FROM VOICE TO TEXT:
QUESTIONS OF GENEALOGY
The Problem of the Repute of Tz'u during the Northern Sung
Ronald C. Egan
Despite the increased attention that has been given in recent years to Sung dynasty shih poetry, the impression persists in many quarters that tz'u was the real focus of poetic interest and excitement during the dynasty. This is an impression that owes as much to the many valuable studies of tz'u that have appeared in the past decade, which have elucidated the achievements of the Sung tz'u writers, as it does to the old formulation about the genres (T'ang shih Sung tz'u ), which has had remarkable staying power. We are apt, therefore, to think of tz'u as the form that was fresh, vital, and unexplored upon the establishment of the Sung. Once we accept this image of tz'u , which certainly has some validity, it is natural then to want to delve more deeply still into the accomplishments of particular writers, to study both their individual traits and the dynamics of the development of the genre through the dynasty. No doubt the linguistic difficulties tz'u presents, because of its colloquial and specialized diction, have contributed to the aura that surrounds it as a challenging object for scholarly study. However, as the subject becomes ever more firmly established as a field of inquiry, and as our attention is focused ever more intently upon the distinctive, if subtle, marks of each writer's corpus, we are apt to overlook certain aspects of early appraisals or criticism of the genre, especially anything that runs counter to our perception of tz'u as a pillar of Sung literature. This paper concerns one such issue in the history of Sung tz'u : its disrepute among large numbers of the lettered elite and its struggle for acceptance, especially during the Northern Sung. This, then, is primarily a study of early perceptions and criticism of tz'u , rather than of tz'u stylistics. But I shall also argue that tz'u 's struggle to gain acceptance sometimes significantly affected the way it was written.
So long as we confine our attention to collections of tz'u , it is easy to work under the assumption, whether we are conscious of it or not, that this was a universally accepted poetic form during the Sung. After all, a great amount of it was produced, and many of the writers were eminent figures in Sung letters and public life. But as soon as we look outside of the tz'u collections for confirmation of our assumption, we are apt to be dismayed. The first and lasting impression given by Northern Sung sources is one of silence. It is almost as if tz'u never existed, for it goes unmentioned in the channels normally used to confer and sustain literary prestige. Two areas of silence or absence are particularly significant: literary collections (wen-chi ) and prefaces. It was the rule throughout the Northern Sung to exclude tz'u from literary collections. In none of the earliest recensions of the literary collections of the major writers (Yen Shu, Fan Chung-yen, Ou-yang Hsiu, Chang Hsien, Su Shih, Huang T'ing-chien, Ch'in Kuan, Ch'ao Pu-chih, Ho Chu, and Ch'en Shih-tao) were tz'u included alongside the prose and shih poetry. We know that in many if not all cases the writers themselves edited their literary collections, so that the exclusion of tz'u was their own decision. Simply put, what that decision shows is that tz'u were not considered to be sufficiently wen , "literary," for inclusion in a wen-chi . These same men regularly excluded other of their more unpolished writings (for example, shu-chien or ch'ih-tu , notes or informal letters, as opposed to the more literary letter, shu ) for apparently the same reason. It was only in later centuries, when a writer's "complete works" were compiled, that tz'u began to make their appearance together with other forms. Before that time, and in many cases after it as well, a writer's tz'u circulated independently, in what must have been small and, to judge from the record of lost works, ephemeral editions. From the mid–Southern Sung on, of course, there were tz'u anthologies as well.
The lack of prefaces for tz'u collections is equally striking. In Sung literati culture, prefaces were a major vehicle through which writings were legitimated and standards of taste proclaimed. The leading writers wrote dozens of prefaces for the poetry and prose collections of their acquaintances. But among the surviving works only two tz'u prefaces can be found. This nearly complete lack of introductory state-
ments suggests that tz'u were generally not even considered worthy of a defense.
As we would expect, tz'u are hardly ever mentioned in another sort of document, the colophon (t'i-pa ). The important colophon writers of the Northern Sung left hundreds of notices on all sorts of literary texts, calligraphy, paintings, and scholarly paraphernalia (inkstones, musical instruments, etc.). But they refrained almost entirely from making reference to tz'u . It is only in the anecdotal record that one finds substantial mention of tz'u . There are plenty of stories that somehow involve a contemporary tz'u . It is significant, though, that these stories were transmitted by lesser figures—men who are remembered primarily as compilers of anecdotes. They and their compilations are located a rung or two down from the highest levels of literati culture. Their writings amount at times to little more than gossip about the really prestigious persons of their age. The other qualification that should be stated is that the Sung anecdotal record is so rich that our ability to find mention of tz'u in it is hardly surprising. For every reference to tz'u , there must be ten to shih poetry.
The situation is an odd one: to judge from the songs themselves, the eleventh century was a heyday of tz'u writing, a lively and creative period that saw the development of an impressive range of unprecedented individual styles. Obviously, the authors relished their tz'u writing, but they also avoided calling attention to their activity. The Southern Sung critic Hu Yin observed that nearly all the scholars of the day expressed themselves in tz'u , but then they "immediately covered their tracks" and explained, if noticed, that they were just playing around. Why was there this ambivalence, which is certainly much more pronounced with tz'u than with shih poetry? It is unlikely that the relative newness of tz'u accounts for these scholars' reticence to adver-
tise their involvement with it. After all, there were ample instances of tz'u writing from well over a hundred years earlier that could have been adduced. Moreover, in other areas of cultural endeavor (e.g., in painting) the leading Sung scholars were hardly reluctant to discuss their unprecedented involvement.
Tz'u, Tz'u Writers Singing Girls
Surely the close association between tz'u and professional female entertainers must bear on any answer to the question. To remind the reader of how extensive that association was, I shall begin here by reviewing and discussing some representative passages in anecdotal writings that depict it. I will concentrate on sources that concern two men of letters, Ch'in Kuan and Huang T'ing-chien. Both men were prolific tz'u writers, but unlike, say, a man such as Liu Yung, who was known for little else than his dissipations in the pleasure quarters, Ch'in Kuan and Huang T'ing-chien were also serious shih poets and, more importantly, holders of prestigious literary posts in the capital (e.g., court historian, drafter of decrees, erudite at the imperial academy). We would be wrong to think that it was only men of low or little stature, like Liu Yung, who were depicted in contemporary sources as being in close and intimate contact with professional entertainers.
An early twelfth-century collection of anecdotes about tz'u , Yang T'i's Ku-chin tz'u-hua , contains the following story about one of Ch'in Kuan's compositions:
When Ch'in Shao-yu was staying in the capital, a high official once invited him to a feast, during which he brought out Emerald Peach, one of his favorite concubines, to encourage the guests to drink. She did it, however, listlessly. Shao-yu understood what was on her mind, and he, in turn, raised a cup and urged Emerald Peach to drink. The high official said, "Emerald Peach has never been much of a drinker," not wanting Shao-yu to impose on her. But she said, "Today, on this academician's behalf, I'll get dead drunk!" She grabbed a large winecup and took a long drink. On the spot, Shao-yu then composed this song to the tune "Lady Yü":
An emerald peach in heaven grows amid sweet dew,
not an ordinary flower.
Deep in jumbled hills, where the river winds,
how touching! A single branch like a painting,
for whom does it blossom?
Light chill and fine rain—boundless feelings!
No one knew spring would be so hard to control.
Why shouldn't I get drunk for you?
My only worry is that once I'm sober,
a heart will break.
Everyone regretted what had happened. The high official said, "Don't ever let this concubine appear at one of our feasts again!" With that, the guests all laughed.
There are many such anecdotes that purport to describe the circumstances under which a tz'u was written. A substantial proportion of them are quite unconvincing. Often the connection between the song and the story is tenuous, or the particulars may even be contradictory. This story, however, actually helps to make sense out of the song, which is indeed found in Ch'in Kuan's collection of tz'u . Of course, even without the story we would realize that "Emerald Peach" (Pi-t'ao) must be the name of a girl. But the second stanza, whose language is more vague than the translation suggests, would otherwise be rather unclear, especially the third line, where it would be uncertain who was getting drunk for whom. The story clarifies these lines by giving a sensible account of the dynamics between three persons: the bored singing girl, the attractive Ch'in Kuan, and the jealous and protective host. Ch'in's song, with its frank and aloof depiction of the girl's unenviable situation, has the effect of deflating the spirits of the revelers. The host then pretends to be
outraged, trying to relax the tension and put everyone back at ease. The story is a plausible account of how the song might have been written, whether or not it is historically accurate.
Ch'in Kuan evidently had a reputation as something of a gallant, an image that must have been founded largely on the widespread popularity of the romantic songs he wrote. Several anecdotes tell of singing girls or courtesans who fell in love with him. The most elaborate story (whose reliability certainly is open to question) has him traveling through the undistinguished city of Ch'ang-sha, on his way into exile, when he meets a singing girl who possesses, to Ch'in's amazement, a manuscript copy of his tz'u . Without revealing his identity, Ch'in speaks with the girl and learns that she could sing all of his songs but had no interest in those by other writers. "Have you ever met this Academician Ch'in?" he asks her. "I live here in a remote and uncultured area. He is a high-placed gentleman of the capital. Why would he ever come here? And even if he did, why would he look at me?" Ch'in persists: "You say you are in love with Academician Ch'in, but it's just his songs you like. If you saw his face, you might feel differently." "No," she replies, "If I could ever meet him and somehow become his slave, I would die with no regrets." Ch'in finally reveals his identity, and the girl withdraws respectfully from the room. Shortly she reappears, dressed in formal attire, and bows to Ch'in from the doorway. A feast is prepared by the girl's mother, and when Ch'in is seated the place beside him is left vacant in deference to him. The girl performs her entire repertoire of his songs. At the end of the evening, the girl welcomes Ch'in to her bed. Ch'in stays on a few days with her, and when he finally resumes his journey, the girl vows to wait for him until he is pardoned. Ch'in goes off to exile, where he eventually dies. The girl receives news of his death in a dream, whereupon she sets out to mourn him. When she arrives beside his coffin, she walks around it, cries out, and expires.
In its present form this story is surely romanticized fiction, but the bulk of it, without the ending, may well have its roots in a popular image of Ch'in as a man whose songs could win for him the hearts of singing girls. Unfortunately, the girl in this story is unnamed. Other of the girls Ch'in is said to have favored are supposed to have their names coded into songs he wrote for them. More than one source reports that when Ch'in Kuan was serving in Ts'ai-chou he had an affair with a singing girl named Lou Wan, whose polite name was Tung-yü. He is
said to have written a tz'u for her, one that is likewise found in his collection, whose opening line reads: hsiao-lou lien-yüan heng-k'ung , "The small storied house with a garden blocks the sky." The opening line of the second stanza is: yü-p'ei ting-tung pieh-hou , "His jade pendant chimes after he departs." The first line encodes the girl's formal name (hsiao-lou for Lou, and yüan is a pun on Wan), and the second her polite name. Ch'in is supposed to have gone a step further in a song he wrote for another girl, T'ao Hsin-erh. The closing line reads: t'ien-wai i-kou ts'an-yüeh tai san-hsing , "Beyond the sky, a hook of a moon with three stars attached"—a clever way of describing the written character hsin (heart), the girl's name. Both of these songs are quite conventional portraits of longing and separation, and neither of them has a preface or any other indication that they were written for a particular woman. But the assertions that they were deserve to be taken seriously because they help to explain what otherwise strike the reader as oddities in these two songs: the phrase lien-yüan (literally, "with a garden") seems slightly odd in its line (thus, some texts have lien-yüan , "stretching afar," instead), and the detail about the moon and three stars seems gratuitous without some reason for its presence.
If Ch'in Kuan was the romantic poet whom the singing girls were apt to fall for, a rather different image of Huang T'ing-chien emerges from his tz'u and the anecdotes surrounding them. Huang T'ing-chien is primarily known, of course, as a shih poet, and one whose highly allusive and bookish style seems at first sight quite unpromising for any involvement with tz'u . It is interesting, then, to learn that not only was Huang also a prolific tz'u writer, he was one who used extremely colloquial language in his tz'u —so colloquial that the meaning of some of his songs now escapes us. But it is not only the diction of Huang's tz'u that makes them singular: a sizable portion of them present a particular voice that is not often encountered in other tz'u of the time. It is the voice of an aging official who is infatuated with one or another singing girl but gener-
ally cannot attain the object of his desires. Huang apparently wrote tz'u that cultivate this voice all through his life. Several of them, in which the speaker identifies himself as an old man, were written in the last years of Huang's life, during his southwestern exiles to Ch'ien-chou, Jung-chou, and I-chou.
What is really striking about these tz'u of Huang's is how many specifics they contain that encourage us to read them autobiographically. These are not vague expressions of male love and longing. Thanks to details found both in the songs themselves and in their subtitles or prefaces, these compositions appear firmly rooted in Huang's life. We know, for example, that as an old man Huang wrote three songs for a very young singing girl named Ch'en Hsiang ("just over thirteen, spring not yet complete"), whom he met in Heng-yang while on his way into exile in 1104. The songs allude to a brief romance followed by the songwriter's forced departure, and dwell on the speaker's worry that by the time he is able to return the girl will have chosen another man. Huang continued to write for Ch'en Hsiang after his departure. It seems that she took up calligraphy and wrote to Huang (the master calligrapher!) asking for a sample of his characters in small regular style. The sample he sent back to her was yet another tz'u , which describes her and refers to her progress at her new avocation.
One relies heavily upon the subtitles to Huang's songs for such information, and it should be acknowledged here that those subtitles might conceivably have been added by some later editor who, working on the presumption that the songs were autobiographical, did his best to identify their original settings. On balance, however, the chance of this is slight. Several of the subtitles are indisputably written in the first person. As for those subtitles whose point of view is ambiguous and might either be read as first-person or third-person statements (a problem commonly encountered in literary Chinese), the very specificity of their information argues against the possibility that they are from an editor's hand. Su Shih had, of course, established a convention of writing such identifying tags to one's own tz'u , and it is preferable to think that Huang simply followed his example.
The song translated below is less explicit than some, but the information it does contain makes it easy to reconstruct a setting grounded in Huang's biography:
To the tune "Swaying Courtyard Bamboo"[13
] Written outside the Chi-chou city wall ,
while serving as magistrate of T'ai-ho
Soughing winds at the south hall blow plum blossoms,
ravens cry, startled in treetop nests.
Our meeting in a dream did not last long,
across the city wall tonight you understand.
I sit up late, the water turns emerald pointlessly.
The glow of the mountain moon sinks in the west.
I bought a place to lodge you in,
but stubbornly you wouldn't come.
Today Heaven glares at you,[14
] you'll go among fowl forever, abused by them.
Useless now is my pity for you![15
] Wind and sun will injure the branch of blossoms.
Huang served as magistrate of T'ai-ho hsien from 1081 to 1083. T'ai-ho was part of Chi-chou prefecture (modern Chi-an, Kiangsi), and Huang must have made periodic visits to the prefectural seat. This song was evidently written as Huang was leaving Chi-chou to return to his post in T'ai-ho. The song, together with its subtitle, suggests that Huang had met a singing girl during his stay in the city and tried to convince her to go back to the outlying T'ai-ho with him, assuring her that he would set her up in her own house. She refused, and Huang, frustrated
and bitter, wrote this song (and possibly even sent it to her) on the first night of his journey home. To "go among fowl" must mean to stay with the other girls Huang had found her among. Another of Huang's tz'u singles out a girl as a "kingfisher among the fowl."
In his later years, it was more common for Huang to represent the girl as willing but his own circumstances as unfavorable. An anecdote in Wu Tseng's Neng-kai chai man-lu (1157) confirms the information given in the song's subtitle, which dates it to Huang's fifty-eighth year:
To the tune "A Happy Event Draws Near"[18
] In T'ai-p'ing prefecture a little singing girl, Yang Chu, played the zither and
Once she touches those heart-awakening strings,
her feelings show on two slanted hills.
When she plays the part where men of old sorrowed,
pearls hang on her eyelashes.
This governor does not choose to come or go,
don't let tears mark your red cheeks.
What a pity that in old age I dislike wine
and disappoint the brimming plantain leaf.
The reader of Huang's songs soon becomes accustomed to taking the term shih-chün , "governor," as a reference to Huang himself, especially in the context of forced travel. (In fact, nine days after arriving at his post as governor of T'ai-p'ing, Huang was demoted and ordered to leave.) The situation implied here is that the girl loves the songwriter deeply and is brokenhearted over his imminent departure. As soon as she begins to play, her sorrow is evident in the music and on her face
(the "slanting hills" are her eyebrows). The governor, meanwhile, is so old and infirm that he cannot even find solace in wine.
It turns out that Huang wrote a shih poem about the same singing girl, as Wu Tseng points out. The contrast between the two pieces is revealing:
Written in T'ai-p'ing Prefecture (no. 2)
Timeless emotions are conveyed by her fingertips,
Yang Chu in misty moonlight, year after year.
To whom does her own heart fly?
She plays "Pine Wind" so fervently, she nearly
breaks a string.
It is precisely the personal involvement of the author with the girl that is absent from the shih poem.
The Disrepute of Tz'u
My purpose in reviewing these particular tz'u and anecdotes here is to describe the nexus of associations that prevailed between the literati, the tz'u they composed, and the female singers who performed them. In the Northern Sung, there was not yet such a phenomenon as the literary tz'u , divorced from music and the female entertainer. On the contrary, tz'u then could almost be viewed as a kind of dialogue between literatus and singing girl (there are, in fact, records of lively exchanges between male poets and female singers, each extemporizing new songs' lyrics). But while the contact between tz'u writers and singing girls was extensive and featured the appearance, at the very least, of romantic liaisons, it was not approved of in all quarters. The silence, noted earlier, maintained by the tz'u writers concerning their compositions must be due in large part to an awareness that their works were looked on unfavorably
by many members of the educated elite. The literati continued to set words to song anyway—it was far too pleasurable to stop—but they kept quiet in the more acceptable forms of written expression about what they were doing.
What is the evidence of the disrepute of tz'u , aside from the authors' own silence? It survives in various forms, ranging from outright denunciations and scandal to covert attempts to de-emphasize the social setting of the songs, thus making them more acceptable. To begin with the denunciations, one that is recorded in several sources is that addressed by the monk Fa-hsiu to his friend, Huang T'ing-chien:
Fa-yün-hsiu, a native of Kuan-hsi, had a face of iron and was stern and cold. He was good at using reason to best other men in argument. After Lu-chih [Huang T'ing-chien] had become famous throughout the empire, whenever he wrote a new shih or tz'u people would rush to circulate it. One day the dharma master [Fa-hsiu] said to Lu-chih, "There's no harm in writing as many shih as you like, but you should stop composing erotic songs and little tz'u ." Lu-chih laughed, "They are just words in the air. I'm not killing anyone, and I'm not stealing. Surely I won't be sentenced to one of the evil destinies for writing these songs." The dharma master replied, "If you use wicked words to arouse lust in men's hearts, causing them to ignore propriety and violate the law, then your words will be a source of crime and wrong, and I'm afraid you will not merely be punished with evil destinies." Lu-Chih nodded and subsequently stopped writing songs.
In Huang's own version of this exchange Fa-hsiu is more forthcoming about the punishment that awaits him if he does not desist: he will be reborn in the Hell of Slit Tongues, a place reserved for those who used offensive words in life.
These stories emphasize Fa-hsiu's skill in argument, so naturally they conclude with Huang heeding Fa-hsiu's advice. In fact, all the evidence suggests that Huang's tz'u writing was not the least affected by Fa-hsiu's reproof and, if anything, seems to have become more abundant in his later years. The Southern Sung scholar Hu Tzu noted, with marked disappointment, this discrepancy between the conclusion of the anecdote and Huang's later record.
Hu Tzu's attitude indicates that we should not dismiss Fa-hsiu's criticism out-of-hand as a kind of puritanism found only among Buddhist monks. Disapproval of tz'u was not limited to any single group in Sung society. When reference was made once, in the presence of Lü Hui-
ch'ing (Wang An-shih's assistant grand councilor), to the fact that Yen Shu, an earlier grand councilor, had been fond of composing tz'u , Lü Hui-ch'ing remarked impatiently, "Anyone who governs the realm is supposed to start by 'banishing the tunes of Cheng.' How could he himself compose more of them!" Lü's outburst equates tz'u with the "licentious" songs of the ancient states of Cheng (and Wei), which Confucius, whom Lü quotes, had condemned. Yen Shu's son, Yen Chitao, once found himself the object of a similar sort of moral indignation. In the 1080s, while he was serving as a lowly garrison supervisor, Yen sent copies of his writings to the governor of his prefecture, Han Wei, in an apparent attempt to impress the superior official. This was a common enough practice, but in this case Yen Chi-tao had misjudged his recipient badly. Yen had sent copies of his tz'u , and Han Wei, who was a distinguished scholar but not a literary man (and would later be appointed tutor to the heir apparent), was neither impressed nor amused. Han Wei sent an admonishing letter in reply, observing that Yen had "more than enough" talent, but that his moral cultivation was inadequate. He urged Yen to look to this deficiency.
With such denunciations in mind, it will surprise no one to learn that Ch'eng I, the Northern Sung Confucian philosopher whose low opinion of belles lettres is well known, also registered his disapproval of certain lines found in well-known tz'u . What is particularly interesting about the following passage is the way Ch'eng I's criticism is taken up and elaborated upon by the Southern Sung scholar Ch'en Ku, who recorded it:
I-ch'uan [Ch'eng I] once read Ch'in Shao-yu's tz'u with the lines, "If Heaven only knew, / Heaven too would grow thin!" and remarked, "The Lord of Heaven lives in exaltation high above us. How can this man be so disrespectful toward him?" I-ch'uan also saw Yen Chi-tao's tz'u , which reads, "My dreaming soul is unaccustomed to any constraints. / It treads on willow catkins, crossing Hsieh Bridge," and said, "These are the words of a ghost!" Actually, Shao-yu's lines are derived from Li
Ch'ang-chi's [Li Ho's], "If Heaven had feelings, / Heaven too would grow old," which are similarly disrespectful. Shao-yu eventually died in exile and Shu-yuan [Yen Chi-tao] likewise did not live to an old age. Although it is said that there is such a thing as fate, their deaths were caused as well by their error of using words to encourage promiscuity.
Ch'en Ku's attitude, clearly, is a reformulation of Fa-hsiu's opinion that tz'u are so immoral and harmful to society that the writers are apt to be punished for the misdeed of "encouraging promiscuity" (ch'üan yin ). But whereas Fa-hsiu referred to unfavorable rebirth, Ch'en Ku alludes to the Confucian notion of early death. Without Ch'en Ku's remarks, it would be easy to interpret Ch'eng I's criticisms as nothing more than the sort of fussy intolerance that literal-minded scholars often show for poetic language. But a case can be made for finding more in Ch'eng I's comments than just this, and the case is supported by Ch'en Ku's expansion of the criticism. What precisely, we might ask, is so objectionable to Ch'eng I about the reference to Heaven in Ch'in Kuan's tz'u ? Those lines are, of course, part of a description of a lonely woman who is pining away for her lover who has deserted her. The tz'u is a portrait of lovesickness, and the lines in question assert that the illness is so powerful that it could overcome even Heaven (if Heaven only understood what was happening). There is, after all, a sense in which one of the functions of Sung tz'u was to document and legitimate emotions that contemporary society barely gave notice to, much less sanctioned. Love and its associated longings may be so strong, Ch'in Kuan implies, that they become the central fact about a life. They take control of the person and of her health, and they would do the same for Heaven if Heaven could experience them. These are assertions, even if not explicitly made, that seemed preposterous, or even worse, to men of other persuasions like Ch'eng I. One could trace a similar objection to Yen Chi-tao's lines about the dreamer: it may have been a common-place in love songs to speak of a soul emerging from the body during sleep and visiting a distant lover, but unromantic minds, once again, were unwilling to attribute such powers to love. They knew that the hun soul could only leave the body at death, which is why Ch'eng I says what he does.
