (line 16) is obviously more than a purely scenic description, as the fishing boat in the matching line (line 15) is a reference to the poet himself. In early literature, the most famous allusion to the firewood gatherer was the story of Zhu Maichen 朱買臣 (d. 115 bc), who ended up being promoted from selling firewood to a high official position. Interestingly, his ability to sing the Chuci, which his wife frequently condemned, was the key factor in his being recognized, although no one knows whether Zhu was lamenting over his career misfortune or he simply liked the melody.59 The depressed poet Xie was very ambivalent in his self-consolation. His unfulfilled ambition was always revealed in the ‘mysterious words’ at the end of his poem. He ended his “Seven li Shoals” (“Qili lai” 七里瀨) with an allusion to the story of Lord Ren 任公子, who, according to Zhuangzi, used fifty cows as bait on his gigantic hook and rope, and who, after a whole year of waiting, succeeded in catching a giant fish in the Eastern Sea. Gu Shaobo noted that Xie was not so much interested in catching fish as he was merely to go fishing.60 I agree with the Song-Yuan critic Fang Hui, who glossed the line: “In fishing, [Xie] has set his mind on [catching] the big, not the small. Therefore he will get the big one. I assume that this is a metaphor.”61 This reading gives us the profile of a reluctant recluse who aimed to achieve great deeds. 59 HS, 64A.2791. 60 XLYJ, 53, n. 15. Lord Ren’s story is in Zhuangzi, 26/11–14. 61 Fang, Wenxuan Yan Bao Xie shi ping, 3.5b–6a.


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Xie’s ambivalence is further revealed in his implicit reference to Yang Xiong’s view of the duty of a shi scholar. Xie says: “The firewood gatherer and the recluse are both in the mountains. / As ever, they have different reasons for being there.”62 This statement is in fact an echo of Yang’s view in his “Rhapsody on Long Poplar Palace” (“Changyang fu” 長楊賦): “If there are shi scholars who do not discuss the kingly way, then the firewood gatherer laughs at them.”63 The firewood gatherer in Yang’s and Xie’s lines plays the role of an observer, who knows what a shi should do, but is not doing. Likewise, Xie’s bitterness in his poems on landscape and on reclusion was an expression of the frustration of not achieving what he wanted to achieve, or what he felt he deserved. The End The image of the fisherman-stereotype in the Chuci anthology established the first repertoire for a literary motif that depicts the choice between public service and reclusion. This choice is presented to one faced with the end of his career or mortal life. Variations of these unnamed mediators are found throughout literary and historical writings. They include the boatman in the Wu Zixu story in Shiji, the old man on the river 江上丈 人, the firewood gatherer (qiao 樵), and the hay gatherer (su 蘇). This role may be found in most texts discussed in this book. By adding this advisory or oppositional voice, a poet can initiate an internal dispute or meditation between the first persona and the mediator. The process yields a fruitful complexity in literary representation. These secondary characters were crucial in enabling the expression of certain political views and attitudes toward life, in aesthetic and ethical contexts. The fisherman and his variations share a common ambition, which is unveiled in words and in action. The old man on the river, for instance, was known as a hero for his sacrifice for rightful principles.64 Through the sacrifice or crucial help offered by this persona, the main character, such as Wu Zixu and Xiang Yu, achieved great deeds or a name to be remembered. In the works of most writers discussed in this book, the various named and unnamed heroes derived from one common archetype, the phantom or the ‘second self’ of the writer.

62 “Tiannan shuyuan jiliu zhiyuan,” XLYJ, 114. WX, 30.7a, Li Shan’s commentary quoting Zang Rongxu’s jinshu. 63 WX, 9.6b. 64 Tim Chan, “The ‘Ganyu’ of Chen Ziang,” 39–40.

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This theory has a structural variation in the cases of Qu Yuan and Maiden Cao, whose images were preserved by means of a later hand. In the texts, Qu and Cao both cried out to divinity for justice. This could not have been accomplished by themselves. More significantly, their calls would not have been heard without Wang Yi’s and Handan Zili’s work. In the creation of the image of Maiden Cao, the long-dead Cao had remained silent and her renown was Handan’s to manipulate. The same can be said of Qu Yuan, whose name was jeopardized in the Eastern Han. Wang Yi played the role of a mediator and strived to preserve the image of a noble spirit. In both cases, one sees a clear goal of setting a model for emulation, a motive different from the desire for individual salvation and fame evident in the writing of the post-Han period. These two categories of writing (promotion of others and promotion of self) may be seen, in most cases, as a direct reaction to the imminent end that the writers were facing. Making a profile for oneself or for the paragon was clearly an impulse born of a fear of being misunderstood in later ages. Those who wrote about their wish to retreat from worldly affairs cannot avoid being judged as disingenuous. Nevertheless, in the end, all of the characters discussed in these pages assumed a new life—a textual life.


