As we begin our study of Li Qingzhao (old spelling Li Ch'ing-chao)
I would present my students several historical background pieces including the one listed here. From these, the traveler board information would be written. For background information use: http://www.melanconent.com/lib/knowl/history/china/song/north.html.
Historically, during feudal years in China, women, their talents and intelligence, had no place in society. Li Qingzhao, broke through the feudal ethical code and established a rightful place for herself in literary history.
Li Qingzhao was born in 1084 in Ji ?nan, Shandong province in northern China into a family of scholars and officials. Her father was a professor at the Imperial Academy and a noted prose writer and her mother was a skilled poetess and highly educated. This favorable environment afforded her opportunities in classic scholarship; literature, history, calligraphy, painting, and music. Her sheltered life was rich in intellectual refinement and opulence.
In 1101, at the age of eighteen, Li married 21 year old, Zhao Mingcheng (Chao Ming-Ch'eng) who came from another family of academics and officials. He, too, was a brilliant student interested in epigraphy, the study of the form and content of inscription writing that is cut, scratched, or impressed on any durable material such as stone or metal. He was also interested in archeology, art and antiques. Sharing common passions, their marriage was filled with happiness as is evidenced in Li's poetry. They collected unique, Chinese art and artifacts which Zhao began to record in a book entitled,
Record of Bronze and Stone.
Much of the money from his employment as an official in the Song (Sung) government went into their collections.
In 1127, the Northern Song regime felled to the Jin Tartars, a minority nationality in the north, in the notorious Jing Kang Invasion. The Zhaos suffered untold hardships fleeing from the invaders, seeking refuge south of the Yangtze. Much of their collection of books, scrolls, and curios was left behind in the war. Two years later, Li lost her husband to malaria while making his way to an official post in the newly established Song government in Hangzhou(Hong-Zhou). Alone, Li never managed to find peace in any one spot. She wandered from place to place. She had to sell her books for income and much of what remained was stolen from her or her brother-in-law, to whom she sent some of Zhao's things.
In 1132, she settled in Hangzhou, where she finished the
Record of Bronze and Stone,
started by her husband and wrote an epilogue to this book which served as a brief memoir. Her writings were now filled with monosyllabic words such as "cold," "pain," "moan," "grief, "and "alone," all showing her state of mind and heart.
Next she moved to Jin-hua in the Zhejiang province for writing assignments for the new court. She remarried then divorced and lived quietly until her death. Very little is recorded of her death but it is generally accepted that she died somewhere around 1150-1155. Li published seven volumes of
traditional poetry written in essay form, and six volumes of
Sadly only about 15-17
have survived, some as fragments. (See Chapter 12 in draft text)
-poetry, master of tz ?u
http://home.infionline.net/~ddisse/liquinzh.html provides a wonderful resource for Li Qingzhao's Ci poems as well as Chinese art. After inserting the following information on our traveler board, I would ask my students to create on rice paper, their own poetry in the style of Li, having as a backdrop the Chinese art so beautifully visible on this website. They should be shown a piece of silk as well. A visit to the Yale Art Gallery to view the Chinese art might be possible or visit the following websites: http://artgallery.yale.edu/,
was originally a kind of melody tuned to folk music which later evolved into a new form of written verse consisting of lines of different lengths. Although the origin of
dates back to the Sui Dynasty (581-618) no
-poems now exist. The great Li Bai of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) is now credited with having composed the first two
-poems in Chinese literature. But it was not until the end of the Five Dynasties (907-960) and the beginning of the Song Dynasty (960- 1279) that
made rapid strides.
Li lived at a time when
as a literary genre embodied two schools widely different in style and tone: the bold romantic style and the elegant restrained style. Undoubtedly, Li belonged to the latter. But when it comes to the question of her status among the
-poets, critics fall to the extremes. While some laud her as the greatest writer of
-poetry that China has ever produced, others deny her even the privilege of ranking among the major Song
She seldom relied on classical allusions to achieve effect. Instead metaphor and the simile were her preference. Her comparisons have had a freshness all their own owing to her innovation of comparing inanimate objects, animals and birds to human beings instead of comparing human beings to these in the conventional way. Li Qingzhao was also a gifted user of personification using simple, everyday expression to create a literary flavor with deep meaning and sometimes musical rhythm. Ingeniously repetition often served as a powerful prelude to the nature's images: tantalizing weather, flavorless wine, petals fallen and leaves of their company sorrowfully deprived, howling evening wind, vanishing wild geese, clouds and mist, faded chrysanthemums strewn neglected on the ground, lamentation for autumn, fine rain dripping lugubriously on the leaves of parasol-trees, and even the author's own wizened self at the window in the deepening twilight.
Li Qingzhao laid down hard and fast rules in her celebrated
Essay on Ci-poetry
to define the difference between
, two forms of poetry different in their aims. While
expresses the will,
conveys the feelings.
He poems were mostly written to satirize the Northern Song emperors' capitulationist policy. In
Lines On a Summer's Day,
the poet reveals a clearcut, satirical stand against the North Song emperor who fled with his ministers to the South of the Yangtze when pursued by the Jin invaders. It is evident that these
-poems, though important from a political point of view as her favorite medium for expressing her political ideas, were different from her
-poems. The refined elegance and charm of her
-poems are truly where the essence her great fame lies.
Last night: spare rain, sudden wind--unthinned dreams couldn't put out the last of the wine.
We shall ask the curtain-rolling maid-- Why, the begonias are as before.
Don't you, then, know the necessity This season: plush leaves, and flowers, thinly.