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Tang Studies 12 (1994) Reading Po Chu-i PAUL RAKITA GOLDIN HARVARD UNIVERSITY 1. Despite the wide circulation that his works have enjoyed throughout East Asia, the intellectual views of the T'ang poet Po Chi.i-i am$} (772-846)/ especially the changes in his attitude towards literature, have been relatively understudied. This paper will attempt to trace the progression of Po's literary theories, to explore the intellectual chronology of a man who, late in life, wrote poems that he would have condemned in his youth. "White-Haired Woman of Shang-yang" J:m8~.A. exemplifies the early period of Po's work: A woman of Shang-yang, red face grown old unnoticed and new-white hair. Green-clothed guards protect the palace gates. How many springs since I was first locked in Shang-yang? First selected in the last years of Hsuan-tsung [r. 712-756]when I entered I was sixteen; now I am sixty. At the same time more than a hundred were picked. 1 Po's official biographies are in Chiu T'ang-shu Wmii (hereafter referred to as "CTS"; this and all dynastic histories will be cited from the Chung-hua edition), 166.4340-60 and Hsin ~ Tang-shu (hereafter "HTS"), 119.4300-5. The CTS biography is by far the more useful of the two; it has been translated with annotation by E. Feifel, "Biography of Po Chii-i," Monumenta Serica 17 (1958), 255-311. Both biographies are reprinted in Chu Chin-ch'eng *~~, ed., PoChu-i chi chien-chiao ~%i:& (Shanghai: Shanghai ku-chi, 1988), 3949-68. Chu's is now the best edition of Po's works, superseding even the recent Chung-hua edition (Ku Hsueh-chieh mi~~, ed., Po Chii-i [Peking, 1979]). Henceforth I will refer to it simply as "P." Unfortunately, Chu's edition is arranged according to the Ma Yuan-tiao .w;7C~(d. ca. 1645) text, while most other editions follow the sequence of the Naba Doen ;l3~?1Umllll(1595-1648) text. An index to all major traditions is given in Hanabusa Hideki :tEm~W,Hakushi monju no hihanteki kenkyu B~)(.(7)jft~Jf¥J:n1f~(Kyoto: Ibundo shoten, 1960),497-583. I will note Hanabusa's index number whenever I refer to a text by Po. 57 Goldin: Reading Po Chil-i I was abandoned; the years grew deep, and I alone survived. I remember when I held back tears and left family and clan; they helped me into the carriage and did not let me cry. All said: "Once inside, you will receive Imperial Favor"face like lotus, breast like jade. Before it was allowed that my lord see my face, Consort Yang m [Yii-huan 3iJ.l] had already glared askance at me. In jealousy she ordered my secret banishment to Shang-yang Palace. Thereupon I resided my whole life in an empty room. Autumn nights are longthe nights are long without sleep; the sky will not brighten. Agitated, the wasted candle reflects on the wall; the hidden rain beats upon the window. Spring days are slowthe days are slow as I sit alone; the sky sets grudgingly. In sadness I hate to hear the hundred calls of the palace orioles. Age quiets my envy of swallows on the beams roosting in pairs. The orioles return and the swallows depart, always silently. Spring goes and autumn comes; I do not count the years. I only face the deep palace and gaze upon the bright moon. From east to west it has waxed four or five hundred times. Today I am the oldest in the palace; His Highness, from afar, bestowed on me the title of Matron.2 Pointy shoes and a tight dressI dot my eyebrows with blue kohl; my eyebrows are slender and long. People outside do not see me; if they saw, they would laugh. These are the fashions of the last years of T'ien-pao [742-756]. A woman of Shang-yang with much bitterness. Bitter in youth, bitter in old age. How are my young bitterness and old bitterness? 2 Not, as it is sometimes translated, "Minister" (or the like): the term shang-shu ~. is also used...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1759-7633
Print ISSN
0737-5034
Pages
pp. 57-96
Launched on MUSE
2021-04-08
Open Access
No
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