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Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology. Zhongyang yanjiuyuan Lishi yuyan yanjiusuo jikan 中央研究院歷史語言研究所集刊. Wang Yi 王逸 (fl. 89–158), comm. Hong Xingzu 洪興祖 (1090–1155), subcomm. Chuci buzhu 楚辭補注. Beijing: Zhonghua, 1986. Congshu jicheng 叢書集成. Daoxuan 道宣 (596–667), comp. Guang Hongming ji 廣弘明集. T. 2103.52. Huijiao 慧皎 (497–554). Gaozeng zhuan 高僧傳. T. 2059.50. Zhang Qiao 章樵 (fl. early thirteenth century), comm. Guwen yuan 古文苑. CSJC. Fan Ye 范曄 (398–445). Hou Han shu 後漢書. Beijing: Zhonghua, 1982. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. Seng You 僧祐 (445–518), comp. Hongming ji 弘明集. T. 2102.52. Ban Gu. Hanshu 漢書. Beijing: Zhonghua, 1987. HY indicates the edition in the Harvard-Yenching Institute Sinological Index Series. For Daoist scriptures, see Section 2 below. Journal of the American Oriental Society. Fang Xuanling 房玄齡 (579–648), et al. Jinshu 晉書. Beijing: Zhonghua, 1987. Lu Ji ji 陸機集. Ed. Jin Shengtao 金聲濤. Beijing: Zhonghua, 1982. Liu Xiang 劉向 (ca. 77–6 bc), comp. Lienü zhuan 列女傳. SBBY. Jao Tsung-i 饒宗頤, ed. & comm. Laozi Xiang’er zhu jianzheng 老子想爾注 校證. Re-issued edn. Shanghai: Shanghai guji, 1991. Zheng Xuan 鄭玄 (127–200), comm. Maoshi zhengyi 毛詩正義. SSJ. Yan Kejun 嚴可均 (1762–1843), comp. Quan shanggu sandai Qin Han Sanguo Liuchao wen 全上古三代秦漢三國六朝文. Beijing: Zhonghua, 1987. Chen Bojun 陳伯君, ed. & comm. Ruan Ji ji jiaozhu 阮籍集校注. Beijing: Zhonghua, 1987. Sibu beiyao 四部備要. Sibu congkan 四部叢刊. Chen Shou 陳壽 (233–97). Sanguo zhi 三國志. Beijing: Zhonghua, 1982. Sima Qian 司馬遷 (ca. 145–ca. 86 bc), comp. Shiji 史記. Beijing: Zhonghua, 1982. Wang Xianqian 王先謙 (1842–1917), ed. Hejiao Shuijing zhu 合校水經注. SBBY. Wenyuange Siku quanshu 文淵閣四庫全書. Rpt. Taipei: Taiwan Shangwu, 1983–85. Ruan Yuan 阮元 (1764–1849), comp. Shisan jing zhushu 十三經注疏. Rpt. Beijing: Zhonghua, 1983. Yu Jiaxi 余嘉錫 (1884–1955), comm. Shishuo xinyu jianshu 世說新語箋疏. Beijing: Zhonghua, 1983. Sequence number of Buddhist sutra. See Section 3 below.


works cited T’oung Pao. Wang Ming 王明 (1904–74), ed. Taiping jing hejiao 太平經合校. Beijing: Zhonghua, 1960. Li Fang 李昉 (925–96), et al. comps. Taiping yulan 太平御覽. Rpt. Beijing: Zhonghua, 1985. Lu Qinli 逯欽立 (1911–73), ed. & comm. Tao Yuanming ji 陶淵明集. Beijing: Zhonghua, 1979. Xiao Tong 蕭統 (501–31), comp. Wenxuan 文選. Ed. Hu Kejia 胡克家 (1756– 1816). Comm. Li Shan 李善 (d. 689). Rpt. Beijing: Zhonghua, 1979. Fan Wenlan 范文瀾 (1891–1969), comm. Wenxin diaolong zhu 文心雕龍注. Beijing: Renmin wenxue, 1960. Huang Jie 黃節 (1874–1935). Xie Kangle shi zhu 謝康樂詩注. Beijing: Renmin wenxue, 1958. Guo Shaobo 顧紹柏, ed. & comm. Xie Lingyun ji jiaozhu 謝靈運集校注. Zhengzhou: Zhongzhou guji, 1987. Lu Qinli 逯欽立 (1911–73), comp. Xian Qin Han Wei Jin Nanbeichao shi 先秦 漢魏晉南北朝詩. Beijing: Zhonghua, 1983. Xuxiu Siku quanshu 續修四庫全書. Rpt. Shanghai: Shanghai guji, 1995. Guo Maoqian 郭茂倩 (ca. 1084), comp. Yuefu shiji 樂府詩集. Beijing: Zhonghua, 1979. Ouyang Xun 歐陽詢 (557–641), et al., comps. Yiwen leiju 藝文類聚. Shanghai: Shanghai guji, 1985. Guoxue zhengli she 國學整理社, ed. Zhuzi jicheng 諸子集成. Rpt. Beijing: Zhonghua, 1986.

2. Daoist Scriptures (by HY Number) Edition: Zhengtong Daozang 正統道藏. Rpt. Taipei: Xinwenfeng, 1985–88. The HY sequence number is according to Wen Dujian 翁獨健 (1906–86), comp., Daozang zimu yinde 道藏子目引得, Harvard-Yenching Institute Sinological Index Series, no. 25. HY 179 HY 293 HY 335 HY 388 HY 788 HY 789 HY 1002 HY 1010 HY 1026

Taiwei lingshu ziwen xianji zhenji shangjing 太微靈書紫文仙忌真記上經. Hanwudi waizhuan 漢武帝外傳. Taishang dongyuan shenzhou jing 太上洞淵神咒經. Taishang Lingbao wufu xu 太上靈寶五符序. Zhengyi fawen tianshi jiaojieke jing 正一法文天師教戒科經. Nüqing guilü 女青鬼律. Peng Xiao 彭曉 (mid tenth century), comm. Zhouyi santongqi fenzhang tongzhenyi 周易參同契分章通真義. Tao Hongjing 陶弘景 (452–536), comp. Zhen’gao 真誥. Zhang Junfang 張君房 (fl. early eleventh century), comp. Yunji qiqian 雲笈 七籤.

3. Buddhist Sutras (by T Number) Editions and sequence numbers of Buddhist sutra are according to Taishō shinshū Dai­ zōkyō 大正新修大蔵経. Comps. Takakusu Junjirō 高楠順次郎 (1866–1945) and Watanabe Kaikyoku 渡邊海旭 (1872–1932). Tokyo: Iaishō Issaikyō kankōkai, 1924–32.

works cited T. 23 T. 109 T. 120 T. 185 T. 186 T. 196 T. 262 T. 263 T. 278 T. 322 T. 374 T. 375 T. 376 T. 418 T. 474 T. 475 T. 729 T. 1558 T. 1644 T. 1707 T. 1775 T. 1858 T. 2060 T. 2095 T. 2122 T. 2131. T. 2145


