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Lisao of the Lyrics of Chu - Essay Example

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It has a lofty ideal and contains his determination to fight for its realization. His poem aims to discuss the various historical themes combined with legends and myths. (Stephen Owen). In terms of form, the Lisao is a first person monologue which is rich in imagery and skillful metaphor. The Lisao is a long lyrical poem permeated with romanticism and moving fairy tales.
Lisao deals with calumny and slander of a sordid political reality, and the more general burden of the constraints of human existence, prompt the poet to undertake an "upward journey" (shangzheng). In Lisao, the enactment of other realms is self-conscious, almost self-reflexive: it is an extension of the poet's "declaration of intent." Summoned through an act of sheer will, the other world can be a precarious illusion-hence the poet's disappointments, doubts, and hesitations during his aerial journeys in "Encountering Sorrow."(David Schulman and Guy Stroumsa 37). In terms of content, the poem deals with search, sorrow and disappointments of an exiled prince. The poem also represents stages in Quan's life. It also laments his misfortunes and declares his virtue. In this poem, Qu Yuan attacks those who have defamed him and goes on a cosmic quest for a worthy lord.
Moreover, the Lisao counterchange at poetic peaks; chiastic rhetoric highlights and fulfills central cultural and literary values. It shows the reciprocal relations between lord-vassal, heaven-human. Reciprocity pervades and underpins so ourselves to illuminating the dual nature of Chinese songs: requital and retribution.
Qu Yuan's life reveals the paradigmatic of the double-edged relation of the Confucian intellectual to the structures of state power. 1 He is part of China's tradition literary martyrdom. To claim to be witness to a higher moral truth while remaining subject to those holding absolute power, is the kind of situation particularly conducive to producing martyrs. Chiastic genealogy marks Qu Yuan as a noble hero of a poem that will repeatedly counterbalance misunderstood nobility against blind depravity. "Encountering Sorrow" deploys counterchange distinctively; throughout, Qu Yuan consistently uses chiasmus not to bind together and suggest but to deny it and enforce separation. He laments that none at court can appreciate true nobility, usually metaphorized as "beauty" or fragrance, as in this upside-down counterchange (36): They gather dung and muck to stuff their sachets; Claim ginger and pepper have no fragrance! Jiu Ge ("Nine Songs"), also attributed to Qu Yuan, is the first example of what could be called shamanic literature in China.
Qu Yuan fights against olfactory oppression by marshalling a shaman's arts and lore to undertake a magic itinerary seeking divine powers, divine aid, divine love. His "shaman's way" metaphor enlivens Lisao, e.g. at 16:
Regretting I had scanned my path inexactly, After long pause I turned about. I turned my chariot round to retrace the road, Before my path had strayed too far."
Here a transition from direct lament to metaphoric presentation spins another binding thread; not only do "not deep" and "shallow" form a frame for quickly and rapids, they sound similar: dzivm and tsien (tsien). Our shamanic poet then continues with a metaphor that inverts things from their proper places (62): I've tried to pluck creeping ficus in the waters, Pick lotus-blossoms in the treetops. The poet laments ...Show more
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Summary

The poem, "Encountering Sorrow" ("Lisao")- encapsulates a ritual formula of an all-too-brief or unsuccessful meeting with the divine being is later self-consciously invoked for allegorical purposes to express other kinds of longing and unfulfillment.(David Schulman and Guy Stroumsa 36)…
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