The fate of Ou-yang Hsiu and his tz'u provides evidence of another kind of the uncertain status of this genre during the Sung. As famous as
he was during his lifetime as a statesman, scholar, and poet, Ou-yang also lived through more than the usual share of controversy. Unlike many other prominent Sung officials who were charged from time to time with abuses of power or disloyalty to the throne, Ou-yang Hsiu was charged with immoral conduct in his personal life. In his middle age Ou-yang was accused of having had an illicit affair with a niece (the girl herself brought the charge), and years later he was denounced for having committed incest with a daughter-in-law. Both times a formal investigation was held, Ou-yang adamantly maintaining his innocence, and both times the charges were eventually dropped (though damage was done in each case to Ou-yang's reputation and career).
We certainly do not have enough information to pass judgment on Ou-yang's culpability in these cases. It is clear that the charges against Ou-yang were seized upon by his political enemies, if they did not plant them in the first place, and used in an attempt to topple him from power. Of course, there might have been some combination of wrong-doing on Ou-yang's part and opportunism on the part of his rivals. We do not know. It is likely that Ou-yang's reputation as a man who "enjoyed life" and had a weakness for young girls made him seem particularly vulnerable, in the eyes of his enemies, to this sort of scandal. If so, we can say that Ou-yang's fame as a tz'u writer, which was considerable, helped to make him vulnerable, for his tz'u projected that image of him. At the least, we can say that Ou-yang's activities as a tz'u writer figured in these scandals. It is virtually certain that during the first case, and perhaps the second as well, tz'u that dwelled on infatuation with a young girl were composed by Ou-yang's accusers and falsely circulated under Ou-yang's name. Thus did his enemies seek to defame and incriminate him.
This sheds new light on the reasons Northern Sung scholars had for keeping tz'u out of their literary collections. But if tz'u could be this damaging, why weren't other tz'u writers similarly implicated in scandal? Why were Ou-yang's problems unique? The answer, I believe, is that Ou-yang's circumstances lent themselves uniquely to his trouble. Prominence was, of course, one of the necessary conditions. Through the entire Northern Sung, aside from Ou-yang there were really only two other prolific tz'u writers who were politically powerful: Yen Shu, just older than Ou-yang, and Su Shih, a generation younger. Yen Shu held the highest offices in the empire and although, as mentioned above,
he was eventually subjected to some criticism for combining this eminence with tz'u writing, his career as such seems to have been remarkably free of controversy. He was not the leader of a major movement or faction, and no one was determined to topple him. Ou-yang, by contrast, was repeatedly at the center of factional strife. He was a major spokesman for the reform movement led by Fan Chung-yen in the 1040s, whose defeat coincided with Ou-yang's Niece Chang case, and he was also embroiled in the bitter rituals controversy of the late 1060s, when the second charge of sexual offense against him surfaced. Su Shih was even more regularly involved in political struggle than Ou-yang, his mentor, had been. But Su Shih's enemies did not need to resort to innuendo about incontinence. Incautious remonstrator that he was, Su's criticisms of court policy gave his adversaries plenty of material to use against him. It was, after all, more efficient to question a man's loyalty to the emperor than his sexual conduct. Another consideration is that neither Yen Shu nor Su Shih wrote such racy tz'u —colloquial in their diction and relatively explicit in their references to lovemaking—as Ou-yang did. Yen Shu was known for his elegantly restrained and "aristocratic" tz'u style. Su Shih of course pioneered a new approach to tz'u , avoiding the old preoccupation with romance and adopting instead the broad range of subjects of the shih poet. (Here was a man who wrote a famous tz'u on his deceased wife—hardly the stuff of scandal.) There may be one other factor: Ou-yang Hsiu had something of the stuffy moralist in him. He is one who set himself up as a champion of neglected Confucian virtues and encouraged a comparison between himself and the great Han Yü. For the enemies of such a man there is, naturally, nothing so satisfying as seeing him dogged by questions about moral probity in his personal life.
The later textual history of Ou-yang Hsiu's tz'u reveals, in its own way, the stigma attached to some songs. By the time that literary critics and anthologists addressed themselves to Ou-yang's tz'u in the Southern Sung, so august was Ou-yang's reputation as a statesman and writer that it had simply become, for several of the critics, incompatible with the more colloquial and explicit of his tz'u . Tseng Tsao, the compiler of the anthology Yüeh-fu ya-tz'u , wrote in his preface: "Mr. Ou-yang was the most venerable Confucian of his day. He also prided himself on his ability to enjoy life. He wrote songs that are graceful and charming, a
style that all the world came to emulate. However, during his lifetime certain scoundrels composed erotic songs and falsely attributed them to him. I have excluded all such songs from my anthology." These Southern Sung scholars took advantage of the stories of forged, slanderous tz'u to disassociate a substantial proportion of Ou-yang's pieces from his name, retaining only the most ya , "elegant," of his compositions. In the late twelfth century, Lo Mi edited a new "complete" collection of Ou-yang's tz'u . Working, so far as I can tell, with nothing more authoritative than his own notions about the limits of Ou-yang's good taste, he went through an earlier collection of Ou-yang's tz'u and excised dozens of pieces that struck him as improbably vulgar. His "editing" caused the confusion over Ou-yang's corpus and identity as a tz'u writer that has lasted down to this day.
The attitudes we have been examining acquire additional interest when it is understood that not only did they affect the ways tz'u were talked about and transmitted, they could influence as well the way tz'u were written. It was not just that certain moralists looked down upon tz'u as improper, while tz'u writers, gaily oblivious of this disapproval, went on producing new compositions. Literati themselves were apt to be ambivalent about tz'u , and this ambivalence spurred some of them on to explore new ways of writing. The argument can be made, at the least, that what everyone recognizes as a major eleventh-century innovation in tz'u writing—that undertaken by Su Shih—was directly linked to the shadow of disrepute the genre lived under. Su Shih's development of the new "bold and unrestrained" tz'u style, or his novel decision to "use the methods of shih to compose tz'u ," is partly explained, according to this view, as an effort to rid the genre of its disreputable elements and to make it more acceptable. No doubt Su had other motives as well. I will present the argument for this one in the following pages, citing the more important supporting sources, since if it is valid it is one of the more significant ramifications of the points discussed above.
We are accustomed to thinking of Su Shih as one of the major tz'u writers not only of the Sung but of all of Chinese history. Several of the songs he wrote are among the most famous of all tz'u . These individual successes are complemented by his prodigious output: with over three hundred pieces to his credit, Su Shih is the most prolific of all Northern
Sung tz'u writers. Despite his credentials in the tz'u field, however, it is evident that Su Shih too partook on occasion of the biases we have been examining. Below is a colophon Su Shih wrote on the shih collection of Chang Hsien:
Chang Tzu-yeh's shih poetry and prose are mature and masterful. His tz'u are nothing more than an ancillary skill. For example, his [shih poem] "West Creek at Hu-chou" contains the lines "At breaks in the floating duckweed you see the mountain's reflection, / as the light skiff starts home you hear the river grasses," and his poem written to rhyme with mine has the couplet "As sad as the kuan fish that knows the night is long, / as tired as the butterfly during busy spring." These and other of his lines are every bit the equal of those written by ancient poets. However, the world only knows to praise his tz'u . Formerly, the portraits painted by Chou Fang were all in the "inspired" rank [shen p'in ], but the world paid attention only to his portraits of aristocratic ladies. Is this not a case of "never having seen a man who loved morality as much as he loves feminine beauty"?
To the extent that Su Shih is here attempting to enhance the stature of Chang Hsien's shih , we may say that he fails completely. By the end of the Sung, Chang Hsien's shih collection had been lost. Chang has been remembered subsequently, as he was evidently known in his day, solely for his tz'u .
Knowing that Chang's fame is based on his tz'u , Su Shih begins with an attempt to rectify the world's understanding: Chang's gift for tz'u is merely an ancillary skill. His real talent is in the more profound forms, prose and shih poetry. Subsequently, Su reveals the reason for the low evaluation he presents here of Chang's tz'u . Su likens them to the T'ang painter Chou Fang's famous portraits of high-placed women. Both describe feminine beauty. Both promote sensuousness and appeal to the base instincts and appetites of men. Su concludes by quoting Confucius on the lamentable popularity of such appeal. Surprisingly, here we find Su Shih, the great tz'u writer, delivering an opinion on the genre that is not far removed from the condemnation expressed by contemporary Buddhist and Confucian moralists. This does not mean, of course, that Su Shih had no appreciation of Chang Hsien's tz'u . Actually, Su Shih seems to have begun writing tz'u largely under Chang Hsien's tutelage in Hang-chou in the early 1070s. When the occasion was a
formal one, however, Su Shih would reiterate the hierarchy of literary genres that was conventional.
In Su Shih's day, and well on into the Southern Sung, one of the methods used by those who wrote and appreciated tz'u to enhance their stature was to draw a distinction between two types or schools of tz'u , the "elegant" and the "vulgar" (ya and su ), and then to heap scorn upon the latter. Once the "vulgar" tz'u were separated out and identified as a distinct (and degenerate) subgenre, it was easier to accept what remained as a legitimate part of the high poetic tradition. We have seen one manifestation of this process in the textual history of Ou-yang Hsiu's tz'u . But the premier example of this prejudice is the Sung treatment of Liu Yung and his tz'u . No Sung tz'u writer comes in for so much abuse as Liu Yung. His character and morals are regularly impugned, and his compositions dismissed. (Li Ch'ing-chao, for example, calls his language "low as dirt.") Liu Yung's uniqueness in the historical and critical record must stem from the fact that no other writer produced a corpus of tz'u that is so consistently colloquial in its diction or so convincing in its descriptions of love—and its frustrations—between literati and singing girls. (There is good reason to think, moreover, that no other writer's compositions were as popular with the singers and their audiences as Liu Yung's, which may help to account for the virulence of his detractors.) There are stories about the emperor intervening to fail Liu Yung on the civil service examinations because of his reputation as a dissolute songwriter, and stories about him having to change his name to escape his disrepute. The story that best represents the attempt to distinguish his style of tz'u from the more respectable kind is the well-known anecdote that describes a meeting of Liu and Yen Shu, who was then grand councilor:
After Liu San-pien [Yung] had offended Jen-tsung with a song, the Board of Personnel would not give him a new appointment, and San-pien could
not stand it. He went to the government office, where His Excellency Yen [Shu] said, "Do you, sir, write songs?"
"Even as Your Excellency, I too write songs."
"I may write songs, but I never wrote anything like 'Tired of her needle work, she nestles close to him.'" Whereupon Liu withdrew.
In this anecdote, as in literary history, Yen Shu epitomizes the "elegant" tz'u tradition. That is why Liu Yung's attempt to defuse the censure implicit in Yen's opening question backfires. It is true that I write tz'u , Yen Shu replies, but I do not write your sort of tz'u , which treat so openly of flirtation and love. In his tz'u , as this anecdote suggests, Yen Shu did indeed remain true to the Hua-chien chi tradition of more restrained and evocative treatments of love, in which the poignant loneliness of separated lovers is more prominent than scenes of trysting.
Su Shih's views on Liu Yung are, predictably enough, mixed. Su is on record as having expressed admiration for certain of Liu Yung's lines. There is little doubt, however, that Su's appraisal of the bold depiction of love found in Liu Yung's works was unfavorable. Nevertheless, the really interesting aspect of Su's remarks about Liu Yung is that they are not in neat agreement with the ya /su dichotomy as normally conceived. Su's comments reveal, first, an awareness that there is no absolute division between the two, which is certainly true, and, second, that he is not entirely satisfied or comfortable even with the ya or "elegant" tradition because of its preoccupation with love, however evocatively described.
More than once Su Shih teased his protégé Ch'in Kuan about the affinities Ch'in's songs had with Liu Yung's. These are gentle reproofs, to be sure, and uttered partly in jest. But there is a serious point behind the humor: it is not right for a man of Ch'in's education and stature to imitate the man who was the darling of the singing girls. That Su would even recognize and acknowledge this similarity between Ch'in's and Liu's songs is unexpected. In fact, Ch'in Kuan's songs generally con-
tinue the Hua-chien tradition and would have been termed "elegant" by most critics. Although Su disapproves of the "vulgar" style, his remarks betray an awareness of how easily elements of it could find their way into the songs of literati poets—in other words, of how murky the distinction between the two "styles" was:
When Shao-yu [Ch'in Kuan] returned to the capital from K'uai-chi and saw Tung-p'o, Tung-p'o said to him, "I never thought that after we parted you would write tz'u in the manner of Liu Ch'i [Yung]."
"Although I have no learning," Shao-yu replied, "I would not stoop to that."
"'My soul wastes away, facing this scene': are these not lines like Liu Ch'i's?"
The lines Su Shih quotes here are from one of Ch'in Kuan's best-known tz'u , one that is written in a male voice and describes the man's sorrow as he parts from his lover, a professional entertainer. A contemporary source asserts that Ch'in Kuan wrote the song for a singing girl he was in love with and had to leave.
Su Shih's uneasiness over Ch'in Kuan's tz'u surfaces again in the following passage, found in Yeh Meng-te's Pi-shu lu-hua . Su Shih refers once again to the same Ch'in Kuan song, this time by its opening lines: "Mountains brush wisps of clouds, / the sky sticks against withering grasses":
Among the four scholars who were his followers, Su Tzu-chan had the highest regard for Shao-yu. Tzu-chan always had words of praise for all of Shao-yu's writings, not just his tz'u . However, Su felt that the style [of Shao-yu's tz'u ] was flawed. He used to tease Shao-yu, saying, "Academician Ch'in, whose 'mountains brush wisps of clouds,' / State Farms Administrator Liu, whose 'dewy blossoms cast shadows.'"
It cannot be Ch'in's line about mountains and clouds that Su Shih objects to. Su uses the line as a tag to call to mind Ch'in's song, and Su is surely thinking as well of the many other songs like it that Ch'in wrote. Ch'in Kuan's status as an academician and erudite at the imperial academy is implicitly at odds with such songs, and Su Shih juxtaposes his official title here with the song words to emphasize the incongruity. The criticism is developed further by the matching line about Liu Yung,
whose disrepute was well established and whose highest office, assistant administrator of state farms, was a far cry from the prestige of academician.
Su Shih does not cling to the ya/su distinction as his contemporaries did, using it to claim respectability for a certain style of tz'u . Instead of disassociating the more literary from the more colloquial tradition, Su's comments have the effect of drawing the two together, even if only so that he can express disapproval of both. Another remark Su makes about Liu Yung shows that Su was eager to develop an entirely new sort of alternative to Liu's type of songs and, indeed, that Su thought of Liu's compositions as typical of tz'u generally. The remark is made in a personal letter to a friend in which Su talks about his own tz'u :
Recently I have written several little tz'u . They may not have the flavor of Mr. Liu Ch'i's [Yung's] compositions, but they too represent a style of their own. Ha-ha! A few days ago I went hunting in the countryside and caught quite a few animals. I wrote this song about it. If you have a brawny northeasterner sing it, clapping his hands and stamping his feet, and have pipes and drums play along in accompaniment, it makes for quite a manly sight! I have copied it out to amuse you.
The song this letter accompanies is a tz'u describing a hunt and thus departs, both in its diction and tone, from virtually everything that readers normally associated with tz'u . It marks, in other words, as much of a break with the Hua-chien tradition as it does with that exemplified by Liu Yung. This piece constitutes an early and radical attempt by Su Shih to put tz'u to a new use, having it sung by brawny northeasterners rather than female entertainers. Su Shih did not continue in this particular vein, which we might term "martial tz'u ," and was soon to find another way to produce tz'u that might be called "manly" (chuang ). Nevertheless, I take Su's reference to Liu Yung here, followed by his guffaw, as a disparagement of tz'u generally, and a sign of his discomfort with its unmanliness.
Among earlier tz'u writers literary history reserves a special place for Li Yü, the last ruler of the Southern T'ang, who saw his kingdom destroyed and lived his final years as a captive in the Sung capital. Li Yü had already produced a corpus of tz'u that sounded intensely personal and departed from the preoccupation with beautiful ladies and the
adoption of feminine personas of the Hua-chien chi anthology. However, in his only comment on this leading Five Dynasties tz'u writer, Su Shih seizes upon the feminine element in one of Li Yü's songs and rails against it. The tz'u in question, one of many in which Li Yü laments the loss of his realm, ends with the lines, "Worst of all was the day I bid a hurried farewell to my court: / the royal musicians played parting songs, / I wept before my palace women." The man had brought his state to ruin, Su Shih observes impatiently, "He should have wailed aloud at the ancestral shrine of the royal clan and admitted his guilt publicly to his people before leaving. What was he doing shedding tears in front of his palace women and listening to musicians play parting songs?" Su Shih finds Li Yü's lines offensive rather than poignant. Standing as Su's sole remark on Li Yü, the comment suggests that Su Shih was as dissatisfied with the deposed king's tz'u as he was with Liu Yung's, and for much the same reason, as dissimilar as the two men and their songs might seem to us.
Here again, as with Chang Hsien above, we encounter the issue of multiple modes of response to an earlier writer's compositions. As a reader and listener, Su Shih may have been fond of Li Yü's tz'u . As a tz'u writer, Su Shih may have been influenced by Li Yü's compositions. But in the more formal role of written commentator (i.e., in a colophon), Su Shih's aversion to the unmanliness of tz'u eclipses whatever literary appreciation he may have had for Li Yü's works.
Su Shih may not have always been so disapproving of tz'u , but once one takes note of remarks such as those above, one begins to hear echoes elsewhere in Su Shih, even where they are muted, of this same uneasiness with the feminine and romantic elements traditionally found in tz'u . Huang T'ing-chien had written the following tz'u about a fisherman:
To the tune "Sands of the Washing Stream"
Over Bride Jetty painted eyebrows are sad,
by Maiden Pool watery eyes have the look of autumn.
A startled fish mistakes the hook of the sinking moon.
A cap of green leaves, and countless cares
beneath a verdant reed jacket are forgotten.
Slanting winds blow the drizzle, turning the bow of the boat.
Su Shih wrote a colophon on this tz'u , in which he reports that when Huang himself was asked what he liked best about his composition he referred to the opening two lines, which use images of a woman's face metaphorically to describe the dark hills and autumnal river. Su Shih appends this comment: "However, as soon as he leaves 'Bride Jetty,' he enters 'Maiden Pool.' Isn't this fisherman too much of a philanderer [t'ai lan-lang ]?" It must be Su Shih's lingering dissatisfaction with the romantic sentimentality so typical of tz'u that makes him unable to resist making such comments, even when they are uttered, as here, in jest.
Su Shih also figures in one of the stories that survive about a Hang-chou singing girl named Ch'in-ts'ao, "Zither Melody." Ch'in was known for her quick wit, and especially her ability to extemporize tz'u or change the rhyme of an extant composition. This particular story, however, highlights Su Shih's wit as she addresses questions to him (aping the manner of a Buddhist novice toward his spiritual teacher). Su's answers are all couplets quoted from earlier poetic works:
Once when Tung-p'o was at West Lake, he said playfully to Ch'in, "Come, I'll be your master. You ask me questions."
Ch'in asked him, "What is a lake scene?"
Su replied, "'Autumn waters and distant skies are one color, / sunset clouds and a lone duck fly off together.'"
"What is the person like in the scene?"
"'Her skirt displays six panels of Hsiao-hsiang River, / her hairdo suspends a patch of Wu Mountain clouds.'"
"What is on her mind?"
"'She loves that Scholar Yang / and nearly kills Adjutant Pao with jealousy.'"
"How did it all end?"
"'Her gateway is deserted, horse and carriage rarely pass. / In old age she becomes a traveling merchant's wife.'"
Hearing this, Ch'in suddenly became enlightened. She shaved her head and became a nun.
Su Shih's final couplet is taken from the description in Po Chü-i's "Lute Song" of the sad later years of a former entertainer. Although we might first suppose that there is nothing special about Su Shih's appearance in this story, and that almost any literatus might equally well have been Ch'in's questioner, my argument is that Su Shih does have some degree of special appropriateness in such an anecdote. Whether or not the anecdote has any basis in historical fact, Su Shih's role here befits his habit of questioning the fascination shown conventionally in tz'u with the courtesan and her romantic liaisons.
There is an obvious objection to the argument presented here, which is that Su Shih's own corpus of tz'u is filled with songs that are addressed to or describe singing girls. It is certainly not true, despite how often it is claimed or implied, that Su Shih rejected the conventional methods of tz'u writing outright and poured all his energies into developing his famed "heroic and unrestrained" alternative. But if Su produced numerous tz'u that are faithful to the Hua-chien tradition and its alluring portraits of female entertainers, what are we to make of his remarks discussed above?
My answer is that if we read Su Shih's tz'u chronologically, the apparent contradiction loses much of its urgency. It is well known that Su Shih did not begin to produce tz'u in any quantity until surprisingly late, during his first assignment to Hang-chou (when he was already in his late thirties). It is likely that this late start itself reflects some early ambivalence he felt toward the genre. When he did begin he stayed, naturally enough, within boundaries that were well established. Some scholars, it is true, have detected even in Su Shih's early tz'u , especially those written as farewells to friends, signs of the breakthrough that was later to come. But it is questionable whether those signs are really sig-
nificant except in retrospect. It must be said that during his first decade as a tz'u writer, the 1070s, while he served in Hang-chou, Mi-chou, and Hsü-chou, Su Shih produced a large number of quite conventional compositions. However, what the reader of his corpus for these years finds is that every now and then, on rare occasions, Su Shih departed from conventional methods. He undertook then to write intensely autobiographical tz'u , and it is precisely these that became famous (e.g., his hunting piece, his dream of his late wife, his autumn moon-festival song for Tzu-yu, his historical reflections at Yen-tzu-lou, and his P'ing-shan Hall lament for Ou-yang Hsiu). These pieces are linked by their common repudiation, for that is what it amounts to, of the world of romanticized courtesans, and their adoption instead of many of the conventions of occasional shih poetry. This, I would suggest, is a more useful way of describing Su's innovation than vaguely to characterize it as "heroic and unrestrained." Read against the other tz'u Su Shih wrote during these years, these pieces fairly jump off the page, so distinctive are they in subject and tone. In these few pieces Su Shih had already found an approach to tz'u that flourished during his subsequent Huang-chou exile (when the political trouble his shih writing had brought him encouraged him to experiment with "little tz'u " instead). Huang-chou and the years after comprise the period of Su's greatness as a tz'u writer, when he demonstrated how powerful was this new coupling of shih poetry conventions with the lyricism, informality, and spontaneity of tz'u . Su himself wrote in Huang-chou to a friend, "Recently I have composed many new musical verses, and each one is extraordinary."
The Southern Sung scholar Hu Yin said of Su Shih's tz'u that they "washed away in one stroke all the colored silks and perfumed oils" of earlier compositions. Hu Yin was thinking, of course, of Su Shih's innovative tz'u when he wrote this. As a characterization of those tz'u Hu Yin's statement is accurate enough, but it is problematic if applied to
Su Shih's corpus as a whole, simply because it took Su some years to effect his break with the tz'u tradition, and occasionally he even lapsed back into that tradition—which should hardly surprise us—after his new style was established.
Su Shih's innovation, as important as it was, did not transform everyone's idea of how tz'u should be written. There were scholars, even within Su's own "circle," who continued to compose tz'u that stayed well within the Hua-chien style. To conclude this discussion, I would like to return to this more traditional style of tz'u and to consider some of the statements that were made in defense of it. Topics already discussed above, including the recourse taken to distinguishing "elegant" from "vulgar" tz'u and Su Shih's new approach, constitute what were probably the most significant and well-known reactions to the problem of tz'u 's low stature. But other solutions or defenses were raised as well, even if they were offered more tentatively and did not gain any great prominence.
We might begin with an amusing if not serious defense, one that shows, through its contorted argument, how great the pressure could be to find legitimation for tz'u . In a conversation with a P'u Ch'uan-cheng, Yen Chi-tao once broached the subject of his father's (Yen Shu's) tz'u writing. Chi-tao begins:
"My father may have written a great many little tz'u , but he never wrote women's words."
Ch'uan-cheng said, "'Green willows, fragrant grasses by the poststation road, / the young man [nien-shao ] abandons me, leaving carelessly.' What are these if not women's words?"
Yen asked, "What do you think nien-shao means?"
Ch'uan-cheng replied, "It refers to her lover, doesn't it?"
Yen said, "If we use your interpretation, then how are we to understand Lo-t'ien's [Po Chü-i's] lines, 'I wanted to detain my youth [nien-shao ] to await wealth and honor, / but wealth and honor did not come and youth left me'?"