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Index Ai Jiang (d. 659 bc) 53n31 allusion 50–57, 60–61 as symbol 201 in Xie Lingyun’s “Linzhongshi” 181–84 to Huainanzi 192–93n19 to model individuals 202 to Shijing. See Shijing: allusion to Amitaba 134 An Shigao 70 anadiplosis 104–6 Analects, the 20, 26, 123, 149, 152, 169, 192, 203 Anqi sheng 149, 151n89 Anxuan 70 Apocalypse, the. See Book of Revelation apocalyptic literature, Chinese 67–73 Arhat 90 Arjuna 80–81 “Attached Words” commentary on Book of Changes 77n39, 85 Augustine, St. 92n104 Baihu tong (Comprehensive Discussions at the White Tiger Hall) 9, 10, 17, 24, 26, 28, 32–33, 38–39, 64 remonstrance and protest in 24, 29 Bai Juyi “Du Xie Lingyun shi” (Reading Xie Lingyun’s poetry) 155n99 Ban Biao 27 Ban Gu. See also Hanshu and Baihu tong 10 on Qu Yuan 4, 7, 11, 24, 36 “panegyric preface to ‘Lisao’” 24n58 “Wuxing zhi” (Monograph on the Five Agents) in Hanshu 11, 82 “Yiwen zhi” (Monograph on Belleslettres) in Hanshu 40n112, 190 Bao Zhao 2, 3 “Dai Haoli xing” (In Place of “Ballad of Wormwood Village”) 160 “Dai Wan’ge” (In Place of “Coffin Puller’s Song”) 160 life of 161n8 “Ni Xinglu nan” (Imitating “The Harsh Journey”) 160–61

on death 160–61 “Songbai pian” (Pine and Cypress) 160 Beitang shuchao (Excerpts from Writings in the Northern Hall) 166 Bi Gan 30 Bian He 168, 169 Biling 62n57 Biographies of Unusual Women. See Lienü zhuan bodhisattvas 67, 71, 139, 140 Bokenkamp, Stephen R. 60, 86 Book of Changes 22, 25, 76, 77, 85 Book of Documents. See Shangshu Book of Odes. See Shijing Book of Revelation 68, 77 Booth, Wayne 64 Boyang. See Laozi Boyi and Shuqi 201 Buddhist cosmology 69–72 Buddhist sutras Abhidharma-hṛdaya 137 Da Loutan jing 71 Lalitavistara 137 Lotus sutra 139n42, 150 Mahāparinirvāna-sūtra 5, 70, 133, 135, 141, 144 Prajñāpāramitā scriptures 137n38 Pratyutpanna samādhi sutra 71n19, 118n80, 131n12 Saddharma-pundarīka-sūtra 139n42n44, 141n49, 150n86 Tripiṭaka 129 Vimalakīrti-sūtra 70, 139n44, 147, 156–57 Cai Yong 8, 47 pseudo- 42, 64 Cai Ze 192–93 Cao Cao 1, 2, 47, 171 Cao Pi 2, 88, 89n89, 98 “Willow Song” (“Luxuriant Trees”) 169–70, 185n94 “Willow Song” (“Western Mountains”) 169, 175n60 Cao Yu 4, 43, 56n38, 58, 60 Cao Zhi “Xie deru biao” (A Memorial on My



Gratitude for An Audience with the Emperor) 172 “Xu You, Chaofu, Chizhu zan” (An Encomium on a Painting of Xu You, Chaofu, and the Pond Owner) 198 Celestial Master Sect Daoism 91, 97 Celestial Master Zhang. See Zhang Daoling Chang, Kang-i Sun 114n62, 115n68, 125n105, 126n106, 156 Chaofu 197–98, 200 chastity, filial piety and 54–55 Chen Hang, Shi bixing jian (Allegorical Readings of Selected Shi Poems) 91 Chen Shou, Yibu qijiu zhuan (Traditions Told by Elderly and Original Citizens of Yi Prefecture) 62n58 Chen Zhong 19, 31 Cheng Xuanying, commentary on Zhuangzi 120n85, 195n28 Cheng Yishi 31, 36 Chisongzi (Master Red Pine) 99, 202 Chiyizi (Fan Li’s sobriquet) 195 Chiyizipi (Fan Li’s sobriquet) 195 Chong’er. See Duke Wen of Jin state Chuci, works in (excluding those by known Han-dynasty writers, such as Jia Yi, Dongfang Shuo, Yang Xiong, Liu Xiang, Wang Yi, etc. [q.vv.]) “Dazhao” (Great Summons) 20 “Huaisha” (Embracing sand [?]) 163–64 “Lisao” (Encountering Sorrows). See Qu Yuan: “Lisao” (Encountering Sorrows). “Tianwen” (Heavenly Questions) 16 “Xiang furen” (Lady Xiang) 64 “Yuanyou” (Far Roaming) 65, 66, 79, 86, 193 “Yufu” (The Fisherman) 60, 116. See also Wang Yi: interpretation of “The Fisherman” “Zhaohun” (Summoning the Soul) 118 Chuci buzhu 8, 9, 16 Chuci zhangju (Section and Sentence Commentary to the Songs of Chu) 7–9, 11, 14, 16, 18, 21, 30, 31, 35, 39, 60 Chunqiu (Spring and Autumn Annals) 19, 34, 38 Chunqiu Ganjing fu (Tallies of Spiritual Resonance, in Spring and Autumn Annals) 13, 17

Confucius 24n59, 26n64, 27, 38, 39, 88, 108n33, 117, 118n79, 122–24, 149, 169, 174, 175n60, 183, 191n13, 192, 196, 202–3 correlative theory 4 and mantic skills 22 in Ban Gu’s works 10–11, 13 in Daoist texts 85–86 in Liu Xi’s Shiming 172n50 in the Han 10, 12–19, 22, 23n55 of Ruan Ji 76–77, 83–84, 93 of the ‘nine palaces’ 23n55 of Zou Yan 69 Davidson, William L. 85 Davis, A. R. 100, 106 Daoist cosmology 72, 83 Daoist scriptures “Daodao jialing jie” (Family Instructions and Precepts on the Great Dao) 73, 88n83, 89n87 Huangting jing (Scripture of the Yellow Court) 46n9 Laozi bianhua jing (Scripture of Laozi in Changes and Transformation) 87, 90n94 Shangqing santian zhengfa jing (Three Heavens’ Orthodox Methods Scripture of Highest Clarity) 72n23 Taiping jing (Scripture of Great Peace) 5, 73–75, 81–82, 85–86, 90–93, 203 Xiang’er commentary on Laozi 85–88 Zhouyi santongqi (The Three-in-One Tally of Book of Changes) 85, 87n78, 90 Deng Ling 69n13 destruction theme in Buddhism 70, 71 in Daoism 72–73 in Liu Xin’s work 72–73 in other world religions 80–81 in Ruan Ji’s works 73–79, 81–82, 93–96, 203 in Taiping jing (Scripture of Great Peace) 75, 81 Dharmakṣema 70n16, 137 Dharmarakṣa 137 Di Ku 13 Dongfang Shuo 69, 163n15, 200 Dong Zhongshu 10, 12, 14, 51n21 “Tianren sance” (Three Disquisitions on the Correlations of Heaven and Man) 12

