The relationship between Yongming poetic style and politics in the Yongming era

Begin - Einde 
2016 - 2020 (lopend)
Vakgroep Talen en Culturen
Medieval Chinese
Chinese poetry
Politic and literature



This study will make a new interpretation of the 'Yongming poetic style' poems from a political perspective and argues that these poems are not a reaction to "a peaceful flourishing age", as some scholars have argued, but a manifestation of the complicated political situation during that period. This study is mainly divided into the following parts:

  • Part one: The political challanges during the Yongming period (483-493 A.D.) were numerous. These include various royal descendants fighting for succession of the throne; competitions between aristocratic families versus families from lower classes; conflicts between rulers and officials; political and military conflicts between the Southern Qi Dynasty and the Northern Wei Dynasty.
  • Part two: This part analyzes the literatis' reaction to this complicated political situation as reflected in their literary production. Scholars and officials had differing reactions due to different factions they associated with, and based on different political backgrounds and other factors. As such, they developed various attitudes and standpoints based on their approaches to the complicated political situtation. These "mentalities" are critical to understand their literary works.
  • Part three: This part mainly analyzes "Yongming poetic style" poetry and puts forward the hypothesis that some of the poems originated from the aristocrats’ attempt to protect themselves in difficult political situations. There are two stages of "Yongming poetic style" poems. In the early stage (483-492), "Yongming poetic style" poems mainly focused on worshipping non-political topics such as nature and everyday objects, giving special attention to the rhyme patterns and poetical structures. These poems did not show specific relations to the political situation and the poets' personal reaction to it. With the political downfall of the King of Jing Ling, "Yongming poetic style" poems in the later stage (493-494) changed and developed a tendency to return to the "ancient style" (zhonggu 中古), in addition to indirectly integrating the poets' personal opitions and feelings concerning the political developments and their entanglements within the ongoing conflicts, often in the form of subtle allusions and metaphors.



Externe medewerkers

Jixi Yuan

Renmin University