Ch'uan-cheng laughed and saw the point.
Yen Chi-tao is trying to exonerate his father, admitting that he wrote tz'u but claiming that he did not go so far as to write in the persona of a woman, especially a lovesick woman. Yen sounds eager here to promote an image of his father as a philosophical or autobiographical tz'u poet. Ch'uan-cheng immediately challenges Yen's claim with a quote from one of Yen Shu's better-known compositions.
The song in question is filled with topoi that are commonly found in tz'u on parting, loneliness, and separation. In addition to the willow and the post-station of the opening line, there is reference to an interrupted dream, parting sorrow (li-ch'ing ), a tangled heart, and endless romantic longing (hsiang-ssu ). Given the conventional associations of such language, the most natural reading of the tz'u is that Ch'uan-cheng first adopts (reflected also in several modern commentaries on the piece): the song is written in the persona of a woman whose young lover (nien-shao , interchangeable in this sense with shao-nien ) has lightly abandoned her. The verb used in line two (p'ao ) normally refers to just such abandonment or rejection in love (especially a man's rejecting a woman). But this tz'u , like many whose theme is loneliness, need not be read exclusively as a jilted woman's complaint. The language is vague enough to permit interpreting the piece as a nonspecific expression of grief over partings. We need not even identify the speaking voice with either sex. The second line might refer to a parted friend (or friends) rather than a particular lover, or it might even be read as a generalized statement: "In youth we abandon others (i.e., friends, lovers) too lightly."
However, that is not what Yen Chi-tao is saying. He is insisting that the phrase nien-shao be taken as "my youthful years" (rather than "the young man") and that it is here personified, so that the speaker talks of its going off and deserting him. This is indeed the way the phrase nien-shao is used in the Po Chü-i poem Yen cites, a poem about aging. This is, however, a most unlikely meaning for nien-shao in this particular tz'u , with all of its subsequent language that must refer to real, not metaphorical, parting. Yen Chi-tao is forcing a very peculiar reading on his father's tz'u , and he is doing so to try to make it more respectable. Ch'uan-cheng is said to be persuaded, but we need not be so gullible. Yen Chi-tao began with a claim that was specious (as the Ssu-k'u ch'üan
shu editors have pointed out) and was forced into a further distortion to back it up.
Earlier we passed over a remark that deserves to be closely examined, for it brings up a potentially more serious defense. When Fa-hsiu first criticized Huang T'ing-chien for writing "erotic songs and little tz'u ," Huang tried to deny any wrongdoing, saying, "They are just words in the air [k'ung-chung yü erh ]. I'm not killing anyone, and I'm not stealing. Surely I won't be sentenced to one of the evil destinies for writing these songs." This response brings up a number of issues. It is not immediately clear what Huang means by "words in the air." The phrase might conceivably refer to the fictionality of these literary works, or even to the distinction between the "voice" or persona of the songs and the author. In either case, Huang would be saying, in effect, that it is unfair for any listener to connect Huang personally with the emotions or liaisons described in his songs. (Thus, the voice of an older man infatuated with young girls, so common in Huang's songs, is not to be identified with Huang himself.) Huang would be shielding himself from criticism by appealing to the fictional world of the songs and the right a writer has to create such a world without being personally implicated in it.
Such distinctions are, of course, familiar to us and are regularly employed in our own reading of tz'u . In light of the rest of Huang's comment, however, it seems that the distinction he has in mind might more accurately be described as one of words versus deeds rather than that of persona versus author (if he is not simply thinking of the orality of the words "in the air" as they are sung for the listeners' enjoyment). These two vary in their focus: the former focuses on the author and the difference between what he says and what he does, while the latter focuses on the literary work and the question of whose voice it presents. There is, at the same time, another point or argument implicit in Huang's remarks: whatever culpability may be assigned to him, it is certainly of a minor sort and far less serious than that which results in murder or theft. Neither argument carries any weight with the Buddhist Fa-hsiu, who counters that insofar as Huang's erotic songs incite other men to immoral behavior, Huang's culpability is heavy indeed. Huang seems to have no response to this charge about the effects his songs may have upon male listeners.
Chang Lei wrote one of the two surviving Northern Sung prefaces for tz'u , one for the works of Ho Chu. The preface is a concise apology for
Ho's compositions and is fraught with the sense that some sort of defense is necessary. Essentially, Chang seeks to exonerate Ho by arguing, first, that he could not help himself and, second, that he certainly did not put any effort or thought into his compositions. Chang's statement is particularly noteworthy for its squeamishness over the sentiment in Ho Chu's tz'u . Chang points out that even Liu Pang and Hsiang Yü, rival claimants to the throne after the fall of the Ch'in dynasty, had their sentimental moments. And yet how could they, of all men, be considered "girlish"? Chang even attempts to separate the author somewhat from the emotion found in the lines he wrote: the author merely uses the songs to "lodge his intent" (not "his emotion").
The last defense of tz'u that will be considered here may be the best-known one from the Northern Sung. It is the preface Huang T'ing-chien wrote for Yen Chi-tao's tz'u . The piece is not dated, but it must have been written toward the end of the eleventh century. Huang T'ing-chien died in 1105, and Yen Chi-tao died at roughly the same time. The preface reads as if it is intended to console Yen Chi-tao in his final years.
As the seventh and last son of Grand Councilor Yen Shu, Yen Chi-tao had a remarkably undistinguished career. We know that he sometimes held the assignment of vice prefect and that he once served as supervisor of Hsü-t'ien Garrison. These were hardly eminent positions for a man who had spent his boyhood in the environs of the imperial palace (and is reported to have once impressed Jen-tsung at a banquet with his poetic ability). It is also recorded that Yen Chi-tao was once imprisoned for his connections with Cheng Hsia, a man who protested Wang An-shih's reforms too vigorously in the 1070s, and that Yen removed himself from government service well before the normal retirement age, after which he went on living privately in the capital. All in all, Yen Chi-tao can hardly be said to have lived up to what might fairly have been expected of him, given his advantages.
For his literary friends and would-be eulogizers, Yen Chi-tao's life presented yet another problem. He seems to have written tz'u almost ex-
clusively. He did not leave a collection of shih poetry or other writings (the first important Northern Sung tz'u writer to fail to do so). Thus, compensation for his lackluster official career could not be found in his literary work, or at least it could not be found in the conventional ways. We do not know whether Yen Chi-tao asked Huang T'ing-chien to write this preface or if Huang volunteered to do so out of fondness for Yen. Although Yen was not one of Huang's close friends, Huang was kindly disposed toward him (as shown by his attempt to introduce Yen to Su Shih). In any case, the task Huang undertook was not an easy one. He responded by pursuing various lines of defense and justification:
Yen Shu-yüan is the youngest son of the lord of Lin-tzu [Yen Shu]. He is a large man with an imposing manner and is a stranger to inhibition. In writing and calligraphy he makes his own rules. He is fond of evaluating other men but has no use for the world's judgment of him. Although the gentlemen of the age praise and love him, they consider him lacking in self-restraint. So it is that he has always been confined to low positions. All his life he hid his mind in the six arts and delighted in the philosophers. The opinions he held were lofty, but he never sought to peddle them in the world. Puzzled over this, once I asked him about it. "Even as I crawl meekly along," he answered, "I am the object of other men's ill will. Were I to get angry and express my feelings, I would be spitting in people's faces." Therefore, he simply amused himself with the vestiges of yüeh-fu [i.e., tz'u ], using the techniques of shih poets to write them. His compositions are fresh, vigorous, and forceful, so that they move any listener's heart. Gentlemen and officials circulate them, saying only that they capture the style of Lin-tzu's compositions. Few men are really able to appreciate their flavor.
I have said this of Shu-yüan: he is definitely an outstanding man, but his foolishness is also exceptional. Those who love Shu-yüan were annoyed and asked me for the particulars. I said, "He has always been hobbled in his career and yet has never once stood outside the gate of powerful officials—this is one foolishness. He writes prose essays in his own style and refuses ever to adopt the language of recent chin-shih recipients—this is another foolishness. He spends cash by the million until his family members go cold and hungry, and yet his face maintains the expression of a little child—this is another foolishness. People are untrue to him but he bears no grudge, and once he trusts someone he cannot dream that the man will ever deceive him—this is another foolishness." My listeners allowed that it was all true.
Despite everything, his yüeh-fu could be called the "Greater Odes" of the entertainment quarters, the ceremonial music of men of high standing. The best of them are in the tradition of the "Kao-t'ang" and "Lo Goddess" rhapsodies, and even the lesser ones are not inferior to the
"Peach Leaf" and "Round Fan" songs. As a young man I myself used to write yüeh-fu occasionally, to accompany drinking and other amusements. The monk Fa-hsiu alone found fault with me, accusing me of using brush and ink to encourage promiscuity, and saying that according to the dharma I should be imprisoned in the Hell of Slit Tongues. But had he never seen Shu-yüan's songs? Regardless, in all comfortable households of the wealthy and powerful, where there are clever girls with pretty faces, if the master appreciates good writing, he will spend a thousand cash in the market to get a fine copy of Shu-yüan's lyrics, saying to anyone who criticizes him, "Aren't you also a man of Shu-yüan's era?" Handsome gentlemen in their prime who have recently come to know the enjoyments of women and wine, as well as undernourished scholars who have suffered for their principles and discover only late in life the attractions of flowing skirts—to cause both sorts of men to have these songs played and danced to while they poison themselves with feasting and pleasure and have no regret, this is the extent of Shu-yüan's crime!
There are three main points or arguments in this preface. Huang devotes the bulk of his preface to his theme of Yen Chi-tao as an eccentric and "foolish" man. From the very opening, with its reference to Yen as a "stranger to inhibition," on through the second paragraph, we are told to think of Yen as a maverick who has no thought for the world's opinion of him. The foolishnesses that are enumerated in the second paragraph are, of course, intended to sound endearing and even to be seen as marks of Yen's high moral standards. The implication is that Yen's tz'u themselves are another of these foolishnesses and that, as such, we are wrong to dismiss them as frivolous.
Huang is anxious to establish the point that the true intent or meaning of Yen Chi-tao's works is of a quite different and more profound order than their subject matter—women and wine. But why did Yen choose those subjects? His decision, Huang would have us believe, was rooted in his peculiar personality. The world failed to appreciate Yen, and Yen, of course, refused to alter his ways to win the world's esteem. Yen even refused to explain himself or vent his frustrations in the sort of literature (shih poetry) normally used for such purposes. (This would be "spitting in people's faces.") And so he turned instead to tz'u . Yen writes tz'u effectively, and those who hear them cannot but be moved by his words. But Huang, we gather, is moved by something else: when-
ever he hears Yen's tz'u he thinks of how misunderstood the author is and how he refuses to write seriously about being misunderstood. That is the true "flavor" of Yen's tz'u as they reverberate in Huang's ears. This is a twist upon the tactic, common in prefaces to shih collections, of pointing to a man's literary works as evidence of his ts'ai , "ability," that went unused by the world. Huang appreciates Yen's tz'u for what they do not say. This too is a recourse to a moralistic reading or defense of literature. In this case, the peculiarity of the reasoning has its roots in Yen's odd habit of writing nothing but tz'u .
Huang's second argument, broached just briefly at the start of his concluding paragraph, is that tz'u are, after all, just one more genre in a long and respectable line of song forms. He refers first to the ancient court and ceremonial music, and later to well-known early rhapsodies on goddesses and to pre-T'ang love songs. This defense was to become commonplace in the Southern Sung and can be found in the writings of many tz'u anthologists and critics, where it becomes a virtually obligatory opening statement. It is really quite unpersuasive, because it ignores the considerable differences in subject, tone, social role, and quantity between tz'u and earlier song forms. There was nothing in earlier literary history that very much resembled tz'u —certainly not the ceremonial odes in the Book of Songs or the goddess rhapsodies, whose origins must be in shamanistic incantations—and assertions to the contrary are transparent attempts to lay claim to a lineage that does not exist.
The third point Huang makes is more interesting. He confronts head-on the real problem with tz'u : the pervasive links that were perceived between these songs, female entertainers, and men of letters (who were interested in both). Huang gets around to his point by recalling, first, Fa-hsiu's criticism of Huang's own tz'u . It is almost as if Huang wants another chance, years later, to respond to the monk. Huang implies that Yen Chi-tao's songs are in even "worse taste" than his own and have greater potential for encouraging immoral conduct. Immediately, however, Huang falls back upon the songs' popularity: how, Huang wonders, can anything so widely accepted really be that bad? In his closing lines Huang's tone becomes ironic as he describes Yen's "crime" in terms calculated to make it sound utterly innocuous. This is a bold stroke: to face the charge of wrongdoing, admit guilt, and then laugh off the incrimination. No other Northern Sung defender of tz'u so openly confronts and brazenly dismisses, even if he does not really refute, the views of tz'u 's detractors.
Huang T'ing-chien's preface, coming as it does near the end of the Northern Sung, makes an apt terminus of this survey of attitudes toward tz'u in that period. The era came to a close before the "problem" of tz'u was really resolved. But partial justifications were being formulated, and some authors (e.g., Su Shih) even altered the way they wrote tz'u by way of response. Strictly speaking, it is illogical to suggest that the advances evident in Huang T'ing-chien's thinking about tz'u may have been connected or indebted to the innovations Su Shih made in practice. Huang T'ing-chien should have been thinking about the traditional subjects and tone of tz'u , not Su Shih's new style, when he wrote his preface for Yen Chi-tao. As is often pointed out, Huang and other of Su Shih's "followers" did not follow their mentor's lead in their own writing of tz'u .
Illogical as it may be, I suspect that there is some connection between Su Shih's new approach to tz'u writing and the new boldness his colleague shows in defending the genre. The effort Su Shih put into writing sober and highly personal tz'u from the mid-1070s onward cannot have gone unnoticed by his literary friends and must have had an impact on how the genre was perceived. There is something very public about Su Shih's involvement with tz'u . We know that many of his pieces were composed at parties amid gatherings of friends. As for the writers of the preceding generation (Yen Shu, Ou-yang Hsiu), we may speculate that their tz'u often had similar origins. But Su Shih tells us explicitly in prefaces and other notes when and why he wrote his songs. He calls attention to his engagement with the genre in a way that no writer had previously done. It is difficult to imagine Huang T'ing-chien broaching, in his preface to Yen Chi-tao's tz'u , such subjects as a seriousness underlying apparently frivolous pieces or the harmlessness of listening to songs if the prestigious Su Shih had not, through the openness of his involvement with songs, lent to the form a new respectability. Huang even appropriates the phrase that was commonly used to characterize Su Shih's innovation: writing tz'u using the techniques of shih poetry.
The stature of tz'u seems to have been enhanced somewhat by the end of the eleventh century. When Liu Yung died decades before, leaving nothing but an enormously popular collection of songs, no literatus saw fit to legitimate it with a preface. Likewise, Yen Shu and Ou-yang Hsiu remained remarkably silent about their own tz'u and kept them out of their literary collections. When these men died, no one mentioned tz'u in the various funerary and eulogistic pieces that commemorated their lives. But with Chang Hsien, who died in 1078, we begin to detect
a change. In his preface to Chang's shih collection, Su Shih could still complain that the world appreciated Chang's tz'u but neglected his important literary work, his shih . This is a vestige of the old attitudes. But in another place, a formal panegyric for Chang Hsien, Su Shih actually mentions Chang's tz'u and suggests that they developed out of his shih . Then, by the end of the century, we meet the novel case of Yen Chi-tao, the son of a grand councilor who was content to write nothing but tz'u , and we also encounter Huang T'ing-chien, who tried valiantly to defend him. At just about the same time Chang Lei took it upon himself to defend Ho Chu's tz'u writing.
If this change is accepted, it is tempting to go a step further and link it to a growing acceptance of various sorts of aesthetic endeavors, a proliferation of artistic legitimacies, that is evident in the exact same period. The causes of these changes outside the field of tz'u are too complex to explore here. But it can be said that in the last two decades of the century new claims are made for the seriousness of shih poetry, for calligraphy, and for scholarly painting. Su Shih and his friends had evidently become intrigued by the idea that a person must throw his energies into some activity to attain insight into the underlying principles of the world. Virtually any activity would do (even tea connoisseurship), anything that brought the person out of vacuous introspection and put him in intimate contact with some aspect of "the world" (wu ). Tz'u is not specifically cited as one of the acceptable pursuits, and so any link between the small but discernible rise in its stature and this current of thought will have to remain speculative. The whole thrust of this new idea, however, is to lend legitimacy to activities formerly looked upon by many as less than profound. It is likely that the increasing acceptance of tz'u was peripherally connected with this idea and that in some complex way men like Yen Chi-tao are related, perhaps both as cause and consequence, to the new seriousness accorded to a broad array of cultural pursuits.
Contexts of the Song Lyric in Sung Times:
Communication Technology Social Change Morality
Stuart H. Sargent
The song lyric embodies in its very form the experiencing of emotion, its prosody creating a morphology of feeling unprecedented in Chinese poetry (see the chapter by Stephen Owen in this volume). This characteristic prosody reminds us of the genre's musical origins and of the fact that it was once preeminently performance literature. Yet from the beginning the song lyric also existed in handwritten texts. Moreover, it soon passed into print and, far from being ephemeral, was seen by posterity as the most important Sung contribution to Chinese poetry.
The following essay addresses the significance of the various means by which lyrics were preserved in writing. I shall give special attention along the way to the printing of song lyrics in Chiang-nan West Circuit and the ideological affiliations and changing geographical distribution of the song lyric composers there. Finally, I shall touch upon possible implications of the parallel flourishing of song lyrics and printing in China up into the thirteenth century, with regard to both the genre's evolution and its acceptance as an art form open to morally serious persons.
Performance and Text: Inked and Engraved Inscriptions
The song lyric, though it may occasionally share themes and imagery with poems (shih ), differs from poetry in that its characteristic phrasing
This study would not have been possible without a semester's leave funded by the Office of Graduate Studies and Research, University of Maryland, College Park Campus.
suggests very strongly its origins in oral performance, a musical performance in which pauses, turns, and variations in rhythm could mimic the experiencing of emotions. Yet this genre was stored in writing from the beginning and composed in writing centuries after its music was lost. To understand the genre, we cannot ignore the ways song lyrics functioned in written, and later printed, texts and the circumstances under which they became part of the print culture of the Sung dynasty.
It is because song lyrics were often written down that we know in remarkable detail the range of songs performed during the T'ang and Five Dynasties: many of the earliest examples were preserved in the dry air of cave 17 at Tun-huang. Included in the song lyrics recorded in blank spaces on the various Tun-huang documents is performance poetry of all types, from refined compositions to the popular song lyrics that we might have expected to have died with their oral culture.
We do not know who recorded these lyrics or why they did so. While the vast majority of the Chinese must have been illiterate until well into modern times, in absolute terms the number of merchants, government clerks, monks, and professional entertainers whose occupations required some degree of literacy was also quite high. Tun-huang, remote from the centers of agrarian Chinese civilization but an important stopping place on the trade routes through Central Asia, was a locus of activity for all these categories of people, and it must be their tastes that are reflected in the songs preserved there, whether the song texts were written down at Tun-huang or imported from other parts of China.
It is sometimes said that song lyrics found on the margins or backs of various documents were simply texts used for writing practice. But many of the words in the lyrics must have been of no immediate practical use for the novice accountant, monk, or clerk. I suggest that these notations represent rather the simple storage of favorite songs as an aid to memorization or a backup to recollection: once the song lyric was fixed in the mind or successfully performed, the written text had discharged its function.
Such notations contrast with cases in which chirographic song lyric texts were treated with more reverence, evidently preserved and treasured for their own sake. P. 3994, a four-page booklet datable to the first half of the ninth century, is an extant example of such a text. It contains six song lyrics: four of these are clearly elite compositions (three are attributed elsewhere to known literati), and two are rough and unrefined. Marsha Wagner observes:
The neat calligraphy of booklet P. 3994 suggests that this handbook was not the exercise of a schoolboy. It was perhaps copied out by an educated
man as a memento of a visit, perhaps to a Chiang-nan entertainment center. Or it may have been intended as an art object for trade. Whatever its purpose, it includes a wide stylistic range, from an abstract and evocative elite poem to a concrete and flat popular verse, with several intermediate gradations between these two extremes.
One of the "Palace Lyrics" by Lady Androecia (Hua-jui fu-jen) of the Later Shu court may help explain how P. 3994 came into being. It tells of the text of a new song lyric being bestowed on courtiers by their ruler in booklet (pen ) form, then copied avidly in (commercial?) scriptoria (shu-chia ).
We do not know whether such a booklet would have been read silently or used simply as an aid to a performer's memory. But in format and in its relation to performance, P. 3994 may be usefully compared with certain little printed pamphlets of sixteenth-century Germany: these contained one to four sets of lyrics (usually hymns, sometimes political propaganda), and on their title pages were designated the old tunes to which the new lyrics were to be sung. In both the Chinese and the German cases, the music to which the lyrics were to be sung must have been so familiar that the owner of such a booklet could have sung them as he or she read them, either mentally or aloud. (Of course, in terms of content, the Chinese booklets and the German pamphlets are very different; while the motivation for copying the former would appear to have been aesthetic, the latter were clearly printed as propaganda. But this distinction may be too crude. Those who sang the German songs may have found it musically pleasurable to do so; and those who obtained copies of the songs bestowed on the court by the king of Later Shu surely would have treasured them for social reasons as well as aesthetic ones.)
Xylographic or Wood-block printing would seem to be the next step in song lyric preservation, but two other kinds of publication that were common in Sung China—inked inscriptions and stone engravings—raise several interesting issues.
The inked inscription written on a wall or other fixed surface resembles a manuscript text insofar as it must be copied manually to reach a wide audience. But it differs in that this form of publication was commonly done by the song lyricist himself as a personal statement. For example, Su Shih once went on a spring evening excursion that included a stop at a wineshop. When he awoke the following morning next to a bridge, he took out brush and ink and inscribed a song lyric to the tiao , or tune, "Hsi chiang yüeh" on a pier of the bridge. In such a case, we may ask, who was the intended audience? Su Shih's composition utilizes an allusive wit that would not have been immediately accessible to the casual tourist, I think—if there were any "casual tourists" in Huang prefecture, where he was in exile at the time (1080–85). It is arguable that Su Shih wrote his new work on the pier because he lacked paper and needed to write either in the process of composition or as a memorandum of what he had orally composed (a crucial distinction, but one inaccessible to us nine centuries after the fact). But in addition, he surely knew his song lyric would be circulated by others, as were so many of his jottings. Even if the inscription had been made for his own purposes, it spoke to a larger audience he would never see, and he knew from experience that it would reach that audience in spite of the apparent inefficiency and transiency of his medium.
The process by which a song lyric inscription would be circulated is seen in the story of the lovely song lyric Hsieh I (d. 1113) left on the wall of a rest station in Apricot Village in the same prefecture. It is said that the keeper of the station got so tired of people asking to borrow writing brushes to copy it that he smeared it over with mud! Again, the lyricist must have known that his inscription would find a larger audience. In fact, Hsieh I's works were quite popular in his day, and we might suspect him of writing the inscription as a conscious means of feeding that popularity.
There are also stories of women who came to tragic ends in times of national crisis and left song lyric inscriptions clearly intended as testimonies for others to read. Abducted by soldiers, the women somehow
escaped supervision long enough to pen their song lyrics on a wall and (usually) commit suicide.
Wei Chü-an (1268 chin-shih ) relates two such incidents, though the eventual fates of the song-lyricist subjects are not mentioned. One involves a very young woman whose father died in the Chin attack that toppled the Northern Sung dynasty and who was subsequently taken north as a prisoner. When the convoy reached Hsiung-chou (approximately a hundred kilometers west of modern Tientsin), she wrote the details of her plight on the wall of a way station there and added a short song lyric (forty-four syllables to the tune "Chien tzu mu-lan-hua"). The other incident took place in 1277, in the last days of the Southern Sung. Passing troops kidnapped a woman. When they passed through Ch'ang-hsing, on the western side of Lake T'ai, she paused to inscribe a long and bitter lament in the form of "Ch'in-yüan ch'un" on the front of a wine storehouse, signing it "Liu of Yen-feng." Her work strikes me as a rather artless piece, but perhaps all the more pathetic for that very quality.