index Dong Zhuo 1 Du Fu 112n52, 125–126 Du Gen 31, 36 Du Qiao 32 Du Shang 4, 43, 46, 48, 63 Du Zhong 32 Duke Huan of Qi state 53 Duke Hui of Qi state 52 Duke Jing of Qi state 202 Duke Min of Lu state 53n31 Duke Mu of Qin state 51, 168n28 Duke Wen of Jin state 55, 174 Duke Wen of Lu state 52 Duke Xi of Lu state 53n31 Duke Xian of Jin state 168n29 Duke Xuan of Lu state 53 Duke Zhuang of Lu state 53 dunwu (instantaneous enlightenment) 5, 129, 135, 137, 145, 147, 149, 151–54 greater 137, 140 lesser 140 poetics. See poetic tradition: dunwu (instantaneous enlightenment) Eagleton, Terry 63, 64 Eberhard, Wolfram 57 Edinger, Edward F. 68, 77 Ehuang and Nüying (daughters of Yao) 45, 56, 64, 80, 197n32 Emperor An of Han dynasty 9, 36 Emperor Guangwu of Han dynasty 1, 10, 12, 20, 187 Emperor Ming of Wei dynasty 80n50, 88 Emperor of Qin dynasty, First 149n80 Emperor of Qin dynasty, Second. See Huhai Emperor Shun of Han dynasty 11 Emperor Wen of Han dynasty 165 Emperor Wen of Liu Song dynasty 136n29, 180 Emperor Wen of Wei dynasty. See Cao Pi Emperor Wu of Han dynasty 12, 65, 149n80 Emperor Wu of Jin dynasty 66 Emperor Wu of Liu Song dynasty. See Liu Yu Emperor Xiaozhuang of Northern Wei dynasty, “Linzhong shi” (Poem Written on the Verge of Death) 173n53 Emperor Zhang of Han dynasty 10, 12 Empress Dowager Deng of Han dynasty 9, 31, 36, 60


Empress Dowager Lü of Han dynasty 164 Empress Dowager Yang of Jin dynasty 173 Fan Li 188, 195–96 Fan Tai, “Zhihuanxiang zan” (Eulogy on Statues at Jetavana) 138 Fan Ye 2, 8, 21, 28, 47. See also Hou Han shu “Linzhong shi” (Poem Written on the Verge of Death) 179, 201nn48–49 on reclusion 198–99 Fan Ying 20–23, 25, 188, 191 Fang Hui 149–151, 154n96, 205 Faxian 70n16, 141 Fayuan zhulin 180, 185 Fei Wuji 34 Feng Liang 31 firewood gatherer, the 187, 196, 197, 202–6 Fu Jian 127, 176 Fu Lang, “Linzhong shi” (Poem Written on the Verge of Death) 176–77, 179, 201n48 Fu Liang 138n40 Fu Xuan on speaking cautiously 171 poetic imitation 102–3 “Wan’ge” (Coffin Puller’s Songs) 105n27 Fu Yi 81n54, 92 Fu Yue 21, 34 Fufei 26, 80 Fujino Iwatomo 115 Fukunaga Mitsuji 72 funerary writings, as entertainment in Jin dynasty 113–15, 160 Fuxi 22n52 Gan Bao Soushen ji (Records in Search of the Supernatural) 173 Ganjing fu. See Chunqiu Ganjing fu (Tallies of Spiritual Resonance, in Spring and Autumn Annals) Gan Zhongke 90n93, 91 Gao Xing 54, 56 Gao Yao 17 Gaoseng zhuan (Hagiographies of Eminent Buddhist Monks) 136, 138 Gaoxin 13 Gaoyang 13 Genesis, the 81 Gong Sheng 179, 181, 184, 201



Gong Sui 204 Gong Zhizhen on reclusion 188–89, 200 “Zun yin” (Honoring the Recluses) 188 Gongsun Qiao. See Zichan Gongsun Shu 181 Gongyang commentaries on Chunqiu 82 Gu Huan, “Linzhong shi” (Poem Written on the Verge of Death) 173n53, 184 Gu Shaobo 205 Guan Bo 90, 91 Guan Longfeng 167 Guang Hongming ji 180, 185 Guanqiu Jian 178 Guiji dianlu (Exemplary Individuals of Guiji). See q.v. under Yu Yu Guo Pu 132n16, 154n95 Han Fei zi 169 Handan Chun 43n7, 46–47n10 Handan Zili. See also “Stele Inscription for Maiden Cao the Filial Daughter” identity 46–47n10 writing Maiden Cao’s life 4, 46–49, 63–64, 195, 201, 207 Hanshu 24n58, 28 See also q.vv. under Ban Gu and under Wang Yi Hashikawa Tokio 109 Hawkes, David 39, 65 He Changyu 136n29 Heavenly Master 75n32, 90, 203 Hendrischke, Barbara x, 82 Hightower, James Robert 110, 116, 120 Hīnayāna Buddhism 137, 158 Holzman, Donald x, 80, 84, 87, 94, 95, 100, 145, 196 Homer 48 Hong Xingzu 8n4, 9, 28n71, 30n79, 86n75. See also Chuci buzhu Honglou meng (A Dream of the Red Chamber) 144 Hou Han shu 8, 9, 21, 22, 31, 32, 36, 37, 47, 48, 198 Hu Sanxing 147 Huainanzi 21 Huan Tan 10 Huan Tui 108n33 Huan Yin 113 Huang Bosi 41 Huang Jie 95, 183 Huangfu Mi 2 Huanlong Feng. See Guan Longfeng

