zìrán yīngzhǐ 自然英旨
Charm of Spontaneity
This term means poetry creation should present the unembellished beauty of nature and the genuine sentiments of human beings. The original meaning of yingzhi (英旨) is good taste. Used as a literary term, however, it refers to charming content and imagery in poetry. In “Preface to ‘The Critique of Poetry,'” Zhong Rong of the Southern Dynasties called on poets to express their thoughts and sentiments in their own words and opposed borrowing expressions from ancient poets. He criticized the excessive attention to ornate language and tonal rhythms in the writing of five-character-per-line poetry. He maintained that spontaneously created poems of good taste were most valuable. The expressions “natural” and “simple and unaffected” in later literary criticisms contain Zhong Rong’s ideas.
Ren Fang, Wang Rong and some other writers of recent times have given no attention to linguistic innovation yet vied with each other for using literary allusions that no one else has ever employed. Subsequent writers have turned this practice into a habit. And so, all sentences must contain allusions, and every word and expression has to be traceable to some sources. Allusions are clumsily tacked onto the authors’ own words, severely damaging their works. There are few poets capable of producing works that display the pristine beauty of nature or their genuine sentiments. (Zhong Rong: Preface to “The Critique of Poetry”)
I have read with great interest the letters, poems, and essays you have sent to me. Broadly speaking, they are all like floating clouds and flowing waters, have no set form or structure, and frequently flow when they should flow and remain still when they must stop. The articles are presented in a natural way and have multiple and uninhibited styles. (Su Shi: A Letter of Reply to Xie Minshi)