We may wonder whether anyone could have had the discipline or composure to write song lyrics under such difficult conditions, and suspect that some stories might have been made up to frame or explain song lyrics whose actual provenance was unknown. If the stories ring true, of course, the song lyrics themselves still might have been touched up or refined in the process of copying and recopying as they entered the written record. But Liu's song lyric was probably not, to judge by its style, refined in the course of its transmission. Her story also establishes that a woman of the late thirteenth century could indeed have known at least some song lyric meters quite well, for if this were not the case, Wei Chü-an's anecdote would have had little credibility. Liu must have been confident that others could make sense of her text, either because they, too, knew the music that determined its prosody, or because they were accustomed to reading song lyrics as purely written texts. Perhaps both are true.
The song lyric is functioning here in a stereotypical situation that probably reflects both real patterns of feminine resistance and paradigms of loyalty idealized by the survivors who did not martyr themselves. T'ao Tsung-i, who lived into the Ming dynasty, leaves among his jottings (concerning everything from Yüan dynasty bureaucracy to a castrated male dog's giving birth to puppies) a cluster of similar anecdotes about women who maintained their integrity after the fall of the Sung and invariably left behind poems or song lyrics as testimony. One such woman, captured in 1266 when Hang-chou fell, left a song lyric to the tiao "Man chiang hung" on a way station wall, lamenting the end of her life as a palace lady. (After resettling in the north, she became a Taoist nun.) Another, the wife of a man of Yüeh-chou, on the eastern shore of Lake Tung-t'ing, was taken east to Hang-chou. On the way she used her wits to avoid rape and her beauty to avoid execution; but when it became clear that her captor in the fallen capital was going to have his way with her, she asked for a few private moments to pray to her late husband, used the time allotted to write a song lyric to "Man t'ing fang" on a wall, and drowned herself in a pond. Her song lyric is a medium-length lament for the fallen dynasty. There are similar anecdotes involving other forms of literature.
These women captured T'ao's imagination. Their plights symbolized the helplessness of the whole society, and their refusal to yield to their captors was a model for male resistance. The symbolism is not perfect, to be sure: these women have the power to thwart the foe's invasion of their bodies by committing suicide; to prevent the invasion of one's homeland requires a collective sacrifice on the part of many individual defenders over an extended period of time. But resistance on either scale calls for resoluteness, and that is what the anecdotes are about. The song lyric, too, plays a crucial role in the stories: without these inscriptions to initiate the publication of the women's "fine reputations," their suicides would have been forgotten gestures.
Another kind of song lyric publication is the engraving of texts on stone. Here we are no longer dealing with the lyricist's own motives and his or her expectations as to who the audience might be, but with the motives of those who caused the engravings to be made. Perhaps, engraved in fine calligraphy and placed in scenic spots, such song lyrics served to enhance the landscape. But engravings might also have been executed for the purpose of making rubbings that could circulate in greater quantity and more efficiently than handwritten copies from a scriptorium.
For example, ten song lyrics by P'an Lang (d. 1009) on the various charms of Hang-chou and its West Lake were engraved on stone at a government office in Hsü-chou; later, a minor official employed in Hang-chou obtained the text and, thinking it appropriate to have the lyrics engraved at West Lake, did so in 1108. We would expect the text engraved at Hsü-chou, far from West Lake, to have been destined for distribution in the form of rubbings; the West Lake inscription might have been intended for either display or mass reproduction.
When lyrics are engraved for display, the question arises as to how intelligible they were to the nonspecialist public; it is likely that people from many walks of life would have seen the engraved text, like the inked inscription, whether they understood it or not. An intriguing variation in the rhyme schemes of the ten song lyrics by P'an Lang must have given pause to the casual reader. The first one rhymes abb , aacc , but in the other nine song lyrics the first line rhymes with no other line. Moreover, the second through seventh song lyrics establish an alternating pattern of three rhymes—xaa , bbcc —(nos. 2, 4, 6) and two rhymes—xaa , bbaa (nos. 3, 5, 7). The last three song lyrics revert to the three-rhyme scheme xaa , bbcc . Ideally, this cycle should have been performed, so the elements of repetition and surprise could have been highlighted by singer and musicians to give shape and pleasure to what would otherwise have been merely a challenging puzzle. But I doubt
that many people in 1108 could sing them readily, for they are in an anomalous form of a tiao that is itself rare in the written record. It is likely, therefore, that those who caused P'an Lang's ten song lyrics to be inscribed at Hsü-chou and Hang-chou published them either for the specialist or for readers who would treasure them simply as mementos of West Lake (or of a song lyric performance heard there), regardless of their own ability to recreate them fully as musical or literary experiences.
Hu Tzu (1082–1143) records two conflicting stories about the discovery of an old inscription that I believe must have been made for the production of rubbings. Known to us as "Fish Sport in the Spring Waters" ("Yü yu ch'un-shui"), the song lyric is perhaps pre-Sung in origin. According to one account, it was discovered in Yüeh-chou (modern Shao-hsing, Chekiang) during the Cheng-ho period (1111–18), on the back of an old stele. Such a "recycled" stone would not have served for display purposes, but it would have provided a ready-made surface for engraving a text for rubbings. According to the other source, the song lyric was found on a stone uncovered near K'ai-feng in the course of excavations undertaken for flood control. It had no name and, in the words of the former account, "no p'u ," no designation for music. In both accounts, the song lyric was presented to the emperor, Hui-tsung, who gave it its title and had it set to music. Now, if this song lyric, whose theme is the separation of a couple during spring, was in fact engraved without the name of its tiao , this could mean that the song was so popular originally that no such information was necessary. But in the twelfth century, music being extremely ephemeral in the absence of sophisticated notational techniques, Hui-tsung had to command his experts to provide new music to make it performable again: this suggests that a song lyric still could not be properly enjoyed without being performed musically, although it could be argued that Hui-tsung would have
demanded the court performance of this old text in any case in order to endow its recovery with a significance auspicious for his reign.
Despite what I have just said, it should be noted that certain tiao could be performed without complex musical accompaniment. Some examples are found among the song lyrics that frequently served the proselytical purposes of Buddhism. In form, these songs were evidently thought to be derived from fishermen's songs; their melodies are variously identified as "Fisherman's Pride" ("Yü-chia ao"), "Oar Thrust" ("Po cho-tzu"), or "Fisherman's Song" ("Yü ko-tzu"). The early Sung Shih-shih yao-lan attests to contemporary "Ch'an masters in the south" using "Fisherman" and "Oar-Thrusting" song lyrics for preaching; the author of the Shih-shih yao-lan , a Hang-chou monk named Tao-ch'eng, traces this practice back to the Indian beginnings of Buddhism, citing a musician in Rajagrha who made songs to inspire believers.
Several anecdotes suggest that such songs required little more than the human voice for performance. In one case, a monk named Tsung-kao (also known as Ta-hui, 1089–1163) goes boating with a friend named Li P'eng. Beating time with an oar, Tsung-kao sings "The Fisherman" ("Yü-fu"), then challenges Li to write hymns of praise for the various masters in the lineage of his first teacher, which he will then sing to the same tune. Li P'eng produces ten such song lyrics "in jest" before their outing is finished. This episode tells us that these songs were sung with no musical accompaniment other than a percussion beat; we know also that Ou-yang Hsiu (1007–72) used the tiao "Yü-chia ao" to write a set of song lyrics on the twelve months for performance with a small drum (although there is some confusion as to which of two such sets is properly attributable to him). Perhaps the beat was often marked even more simply, by clapping the hands or striking two sticks together. Wang An-shih (1021–86) used to go walking in the hills with the sometime monk Yü-ch'an, who sang for him the "Yü-chia ao" he composed; presumably, there was no elaborate musical accompani-
ment for these al fresco performances. (We do not know the content of Yü-ch'an's songs, but the pair of "Yü-chia ao" lyrics in Wang's own collected works describe simple country scenes and quiet thoughts such as might have been experienced on such outings.) The fact that every line in this tiao rhymes, with no change in rhyme throughout, creates an insistent, recurrent element that suggests a strong percussive beat.
To sum up what we know so far: chirographic preservation of song lyrics served as an aid to memorization, but handsome texts could be treasured as souvenirs; inscriptions that were written on walls or engraved on stone were more likely to achieve successful "publication" of song lyrics, and suggest the existence of a fairly sizable public that could decipher or sing metrically complex texts.
Printing and the Song Lyric: The Social Dimension
Printed books containing song lyrics often tell us something about the motivations of their publishers, but do not necessarily tell us any more about how the printed song lyrics were used by the owners of the books than do the forms of publication discussed so far. Sample data from Chiang-nan West Circuit, where eighteen localities are known to have published books during the Sung, will acquaint us with the types of projects that resulted in song lyrics' being stored in print as well as the changing social context of their composition and preservation.
Twenty-five song lyricists from Chiang-nan West Circuit are represented in the Ch'üan Sung tz'u by twenty or more song lyrics. Of these twenty-five lyricists, twelve were published in one or more series put out by commercial publishers outside the circuit around the beginning of the thirteenth century. These are Yen Shu (991–1055), Ou-yang Hsiu, Yen Chi-tao, Huang T'ing-chien, Hsieh I, Wang T'ing-kuei (1080–1172), Yang Wu-chiu (1097–1171), Yüan Ch'ü-hua (1145 chin-shih ), Ching T'ang (1138–1200), Shih Hsiao-yu (1166 chin-shih ), Chao Shih-
hsia (1175 chin-shih ), and Yang Yen-cheng (1145–?). I shall discuss these commercial editions in more detail later.
Within the circuit, perhaps the earliest printing of a native son's works that included song lyrics was the 1196 publication of Ou-yang Hsiu's collected works in Lu-ling, the administrative seat of Chi prefecture. Chi was not only home to the major kilns of Sung and Yüan times, but also one of the richest rice-growing areas in the country. Already fifth in production of chin-shih in the first century of the Northern Sung, the prefecture supported a large literati population. In fact, the entire Kan River basin from Chi prefecture north to Nan-ch'ang was as prosperous in terms of its agricultural yield as it was in terms of its examination graduates.
Ou-yang Hsiu was not born in the prefecture, but his family was registered in Lu-ling, and it is natural that a major compilation of the works of such an illustrious "native" should be undertaken and printed there. As early as 1122, a version of his works had been published by the Envoy Storehouse (kung-shih k'u ) in Lu-ling. Established to serve the needs of visiting capital envoys, such units had opportunities to siphon off funds for publication projects as well as for private favors. The 1196 edition of Ou-yang's works, more complete, was reprinted at least twice soon afterwards in other parts of the circuit. There is no evidence that this 1196 project was either a commercial or government-sponsored endeavor; it was probably a private effort by the local elite. One Lo Mi was responsible for editing the portion devoted to Ou-yang's song lyrics.
Chou Pi-ta (1126–1204), who was directing the Ou-yang Hsiu project, at about the same time also had a hand in printing the works of Wang T'ing-kuei from An-fu, about fifty-five kilometers to the north-
west of Lu-ling but still in Chi prefecture. This edition apparently did not include Wang's song lyrics. (Most of his forty-two surviving lyrics are minor works celebrating plum blossoms, social outings, and the like.) The work was edited by a protégé and carried prefaces by such prominent locals as Hu Ch'üan (1102–80) and Yang Wan-li (1127–1206), both of whom, with Chou Pi-ta, were outspoken critics of the weak, despotic, and corrupt central government.
Wang T'ing-kuei was respected locally as a literary figure just as Ou-yang Hsiu was throughout the empire, and yet the publication of their literary works could be seen as a political act. If we look more closely at the prefaces to Wang T'ing-kuei's works and the identities of their authors, we find that Hu Ch'üan was one of a number of hostile opponents of Ch'in Kuei's policy of negotiation with the Chin state in 1138. It was because of a farewell poem Wang presented to Hu when the latter was on his way to exile—the result of petitioning for Ch'in Kuei's execution —that Wang T'ing-kuei himself was exiled to a remote post in Ching-hu North Circuit in 1148 (some sources say 1143 or 1149). In Ou-yang Hsiu's case, Lo Mi's decision to exclude song lyrics he felt unworthy of his image underscores the fact that the scholarly urge to preserve was at least matched by the urge to uphold certain moral ideals.
Lu-ling song lyricists Yang Yen-cheng (a cousin of Yang Wan-li) and Liu Kuo (1154–1206) were both associated with Hsin Ch'i-chi (1140–1207), and their styles show evidence of his influence. The works of Liu Kuo as edited by his younger brother included his song lyrics; they were printed in the mid-1230s, but the nature and the place of publication are obscure.
We do know that the song lyrics of Liu Hsien-lun (fl. late 12th cent.) were published in Lu-ling: a Chi prefecture edition is mentioned by Huang Sheng in the mid-thirteenth century. Among the thirty-one song lyrics ascribed to Liu in the Ch'üan Sung tz'u are song lyrics composed for birthdays and banquets, but there are also a few compositions voicing vaguely heroic frustrations, leading the modern scholar Hsüeh Li-jo to place Liu Hsien-lun, with Yang Yen-cheng, in a line of "indignant" song lyricists who shared the ethos of Hsin Ch'i-chi.
The publications by Chou Pi-ta that came out of Chi prefecture were presumably printed at private facilities. The expense need not have
been great; xylography in China required far less capital investment and technological expertise than printing with movable type. Song lyrics were also printed at facilities one would normally suppose to have been publicly funded. We have already noted an 1122 Envoy Storehouse edition of Ou-yang Hsiu's works. Likewise, schools affiliated with various local administrative units could be mobilized to publish the works of an individual. It was in the school of his native Nan-ch'ang, the administrative seat of Hung prefecture in Chiang-nan West Circuit, that the works of Ching T'ang were printed in 1199, one year before his death.
Because xylography was relatively inexpensive, local government academies found publishing a lucrative way of raising funds. But the man who undertook the Ching T'ang project in Nan-ch'ang, Huang Ju-chia, may have had other motives: Huang considered himself a protégé of Ching, who at that time held high office in the Han T'o-chou administration. Huang's private publication in the same year of Lü Pen-chung's (1084–1145) works, possibly including song lyrics, is therefore somewhat puzzling at first glance. Lü (who was not a native of Chiang-nan West Circuit but had moved south to Hang-chou from Huai-nan West) took his intellectual direction from the major neo-Confucian thinker Yang Shih (1053–1135), which would seem to place him in the tradition of the "false learning" whose proponents were persecuted by the Han T'o-chou administration from 1195 through 1200. But Lü was also one of a number of scholars allied with Chao Ting (1085–1147), who, while he had influence at court from 1134 to 1138, had advocated a strong but cautious strategy against the Chin state. Ching T'ang held similar
views in his generation, and Huang must have been confident in 1199 that his mentor and Lü Pen-chung shared like minds and, perhaps, moral fiber as members of administrations committed to aggressive but responsible foreign policies. At the time Huang undertook publication of their works, Han T'o-chou's reckless northern campaign was still several years in the future.
The son or protégé of a man had an understandable interest in preserving that man's works, but print technology preserves in surplus , ensuring that the works will be part of the acknowledged body of literature not only for the contemporary generation but for posterity as well. The power imparted by this multiplication could enhance ideological solidarity or regional pride, justifying investment of the resources of the local elite or their educational institutions in the publication of a native son's collected works, even if no blood relation or master-disciple relationship was involved. These motivations can be inferred in the publication of Wang T'ing-kuei, Ou-yang Hsiu, and possibly Liu Hsien-lun in Lu-ling, and of Ching T'ang in Nan-ch'ang.
A growing regionalism is suggested by changes in the career patterns and geographical distribution of song lyricists in Chiang-nan West Circuit. Table 1 is based on one by John Chaffee, with the addition of known song lyricists for the circuit who meet the criterion of a corpus of twenty or more extant song lyrics. It shows that the number of song lyricists rises dramatically along with the number of chin-shih in four of the five more populous core prefectures, but falls just as strikingly in Fu prefecture. One way to explain this anomaly would be to say that the disappearance of song lyricists from Lin-ch'uan was compensated for by the appearance of three Southern Sung song lyricists in Nan-feng, a mere hundred kilometers upriver in Chien-ch'ang military prefecture. The fact that the prose master Tseng Kung (1019–83), a native of Nan-feng, had founded a charitable estate in Lin-ch'uan suggests that the two towns could be considered part of the same subregion though they belonged to different prefectures. In this connection, the printing in Lin-ch'uan of the collected works of Ch'en Shih-tao (1053–1101), including his song lyrics, may be significant. Ch'en was not a native son; and I would speculate that this project may have been supported by
Tseng Kung's charitable estate because Ch'en had considered himself a student of the prose master in the 1070s.
But we are dealing with more than a geographical shift. The four Lin-ch'uan song lyricists, like Huang T'ing-chien of Hung prefecture and Hui-hung of Yün, left Chiang-nan West and became widely known figures with few ties to their home regions. Their interests were probably more closely linked to their status as members of the bureaucracy than to the local economy. The three Nan-feng song lyricists, on the other hand, were not prominent outside their home region. Chao Ch'ang-ch'ing, an imperial agnate who left behind a considerable number of song lyrics, does not seem to have had a significant political career. Like several other lyricists from the circuit, he had some connection with Chang Hsiao-hsiang (1132–70), a native of Li-yang in Huainan East Circuit who played a distinguished role in the early part of the third Sung-Chin war (1161), which toppled the vestiges of the Ch'in Kuei regime. Chang was a serious song lyricist who measured himself against Su Shih.
Chao Ch'ung-po, another imperial descendant in Nan-feng, similarly did not figure importantly in politics, though it must be noted that he often spoke out against various abuses during his career. Liu Hsün was a Sung loyalist who composed poems on the martyrs and patriots of the fallen dynasty and served as instructor in a Confucian School in Fuchien during the Yüan dynasty. His thirty surviving song lyrics sing of eremitism and nostalgia.
Other studies have suggested that the national government was losing importance through the Southern Sung and into the Yüan both as a promising arena in which to compete for power and position, and as an effective arbiter of local affairs. During the effective reign of Ch'in Kuei, that is, 1142–55, most levels of government were monopolized by people who had personal ties to Ch'in or to the emperor; others were shifted from post to post so rapidly that their offices ceased to have any effective function. At the county level, fully one-third of the magistrate positions in the empire were vacant when Ch'in Kuei died, revealing both a remarkable failure to organize the 2,741 examination graduates of his regime into a working bureaucracy and a strong local sentiment against participation in or cooperation with the government. Even in the 122 counties of the Liang-che circuits and Chiang-nan East, where the urgent need to establish Southern Sung sovereignty insured that most county-level posts were filled, almost no appointees can be demonstrated to have belonged to Ch'in Kuei's faction, and many of those who would become influential in the dismantling of his administration after 1155 rose from those ranks.
This is not to say that the elite of Chiang-nan West Circuit cut themselves off from national politics; they did not. But the fact that the song lyricists cluster increasingly along the primary commercial routes through Nan-ch'ang, Feng-ch'eng, Lin-chiang military prefecture, Hsinkan, and Lu-ling suggests that their fortunes were tied more to the local economies than to imperial largesse. This change is apparent when one looks at the distribution of song lyricists within each prefecture, summarized in table 1.
In Hung prefecture, Huang T'ing-chien was from the northwest hinterland, but as soon as we enter the Southern Sung, we are confined to the Kan River. Yüan Ch'ü-hua's native Feng-hsin is upstream from Nan-ch'ang. Like Chao Ch'ang-ch'ing of Nan-feng, Yüan Ch'ü-hua is the author of a song lyric that can be connected with Chang Hsiao-hsiang: Chang, a noted calligrapher as well as a strategist, had so liked Yüan's song lyric on a terrace in Ch'ang-sha that he wrote it out in his own hand. This and similar song lyrics by Yüan are said to display
the heroic qualities of Hsin Ch'i-chi's tz'u . For Nan-ch'ang itself, we have Ching T'ang, exceptional as a prominent figure abroad as well as locally. Chao Shan-kua was an imperial agnate registered in Nan-ch'ang. Among his song lyrics are one following the rhymes of a lyric Hsin Ch'i-chi wrote in 1179 at O prefecture in Ching-hu North Circuit—Chao was administrator there in that year—and two following the rhymes of a lyric Hsin wrote in 1181 at a new home in Hsin-chou, 150 kilometers east of Nan-ch'ang in Chiang-nan East Circuit. Shih Hsiao-yu of Nan-ch'ang is known more for his song lyrics than anything else. His admiration for Chang Hsiao-hsiang was expressed in a song lyric written sometime between the time Chang was made a drafter in the Secretariat and his death in 1170.
Moving south up the river, we find that the two song lyricists from Lin-chiang military prefecture are both men of the Southern Sung and both from locales on the Kan River itself. Yang Wu-chiu, who refused to serve under the first Southern Sung emperor, exchanged many song lyrics with Hsiang Tzu-yin, a member of a prominent old K'ai-feng family who fled to Lin-chiang and invested large sums in a school and a charitable estate for Hsiang's family. (In 1138, Hsiang played an important role in the Chao Ting government as an advocate of using rewards and punishments to bring order to the Sung armies, but he also contributed to a split in his faction by siding with Ch'in Kuei and against his own friends in advocating a peace treaty with the Chin.) Chao Shih-hsia, an imperial agnate, lived upriver in Hsin-kan, eight kilometers south of Lin-chiang, although he was born before the fall of the Northern Sung and identifies himself in a postface (1187) to the Tung-ching meng-hua lu as a native of K'ai-feng. Much of his career was spent in Chiang-nan West Circuit (1172–74, 1179–86) and Ching-hu South (1167, 1188–89, 1197). His literary and political affiliations are unclear; his song lyrics are occasional in theme.
In Chi prefecture, all song lyricists after Wang T'ing-kuei are from Lu-ling on the Kan River. We have already mentioned Yang Yen-cheng and Liu Kuo, both affiliated with Hsin Ch'i-chi, and Liu Hsien-lun, who was also vaguely in the same camp. After a brief hiatus, another
generation of Lu-ling song lyricists appears in the middle of the thirteenth century, taking us beyond the Sung. Liu Ch'en-weng (1232–97), P'eng Yüan-sun, Chao Wen (1239–1315), and Liu Chiang-sun (1257–?) are all Lu-ling song lyricists who survived into the Yüan. I have no information on the publication of their song lyrics as independent collections, but Liu Ch'en-weng, fearless critic of Chia Ssu-tao, and Chao Wen, protégé of Wen T'ien-hsiang, both possess the Lu-ling spirit of moral integrity. Liu Ch'en-weng and Liu Chiang-sun were both heads of academies (shu-yüan ).
Unlike the Northern Sung song lyricists from the peripheral areas of the circuit, the Kan basin lyricists are generally not themselves pivotal figures, either in literature or in administration. They appear generally to have avoided association with the more venal regimes of the age; instead, we often find them using song lyrics to establish or commemorate relationships with such figures as Hsin Ch'i-chi and Chang Hsiao-hsiang.
Printing and the Song Lyric: The Commercial Dimension
In Ch'ang-sha in Ching-hu South Circuit (modern Hunan), a remarkable project was undertaken by a bookstore in the first decade of the thirteenth century to publish the song lyrics of "a hundred poets" in series. Ninety-seven poets are known to have been covered, in 128 chüan . Nearly half of them have fewer than twenty song lyrics extant today; the major criticism leveled at this project was that the publisher became less and less selective in the quality and importance of the poets he included as he filled out the series.
Interestingly, only two song lyricists with twenty or more extant lyrics were native to the prefecture of which Ch'ang-sha was the administrative seat, and neither of them native to Ch'ang-sha itself: Wang Ining, who relieved the siege of T'ai-yüan in 1126 and held various posts outside the circuit into the 1140s, and Liao Hsing-chih (1137–89), whose career never took him outside the region. To be sure, a number of important song lyricists, many of whom were also important political figures, passed through Ch'ang-sha's prefecture: Huang T'ing-chien, in 1104; Li Kang (1083–1140), in 1126 and 1132; Chao Shih-hsia, in 1167
and 1197; Hsin Ch'i-chi in 1180; and Liu Sheng-chi in 1181. Nevertheless, in a region that was home to so few significant song lyricists, the bookstore must have pinned its hopes of turning a profit on a general audience of officials and merchants who would purchase song lyrics in print.