Huhai 167, 168n26 Huirui 137 Huiyan 137 Huiyi 138n40 Huiyuan 5, 135, 138, 140, 141, 152–54, 158 association with Xie Lingyun 135–37 “Nian fo sanmei shiji xu” (Preface to An Anthology of Poems on Samādhi Recollections of Buddha) 133, 151, 154 on enlightenment 131–32 on meditation 133–34 on transcendence of attachment (qing) 144–45 “San bao lun” (Discussion of Three Kinds of Retribution) 137 “Shen bumie lun” (Discourse on the Inextinguishable Soul) 121, 125, 131, 116–17 “Wuyan you Lushan” (A Pentasyllabic Poem on An Outing to Mount Lu) 151 hun and po souls 58–60 Huo Yuan 182, 184 icchantika 5, 70n16, 140–42, 144 itineraria 39–40, 65, 95, 97 Ji An 204 Ji Chang. See King Wen of Zhou dynasty Ji Kang 2, 3, 83, 93, 176, 177, 182, 184, 201 death of 177–79 “Guangling san” (Guangling Tune) 177, 182 “Mingyue chui” (Bright Moon Tune) 182 Shengxian gaoshi zhuan (Biographies of Sages and Worthy Noble-Minded Scholars) 197–99, 200 “Youfen shi” (On My Suppressed Grievance) 177–78, 184 Ji Shao 182 Jia Kui 16n35 Jia Yi 27–28, 33 “Diao Qu Yuan wen” (Lament for Qu Yuan) 27, 28 Xinshu (New Writings) 21 “Xishi” (Sorrow for the Oath) 28 Jiang, Chaste Lady 55 Jiang, Sorrowful Lady 44, 52–53 jianwu (gradual enlightenment) 147 Jie. See King Jie of Xia dynasty

index Jie Zitui 55–56, 58n43 Jieyu 168, 169, 203 Jing Fang 22, 34 Jing Ying 52 John, St. 74, 77 Juexian 70n16 kalpa xi, 70–72, 80–81, 84, 89, 142 Knechtges, David x, 15, 37, 142, 168n34 King Fuchai of Wu state 34, 57, 167–68 King Goujian of Yue state 195 King Huai of Chu state 26 King Jie of Xia dynasty 167 King Li of Chu state 169 King Li of Zhou dynasty 34 King Nan of Zhou dynasty 34 King Ping of Chu state 34, 35 King Tang of Shang dynasty 16–17, 167 King Wen of Chu state 169 King Wen of Zhou dynasty 34, 51, 189, 204n57 King Wu Ding of Shang dynasty 34 King Wu of Chu state 169 King Wu of Zhou dynasty 51, 167 King Xuan of Zhou dynasty 196n29 King You of Zhou dynasty 34, 51 King Zhao of Chu state 55 King Zhou of Shang dynasty 167n25 Kishiro Mayako 183 Kobayashi Masayoshi 72, 73 Kong Rong 168 death of 175 “Gu yangliu xing” (Old Ballad on Snapping Poplar and Willow Branches) 6, 166 life of 171 “Linzhong shi” (Poem Written on the Verge of Death) 6, 166, 167, 184 “Willow Song” 6, 166–67, 170–73, 177, 184 Kongzi jiayu (The School Sayings of Confucius) 183 Krishna 80–81 Kroll, Paul W. ix, 65, 79, 80 Kumārajīva 137–38, 157 Ladies of the Xiang River. See Ehuang and Nüying (daughters of Yao) Lady Boji of Song state 55–56 Lady Jiang (wife of Chong’er) 174 Lady of Numinous Filial Piety, Brilliant Obedience, and Pure Virtue (posthumous title of Maiden Cao) 64


Lai, Whalen 137 Lang Yi 20n45 Lang Zong 20n45 Laozi 1, 5, 67, 82, 87–91, 138n38, 174–76. See also Taishang laojun legend of 175 worship of 87–89 Lei Cizong 135 Lewis, Mark Edward 63 Li Bai 64, 190 Li Gu 32 Li Hong 67 Li Si, on death 162 Li Yannian 168 Li Ye 179, 181, 184, 201 Li Yun 32 Liang Shang 113 Lienü zhuan (Biographies of Unusual Women) 4, 48, 52–56 Liezi 72 Liji (Records of Rites) 13, 38, 58 Lin Weichun 27 “Linzhong shi” (Poem Written on the Verge of Death) 6 . See also q.vv. under Emperor Xiaozhuang of Northern Wei dynasty, Fan Ye, Fu Lang, Gu Huan, Kong Rong, Ouyang Jian, poetic tradition, Shi Lingyu, Shi Zhikai, Shi Zhiming, Xie Lingyun Liu An 7, 16n35, 26, 29. See also Huainanzi Liu Bei 1 Liu Chengzhi 112n51, 128, 135, 153 Liu Jihua 38 Liu Ling, “Jiude song” (Eulogy on the Virtue of Wine) 83n61 Liu Lü 146 Liu Xiang 4, 8, 10, 16n35, 26n64, 27, 33, 40, 48, 69n13. See also Lienü zhuan (Biographies of Unusual Women) Liu Xie 36, 42, 49, 52, 63, 91. See also Wenxin diaolong on epitaph. See stele inscription: genre feature of Liu Xin 10, 69n13, 72 “Santong li” (Calendar of the Triple Concordance) 72 Liu Yikang 180 Liu Ying 90 Liu Yiqing 161n8. See also Shishuo xinyu (New Accounts of the World) Liu Yizhen 128, 136n29, 146n68, 154n96, 184



Liu You 164–65 Liu Yu 2, 128 Liu Zhangqing’s wife 54 Liu Zixu 161n8 Lokakṣema 70 Lord, Albert B. 48 Lu Cui 172 Lu Ji 2, 3, 6, 170 “Damu fu” (Rhapsody on the Great Dusk) 162–63 death of 114, 161 imitations of the “Ancient Poems” 103 on death 161–63 poetic imitation 103 “Tanshi fu” (Rhapsody on My Departure) 162 “Wan’ge” (Coffin Puller’s Songs) 104–5, 162 Willow Song 169 works on his own burial 114 Lu Shanjing 9n8 Lu Tong. See Jieyu Lu Xun 78, 83n63 Lu Zhi 161 Lu Zhonglian 181 Lü An 178, 182 Lü Shang 21, 34, 188–90 Lü Wang. See Lü Shang Lü Xun 178 Mahāyāna Buddhism 5, 133, 135, 137, 185 Maiden Cao. See Handan Zili: writing Maiden Cao’s life Mañjuśrī 67, 157 Mao Jin 175 Marcus Aurelius 84 Master Baigui (Fan Li’s sobriquet) 195 Master Great Man and Laozi 87–89 and True Man 78–79, 88, 90 identity of 200 journey of 203 surviving world destruction 79, 81, 86, 94 worldview of 82–83 Master Red Pine. See Chisongzi Mather, Richard B. 128 Mencius 69, 191 Meng Haoran 193 Meng Jiang nü. See Qiliang Zhi’s wife Meng Yi 180, 182

