chén shī zhǎn yì 陈诗展义
Write Poetry to Express Feeling and Aspiration
This term, concerning the motivation in poetry writing, was first used by the Southern Dynasty poetry theorist Zhong Rong (468?-518) in his “Preface to ‘The critique of Poetry.'” He emphasized the impact upon a poet’s creative activities of seasonal changes and encounters between humans, maintaining that the poet uses his work to show his inner feelings and aspirations. Zhong’s poetic aesthetics, while recognizing the role of the outer world in inspiring poets, also valued the unique aesthetic value of feelings to poetry. This view was clearly more mature than that of “writing poetry for moral indoctrination only” held by Han Dynasty Confucian scholars.
Poets are inspired by spring wind and birds, autumnal moon and cicadas, summer clouds and rain, winter moon and desolate cold weather – the cycle of seasons and weather – to create poetry. They write poetry during a beautiful gathering to show affinity among fellow humans, or when they live in solitude to express sorrow. As for Qu Yuan who had to leave the capital of the Kingdom of Chu, Wang Zhaojun who was compelled to bid farewell to the royal court, corpses lying all about in the wilderness in the north, or ghosts chasing artemisia fluttering in mid-air… all this stirs the soul, urging the poet to write and chant poetry as a means of expressing feeling and aspiration. (Zhong Rong: Preface to “The Critique of Poetry”)