A second multivolume commercial series was the Ch'in-ch'ü wai-pien series published in Fu-chien. The scope and contents of the original are unknown; at present we are able to determine the names of only nine of the song lyricists published in the series. Starting with Ou-yang Hsiu and ending with Chen Te-hsiu (1178–1235), all are literary figures well known in their times, giving the impression that this publisher was more selective than the Ch'ang-sha bookseller.
Devoting one volume to each poet, these series were designed to appeal to the buyer who read song lyrics as literature or as the literary product of a certain admirable personality. Anthologies produced in the Southern Sung are similarly arranged by poet, indicating that they functioned in the same way. To be sure, the arrangement of a text is not an infallible indication of its intended use. The Hua-chien chi of 940 was originally compiled, according to its preface, to provide high-quality songs for performance , and the title of the Tsun-ch'ien chi (In front of the winecups), an anthology of thirty-six Five Dynasties song lyricists compiled sometime in the second or third quarter of the eleventh century, signals a similar function—even though both anthologies are in fact arranged by poet, not by tiao or theme. Nevertheless, prefaces to some surviving printed editions of the Hua-chien chi , published in 1148, 1184, 1185, and around 1205, indicate that the anthology had come to serve the purposes of literary history: the preservation of the old and the skillful, or the recording of an age's best literary efforts at a time when other genres were supposedly in decline. Wu Ch'ang-shou is probably correct in his observation that most anthologies from Tseng Tsao's 1148 Yüeh-fu ya-tz'u on were compiled not for the sake of performance but for the sake of the texts themselves.
In Tseng Tsao's case, simple preservation of the materials collected by his family over the years was the expressed purpose. Besides the works of thirty-four mainstream song lyricists, he includes over a hundred acclaimed song lyrics of unknown authorship and suites of songs designed for concert performance with dance—a type of song lyric most Sung poets were neither trained nor required to produce, and therefore consigned to the margins of the canon.
The Effect of Print Culture on the Song Lyric
We have discussed motivations for preserving song lyrics in print: a strong interest in literary history seems to have been basic to these motivations, although this interest could have derived from aesthetic, antiquarian, or political and social concerns, depending on the individual case. It is important to keep these motivations in mind. But what, if any, influence did these motivations for preserving the genre in print have on the form or content of the song lyric itself? Attempting to answer this question involves us in broader issues crossing cultural and temporal boundaries.
Scholars (and others) have commonly divided humanity into the literate and the illiterate, with fundamental differences between the two in thought patterns, transmission of knowledge, and literary expression. The work of Ruth Finnegan and others has shown, however, that oral and written modes of communication take such a variety of forms and stand in so many relationships to each other in different societies that it is questionable whether this division is meaningful or even useful. Perhaps a transformation more fundamental than the move from orality to literacy in a given culture, then, is the leap to print. Print communication interacts with oral and written communication in complex and variable ways, but it stands in opposition to both chirographic and oral systems in that it permits the reproduction and storage of information in quantities far beyond the capacity of either.
We have seen that as the Sung progressed, more and more song lyrics passed into print in great volume. This was part of a wider cultural transformation. One of the first priorities in the use of the new technology of printing was the fixing and disseminating of vast seas of
knowledge, surely because the standardization and preservation of information was one means of unifying a new empire, indoctrinating its bureaucrats, and defining the canons of powerful religions. The first Sung government printing project produced China's first printed code of laws, in 963. Eight years later, the first of six Sung printings of the Buddhist Tripitaka was undertaken. Classics, histories, medical treatises, and the like were also printed by the government. The state often rewarded officials for using the presses of local government units to print books (which the officials sometimes gave away as gifts or sold for private gain).
The unprecedented power of print could not be monopolized by the government, however. As early as the ninth century, print usurped one of the sacred functions of the court when privately printed family calendars went into circulation even before the government versions were approved. In the Northern Sung, the texts of court debates on foreign policy were leaked, printed, sold, and quickly found their way across borders and into the hands of the foreigners who were the subjects of those debates. The works of dissident officials became even more dangerous when they were picked up and disseminated by commercial publishers, Su Shih's works again being the prime example. If a text were proscribed, or had a limited market, the printing blocks could simply be stored away until conditions favored a renewed printing at some later date—a major advantage over movable type.
Most students who entered schools with hopes of embarking on official careers would encounter government-printed editions of the classics. Many of these students would never join the bureaucracy, and hundreds of private academy students would study with no intention of seeking government posts, but most of these literate men would participate in the economic life of the society at some point, whether as merchants or merely as managers of their patrimonies. They would have the means to purchase a variety of printed materials—including song lyrics.
These men would always be aware that a vast amount of knowledge and thought was safely fixed in print somewhere, and they knew it was often organized by chapter and verse for easy retrieval. The European experience tells us that printing was first harnessed to do what writing and memorization had always done badly and with great effort: to re-
claim the knowledge of the ancients and support the oral, rhetorical tradition with encyclopedic compendia of formulas and tropes. Gradually, with knowledge stored in books, the function of writing changed from the retention of essential verities and the rehearsal of the rational to the exploration of the new, the unique, and the mysterious. Reports of voyages across the planet could be published and compared against the ancient texts; poets could safely scorn the commonplaces of rhetoric and pursue originality. In China, of course, print technology developed under vastly different linguistic, social, and material conditions; both the timing and the specific contours of the cultural and social results of the shift were bound to be different. But the Western evidence alerts us to the possibility that print might shape the literature that flourished in its environment.
It is striking how closely the rise and spread of print coincide with the development of the song lyric. To be sure, imported music, economic prosperity, relative domestic peace, and the large numbers of women supporting themselves as professional entertainers in the growing cities all helped to foster the new genre; the development of print culture cannot be given all the credit. Nevertheless, I would like to posit three theses for inquiry.
The first thesis is that when those members of a society who care about the preservation of knowledge are confident that it has indeed become securely preserved, their writings will place less emphasis on the shared tradition and more on individual feeling. Walter Ong has argued that this is what eventually brought about the "preoccupation with otherness, with what is different, remote, mysterious, inaccessible, exotic, even bizarre"—what we call Romanticism—after print had transformed Europe. The rise of the song lyric in the tenth and eleventh centuries certainly bespeaks an increasing interest on the part of the literate elite of China in exploring nuances of emotion through a new poetic form uniquely suited to evoking the process of feeling and inner reflection.
It is clear that print did have an effect on the way Sung people read and wrote. The unprecedented flood of writing in Sung times, often in the form of collections of trivia, appears to reflect both the lure of publication in print and the new, casual function writing could assume when freed from weightier tasks. It is significant that "books which classify, itemize, or summarize so as to facilitate easy reference" were a major part of the book trade. The availability of such reference works, and indeed the abundance of books in general, clearly facilitated scholarship, but it was also said to devalue the individual text and encourage "lazy" perusal. In a manuscript culture, "lazy" perusal is a threat to society's store of knowledge and an insult to those who try to keep it intact. If print opened the gates of knowledge to less scholarly readers, this does not mean, however, that serious readers disappeared. Examination candidates expended great energy mastering canonical texts, and scholars sometimes devoted a good portion of their lives to a given classic. Yet print enabled these tasks to be supported by, or even to center on, the collocation of considerable amounts of knowledge—a task very different from the fundamental ones of preservation and transmission in a manuscript culture.
More study is needed on how print culture encourages new kinds of scholarship and aesthetic expression: the rise of the song lyric may not be comparable to Western Romanticism as a quest for the "exotic" and "bizarre," but perhaps the song lyric's adoption by the elite and scholarly class does signal a new attitude toward the function of literature in a new medium.
My second thesis is that the popularity of song lyrics in Sung times is an effect of printing, one closely related to the flourishing of prose writing at the same time: because both forms of literature are more difficult to memorize than pentasyllabic or heptasyllabic poems, they depend on print to enable them to compete with shih poetry in terms of dissemination.
It has been observed that in T'ang times the literature that circulated most widely was shih poetry because it was most easily memorized and orally disseminated. If song lyrics are a genre of performance literature, that does not necessarily mean they were easily memorized or disseminated: the musical talent their performance required limited their
reproduction as oral texts to specialists, though their audiences might have been extensive. Without print, the genre would have been more ephemeral and less likely to have developed in the direction of longer and more literary compositions.
This brings us to the third thesis: that print encouraged the development of increasingly refined, linguistically complex song lyrics in the thirteenth century, particularly as seen in the works of Chiang K'uei (ca. 1155–ca. 1221) and Wu Wen-ying (ca. 1200–ca. 1260), different as these two leading song lyricists are.
Through the late eleventh century, simple distinctions of level and deflected tones were generally sufficient to make a song lyric's sound structure fit the music, though there were places in some tiao where only more precisely designated tones would serve. Chou Pang-yen was the first to rigorously govern the tones of his syllables according to the music, but he still allowed a degree of variation. During his time, performance of the song lyric was usually accompanied by stringed instruments, which apparently permitted a looser fit between the music and the singer's voice. In the Southern Sung, wind instruments came to dominate, encouraging finer distinctions in the quality of each sung syllable. Perhaps it was the greater musical subtlety required of them that made it possible for Southern Sung experts to recognize Chou's achievements, if belatedly (Chou's contemporary song lyricists had scarcely seemed aware of his existence). Song lyricists such as Fang Ch'ien-li, Yang Tse-min, and Ch'en Yün-p'ing admired Chou so much that they wrote compositions following the rhymes of most of his song lyrics. That much was no great novelty, but they also followed the tonal patterns of his song lyrics in each syllable. Wu Wen-ying did the same in the over sixty tiao he took from Chou.
This obsession with perfecting the sound pattern of the words of a song is in one sense a sign of the lyric's separation from living musical practice, for it was a pattern abstracted from the words of a poet long dead that was directing the music, not the evolving music that was controlling the production of new texts. It was a remarkable event in the thirteenth century to find someone who could actually sing Chou Pang-yen's song lyrics. Even a new song by Wu Wen-ying himself, without a broad-based musical culture to sustain it, was likely to have been unsingable a mere decade or two after it was written.
In the same age, however, the older musician–song lyricist Chiang K'uei was using a flute to determine the sound quality of each syllable of a song and writing his own music (sometimes before, sometimes after he wrote the words); the relationship between music and song lyric in such a case was tighter than before. But like composition by model rather than by musical sense, this tight relationship is also the product of an elite art. Great specialization is required to create, perform, and appreciate song lyrics under such conditions. Chiang K'uei's song lyrics neither came from nor spread among popular entertainers. This stands in striking contrast to the earlier case of Liu Yung, who adopted and revised so much non-elite music: the variability of Liu's tone patterns indicates that it was in performance, not in abstract planning, that word and note were harmonized.
The song lyric was not yet a fossil, of course. We have noted stories of women abducted by hostile troops using their final moments to compose song lyrics. The tiao they employed must have been in common use, even though the details of performance would have been different from earlier decades. Both "Ch'in-yüan ch'un" and "Man t'ing fang," two of the tiao used by thirteenth-century women in the stories recounted above, are examples of patterns that remained relatively loosely defined by level/deflected tone distinctions alone.
But those elite Southern Sung song lyricists who, as we have seen, structured their tonal patterns after those of Chou Pang-yen were clearly estranged from the song lyric as oral performance. Chou himself, and Chiang K'uei even more, both consummate musical minds, would appear to have reversed that estrangement, but in fact their verbal patterns, so tightly bound to their music, have all the fixity of print . In performance they must have been exquisite, but they had been worked out beforehand through a sophisticated matching of word and music that reveals an established confidence in the authority and stability of the written or printed text.
If this seems paradoxical, we should remember that it was by writing (and rewriting) his text that Isocrates, the first Greek to write for (oral) publication by others, perfected the sounds and rhythms of an oral style. Similarly, we may say that the innovative and dense diction of
Wu Wen-ying was possible in the song lyric only after the genre had become as much a written as an oral one, if not more.
Although there are in some oral cultures literary compositions of great verbal richness and subtlety, the predictability and schematic patterning that generally support aural comprehension and oral composition become liabilities as members of a culture begin to compose in writing for a reading audience. We have noted that after the accumulation of knowledge in print had undermined the rationale for residual orality in Europe, the "commonplace" in writing became not a vital structuring device but a blemish. In the Malay world, study of the language of illiterate and literate storytellers (in our age of print) reveals that the latter give more weight to individual word choice and seek, almost unconsciously, variations in phrasing. Thus, I would suggest that there is a connection between Su Shih's innovative production of highly "literate" song lyrics and his awareness that his works were being circulated as printed texts. We should recognize, too, Wu Wen-ying's "poetics of density," which sharply limited the appreciation of his lyrics in performance, as the product of a mature print culture.
Print and Moral Distancing: A Cautious Proposal
When I began to research the contexts of the song lyric in Sung times, I wanted to understand two paradoxes: that the song lyric should have been a significant mode of expression for certain morally serious men; and that a genre of performance literature should circulate in print. I now think there is a relationship between these two phenomena. For reasons of space, I have had to reserve an extensive discussion of the writing of song lyrics by Buddhist monks for publication elsewhere. Let me simply state that some monks did write song lyrics in Sung times, as did generals and statesmen, despite the genre's association with love and the more personal emotions. Might the new print culture have fostered the consciousness that made it possible for such people to use a
genre that simulated the experiencing of emotion, but to use it without seeming to be trapped by emotion?
Such an attitude of detachment from one's morally suspect actions, "lodging" emotions and thoughts without being "detained" by them, was a stated philosophical ideal in the times; it might also have been a personality trait of some individuals. But detachment or distancing is sometimes said to be characteristic of a literate, analytical culture. Although the universality of such a rule is questionable, we must ask whether it wasn't the intensification of just such a culture through the flourishing of print in Sung China that enabled monks and morally serious men to believe they could "lodge" in the song lyric without being "detained" by it. The commonly presumed association of literacy and writing with abstract thought, logical argument, and distancing between performer and performance would seem to validate this theory.
It is certainly reasonable to postulate that the simultaneous rise of a new genre of literature and a new type of information technology points to some kind of cause-and-effect relationship between the literature and the technology, although it must always be stressed that this relationship is not necessarily unidirectional and that other factors—aesthetic, social, economic—play an important part in it. Since some kind of mechanism of moral distancing seems to have come into play at the same time as the rise of print culture to enable the song lyric to gain acceptance among statesmen and certain monks, print could be singled out as a factor in this distancing. I believe this is a useful line of inquiry that may throw new light on Chinese culture from Sung times on. But it raises at least two kinds of questions.
First, print was not the only new force in Sung society that can be associated with distancing. Money has a definite distancing effect, as reflected in the contrasting functions of money and food offerings in ritual contexts in China. It is well known that a money economy began to flourish in the Sung dynasty; would that not have had an effect on the culture at least as great as the effect of print? The song lyric was part of the new money economy, for the women entertainers among whom the genre developed in the growing commercial metropolises performed for money; and my discussion of the publication of lyrics has
touched on many ways in which books, whether published commercially or by government schools, were printed for the same purpose. So an analysis of the relationship between exchange mechanisms and culture may be a fruitful path for future research.
Second, we find that it is very difficult to generalize about the influence of communication technology on consciousness. In the Chinese case, the common attribution to literacy of such virtues as analytical thinking, separation of performer and performance, and logic may be valid, since these are all features of Chinese thought in classical times, when literacy was becoming widespread among record keepers and rhetoricians who served the feudal courts and produced philosophical and historical texts. If there was linkage between print and the new kind of moral distancing that permitted the writing of song lyrics among the elite and the religious in Sung times, we must wrestle with the question of whether print culture is simply an intensification of literate culture or represents a leap to a new stage of culture. I have already noted that in terms of the efficiency of knowledge storage and retrieval, the fundamental dividing line in human cultures is not between oral and literate but between print on one side and the oral or chirographic on the other. We have also seen discernible effects of print on the kind of information that was stored and the manner of its use in the period under study. It would seem, then, that we must do more work to define the differences between the consciousness characteristic of print culture and that ascribable to mere literacy. The fact that much of the scholarship in this area does not distinguish between chirographic and print cultures when making comparisons with oral cultures complicates our work. The issues go far beyond the study of a single genre of poetry; they must be addressed diachronically and across several disciplines.
Indeed, the very assumption that aesthetic or moral distancing depends on either literacy or print should not go unquestioned; at the least, the terms used and the scope of their application must be carefully defined. For there are in fact many devices that produce aesthetic distancing in oral cultures (masks, for example, animal parables, evocation of ancestors as authority, etc.). Similarly, certain cultural environments have been known to foster a sophisticated awareness of language and linguistic questioning in peoples without any writing system. That is to say, literacy and/or print may not be necessary conditions for detachment from performance, even if they have apparently been sufficient conditions in some cultures. If the linkage I have suggested is
valid for the song lyric in the print culture of Sung China, we still cannot easily extrapolate from it a general rule for the causes of "distancing."
A comparative approach has helped us understand some relationships between the song lyric and its social and material context; but this approach has also alerted us to the need to reexamine the simplistic dichotomies and supposed universals that underlie much of the existing scholarship. I believe that the hypotheses I have posited concerning the song lyric and the culture in which it developed can be accepted heuristically and will stimulate fresh approaches to Sung literature and culture. The wider theoretical implications this research on the song lyric seems to indicate should also be pursued, but only with the greatest care.
Wang Kuo-wei's Song Lyrics in the Light of His Own Theories
Over the past few years I have come to a new understanding of Wang Kuo-wei's (1827–1927) profound and often cryptic pronouncements about what makes the song lyric (tz'u ) such a distinctive form of poetry in China. In this essay I propose to apply his critical insights to the songs he himself wrote. I will begin by stating briefly the results of two papers I have previously published on the subject and will then proceed with a detailed analysis of four song lyrics.
The Three Levels of Ching-Chieh
In his Jen-chien tz'u-hua Wang Kuo-wei uses the crucial term ching-chieh in three distinct ways: as a term referring to the "setting" or "content" of a poem, as a critical term applicable to poetry generally, and as a critical term applying uniquely to tz'u . In its first and most obvious use, the phrase refers to the setting presented in the poem, as when Wang writes, "There is the scene [ching-chieh ] as perceived by the poet, and then there is the scene perceived by the ordinary man"; as an example
I wish to acknowledge here the help of Professor James R. Hightower in preparing the English-language version of this essay. I should also like to express my gratitude to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for giving me a grant to go to Cambridge to conduct my work on it.
of a scene borrowed from an earlier poet for incorporation into one's own poem, he then cites a couplet by Chia Tao (793–865),
The autumn wind blows across the Wei River,
falling leaves fill Ch'ang-an,
and comments that by adapting this passage in their songs, Chou Pang-yen (1056–1121) and Pai P'u (1226–?) had "borrowed the setting [ching-chieh ] from an older poet and made it their own." Chou Pang-yen's song reads:
Over the Wei River, the west wind,
in Ch'ang-an, flying leaves—
in vain I remember.
And Pai P'u wrote:
I hear the falling leaves in the west wind over the Wei River.
And again in an aria:
Desolate for my native land—
the west wind on the Wei River,
the setting sun over Ch'ang-an.
The autumnal scene, the same in all these verses, is what the later poets borrowed: the Wei River, Ch'ang-an, and the west wind.
On the next level Wang expands the meaning of ching-chieh as "scene" to include the feeling the scene conveys, its emotional coloration—and thereby injects a value judgment into its use, making of it a critical
term: it is no longer a neutral but a particular kind of scene that is deserving of the label ching-chieh . He writes: "Ching-chieh refers not only to external scenes; the emotions—joy, anger, grief, pleasure—are also a ching-chieh of the human heart. So it can be said of someone who can portray true scenes and true feelings that he achieves ching-chieh ." The condition demanded here, that the scenes be true scenes and the feelings true feelings, makes the achievement of ching-chieh the prerogative of the poet; simply borrowing another poet's scene is not enough: "If you don't have ching-chieh yourself, the old poets will be of no use to you." Nor, furthermore, can the mere scenes of the external world—birdsong, running water, the blossoming of flowers, the movement of the clouds—of themselves be termed ching-chieh before they have been encompassed by the poet's sensitivity or capacity for feeling.
Wang Kuo-wei applied ching-chieh in this sense of a particular, desirable quality of scene in judging shih poetry as well as tz'u . He writes, "There are settings [ching-chieh ] on differing scales, but the scale of a setting does not determine its value," and provides some examples:
With fine rain the little fish appear,
swallows dip in the gentle breeze.
This is in no way inferior to
The setting sun lights up the great banner,
horses neigh in the soughing wind.
The costly curtain hangs limp from the little silver hook.
And it is just as good as
Mist hides the storied tower,
In the moonlight we fail to find the ferry.
Since Wang uses lines of shih poetry by Tu Fu and verses from Ch'in Kuan's songs, it follows that ching-chieh as setting can apply equally to shih and tz'u , as well as functioning as a criterion for a value judgment.
Furthermore, among possible scenes he also distinguishes "invented scene" (tsao-ching ) from "described scene" (hsieh-ching ); scenes involving the poet (yu wo ) and scenes from which the poet remains detached (wu wo ); "ideal scenes" (li-hsiang ) and "real scenes" (hsieh-shih ). "Described scenes" and "invented scenes" refer to the provenance of the poet's material. Scenes "involving the poet" or "from which he remains detached" refer to the relation of the poet's persona to the episode in the poem. "Ideal scene" and "real scene" are simply refinements of invented scene and described scene. Although what a described scene portrays belongs to an actual situation, once written in a poem it is no longer subject to the limitations of reality; and although an invented scene is not an actual situation, still its structure and the materials of which it is put together must accord with reality. Thus, Wang could write in the context of his use of those terms, "The scenes created by a great poet are all in accord with the natural, and the scenes he describes also approach the ideal."
A third level of ching-chieh that is even more vital to a deeper understanding of his art is discussed in the following statements from Wang's Jen-chien tz'u-hua :
The essence of tz'u is in a subtle and refined beauty [yao-miao i-hsiu ] that makes it possible to say what cannot be said in shih and yet keeps tz'u from being able to say everything shih can say. The realm of shih is wide; the language of tz'u is far-reaching.
Whether tz'u is refined or vulgar depends on the spirit, not what appears on the surface. The songs of Ou-yang Hsiu and Ch'in Kuan may contain erotic language, but they remain decent.
The contrast between "refined" (ya ) and "vulgar" (Cheng ) refers to Confucius' characterization of a section of the Shih-ching (Book of songs)—"The songs of Cheng . . . are licentious"—and means that qualification of a love song as "refined" depends on whether it can be read as something more than what it seems to be. This third level moves from emphasis on a standard of genuine feeling and scene to the profoundly subtle and refined beauty achieved through suggestion and association beyond the surface of the things and feelings directly portrayed. This evocative beauty is a special characteristic of the song lyric.
In its three aspects, then, Wang Kuo-wei's ching-chieh applies to the feelings aroused by the song lyric, but it cannot be said that these are deliberately or even consciously invoked by the poet; rather, they are a product of the rich suggestive power created in the poem. Most of the erotic songs of the Five Dynasties lack this power, and these Wang Kuo-wei simply disregards. It is precisely this quality of latent suggestive power, I believe, that he is referring to when he writes, "The best songs have ching-chieh . A song with ching-chieh automatically belongs to the highest category and will have memorable lines as a matter of course."
The Three Categories of the Song Lyric
Tz'u possessing the refined and subtle beauty of ching-chieh can be found in any of the three general categories of the song lyric. The first category is composed of real song words, written by poets as words for tunes, with no intention of expressing their own feelings. Sometimes, however, these short songs (hsiao-ling ) written for amusement will inadvertently reveal the essential nature of the poet's mind as shaped by his personality and experience, resulting in that refined, subtle beauty Wang Kuo-wei found in such songs.
The second category contains those song lyrics no longer written to be sung, being rather poems in song form. These, poets were consciously using as vehicles for self-expression, but they too could achieve a refined, subtle beauty through the depth and complexity of their poetic inspiration (ch'ing-chih ) and the suggestiveness or ramifications of their procedure (fang-shih ); even though written as self-expression, the subtle beauty is still present.
The third category consists of those tz'u that have taken on the manner of rhapsody (fu ), where the poet is deliberately working toward an
elaborate structure, an architectonic design. And in these enigmatic and expository compositions there can also be a subtle, refined beauty.