Miao Xi, “Wan’ge” (Coffin Puller’s Songs) 104n22, 105n27, 115n63 Mount Kunlun 26 Mount Lu Sect Buddhism 5, 97, 118n80, 128, 134n22, 136n28, 137, 151–54 Mou Rong, Mouzi lihuo (Master Mou’s Resolving of Doubts) 56, 171 Moxi 167n24 Music Bureau poetry. See yuefu poetry “Nineteen Ancient Poems” 95, 103n20, 159n1, 161 Ningwu 26 nirvāna 67, 70n16, 133, 140, 144, 150, 151 Odes, the. See Shijing oracular writing 1, 10, 12 Ouyang Jian 2, 176 “Linzhong shi” (Poem Written on the Verge of Death) 174–75 Owen, Stephen x, 115 Pei Xingjian 42n5 Pengxian 163 poetic tradition. See also yuefu poetry ante-mortem poetry. See poetic tradition: “Linzhong shi” (Poem Written on the Verge of Death) dunwu (instantaneous enlightenment) poetics 129, 154–55, 158 imitative poetry 102–4, 160–61 of Chuci 8, 21, 28, 30n79 landscape poetry, birth of 155–58 “Linzhong shi” (Poem Written on the Verge of Death) 169, 179–80, 184, 201. See also q.v. mysterious words poetry 127 religious poetry 3 roaming transcendents poetry 79–80, 127 sao style poetry 5, 8, 35, 39, 40 Prajñā School Buddhism 122n88 pratyeka-buddha 139, 140 Prince Moonlight 67n8, 68 Pure Land School Buddhism. See Mount Lu Sect Buddhism Qian Ao 123 Qian Lou’s wife 121n88 Qian Zhongshu 74, 92 Qiliang Zhi’s wife 44, 53, 54 Qingfu 53n31

index qingyi (pure criticism) 21 Qiuwuzi 183 Qu Boyu, 26, 174, 175n58 Qu Yuan 屈原 and the fisherman 190–92 birthday of 14 “Lisao” (Encountering Sorrows) 8, 14– 17, 19, 21, 25, 27, 33, 37–40, 61, 65–66, 80, 92–93, 147, 163–64, 190–91, 193 persona 19 spirit of 7, 8, 28 suicide of 4, 7–8, 27, 36–37, 60, 163, 188, 190, 192 Qu Yuan 蘧瑗. See Qu Boyu Records of Music. See Yueji (Records of Rites) Records of Rites. See Liji (Records of Music) Ren gongzi (Lord Ren) 205 resurrection 58–59 Richards, I. A. 91 Rong Qiqi 122–23 Ruan Fu 153–54n95 Ruan Ji correlative theory of. See correlative theory: of Ruan Ji “Da Zhuang lun” (On Understanding the Zhuangzi) 84, 92 “Daren xiansheng zhuan” (Biography of Master Great Man) 66, 74–75, 84–85, 88–90, 92, 116n70, 190, 197, 203 “Laozi zan” (“Eulogy on Laozi”) 87 life of 66 on destruction. See destruction theme: in Ruan Ji’s works “Qingsi fu” (Rhapsody on Purifying My Thought) 80, 197 tetrasyllabic “Yonghuai” (On My Inner Feelings) 196–97 number 1 196 number 2 196 “Tong Yi lun” (On Understanding the Book of Changes) 92 “Yonghuai” (On My Inner Feelings) 67, 68, 91–96 number 8 93n111 number 32 202 number 41 95 number 73 87, 94 “Yue lun” (On the Classic of Music) 92 Ruan Yu 66


Saṅghadeva 137 sao style poetry. See q.v. under poetic tradition Schneider, Laurence A. 39 Seidel, Anna 74 Seng Rui 148n76 Seng Zhao 157–58 shamanistic tradition 115 in Maiden Cao’s story 57–58 Shangshu (Book of Documents) 19, 22, 38 Shen Yue 181. See also Songshu on reclusion 200 Shi Bangzhe 47n12 Shi Chong 174 Shiji 29, 52, 58, 164, 189, 206 Shijing 4, 38, 39, 49–52, 56, 190 a lost poem 51 allusion to 49–52, 56, 61 “Daya” (Greater Elegance) 26 “Guofeng” (Airs of States) 51 Mao 1 25, 51 Mao 6 51 Mao 57 51 Mao 131 51 Mao 162 52 Mao 172 52 Mao 175 52 Mao 202 51, 61 Mao 223 51 Mao 236 51 Mao 289 140n44 Shi Lingyu, “Linzhong shi” (Poem Written on the Verge of Death) 173n53 Shi Zhikai, “Linzhong shi” (Poem Written on the Verge of Death) 173n53 Shi Zhiming, “Linzhong shi” (Poem Written on the Verge of Death) 173n53 Shishuo xinyu (New Accounts of the World) 161, 163 Shun (ancient ruler) 29, 61, 93, 167n24, 197n32 Shuzhong 52 Sima Lun 174 Sima Qian 27, 28n73, 163n15, 164. See also Shiji “Bao Ren Shaoqing shu” (A Letter for Ren An) 148 Sima Xiangru 65, 130n8, 143 “Daren fu” (Fu on the Great Man) 65–66 “Zixu fu” (Fu on Sir Vacuous) 142n57 Sima Yan. See Emperor Wu of Jin dynasty



Sima Zhao 66, 179, 189 Songshu 98, 179, 185 Spring and Autumn Annals. See Chunqiu śrāvaka 139–40 stele inscription, genre features of 42–43, 49–50, 63 “Stele Inscription for Maiden Cao the Filial Daughter” 4, 41–49, 51–61, 64 Stoic cosmology 84–85 Su Shi 125 Su Yongqiang 49 summoning the soul, ritual of 58–59nn45–46 Sun Chuo 145 Sun Deng 85, 88n81, 95 Sun Mian 191 śūnyatā 70, 148, 180 Suzuki Torao 155 Taishang laojun 89, 91. See also Laozi Takagi Masakazu 203 Tan Daoji 123 Tan Yuanchun 117n75 Tang. See King Tang of Shang dynasty Tang Bingzheng 29 Tang Ju 192–93 Tao Qian death of 102, 109–10, 119–20 “Guiqulaixi ci” (Rhapsody on Return) 110, 118, 202–3 introspective dialogue in poetry 115–20 “Lianyu duyin” (Drinking Alone in the Incessant Rain) 99, 116 life of 97–98 Mr. Five Willows 121n88, 199 “Ni gu” (Imitation of the Ancient Poems) 103 “Ni Wan’ge ci” (In Imitation of Coffin Puller’s Songs) 100–2 Preface to “You Xiechuan” (An Outing to Xie Brook) 114 pursuit of immortality 98 “Rongmu” (Blooming Trees) number 4 117 “Taohuayuan ji” (The Peach Blossom Spring) 97n2, 194 “Wan’ge” (Coffin Puller’s Songs) 98, 100–6, 112, 114, 117, 120, 122, 160. formulaic elements 114–15 number 1 101, 120, 122 number 2 101, 120 number 3 101–2, 119, 120

“Wuliu xiansheng zhuan” (Biography of Mr. Five Willows) 113n55, 121n88 “Xing, Ying, Shen” (Body, Shadow, Soul), number 1 122 “Yinjiu” (Drinking Wine) 116–17 number 3 112n51 number 5 116 number 9 193–94 number 20 117 “Yong pinshi” (In Praise of Poor Gentlemen) 124 “Youhui er zuo” (Composed at an Encounter) 123 “Zashi” (Miscellaneous Poems) 111 number 7 118 “Zijiwen” (A Sacrificial Elegy for Myself) 100, 102, 106–12, 115, 117–23 Tao Zhugong (Fan Li’s sobriquet) 195 tristia 39, 40, 65 True Man 78–79, 87–91, 203. See also Master Great Man: and True Man Tyconius 92n104 Ultimate Man 84, 90 Vimalakīrti 157 Viṣṇu 80 Wang Bi 148 Wang Bo ix Wang Chong 19n43, 30–31, 38 criticism of superstition 11, 57–58 Wang Fu 11, 34, 38, 167n24 Wang Guobao 176 Wang Hong 155 Wang Jun 182 Wang Kangju, “Fan Zhaoyin shi” (Contra “Zhaoyin”) 200n47 Wang Mang 1, 10, 20, 181, 187 Wang Qiaozhi 153 Wang Sengqian 168 Wang Su 183n90 Wang Xiu 182 Wang Xizhi 41, 46n9, 47, 114, 145 “Lanting ji xu” (Preface to Poems on the Thoroughwort Pavilion) 114 Wang Yanshou 8, 14n25, 28n71 “Lu Lingguangdian fu” (Rhapsody on the Luminous Hall of Lu) 8 Wang Yao 111n50 Wang Yi and Ban Gu 4, 8, 12

index commentary on Chuci 11, 16. See also Chuci zhangju (Section and Sentence Commentary to the Songs of Chu) Hanshu 9n11 interpretation of “The Fisherman” 191–92 “Jiusi” (Nine Thoughts) 8, 21, 28, 33–34 life of 8–9 Lin Yuzhou jiao (Teachings in Yuzhou [?]) 11, 21 on allegiance 30, 33 postface to “Lisao” 8, 16, 30 preface to Chuci zhangju 7 preface to “Lisao” 16, 25, 30, 36, 38, 191 Zhengbu lun (Discourse on Justice [?]) 11, 21, 33, 34, 39 “Wan’ge” (Coffin Puller’s Songs). See q.vv. under Fu Xuan, Lu Ji, Miao Xi, Tao Qian, and yuefu poetry Wangzi Qiao 94, 99 Wei Lang 47 Wei Wan 64 Wenxin diaolong 35, 42, 63 Wenxuan 63, 102, 103, 104, 105 “Linzhong” category 176 Mao Jin’s emendation of 175 “Willow Song.” See also s.vv. “Willow Song” under Cao Pi, Kong Rong, Lu Ji, Xie Lingyun, yuefu poetry on Yang Jun’s death 173–74 Wu Sunqi’s wife 54 Wu Yun. See Wu Zixu Wu Zixu 30, 35–36, 43, 57–58, 60, 62n57, 167–68, 206 Xi Lü 172 Xiahou Xuan 201 “Yue Yi lun” (On Yue Yi) 46n9 Xiang Chang 121n87 Xiang Yu 164, 165, 206 Xiangjun. See Ehuang and Nüying (daughters of Yao) Xiangzhong 52, 53 Xiao Tong 99n6, 102, 104, 175–76n61. See also Wenxuan Xiaojing Yuanshen qi (Inscribed Quotations from Divinity in the Classic of Filial Piety) 29 “Xiaonü Cao E bei.” See “Stele Inscription on Maiden Cao the Filial Daughter” Xie An 127