These three categories are distinguished by the attitude of the poet toward his composition. From the point of view of the critic we need to know what to look for to determine whether the poet has achieved this beauty. Chang Hui-yen (1761–1802) can be taken as representative of one method, which looks for code words (yü-ma ) and associated events to construct moralizing interpretations about the author's intentions and the theme of the poem. Wang Kuo-wei is representative of the other kind of critic, for he relies chiefly on the nature of the feeling conveyed by the poem, and from what that suggests he provides a sort of virtuoso elaboration. His method is most successful when applied to songs of the first category, and Chang Hui-yen's method works best on the third category.
In considering the content of Wang Kuo-wei's songs we must draw upon what we know of his emotional nature and, like Chang Hui-yen, look for code words and items of personal history. This requires a glance at the chronology of Wang's poems, to relate them to the events of his life and to the development of his character and ideas. Only 115 of his songs are extant, twenty-three of them published in 1917, and the remainder in posthumous collections of his works. However, most of them were written between 1905 and 1909, the period during which he was preoccupied with tz'u composition; very few were written after that time.
Wang Kuo-wei was by nature both intellectual and passionate, a combination that enabled him to excel in scholarship, but which also made him vulnerable in the practical world to a conflict between intellect and feeling from which he could not extricate himself. He thus occupied himself with tz'u , hoping to find in poetry comfort for the pain this conflict caused him. This conflict in temperament and this motive for writing song lyrics is the first thing we should look for in considering the content of Wang's songs.
The second is his naturally pessimistic temperament. He said of himself: "Physically weak, by nature melancholy—I am continually confronted with the problem of human existence." Not surprisingly, therefore, when first encountering Western thought, he was strongly attracted to the pessimistic philosophy of Schopenhauer. Inspired by Schopenhauer's theory of genius and melancholy, he wrote in his essay "Schopenhauer and Nietzche" ("Shu-pen-hua yü Ni-ts'ai"):
Genius is begrudged by Heaven and a disaster to the individual. Ignorant people eat when they are hungry and drink when thirsty. They grow old and raise their sons to carry on their wishes, and that is all. . . . The man of genius has the same disabilities as others, but is alone in being able to perceive wherein those disabilities lie. He and ignorant people are alike alive, but he is alone in questioning the reason for life.
And in his "Essay on the Dream of Red Mansions " ("Hung-lou meng p'ing-lun"), where he discusses expectations and disappointments in human life, he observed:
What is the nature of life? It is simply desire. It is the nature of desire to be insatiable. It arises in a lack, and the state of lack is pain. Fulfill a desire, and that desire is done, but only that one desire has been satisfied, with tens and hundreds of others left unsatisfied. One desire has been fulfilled and all the others are there to follow, so no final satisfaction is possible.
It was in this melancholic, pessimistic state of mind that Wang Kuo-wei wrote his "Essay on Human Nature" ("Lun hsing"), "An Interpretation of Reason" ("Shih li"), and "Essay on Destiny" ("Yüan ming"), seeking for an answer to the riddle of human life and human nature. And what answers did he come up with? He concluded that there is a constant struggle between good and evil in human nature, that reason is of
no use in propelling human nature toward good, nor does it provide a criterion for conduct. In the essay on destiny he concluded that wealth and longevity are determined by fate; likewise, that fate decides whether a man is good or evil, worthy or unworthy. Looking at the human world in such terms, Wang Kuo-wei found no hope for salvation from evil and pain. It is this pessimism and melancholy that we will find embodied in Wang's songs.
A third distinctive trait of character is his tenacity in the pursuit of an ideal. Throughout his life he had only contempt for profit and despised the pursuit of worldly success, again influenced by Schopenhauer's account of the man of genius. On the contrast between the common man and the man of genius Wang wrote, "The true value of the highest form of intelligence lies not in the practical but in the theoretical, in the subjective, not in the objective: it concentrates all its strength on seeking out the truth and making it manifest. He will sacrifice his whole life's happiness and die for his objective goal, unable to deviate in the least degree, however much he might wish to." Such tenacity in the pursuit of the ideal would naturally also manifest itself in his songs.
We should also take into account the events of his personal life during the short period when he was writing his songs. First, his father died in the seventh month of 1906, when Wang had gone to Peking to work in the Department of Education (hsüeh-pu ) with Lo Chen-yü. He immediately returned to his hometown for the funeral. The next summer his wife fell gravely ill, and he again returned home, arriving only ten days before her death. One can imagine his shock and grief at losing both his father and wife in such a short time. And only half a year later, in January 1908, his foster mother died after a month's illness; again he hastened back home for the funeral. This series of deaths in the family naturally cast a shadow over his poetry and contributed yet another element to their emotional background that we cannot ignore.
Simple Descriptive Scenes in Song Lyrics
I will begin with examples of straightforward description of nature, where direct observation underlies the scene presented. Wang Kuo-wei wrote few poems of pure description, and these are the weakest of his lyrics. For example, one to the tune "Paint the Lips Red" ("Tien chiang ch'un"):
Waves chase the flowing clouds,
the boatman's song recedes across the waves.
The notes blend with the oars
and enter the reed-grown bank.
The setting sun strikes the flowing water.
A few dots of idle sea gulls
into the innumerable reeds and rushes
whisper in the breeze.
To the tune "Sands of the Washing Stream" ("Huan hsi sha"):
The boat follows the clear stream, turn after turn.
Drooping willows open up for a sight of green hills—
cascading green locks covering the misty hairknot.
To the same tune:
The road twists, the peaks turn as you leave Painted Pond.
A whole mountain of maple leaves reflects the dying sun.
As you look, it's not at all like an autumn scene.
All these verses effectively portray the beauty of a natural scene and qualify as examples of Wang's "described scenery." There are other examples of scenes that are actual but have nothing to do with natural
scenery, being concerned rather with real-life situations. This lyric to the tune "Bodhisattva Barbarian" ("P'u-sa-man"), for instance, portrays a dinner at which the waitress prepares and serves grilled mutton:
On a jade platter tender onion shoots cut up,
a serving of thin-sliced shoulder of mutton—
I would not want to refuse it as too strong
since you prepared it with your own hands.
The glowing grill reddens your white face.
Drunk, I loosen my fur coat.
I'm still a bit wild on the way home,
treading night frost on the capital boulevard.
Another such lyric is written to the tune "Sands of the Washing Stream":
The thin silk like water does not hold in the fragrance,
the golden waves just now engulf the little winding corridors:
thick clumps of chrysanthemums already deep yellow.
Away with the painted lamp, welcome the unadorned moon
to bring out the flower radiance in her face.
Where in our world is there any harsh frost?
These songs all contain lively, vivid description, but none of them carries any deeper meaning. They belong to the category of described (i.e., not invented) scenes treated realistically and with genuine feeling without, however, revealing anything of their author's character or
philosophy. If all he had written were like the songs just quoted above, he certainly would not have the place alongside his predecessors to which he laid claim, and we must go beyond these to discover songs in which he actually did surpass the ancients.
Poem No. 1—
Symbolic Dimensions of the Natural Scene
It is in their intellectual content and the way that content is presented, the interaction between content and form, that the essential character of Wang Kuo-wei's songs appears. In all of his best songs, whether descriptive or narrative or purely lyrical, there is always hidden a subtle idea, characteristic of the third level of his ching-chieh theory. This can be demonstrated in the following example, to the tune "Sands of the Washing Stream":
In the moonlight I saw the perched crows as leaves.
When I opened the window, they fell fluttering from the branches.
The frosty sky was high, the wind still, as alone I leaned on the rail.
Trying for a line, a gut feeling is still there.
I close the book and weep fruitless tears.
For whom, alas, does my belt grow loose?
In the first four words of the first line Wang is describing a perfectly ordinary scene that could be there in front of him, but as soon as he adds "I perceived them as leaves," it takes on the tone of a symbolical or imagined scene. This comes from the implication that the tree outside his window has already lost its leaves, and the crows have taken refuge there in the cold, moonlit winter night—a scene of chill and solitude. But the poet has at first perversely wanted to take these roosting crows, appropriate to a winter scene, as leaves on a green tree, belonging to a different season. This one line shows the poet making an effort to seek some consolation in the midst of disappointment and despair. But then reality reasserts itself. Whatever the poet's feelings and how-
ever great his hope and fantasies, stubborn reality in the end shatters them all. So when the poet opens the window that cuts him off, seeking to come a bit closer to the fantasized scene, it is to discover that those branches are not only bare, but those roosting crows he was casting in the role of leaves have already taken flight, every last one of them.
The phrase "fell fluttering down" comes from Ma Yüan's Hou-Han shu biography, from a passage describing the southern expedition to Indochina's encounter with a climate so hot, an atmosphere so miasmic, that even flying birds could not survive, and as the general and his men watched, "kites fell fluttering into the water." Wang Kuo-wei makes excellent use of the allusion. Like all such allusions, it brings a touch of classic elegance to his song. More to the point, the phrase was used of a kind of bird, and so it is appropriate as applied to crows. Of course, in terms of the actual scene, the crows should have flown away on being startled when the window was opened, instead of dropping fluttering to the ground like the kites in Ma Yüan's biography. But having begun by perceiving the crows as leaves growing on the tree, the poet, when they suddenly vanish, can only imagine the leaves falling to the ground a second time. And this second shedding of leaves provides a repetition of what he has already experienced this year, summer's beauties destroyed by the onset of winter. So the fantasy of crows as leaves is in the end only the occasion for another leaf fall, and the lovely scene conjured up in the poet's imagination is shattered, gone without a trace. This three-word allusion, tieh-tieh to , has taken on a metaphoric function transcending realism.
There is even more to it than that. In its original context, the birds dropped out of the sky because the environment was so hostile, and there remains a suggestion that the same might apply to the poet's world. These first two lines leave the poet, his illusion shattered, desolate and cold, without shelter or the consolation of beauty.
These lines are followed by "The frosty sky was high, the wind still, as alone I leaned on the rail." Literally it reads, "The frost is high," shuang kao —the words make one feel that the cold enveloping the whole world reaches up to the sky. "The wind is still," feng ting —some might think it would have been more effective to say that the wind was strong (chin ), but I find "still" superior, both for its impact and for its suggestiveness. "Strong" leaves one with only the feeling that the wind continues to blow hard, its force not yet slackened. But "the wind is still" suggests that even after the destructive force of the wind has passed,
there is no undoing the damage already done. It's the idea expressed in Li Shang-yin's (813?–58) line, "When the lotus flower is withered, autumn sorrow is complete," or the song in the Dream of Red Mansions ,
It's as though the food is no sooner gone than the birds have fled to
The whole bare desolate earth is quite clean,
where all beauty has quickly dwindled into barren waste. The poet, faced with such a scene, leans on the railing, alone, and with what feelings? All his sorrows, his disappointments, his feelings of loneliness and isolation, come together at once, but he writes with deliberate restraint, "alone I leaned on the rail." Truly this is a scene worthy of Wang Kuo-wei's best songs. This first stanza has concentrated on the external scene, but by infusing it with a complex emotional tone he has transformed a scene merely described into a created scene with allegorical implications and an effective amalgamation of imagery and allegory.
The second stanza dispenses with description and allegory, presenting the poet's feelings directly. There are two versions of this stanza; as first published, it read:
I prefer the later version. In it, to express the difficulty of writing a song, he adapted the line "To find one word for your poem, you rub off several whiskers." The play he sees makes him weep because of his own pent-up feelings, and that's the sum of it. The revised version is considerably richer in the layers of feeling it brings out, and the effects come from the appositeness and strength of the words used. In "Trying for a line, a gut feeling is still there," he is also concerned with the effort
of song writing, but it carries a potential for suggestion lacking in the earlier draft. First the verb "trying for" (mi ), literally "looking for," suggests from the start the effort of a search. The next phrase, "a gut feeling" (hsin-kan ), literally "heart and liver," derives its meaning from the particular internal organs considered to be the seat of the emotions. "Heart and liver" won't do in English, nor would "heart and bowels," in spite of the Biblical "bowels of compassion." English and Chinese both agree that the "heart" has to do with the feelings; in Chinese it carries special literary overtones, starting with the classical definition of poetry: "Poetry is where the intentions/feelings take us; emotions are stirred inside and given form in words." So the heart as imaginary construct becomes the source for the emotions that lead to the creation of poetry.
For ordinary purposes Wang Kuo-wei could have written "The feelings [hsin ch'ing or hsin huai ] come as I look for a line." Instead, however, he chose an expression that also carries down-to-earth associations with real organs. On first reading, it is a bit disconcerting, and yet its impact is profound. Both in wording and effect, it resembles the line in Ts'ai Yen's (b. ca. 178) "Song of Sorrow" where she expresses her despair—"Sorrow corrodes liver and lungs" —and of Tu Fu's expression of his feelings—"I sigh, my bowels inside burn." It seems to me that Wang Kuo-wei's use of hsin-kan conveys yet a further association deriving from the figurative use of the term in common speech—when someone who acts out of wholly selfish interests and has no social conscience is described as "completely lacking in heart and liver" (ch'üan wu hsin-kan ). Wang Kuo-wei turns this around: "heart and liver still present after all," implying that he is still capable of becoming emotionally involved in this cold and unfeeling human world.
The words "in the end is still there," chung fu tsai , remind one of the obsessive attachment that knows no end or respite in Li Shang-yin's
Ch'ang-o grinds simples and is never done,
Jade Lady plays tosspot and never rests.
Wang Kuo-wei saw clearly the misery and evil of the human world, and a deep-seated compassion for the suffering in the world prevented him from being indifferent. When he left his home in Hai-ning as a young man to study in Shanghai and then went abroad to study in Japan, it was with the determination to be of use to the world and make it a better place. Even when he experienced repeated disappointments and was composing song lyrics to distract himself, he was also writing a number of prose essays on education and reform: "Reflections on Education" ("Chiao-yü ou-kan"), "On Popular Education" ("Lun p'ing-fan chih chiao-yü chu-i"), "Goals of Education" ("Lun chiao-yü chih tsung-chih"), "Basis for Success in Education" ("Chiao-yü p'u-chi chih kenpen pan-fa"), "Studies in People's Tastes" ("Jen-chien shih-hao chih yen-chiu"), "Do Away with Opium" ("Ch'u tu p'ien") —all of which reveal his deep commitment to human affairs. When he wrote "Trying for a line, a gut feeling is still there," it was precisely this commitment that he was referring to, and the diction conveys the intensity of this deeply ingrained feeling.
The next line is also superior to the variant, where the tears shed are clearly precipitated by the play he has seen, though he says the tears were "fruitless" (wu tuan ). By giving a reason for his feeling, he has imposed a limit that also restricts the impact of the line on its reader. The line in the version I have chosen, "I weep fruitless tears," includes the word k'u , "alas," which reinforces the "pointless, fruitless," implying that he has looked for a reason for the tears and regrets his failure to find it. It makes his grief not so much pointless as something outside his conscious control: "No one did it but it happened, no one brought it but it's there." It is a grief that is a part of his very being, and the grief he writes about becomes limitless, not restricted to a particular circumstance.
The line begins with "I close the book." On the surface this can be taken as the cause for shedding tears, but in fact closing a book is in itself a simple act with no emotional overtones. If you connect that act with what follows, however, and read it in the context of Wang Kuowei's own concerns, the significance to him of such an act brings up all sorts of associations. Reading was his greatest passion; as he wrote, "Books have been my lifelong companions, and they have been for me what I most loved and was most reluctant to lay aside." The main
reasons for his addiction to reading, it seems to me, were two: he hoped to find in books the answer to the problem of human life, and he sought a formula for saving the world. It was for the former reason that he read philosophy, and for the latter, history. But Wang Kuo-wei's study of philosophy provided him with no final answer to the problem of human existence, and his study of history offered no support to his idealistic hope of saving the world. Given such expectations and such disappointment, it is easy to imagine that this was the reason for shedding futile tears on closing a book.
Wang Kuo-wei also read with the hope of finding consolation and an escape from himself. He wrote, "Recently my taste has shifted from philosophy to literature, where I hope to find immediate consolation," and remarked in a poem, "Trying to Fly" ("P'in fei"),
If I don't write a poem about sorrow,
how can I even for a moment escape sorrow?
Again, the outcome of his search for consolation and escape from himself led only to greater melancholy and isolation. In another song he wrote,
I close my book—all my life long a hundred cares,
fed up with worries, I've turned stupid and dull.
I just heard the cuckoo lamenting spring's passing.
I came to feel there was nothing to get me through the days,
and I might as well go on collating old texts.
No place for idle sorrow, let alone happiness.
Whether he sought consolation in literary studies and creative writing, or tried to escape into scholarly research, in the end he "closed his
book" and was left with his lifelong cares, the same old sorrows. This song becomes a commentary on the same act and justifies reading into it a gesture of despair: we can understand that the fruitless tears he sheds are for those lifelong cares, but who is there to know about the pain he feels, his anguish over human suffering? So he concludes with "For whom, alas, does my belt grow loose?" This line reminds us of the lines from Liu Yung's (fl. 1034) song to the tune "Phoenix in the Phoenix Tree" ("Feng ch'i wu"),
I never regretted my belt grown loose—
He's worth wasting away for,
which Wang used to illustrate a remark in Jen-chien tz'u-hua , "Whoever accomplishes a great undertaking or a great study must pass through three stages," commenting, "This is precisely the second stage." This can serve as a commentary on the significance for Wang of the "belt grown loose." It suggests the pleasure taken in the pursuit of a remote ideal and the resolve not to regret what that pursuit has cost. But where the protagonist in Liu Yung's song was suffering "for him," Wang must ask "for whom?"
In this song Wang Kuo-wei has begun by describing a real scene that he has made the vehicle for deep feeling and philosophical thought. There are many such songs in his collection that begin with a present scene and then develop it into a multilayered symbol with manifold implications; for example,
Bitter the waters of the Ch'ien-t'ang Bore,
every day flowing west,
every day racing east to the sea.
I rise at night and lean out the upper story.
Over a corner the Jade String hangs low.
West Garden flowers fall deep enough to sweep.
Before my eyes the spring scene too quickly gone.
In all these songs, beyond the scene described in the opening lines there are subtle and far-reaching suggestions that the attentive reader can observe for himself.
Poem No. 2—
Symbolism of the Human Figure
After this example of a poem describing a natural scene that at the same time carries a wealth of subtle nuance, I would like to consider one that presents a situation involving a human figure that also invites an interpretative reading.
To the tune "Butterfly Loves Flowers" ("Tieh lien hua")
Lovely, modest girl of Yen, fifteen years old,
trailing her usual long skirt—
no mincing gait for her.
When she casts a glance, smiling, in the crowd,
the sirens of the world are like dirt.
A single tree in early bloom—
no other term fits,
except the words "as Heaven made it."
The girl there from Wu who boasts of her dancing skill—
too bad the supple waist misleads.
I long considered this song to be an example of a lyric constructed around an invented episode, since it has that nuanced quality with a flavor of symbolism that provokes rich associations, and especially be-
cause the symbolic figure is consonant with both Wang Kuo-wei's own character and also with the critical ideas he advocated for song writing. I therefore believed that in writing this song Wang Kuo-wei was probably symbolizing himself. In an annotated edition of his songs by Hsiao Ai, however, I recently came across mention of an episode that might underlie the making of this poem. Hsiao Ai writes that he learned from Professor Liu Hui-sun that Wang Kuo-wei composed this song about "a Manchu girl wine-seller"; further, that several of the lines were written by his father, Liu Chi-ying, who asked Wang to complete the poem. Liu Hui-sun learned this information from a conversation he overheard between his father and his uncle Lo Chün-mei. Since the sons of Liu Chi-ying and Wang Kuo-wei were married to daughters of Lo Chen-yü, it is quite possible that Liu could have asked Wang to finish a poem he had begun. So this song could also be considered as an example of one written around an actual experience. Wang Kuo-wei himself remarked on the difficulty of distinguishing between a real and an imagined scene: "There is the invented scene and the described scene; it is what distinguishes the idealist and realist schools. But the two are rather difficult to distinguish, for the scene imagined by a great poet is consistent with the natural, and the described scene with the ideal." The song to the tune "Sands of the Washing Stream" dealt with earlier illustrates Wang Kuo-wei's point: there the "perched crows," "pushing open a window," "leaning on the railing," and especially "trying for a line" and "closing the book," are all part of a scene or episode that is taking place and naturally describe something that happened. But when we consider the implications and the subtle suggestions generated, Wang's claim that the scenes described by a great poet also belong to the ideal is confirmed.
Another example, from a song to the same tune,
Striving to ascend the highest peak for a close look at the white moon,
I chanced to open a celestial eye and look down to the red dust:
my own self alas there among those I see,
presents a scene unmistakably drawn from the imagination, but the opening lines of the song could easily belong to the world of experience:
The mountain temple indistinct in the setting sun,
before birds in flight arrive, half the mountain is dark.
These images lack only the immediacy of someone pushing open a window or leaning on a railing, and are worth citing as illustrations of Wang's claim that invented scenes accord with nature.
The song we are presently concerned with can of course be classed with others that simply describe a scene or recount an episode, if we accept Hsiao Ai's account of its origin, but it carries a rich suggestiveness that raises it to the level of an idealized, imagined scene. This can be demonstrated by a line-by-line examination of its imagery and method of presentation. In the first line one can see the dual possibility of a real event or an idealized, imagined one: "Lovely, modest girl of Yen, fifteen years old." In light of Mr. Hsiao's story, this could easily be a Manchu girl wine-seller in Peking (Yen), lovely, modest, and just of that age. While each item lends itself to such a circumstantial reading, there remains oddly enough a flavor of something more, something not simply observed.
First, the narrative voice is impersonal, removing this lovely, modest girl of Yen from the everyday world of human relations and making her an independent aesthetic object. Next, the vocabulary of the song makes use of code words that call up associations with a rich cultural heritage. The expression yao-t'iao (here translated "lovely and modest"), for example, originally appeared in the first poem of the Book of Songs , from which it already carries an aura of antique elegance and the familiarity of long use. At the same time this term has acquired from its heritage several layers of meaning: "good," "lovely," "secluded"; it can apply to beauty of character or of face. The multiple meanings of this first word of Wang Kuo-wei's song incline one already to a symbolical reading of the whole poem. If one were to substitute the unambiguous word mei-li (beautiful), the immediate sense would be the same, the meter would be unchanged, but the effect would be so commonplace and obvious that all trace of symbolism would vanish. So it is clear that the word yao-t'iao was used to generate a symbolic character for this song.
The "girl of Yen" also has long been used in Chinese poetry to stand for a pretty girl, and so is an indefinite term, not applying to a girl from a specific place. The twelfth of the "Nineteen Old Poems" includes the
line "In Yen and Chao are many lovely ladies"; a poem by Fu Hsüan (217–78) notes that "The women of Yen are lovely, / the girls of Chao are pretty"; and in a poem by Liu Hsiao-ch'o (481–539), "In Yen and Chao are many beauties." Obviously "girls from Yen" and "women from Chao" are only general designations that can be applied to beautiful women anywhere. Such expressions go beyond pointing to a specific referent and take on the possibility of a symbolic use.
"Fifteen years old" sounds definite enough to be the factually reported age of the "girl of Yen." But this too is a code word with a long history in Chinese culture. Fifteen is the age at which a girl reaches maturity and can be given in marriage—the time her hair is symbolically pinned up (chi fan ), corresponding to the boy's capping ceremony (chia kuan ). Poets have traditionally used the age fifteen for girls as a symbolical counterpart to the capping age, when a boy becomes a man old enough to take office; thus, Li Shang-yin's "Untitled Poem" begins, "At eight years she stole a look in the mirror," and follows her preparation for her expected role in life from that moment, when she starts to paint her eyebrows, through learning to dress attractively, until at fourteen she is kept out of sight at home, waiting for a proposal, and then, still not engaged at fifteen, she stands by the garden swing, weeping in the spring wind. Here the disappointed girl is a symbol for the young man who, conscious of his endowments, finds himself unappreciated and passed over among the candidates for public office. So "age fifteen" is a code word with a weight of historical background that lends it symbolical value.
The next couplet also has a dual reading and the potential for multiple meanings:
Trailing her usual long skirt—
no mincing gait for her.
Hsiao Ai explains this as an objective description: these lines tell us that she was wearing a Manchu dress and that she walked naturally, something that could be said of Manchu girls, for they did not have bound feet. This of course fits the reported origin of the poem. But the value of this song lies not in the veracity of the episode it uses but in how effectively it makes use of it, and here again the excellence of these two lines
comes from associations in the mind of the reader. This is achieved, I think, through the obvious contrast between the dissimilar attitudes conveyed by the two phrases "trailing a long skirt" and "a mincing gait." One associates with the former an aristocrat moving easily and with dignity in a long gown, while the latter suggests a delicate, pretty figure. The former belongs to a dignified, self-confident person, the latter to someone anxious to please. This contrast provides the possibility of symbolism, particularly when the first phrase is qualified with the word "usual" or "customary" and the second is negated, "not for her," implying "not like those others," so that in addition to the contrast in attitudes there is also the contrast between what one does and what one does not do, bringing with it an implication of moral character and steadfastness.
In the following lines, "When she casts a glance, smiling, in the crowd, / the sirens of the world are like dirt," the word "smiling" (yen-jan ) occurs in the Sung Yü rhapsody "Lechery of Master Teng-t'u," where it is applied to the charms of the neighbor girl whose single smile was enough to bewilder the whole city. The phrase yen-se ju ch'en-t'u recalls Po Chü-i's (772–846) "Song of Everlasting Sorrow" ("Ch'ang hen ko"), where the palace ladies lose their looks (wu yen-se ) when Yang Kuei-fei turns her head and with a single smile reveals her manifold charms, and Ch'en Hung's "Story of the Song of Everlasting Sorrow" ("Ch'ang-hen chuan"), which adds that "their beauty was like dirt" ( fen-se ju t'u ). Such associations take us beyond the simple description of the beauty of the Manchu wine-seller of the anecdote.
In Chinese literary history there has long been a tradition of using a beautiful woman as the symbol for a man of virtue or for oneself so considered, beginning with Ch'ü Yüan's "Li-sao." The words "cast a glance" (t'ung i ku ) in this song earlier appeared in a poem, "Fang-ko hsing," by the poet Ch'en Shih-tao (1052–1102):
The spring breeze on Everlasting Lane where the beauty, confined,
has long brought undeserved fame to the green houses.
She might raise the curtain to cast a glance outside
but fears that he would not get a good look.
That Ch'en Shih-tao was using the neglected palace lady allegorically was noted by his contemporary and mentor Huang T'ing-chien (1045–1105), who is quoted as having remarked disparagingly of this poem, "Lingering over his own reflection, he is too much of a show-off." If we are reminded of Ch'en Shih-tao's poem as we read Wang Kuo-wei's, the potential for an allegorical meaning naturally increases, particularly so when the phrase "casts a glance" comes after "in the crowd," first setting the lovely girl in contrast to all others, and then in the next line placing her far above all the other beauties in the world and translating her into the highest imaginable realm.
Given the strong possibility of such a reading, there remains the question of how the symbol of a beautiful woman is to be taken. She could stand for the poet himself. I have already suggested a reason for such an interpretation: the poem begins by taking the figure of the woman impersonally, as an aesthetic object, like the girl in the Li Shang-yin poem, and here too she could be a symbol for the poet himself. Likewise, in Ch'en Shih-tao's allegory, a palace lady failed to get the favor of her lord; now that she lives shut up in Everlasting Lane, her beauty hidden out of sight, ordinary women's looks gain an undeserved praise. And even though this beauty does not regret her loss of position and, rolling up the curtain, shows her face, it is to be feared that no one will recognize or appreciate her outstanding beauty. In this poem the beautiful woman certainly stands for the poet himself.
Finally, in some of Wang Kuo-wei's own songs lovely ladies do symbolize the poet, so such a reading here is in line with his tastes and practice. Thus, there are many reasons for believing that Wang Kuo-wei was presenting his own situation through the figure of the woman.
Interestingly enough, however, the suggestion implicit in these lines could also apply to something other than the poet. In the first place, the lovely girl presented as an aesthetic object could easily stand for any ideal of beauty in the poet's mind. And if we take Wang Kuo-wei's phrase "casts a glance" without reference to Ch'en Shih-tao's poem, the phrase could just as well apply to an observer, one who was a part of the crowd but who perceives the extraordinary beauty of the girl: just
when she looked, smiling, she caught his eye, and from this momentary exchange of glances, all other women of the world were as dust to him. Such an occurrence could symbolize some precious and exalted ideal in the mind.
Furthermore, Wang Kuo-wei often expressed such ideas in his other songs, where a sudden moment of philosophical insight comes unawares. For example, "the solitary chime from up above" and "climbing the high peak for a glimpse of the white moon" and "the nearby fairy mountains with the towers and pavilions visible from afar" —these all belong to a kind of exalted, imagined realm of which one catches only a glimpse. So it is clear that taking something other than the poet as the thing symbolized yields a reading compatible with the spiritual goal Wang Kuo-wei was preoccupied with.
So much for the possibilities of interpretation offered by the first stanza. The second offers fewer ambiguities.
A single tree in early bloom—
no other term fits,
except the words "as Heaven made it."
These lines are a paean to natural beauty. Read in terms of the anecdote, they would apply to the unadorned beauty of the Manchu wineseller, but even such straightforward verses have in fact the potential for symbolism. One comes to this stanza with expectations developed in the first stanza with its aura of symbolism and finds in the burgeoning tree bursting with flowers an obvious symbol for beauty, one that need not be restricted to a woman's good looks, and indeed there is here no direct mention of a person. What is praised is natural, unadorned beauty, something Wang Kuo-wei repeatedly found occasion to commend as a characteristic of the songs he admired. Even Hsiao Ai, to whom we owe the anecdotal reference, remarks, "Through this song we can catch a glimpse of Ching-an's [Wang Kuo-wei's] aesthetic views. When he writes about song lyrics, he strongly praises the natural and genuine, and in discussing the good qualities of Yüan opera he also writes, 'To sum it up in a word, natural is all,' and, 'Lack of makeup and careless dress still cannot hide an outstanding beauty.' 'Heaven-given' says it all." And T'ien Chih-tou in his commentary on Wang Kuo-wei's songs also says of this song, "This healthy, beautiful girl of the north made a deep impression on the poet. 'Heaven-given' is the aesthetic standard for Wang. 'The lotus emerging from clear water, Heaven-given, dis-
penses with ornament'—this is the natural excellence given highest praise in his song lyric criticism. . . . This song could be read as a piece of tz'u criticism."
While noticing the possibility of an allegorical reading of these lines, both Hsiao and T'ien believe that it is primarily the description of the girl of the anecdote, and that Wang Kuo-wei merely associated his concept of beauty in the song lyric with the girl's beauty. I think it is not only the quality of "Heaven-given" that is common to the beauty of the girl and what he advocated as an ideal for the lyric; rather, every line of the song is a part of the symbolism. These three lines praise Heaven-given beauty, but we must take them in the context of the following lines: "The girl there from Wu who boasts of her dancing skill—/ too bad the supple waist misleads," and notice the implied invidious contrast between the "girl from Wu" and the girl of Yen who embodies that beauty. Taken together, it becomes apparent that "Heaven-given" and "dancing skill" represent yet another contrast in character, besides the one already noticed in the first stanza, between "trailing a long skirt" and "mincing gait." There Wang Kuo-wei was already comparing two kinds of beauty, and using them symbolically. In this case the contrast becomes stronger when we recall the sort of associations one has with dancing skill as it comes up in traditional Chinese poetry, where it suggests obsequious behavior—as in Hsin Ch'i-chi's (1140–1207) song to the tune "The Boy Tickles the Fish" ("Mo yü erh"):
don't you see,
Yü-huan and Fei-yen are both turned to dust?
Wang Kuo-wei's "too bad the supple waist misleads" makes his negative view of dancing skill even more obvious.
The Heaven-given beauty that Wang praises is not only consonant with his ideal of beauty in song lyrics, it also symbolizes his ideal of human character and conduct. If we look back at the whole poem, we will see that the entire text of this song not only lends itself to a symbolical interpretation, the meaning and structure of the symbol, too, are completely consistent with this dual interpretation.
I am not of course denying the possibility of a straightforward reading of the text in terms of the reported anecdote, but it is worth emphasizing that even those song lyrics of Wang's that are presented as descriptive of real events frequently contain the suggestion of a deeper, subtler reading, resulting in what is essentially a created scene. As Wang Kuo-wei himself said in the statement cited earlier, "The scenes [a great poet] describes also approach the ideal," and "whether tz'u is refined or vulgar comes from the spirit, not what appears on the surface." This song can be taken as an illustration of these poetic principles.
Poem No. 3—
Invented Scenes Allusion and Allegory
To the tune "Partridge in the Sky " ("Che-ku t'ien ")
Over the covered gallery wind flaps a fifty-foot banner,
the storied structure thrusts up level with the clouds.
All that remains, alas: full moons lined up like coins
that do not illumine the red flowers hanging from the ceiling.
Repeatedly I grope, again I scramble,
a thousand gates, a myriad doors—is it real or not?
Everything in the world is open to doubt,
only this doubt is not to be doubted.
Whatever the status of the preceding lyrics as presenting a real or imagined scene, there can be no doubt about this one: the scene is bizarre enough not to be taken for something actually observed. But what about Wang Kuo-wei's insistence that even the imagined scene be compatible with nature? There should be some reasonable basis for the poet's invention. Readers generally have found this particular song obscure or unintelligible, even in its general purport. It becomes clearer if we look
for the sources of Wang Kuo-wei's imagined scene and consider the song in the light of his basic intellectual attitudes.
Take the first two lines: "Over the covered gallery wind flaps a fifty-foot banner,/ the storied structure thrusts up level with the clouds." There is a power in the imagined scene to move and involve the reader, not only in its grandeur but also in its lifting, soaring quality. From line 5 ("Repeatedly I grope, again I scramble") we can infer that this scene which the reader finds so moving is also the object of the poet's search, and from Wang Kuo-wei's own practice, a scene that is the goal of a search is always something in the imagination, not in the real world. For example, the search for the Fairy Mountain in the sea (in the song to the tune "The Butterfly Loves Flowers") and the effort to ascend the mountain peak to view the white moon ("Sands of the Washing Stream") are typical of the symbolical use of an imagined scene as the goal of a search for the ideal.
But the Fairy Mountain is a reference to the familiar legend of the Three Fairy Mountains in the Po Sea. Since the "mountain temple" and the "highest peak" in the "Sands of the Washing Stream" song are not part of an allusion, some readers are led to assume that what is involved there is a real scene; but when the second stanza concludes with the purely philosophical "I chanced to open a celestial eye to look down to the red dust:/ my own self alas there among those I see," it seems obvious that this scene is also an imagined one. Anyhow, these imagined scenes are good illustrations of Wang's claim that the scenes imagined by a great poet will always accord with the natural, their elements always be found in nature, and their structure always reflect the natural.
In this poem, however, the covered gallery and fifty-foot banner present definite problems. They are not an obvious allusion like the Fairy Mountains, nor are they a part of a natural scene like the mountain temple. In using an unfamiliar scene to represent the sought-for goal, this song, it seems to me, is more deliberately symbolical than the above two examples. The scene presented in the first line derives from the description of the O-pang Palace in the "Annals of the First Emperor" in Ssu-ma Ch'ien's Historical Records : "The palace in front is O-p'ang, extending east to west five hundred paces and north to south five hundred
paces. A myriad of men could be seated above, and below is place for a fifty-foot banner." It must have been one of the largest palaces ever built in China, and when Wang Kuo-wei was looking for the most magnificent and imposing structure as the symbol for the object he pursued in his imagination, he chose to base it on the Shih-chi description of the O-p'ang Palace.
We can see, of course, that the palace's primary function as a symbol in his song derives from its grandeur, but that is not its only purpose: there is also the detail of the covered gallery (ko-tao ) in the opening line. The Shih-chi description of the O-p'ang Palace continues: "Running around it was a covered way [ko-tao ] leading down from the palace to connect with [Chung-nan] Mountain, marking the highest point of the mountain with a gate tower. A corridor was made from O-p'ang crossing the Wei [River] and connecting with Hsien-yang." The symbolism of this structure is clearly stated: "[The palace] represents the [constellation] Zenith [t'ien-chi ], where the Covered Gallery cuts across the Milky Way to reach the constellation Ying-shih." It is obvious that this structure was planned with an astronomical counterpart. As far as the O-p'ang Palace is concerned, the covered gallery simply connects the palace with the capital Hsien-yang across the Wei River. But it also has a symbolical function connected with astronomy: the whole structure was built to symbolize the seat of the Lord of Heaven, so that the palace itself is the constellation Zenith, the highest point in the heavens. Covered Gallery is also the name of a constellation. In the "Essay on Astronomy" we read, "The last six stars of the Purple Palace [tzu-kung ] that cross the Milky Way and reach the Ying-shih [constellation] are called the Covered Gallery." Chang Shou-chieh's commentary on this passage states that "the seven stars of the constellation Ying-shih are the palace of the Son of Heaven [t'ien-tzu ]." From this it is clear that the covered gallery of O-p'ang Palace was constructed to symbolize the Purple Palace of the Zenith. Its crossing the Wei River to connect with the palaces in Hsien-yang coincides with the trajectory of the six last stars of the Purple Palace as they cross the Milky Way and connect with the palace of the Son of Heaven, that is, the abode of the Lord of Heaven.
The choice of the setting of a fifty-foot banner waving over a covered gallery as a symbol for the goal of his pursuit enriches the poem with another set of associations. Had Wang Kuo-wei merely used a lofty, remote setting like the mountain temple or the high cliff, his symbol would have conveyed nothing more than that—something beyond easy reach. But by using terms that have a specific reference, he has greatly increased the resonance of his symbol. Since the Covered Gallery in the Shih-chi was meant symbolically as a passage to the seat of the Lord of Heaven, there is the implication that it was the goal he was groping and scrambling toward. In terms of Wang Kuo-wei's lifelong and passionate preoccupation with the problem, it could well symbolize his striving for an understanding of human life.
This kind of symbolic interpretation also accords with Wang Kuo-wei's own critical practice, and in his songs this passionate pursuit of a final answer to the problem is repeatedly expressed through the metaphor of a spiritual intercourse with Heaven. For example,
On the topmost peak are no clouds,
last night it rained—
I come to listen to Heaven's voice
How can I bear last night's dream in the west house,
when I walked with sleeves full of plucked stars?
There are many such lines showing Wang Kuo-wei's frequent use of an imagined lofty and remote setting that not only symbolizes a high ideal but also suggests a desire to ascend to heaven to seek the answers to the fundamental problem of human existence. But this image as used in these other songs is both conventional and natural, while in the present song it appears unusual and anything but natural; it also carries an extra layer of implication from its original context in the Historical Records . And so from this first line we can conclude that this song, compared with the others, is one in which the poet deliberately was creating a setting with an allegorical dimension.
Since it begins with an allegorical setting, it must continue in the same mode. The images used in this imagined setting are derived from books that Wang Kuo-wei had read, some of them familiar and some not likely to be known to every reader. First, the line "The storied structure thrusts up level with the clouds" probably derives from a couplet in the fifth of the "Nineteen Old Poems":
In the northwest is a lofty tower
rising up level with the floating clouds,
lines surely familiar to every reader. Wang Kuo-wei has introduced a couple of changes: "storied" (ts'eng ) in place of "lofty" (kao ) ("structure," "tower" is the same Chinese word lou ), and "thrusts up" (t'u wu ) for "rises" (shang ). Changes like this in lines taken from classical texts are dealt with in a remark in Wang Kuo-wei's critical writing, where such borrowing is approved on principle, so long as it contributes to setting. The changes he has introduced here adapt the line to the setting he was creating, which is not that of the original poem. The original adjective "lofty" conveys no suggestion of anything beyond "height," while "storied" adds a more complicated feeling: along with the idea of "high" is the suggestion of a structure elaborated, substantially constructed, and imposing. Add the words "thrusts up," and it achieves an almost dizzying force. In the context of a covered gallery that stretches from a mountain top across a river and into the city, it adds scale and motion to the image, especially when enlivened by the enormous banner flapping in the wind above it. This resurrects in the imagination the grandeur and magnificence of the First Ch'in Emperor's O-p'ang Palace and brings it before our eyes, much as Tu Fu could imagine "Han Wuti's banners before my eyes" as he remembered the K'un-ming Lake, constructed a thousand years earlier.
The next couplet imposes a discordant atmosphere on this magnificent image:
All that remains, alas: full moons lined up like coins
that do not illumine the red flowers hanging from the ceiling.
The source for these lines also lies in Wang Kuo-wei's reading, transformed through his imagination. Pan Ku's (32–92) "Rhapsody on the
Western Capital" provides the full moons lined up like coins. He was describing the Chao-yang Palace: "Lord Sui's full moons everywhere in between, / jade discs clasped in gold, like rows of coins." Lord Sui's "full moon" alludes to the night-shining pearl (ming-yüeh chu ) given Lord Sui by the grateful snake he treated, according to Li Shan's commentary. The "jade disks clasped in gold" provide a more immediately intelligible basis for the image "making a row of coins" (shih wei lieh-ch'ien ) than do the pearls, which are all Wang Kuo-wei's line mentions, and perhaps they should be appropriated as part of the allusion. Since the song began with the covered gallery that symbolically leads to the abode of the Lord of Heaven, the night-shining pearls and associated jade discs are part of the resplendent ornamentation of his palace.
The mysterious pink flowers hanging from the ceiling come from Chang Heng's (78–139) "Rhapsody on the Western Capital," where he describes the Lung-shou Hall in front of the Wei-yang Palace with "lotus stems upside down on the painted ceiling." Tso Ssu (ca. 253–ca. 307) describes a similar palace ceiling in his "Rhapsody on the Capital of Wei," but Wang Kuo-wei no doubt had in mind the Chang Heng passage, since it involves a palace in the Western Capital, closer to the site of O-p'ang Palace. In sum, the song has described the magnificence and beauty of a palace, enriched by borrowings from the two rhapsodies to suggest an idealized conception of the seat of the Lord of Heaven.
So much for a surface reading. Notable are the qualifying introductory phrases: "All that remains, alas" (k'ung yü ) and "that do not illumine" (pu chao ). Their function is an important one. The first refers to the ruin of the imagined palace and expresses regret that it is no longer intact, and the next line continues with a lament of disappointment at the loss of the hoped-for spectacle.
I have already mentioned Wang Kuo-wei's dedication to the search for an ideal and elsewhere have cited a number of his own writings to show that he always disregarded material advantage in his pursuit of an ideal goal, concluding that his willingness to sacrifice himself in striving for an ideal was part of his genius and beyond his control to change. There was no way ever to bring this search to fruition, and in many
of his songs there is a lament for a search that ends in failure and disappointment. However, some force kept him from ever giving up this pursuit of the ideal; the light of idealism was always preserved in the poet's heart. So, in our song the rows of night-shining pearls still seem to emit a glimmer of light, even though it is not enough to illuminate the pink blossoms hanging down from the painted ceiling. It is a situation comparable to that in Juan Chi's (210–63) "Song of Sorrow," no. 19: "There's a lovely lady to the west," where the poet sees a beautiful woman who is "floating indistinct" but appears to let her eyes fall on him. In the end he is unable to make contact with her, and the result is
Attractive she was, but we never came together;
seeing her has made me sad.
Thus, in the first stanza of Wang Kuo-wei's song, the search for an ideal realm in an imagined setting—and its failure—are expressed in terms of symbols based on allusions to ancient texts. It combines clarity with elegance, radiance with obscurity, in a vision of soaring majesty—a truly notable example of an imagined setting. The second stanza begins with a direct statement of the frustration of his efforts: "Repeatedly I grope, again I scramble." The words "repeatedly" (p'in ) and "again" (ch'ieh ) emphasize the difficulty of abandoning the search and its futility. The "thousand gates" and "myriad doors" take us back to the image of the palace (the phrase comes from the Historical Records , "Annals of Wuti," where it describes the Chien-chang Palace) and symbolize the confusion and wrong turns connected with the search. The words "is it real . . . ," describing something indistinctly glimpsed and then lost sight of, are adapted from an old text, Han Wu-ti's song about the apparition of the Lady Li:
Is it real, is it not?
Indistinctly seen from afar.
Wavering, how slowly she comes!
They bring to the groping search for a lost palace the association of a beautiful woman. Though such a suggestion was not necessarily in Wang Kuo-wei's conscious mind, given the associations attached to the source of the words, the potential effect is there. Furthermore, the analogy between expecting a meeting with a beautiful woman and the pursuit of an ideal links them together, and so such a reading is unquestionably a factor in creating resonances that enrich our appreciation of this poem. The concluding couplet, "Everything in the world is open to doubt, / only this doubt is not to be doubted," marks the ultimate futility of the search. He has given a slight twist to Descartes's famous dictum that everything is subject to doubt except the fact of doubting. For Wang Kuo-wei it is precisely this doubt—the uncertainty of his search, of its very goal—that is not in doubt, transforming a logical, philosophical concept into a cry of despair. Since the object of his search is unobtainable, there can be no solution to his uncertainties; this is a conviction that repeatedly appears in his writing, and this song is representative of those that create an imagined setting to reveal his fundamental "pattern of consciousness," to borrow a term from the "Criticism of Consciousness" school.
The setting projected in the song is so fanciful, so bizarre, that readers have often completely failed to understand its meaning, and so I have taken it as one of my examples, hoping to show that beneath the fanciful imagery and obscure allusions is an intelligible and moving poem.
Poem No. 4—
Writing about Writing
To the tune "Sands of the Washing Stream "
The new song—is it a real love affair?
The tender words are too vague.
For whom are you writing with such pain in the lamplight?
I lean on the desk for a glimpse of your new poem
and then turn away from the lamp to reflect on the good times we've had—
it matches none of the things I recall.
Before discussing this song, I should explain why I have chosen it as one of my four examples, when so many of his better-known song lyrics present an imagined episode. There are too many, certainly, to deal with adequately here. My choice was in part determined by the very unfamiliarity of this song—no need to explain one that everyone already appreciates. This one has the further attraction of not obviously belonging to my category of invented episodes, for on the surface it appears to be the realistic presentation of an intimate scene, while actually it conveys a subtle and involved allegorical meaning that is worth elucidating. Finally, all the other songs I might have used deal with themes that recur repeatedly in Wang Kuo-wei's works: the man who maintains his integrity in a hostile world, the disappointing contrast between dream and reality, the devotion that asks no recompense, the realization that one cannot detach oneself from the common lot of humanity —all those ethical and philosophical ideas dear to his heart.
The song I have chosen has the unusual theme of poetic composition, something not only unusual in the short song (hsiao-ling ) form, but extremely difficult to achieve through an ostensibly realistic love song. That Wang Kuo-wei did it successfully is my real reason for using this as an example of a song that describes an invented episode.
To begin with the surface level of meaning: the scene is of a couple in a room. The voice is a woman's; the man has been writing a song,
which she has been reading over his shoulder. The first line—"The new song—is it a real affair?"—is the woman's reaction on reading it: "The love affair you are writing about, is it something that really happened?" The setting makes this the obvious first meaning of the word pen-shih , "affair," which can of course be completely non-committal as to what sort of "affair" is meant. The word "really" (ting ) reflects her compulsion to know the truth: did it really exist or not (ting yu wu )? The next line, "The tender words are too vague," gives the reasons for her uncertainty—the tender words and their effect. It's the "tender words" (ch'i yü ) that lead the woman to believe that the affair is a love affair; but they are too ambiguous, so vague and obscure that it is hard to decide to whom they apply. These first two lines provide the causes of the woman's puzzled suspicion.
There is another reason for her doubt: "For whom are you writing with such pain in the lamplight?" The distress (ch'ang tuan ) showing in the face of the man writing the song must be connected with the person about whom he is writing those tender words. The lamplight defines a setting (inside a room, at night) appropriate to pensive reflection. Accompanied by signs of strong emotion, it gives further support to the supposition that he is writing about a love affair. But since the tender words are vague, it is hard to know who the object of his feeling might be.
The first stanza is devoted to the doubts roused in the woman's mind as she reads a song the man has been writing. The second stanza continues as she ponders over what she has just read. Having looked surreptitiously (k'uei ) over his shoulder to see what he was writing, she turns away to consider whether it might possibly be about her:
I lean on the desk for a glimpse of your new poem
and then turn away from the lamp to reflect on the good times we've had—
Vague though the song's tender words may have been, none of it matches anything that she can remember of their relation. So in the end her doubts remain unresolved: is the song about a real love affair or not?