Xie Cheng, Hou Han shu 21 Xie Huan 183 Xie Huilian 136n29, 183n87 Xie Hun 127, 145 Xie Lingyun association with Huiyuan 135 “Bian zong lun” (On Distinguishing the Truth) 133, 135, 138, 140, 142n54, 145, 146, 148, 150, 155, 158 “Deng jiangzhong guyu” (Ascending a Lonely Island in the River) 149, 153, 155 “Fo zan” (Eulogy on the Buddha) 139 “Foying ming” (Inscription on an Image of the Buddha) 130n11, 140–41 life of 127, 136, 180 “Linzhong shi” (Poem Written on the Verge of Death) 159, 169, 179–81, 185 “Pusa zan” (Eulogy on Bodhisattvas) 139 rebellion of 180 “Shanju fu” (Fu on My Mountain Dwelling) 129n8, 130, 134, 142–44, 199 “Shibi jingshe huan huzhong zuo” (Written on My Way Back to the Lake from Stone Cliff Vihāra) 132, 135 “Shimen xinying suozhu …” (A Newly Built Abode in Shimen…) xi–xii, 146 “Tanlong fashi lei” (Elegy on Dharma Teacher Tanlong) 134 “Willow Song” 169, 171, 185 “You Lingmenshan shi” (On an Outing to Lingmen Mountains) 204 You mingshan zhi (Notes on My Travels to Famous Mountains) 130, 155–56 “Yuanjue Shengwen hezan” (A Combined Eulogy on Pratyekabuddhas and Śrāvakas) 139, 150, 152 Xie Xuan 127, 128, 129 Xifu Gong, “Jueming ci” (At the End of My Life) 165–66, 172 Xihe 147 Xiong the filial daughter 62n58 Xu Xianzhi 138 Xu You 176, 177, 197–99 as a high-minded recluse 201 pursuit of fame 197



Xun Yong 136n29, 183 Yabuuchi Takayoshi 129 Yan Junping 177n70, 178 Yan Yanzhi 91, 92 Yang Jun 173 Yang Tan 113 Yang Wangsun 108 Yang Xi 72n23 Yang Xiong 16n35, 27, 36 “Changyang fu” (Rhapsody on Long Poplar Palace) 206 “Fan Lisao” (Contra “Lisao”) 27, 40 Fayan (Model Sayings) 21 on shi scholars 206 Taixuan jing (Classic of Great Mystery) 21 Yang Xiuzhi 104 Yang Xuanzhi 136n29 Yang Zhen 18, 32 Yao (ancient ruler) 29, 197n32 Yellow Emperor 13, 82 Yi Yin 17n36, 21, 167n25 Yin Rong 181 Ying Shao 113 Yoshioka Yoshitoyo 88 You Guoen 18 You Yu 167, 168n28 Yu (consort of Xiang Yu) 164, 165 Yu (ruler of Xia dynasty) 16, 22n52 Yu Chan 145 Yu Xu 31, 33 Yu Yu, Guiji dianlu (Exemplary Individuals of Guiji) 47–49, 59 Yuan Shansong 113, 114 Yuan Shu, Zhenyin zhuan (Biographies of Genuine Recluses) 200 Yudhishthira 81 yuefu poetry (Music Bureau poetry) 5, 102–6, 168 “Wan’ge” (Coffin Puller’s Songs) 102, 114, 160, 184. See also q.vv. under Fu Xuan, Lu Ji, Miao Xi, and Tao Qian “Willow Song” 5, 167, 169, 177, 184 “Willow Song” (“old words”) 167–69, 173, 175 “Xielu” (Dew on the Shallot) 104–5, 113 “Xinglu nan” (The Harsh Journey) 113 “Zhe yangliu xing” (Snapping Poplar and Willow Branches). See s.vv. “Willow Song” under Cao Pi, Kong

Rong, Xie Lingyun, and yuefu poetry Yuefu shiji 102, 104–6, 167 Yueji (Records of Music) 38 Yü, Ying-shih 58, 59 Zai Pi 34 Zeng Shen 168n30 Zhai Fu 32 Zhang Daoling (Celestial Master Zhang) 72n23, 89 Zhang Heng 3, 10, 37, 66, 196 “Guitian fu” (Fu on Returning to My Field) 192–93 “Nandu fu” (Fu on the Southern Capital) 142n57 on escapism 38, 66 on ‘fishing’ 193 on mantic practices 23n55 “Sixuan fu” (Fu on Contemplation of the Mystery) 37, 65, 66 Zhang Hua, Bowu zhi (Treatise on Diverse Phenomena) 156 Zhang Kai 23n57 Zhang Liang 181 Zhang Qiao 55–56, 171 Zhanguo ce 170 Zhang Ye 152–55 Zhang Yue 42n5 Zhang Yugu 102 Zhang Zhan 114 Zhanguo ce 170 Zhao Gao 167–68n26 Zhao Quanshan 102 “Zhe yangliu xing” (Snapping Poplar and Willow). See s.vv. “Willow Song” under Cao Pi, Kong Rong, Xie Lingyun, and yuefu poetry Zheng Chong 189 Zheng Wangsheng 180 Zheng Xuan 61 Zheng Zhanyin 193 Zheng Zizhen 177, 178 Zhi Dun 140, 158 on Actuality and Emptiness 148 on li (Truth) 131 Zhi Qian 70, 90n92, 157 Zhong Hui 178, 182 Zhong Rong 91, 145 Zhong Xing 117n75 Zhou Xie 31

index Zhou Xuzhi 135 Zhouyi santongqi (The Three-in-One Tally of Book of Changes). See q.v. under Daoist scriptures Zhu Daosheng 5, 127n2, 135, 157 learning of Buddhism 137–38, 140, 144–48 on dunwu (instantaneous enlightenment) 158 on li (Truth) 147, 155 on liberation 140–41 on transcendence of attachment (qing) 146–47 Zhu Falan 70n15 Zhu Jiazheng 169 Zhu Maichen 205 Zhu Xi 30n79, 51n21, 163n15, 166 Zhuang Jiang 51 Zhuangzi 72, 74–76, 81–83, 88n86, 90, 99, 120n85, 125, 138n38, 144, 148, 167n24, 168n32, 181n78, 203, 205 fisherman in 187, 192, 195–96, 202–3 on shi scholars 187 “The Fisherman” 202


Xu You in 198 Zhuanxu 13n23 Zichan 60n50 Zijiao 26 Zilan 26 Zilu 124n99 Zisi 69n13 Zong Bing 128, 141, 148, 153, 154 “Ming fo lun” (Illumination of Buddhism) 141 painting theory of 131 Zou Yan 10, 69n13 Zouzi zhongshi (Master Zou on the End and the Beginning) 69 Zuo Jiupin 64n63 Zuo Si “Jiaonü shi” (My Lovely Daughter) 112n52 “Sandu fu” (Fu on Three Capitals) 142n57 Zuo Xiong 32 Zuozhuan 53 Zürcher, Erik 69–70, 81n56, 135n26