So much for a reading of this song as a simple love poem. The vocabulary common to such songs ("affair," "tender words," "heartbroken in the lamplight," "leaning on the desk," "turning away from the lamp,"
"the good times") and the convincingly implied narrative put in the woman's voice make it sound like an episode in a love affair. I am convinced, however, that it is an invented allegory. In the first place, although the tone is lively and realistic, it lacks any real expression of feeling, whether love, jealousy, grief, or joy, as compared with Wang's 101 other love poems, such as the one celebrating a reunion with his wife, or the lament on seeing her on her deathbed after a separation —events in his life that can be verified. Too, the feelings in those songs are conveyed through a subjective, personal voice that is unmistakable and contrasts strongly with the voice of the female persona adopted in this one, objectivized as the narrator. Thus, the affair implied in the song becomes a symbol providing the possibility of an allegorical reading.
Furthermore, it can hardly be a coincidence that every line of the poem suggests an experience connected with artistic creation; the allegory must be deliberate. I will give my interpretation of the poem read in such terms. To begin with the first line again: "The new song—is it a real affair?" The word pen-shih in traditional Chinese poetry and song has two possible meanings. In the wide sense, as applied to a poem's content, it can be any episode, real or imagined. Pen-shih in the narrow sense means "a love affair," and so it appears in the first reading of our song. Now any mention of love in a poem is calculated to rouse the reader's interest—he wants to know more about it. But in the eyes of traditional Confucian moralists a love affair is a most improper business, and this attitude produces two results: where the reader of such poetry has his interest strongly roused, the writer's response to the reader's curiosity is to refuse to explain. The matter is further complicated by the long-standing Chinese tradition of love poetry as allegory, so that any love poem provides the reader with a potentially double understanding, first for the emotion directly expressed and then a possible allegorical dimension. A poem about a love affair easily raises the doubt in the interested reader's mind as to whether the poem might be allegorical or just a love poem and, if the latter, whether the event is a real episode in the poet's life. This uncertainty has always been a problem for readers of Chinese poetry, and Wang Kuo-wei's song begins by asking the question, "The new song—is it about a real affair?" thus devoting the strategic place in the poem to a problem prominent in understanding Chinese poetry. To compress so much in a short line and to do it so vividly is a remarkable achievement.
Wang Kuo-wei, however, is not just posing a general literary problem. It is a problem associated with a particular genre, and the words "new song" (hsin tz'u ) in the first line are followed in the second by "The tender words are too vague," which in addition to its surface meaning is also descriptive of a special characteristic of the literary art of the song lyric. For most songs are love songs: their currency is "tender words." This recalls, again, Wang's statement in the Jen-chien tz'u-hua cited earlier that "the essence of tz'u is in a subtle and refined beauty" [yao-miao i-hsiu ]; it should avoid the obvious, preferring the vague and suggestive to the definite and specific. And, moreover, whereas the range of the song lyric is limited—largely to the subject of love—by the very imprecision of its language, tz'u is more suggestive than shih and carries the reader beyond the surface meaning of the words, leading to doubt about its true meaning or the poet's intention in writing. This simultaneous characteristic and limitation are described dramatically in the line "The tender words are too vague."
So far we have been considering only the features peculiar to the song lyric that distinguish it from shih poetry. If we look at it from the point of view of the poet who is writing the one or the other, we can see a difference in the way each is composed. When writing a shih poem, the poet is self-consciously expressing his own feelings, so that the poem always has a theme clearly discernible by the reader. The songwriter, however, is primarily providing words for a tune, filling in a pattern, and though the song lyrics by later poets were not really intended for singers to perform, the poet was chiefly concerned with providing a text for parting sorrow or the passing of spring rather than directly giving vent to his own feelings, with the result that, like the reader, he too is uncertain about the precise meaning of the romantic words he puts down in the song pattern. But though the poet may not be deliberately expressing his own feelings, still, in the course of writing, the secret thoughts and feelings in the depths of his unconscious can be inadvertently revealed in his poem. And when his deepest feelings are touched, the process of composition can be accompanied by great anguish. But in terms of the poet's own consciousness, it is by no means certain that he can make himself logically aware of what forces have been at work. This is a difficulty admirably and appropriately conveyed by the line "For whom are you writing with such pain in the lamplight?" which can apply to the pain caused by the poet's reflection on the feelings stirred within him by the song lyric he is writing.
The second stanza clearly identifies the writer of the song as a man (chün ) and the reader as a woman (ch'ieh ), two separate individuals. But it is easy to identify both with the poet himself, as two aspects of his being. As I have previously suggested, Wang Kuo-wei used the terms "observing the object outside" (kuan wu ) and "observing one's own feeling" (kuan wo ) to refer, in the former, to the description of an object or event and, in the latter, to the poet's own feelings as the object of description. But of course it is the poet who observes and who describes, and he not only observes his own feelings and ideas, he can also adopt a stance of viewing himself writing. Hence the two protagonists both coincide with the poet himself, the man who writes the poem and the woman who reads it and turns away from the lamp to reflect on the good times.
All poets in the process of composition have a component within themselves that observes and criticizes, and the result of this critical observation is frequently the realization that what one has written is an inadequate expression of what one has been feeling. As Lu Chi (261–303) expressed it in his "Rhapsody on Literature": "Whenever I write, I am more and more aware of what is involved: I always worry lest my ideas are not equal to my subject, and that my writing fails to convey my ideas." This has precisely the meaning of "it matches none of the things I recall."
Given the limitations of the hsiao-ling lyric form, vague and obscure in comparison with all other verse forms, the difficulty faced by the poet in bringing his subtle feelings into congruence with his words is even greater than what Lu Chi was describing. Lu Chi's rhapsody is universally praised for using a verse form to write literary criticism, but Wang Kuo-wei has used the short song for the same purpose, and his allegory on tz'u criticism is a unique achievement in the annals of Chinese song writing.
In considering Wang Kuo-wei's place as a song lyricist in a Chinese tradition of such poetry that goes back a good thousand years, it is worth noting that there is a discrepancy between his practice of song writing and his critical theory. He strove to approximate the ideal of the first category of true song words, and superficially his short songs and especially certain of his love poems come close as far as content is con-
cerned, but their real character tends rather toward the third type. This calls for elaboration.
The basic reason for this discrepancy between practice and theory comes from his not being able to make his composition a purely spontaneous act. This in turn has its causes. First of all, Wang Kuo-wei was writing at the end of the nineteenth century, a period wholly unlike the Five Dynasties and Northern Sung. Then tz'u were simply songs for entertainment, while by Wang's time they were a literary form, used like shih poetry for self-expression, so he could hardly avoid being self-conscious in writing them. Furthermore, in those earlier times poets writing words for musical settings were not constrained by any body of theory or criticism relating to their art—they could be spontaneous in a way denied later writers, especially a scholar like Wang Kuo-wei, who had been actively concerned with criticism and studies of the genre at the time he was writing songs. Accordingly, when he was himself occupied with creative writing, he could not help deliberately striving for the sort of special beauty and evocative power that he admired, but this deliberate effort was basically antagonistic to the goal he sought. The result was that the songs he wrote were at variance with the models he advocated.
Moreover, Wang was a scholar and a philosopher who, as noted earlier, had gradually moved from philosophy to literature, looking for some immediate consolation. And of his philosophical studies he said, "The problem of human existence is always before my eyes." So everywhere in his songs we find reflected his philosophical concerns and ideas, with the result that his own tz'u deviated even more from those of his preferred first category, true song words. The quality he detected and valued in earlier songwriters was something achieved spontaneously, and to deliberately set about achieving it was bound to result in songs more like those of the third, expository type that Wang disapproved of. However, whereas Sung dynasty poets who wrote songs of this third category were exercising their self-conscious art on long songs (man-tz'u ), Wang wrote short songs in the unmannered, intimate style of the earlier Five Dynasties and Northern Sung. A poet writing a long song concentrated his effort on the technique of composition on a verbal level, whereas in the hsiao-ling Wang could focus on devising a situation or episode sufficiently concentrated or ambiguous to convey the complexity of his thought, producing a natural difference in style. The subject matter also differed, since writers of expository songs typically
applied their skills to political topics or love affairs in the real world, whereas Wang devoted his effort to giving symbolic expression to his inmost philosophical ideas through specific episodes or scenes. While he has a self-conscious artistry in common with those earlier writers of tz'u of the third category and shares an ideal of the form with the poets of the first, his own song lyrics are different from both.
What about the second category, the song lyrics written for the same reason as shih poetry, intentionally to express the poet's feelings? The commonest failing of such songs is that they lose the subtle depth that is the special beauty of tz'u . To succeed as song lyrics, they must come from a poet whose feelings have a deeply ambiguous cast, one who can successfully reconcile those complex feelings with the formal prosodic demands of the song form and, while giving his feelings clear expression, can still preserve the qualities peculiar to song. Two poets who satisfied these conditions were Su Shih (1036–1101) and Hsin Ch'i-chi. When we compare the few songs Wang Kuo-wei wrote where it is clear that he was deliberately expressing feelings that normally would have been written in shih form, we discover some resemblance to those poets, but also considerable difference. Su Shih and Hsin Ch'i-chi employed shifting perspectives to present a wide range of concerns both personal and public, and they could usually achieve subtle depth even in writing songs deliberately expressing their feelings. When Wang tried it, he could not avoid an impression of monotony and obviousness. On the other hand, his philosophical ideas were something lacking in the songs of Su and Hsin. On the technical side, their use of allusion, their diction and overall organization seem to have been achieved with a natural ease that eluded Wang, who relied on deliberately constructed allegory, making one feel that he was working too hard.
After this comparison of Wang Kuo-wei's songs with those of his predecessors over a period of a thousand years, it should not be hard to establish his place in the company of China's preeminent writers of tz'u . He is an important poet who draws upon the past and blends tradition with innovative and original elements of his own. Wang's song lyrics combine many of the features of traditional tz'u without ever fitting wholly into any of the traditional categories. His distinctive incorporation of philosophical ideas and reflection of his own critical ideas in the very song lyrics he wrote represent a significant development in the realm of tz'u content and practice. Wang was aware of his accomplishment, and in his preface he ventured to claim: "Though I have not yet written as many as a hundred songs, there are only one or two poets since Southern Sung times who can match me—of this I am always
confident. In comparison to the great tz'u writers of the Five Dynasties and Northern Sung, I must confess that in some ways I am not their equal, but in some respects these same poets are not as good as I am." By means of a multifaceted approach incorporating both traditional critical methods and modern analytical techniques, I have endeavored to indicate the breadth of his many achievements.
Messages of Uncertain Origin:
The Textual Tradition of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u
Writing almost ten years ago, in the preface to my book, Lyric Poets of the Southern T'ang: Feng Yen-ssu, 903–960, and Li Yü, 937–978 , I tried to excuse my failure to provide any discussion of textual questions by promising to produce in due course a separate study dealing specifically with such questions. This chapter is both more and less than the promised study. Less than promised because it does not discuss the works of Feng Yen-ssu, it is also something more than I envisioned at the time, for it leads to questions about the nature of textual history that surely have implications for all who work with traditional Chinese texts.
This study owes a good deal to other people. Some parts of it go back many years to work done as a student at the University of British Columbia, and I am grateful to my teachers there, E. G. Pulleyblank, Florence C. Y. Chao (Yeh Chia-ying), and Jan W. Walls, for all the advice and encouragement they offered then or have since. The portions of the study that involve the use of a computer were made possible by a series of grants from the President's Committee on Faculty Travel and Research, University of Victoria. I am particularly grateful to Professor Vinton A. Dearing of the University of California at Los Angeles, author of the programs used, and to Mr. Martin Milner and Ms. Laura Proctor, formerly consultants for Computing Services at the University of Victoria, for the extensive help they rendered me in this portion of the project, as well as for their patience with my questions and mistakes. Needless to say, all the errors, omissions, oversights, and misjudgments are mine.
Abbreviations used in Notes and Bibliography
PP Pai-pu ts'ung-shu chi-ch'eng reprint. Citations are given in the form PP x/y, where x is the series number and y the number of the case (t'ao ) within the series. Pagination is the same for the original ts'ung-shu edition and the reprint.
SPTK Ssu-pu ts'ung-k'an reprint. Page numbers are given both for the original and (in parentheses) the consecutive pagination of the reprint.
Getting to the implications will, however, require that we traverse a good deal of terrain, much of it heavily thicketed in prickly detail. Our journey comprises five distinct stages, as follows. 1) Because the nature and authenticity of the Tsun-ch'ien chi bear crucially on issues to be taken up in later sections, we shall begin by reviewing the problems and evidence surrounding this anthology. 2) On taking up the textual tradition with which we are chiefly concerned, the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u , we shall first examine the compilation process that formed the text. The discussion is long and in many ways inconclusive, but it serves both to set the stage and to suggest the need for the section that follows. 3) Having examined aspects of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u from a bibliographic standpoint, we shall turn next to an analysis of the genealogy of the extant editions, employing a computer-assisted methodology that has not, so far as I know, previously been brought to bear on a Chinese textual tradition. The process aims first to construct a "directionless diagram" representing the relationships among the different editions ("states" of the tradition), and second to locate within this diagram an archetype, transforming the diagram into a genealogical "tree" and allowing us—or so we will argue—to resolve many cases of variant readings in the tradition. 4) From the discussion of the process for locating an archetype for the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u it becomes evident that some further advance in our understanding of a particular problem in the text of the Tsun-ch'ien chi may be possible. We shall return to that collection briefly in order to explore this problem and strengthen the claim of the Tsun-ch'ien chi to textual authority. 5) Finally, we shall consider some of the implications of our findings, both as they apply to a particular poem (one also discussed by Stephen Owen in another chapter) and as they reflect on the methodology employed. Readers rendered faint of heart by the prospect of so long and arduous a trek may wish to consult this final section first before deciding to saddle up.
The Authenticity of the Tsun-Ch'ien Chi
The overriding problem raised by the Tsun-ch'ien chi is that of authenticity. There are actually two different questions at issue. The first, with which students of the collection have been chiefly concerned hitherto, has to do with the date and authenticity of the collection itself, the second with the reliability of its attributions of the poems that it contains, regardless of when or how they came to be gathered into it.
The second question can be dealt with quite simply. Although the Tsun-ch'ien chi 's attributions of individual poems to particular poets
clearly cannot be relied upon in every case, in general, and with one important exception, the Tsun-ch'ien chi is clearly a collection of poems that are genuine products of the periods to which they are assigned. The exception referred to is of course the selection of poems attributed to Li Po, which have been shown elsewhere to be works of the tenth century. The period authenticity of the other poems is supported by a comparison of their rhyming categories with those of contemporary shih and tz'u poems known from other sources.
The problems associated with deciding on the authenticity of the anthology itself are more complex. Much of the doubt that has tended to cling to the Tsun-ch'ien chi derives from the preface to it written in 1582 by one Ku Wu-fang, who published an edition that is a direct or indirect ancestor of several of those currently extant. Ku's preface is a frustratingly ambiguous document. After an introductory passage comparing the tz'u to older forms of poetry, he continues,
As for Hsüan-tsung's "Hao shih kuang," Li Po's "P'u-sa-man," Chang Chih-ho's "Yü-fu," and Wei Ying-wu's "San-t'ai," the grace of their tones is of far-reaching import and their wonders surpass those of a thousand ages. Others, such as Wang [Chien], Tu [Mu], Liu [Yü-hsi], and Po [Chü-i] towered aloft as great masters. After them came the group of worthy officials at the end of T'ang. Linking their creations to form two chüan , first and second, [the collection] has been titled Tsun-ch'ien chi and carved on blocks to be passed on to fellow aficionados.
Earlier, there were the Hua-chien chi from T'ang and the Ts'ao-t'ang shih-yü from Sung, which were current, while few had heard of the Tsun-ch'ien chi .
Ku goes on to lament the contamination of China by "despicable northern tastes" consequent on the Chin and Yüan occupations of the "central districts," having particularly in mind the supplanting of the tz'u by the ch'ü , which he regards as completing an unhappy development begun by the evolution of the tz'u itself in the direction of longer
melodies. He continues: "I am simply more fond of the Hua-chien chi than of the Ts'ao-t'ang shih-yü and wish to disseminate it and pass it on. Some years ago, [I] was staying in Wu-hsing. Mr. Mao had also been 'attaching and supplementing,' and what I had compiled and put in order was of a similar kind [Mao shih chien yu fu pu erh yü ssu pien ti yu lei yen ]."
Now the first passage, with its reference to "linking" (lien ) and publication, along with the assigning of a title, emerges quite suddenly, with no prior mention of Ku's personal interest, and one might take this passage in isolation as descriptive of the formation of the text in the remote past, especially since it is followed by an account of the vicissitudes of the tz'u tradition after Sung. The second translated passage must be understood as referring to the hsiao-ling (short song) tradition by way of the Hua-chien chi and to an effort, similar to his own, by "Mr. Mao" to supplement that text by collecting other short tz'u from the T'ang and Five Dynasties period. In light of this passage, we might understand the extended complaint about the eclipse of this tradition as serving to link the reference to compilation and publication to the appearance of Mr. Mao and his similar production.
But all this succeeds better in raising questions than in resolving them. What exactly is Ku claiming to have done? Is this preface attached to his own compilation, to Mao's, to some conflation of the two, or to a preexisting work that he is only claiming to have compiled? If to his own work, did its publication precede or follow his acquaintance with Mr. Mao and that gentleman's work? Was the "attaching and supplementing" done to an existing Tsun-ch'ien chi or are we to understand that the Tsun-ch'ien chi was compiled as an attachment and supplement to the Hua-chien chi ?
The latter interpretation was evidently adopted by the celebrated seventeenth-century publisher Mao Chin, who reprinted Ku's edition as part of his Tz'u-yüan ying-hua collection and asserted in his colophon to it that Ku had simply gathered a variety of early tz'u poems together into a new anthology and published it under the old title. Mao's skepticism was soon challenged. Chu I-tsun (1629–1709), in a colophon dated 1671, recorded that he had compared a copy of Ku Wu-fang's edition with an old manuscript text in the hand of Wu K'uan (1436–1504) and found their contents to be substantially the same. Later, the great bibliophile Ting Ping (1832–99) described a Ming dynasty manuscript edition lacking Ku's preface but bearing the seal of the noted scholar, dramatist, and publisher Mei Ting-tso (1549–1618). Ting's conclusion was that the collection was genuine, for if it had not been, Mei Ting-tso
would not have treasured his manuscript version of it, since he was close enough in time—a contemporary, almost—to Ku Wu-fang to be able to judge its authenticity.
Indeed, it now seems possible to be reasonably certain that the presently extant Tsun-ch'ien chi is a genuine compilation of Northern Sung date, put together sometime during the eleventh century, but perhaps slightly altered or supplemented in the course of transmission. We shall not try to narrow down the date of compilation of the Tsun-ch'ien chi here, being chiefly concerned with showing it to be a Sung collection rather than one compiled in the Ming. Wang Chung-wen has argued that it cannot be later than the Yüan-feng period (1078–86), since it is mentioned in a colophon to Feng Yen-ssu's collected tz'u , the Yang-ch'un chi , which is dated to that time. Nor can it, Wang adds, be earlier than the reign of Jen-tsung (r. 1023–64), since it misattributes a poem by Li Kuan, active in Jen-tsung's time, to Li Yü. The latter argument, of course, is valid only if one agrees that Li Kuan wrote the poem in question. In any event, something like 1040–80 seems a reasonable approximate date for the Tsun-ch'ien chi . The Ssu-k'u editors were troubled by the lack of any listing of it in the Sung bibliography Chih-chai shu-lu chieh-t'i , but a number of Sung references to the title were later discovered and discussed by Wu Ch'ang-shou, Wang Kuo-wei, and subsequent writers. These references match, in general, the text as it stands today. Shizukuishi Koichi[*] has since displayed remarkable resourcefulness in further demonstrating the Sung provenance of the current text, showing that it was used in the compilation of the supplement (wai-chi ) to the works of Liu Yü-hsi and that the "mode" (tiao ) names used in it correspond to those current in the time of Chang Hsien (990–1078).
The only recent scholar strongly skeptical of the authenticity of the Tsun-ch'ien chi is Ch'i Huai-mei, who points out that the "Wu K'uan" manuscript that Chu I-tsun saw could well have been a forgery, that the agreements between Ku Wu-fang's text and scattered Sung extracts could simply be the result of Ku's having copied the latter, and that Ting Ping was perhaps not justified in assuming that Mei Ting-tso was convinced of the authenticity of the Tsun-ch'ien chi just because his seal is found on a copy of it. There is, of course, something to be said for all of
these objections, but they really do no more than remind us how far from "proof" in any legal or scientific sense so much of our reasoning about early Chinese bibliography really is. The surest way of dealing with these problems is by the full and imaginative use of internal evidence, the method adopted by Shizukuishi Koichi[*] , reference to whose work might have saved Ch'i from error. With respect to Ch'i's last point, though, it might be added that Mao Kuang-sheng too discounts Ting Ping's testimony. Mao is inclined to adopt a suggestion originally made only tentatively by Wang Kuo-wei, that the Tsun-ch'ien chi goes back to a collection made by a man of the T'ang period named Lü P'eng. As Wang himself admitted, there is only the slimmest evidence for this attribution, and since nothing whatever is known of Lü P'eng, not much more can be said of it. Since many of the tz'u in the Tsun-ch'ien chi are of post-T'ang date, the collection would have to have been extensively supplemented some time between the time of Lü P'eng and that of Wu K'uan.
More recently, the printing of another old edition of the Tsun-ch'ien chi has tended to confirm the authenticity of Ku Wu-fang's text, although it raises new questions about his role in editing it. This copy is part of the T'ang Sung ming-hsien pai-chia tz'u , a collection put together by Wu Na (1372–1457), but not printed until 1940. This text, provided that it is genuine—and there appears to be no reason to doubt this—antedates Ku Wu-fang's preface by more than a century, but it is nearly identical to his edition in its contents and arrangement.
The available early editions now number three: Wu Na's collection, the edition published by Mao Chin in the Tz'u-yüan ying-hua , which he copied from Ku Wu-fang's text, and the edition published by Chu Tsu-mou in the Chiang-ts'un ts'ung-shu . Chu Tsu-mou says in his colophon (dated 1914/15) that he followed the manuscript that had been in Mei Ting-tso's possession as his copy-text but emended it where necessary on the basis of Mao Chin's text. There is also a manuscript copy in the collection of the Toyo[*] Bunko in Tokyo, with a colophon by Wang Kuo-wei. Wang records that he copied the first chüan from Chu I-tsun's copy of the text printed by Ku Wu-fang and then added the second chüan
from Mao. The arrangement of the text is the same as that of Mao, wherever this differs from Chu and Wu. The three chief exemplars will be referred to henceforth as Wu, Mao, and Chu. On the basis of the external evidence discussed so far—and it is not proposed to go much further, in the present study, into the relationship between the different editions of the Tsun-ch'ien chi —we can construct a tentative filiation of the known texts (Fig. 1).
The importance to us of this diagram does not lie in its claim to represent the recent history of the textual tradition of the Tsun-ch'ien chi so much as in what it suggests about the form in which we find the text. That is, first, since there is virtually no difference in the contents of the three extant editions, and since at least one of them (Wu) and quite possibly a second (Chu) can be traced back to a time earlier than Ku Wu-fang, it follows that Ku's role as "editor" was limited to deciding what readings to follow when his copy-text was unclear in some way and that he was not responsible for actually collecting any poems at all, even as a supplement. Second, the nature of the slight differences that do exist suggests that the Wu Na manuscript and the one owned by Mei Ting-tso may have been more closely related to each other than either was to the ancestor of Ku Wu-fang's.
The differences are two. First, Wu and Chu are in one chüan , while Mao is in two. The location of the division is quite arbitrary, occurring in the midst of a group of related poets, and may have been added by Ku Wu-fang. The second difference concerns the location of a poem by Li Yü. In the Chu and Wu editions it is found by itself, following a group of seven lyrics by Feng Yen-ssu that in turn follow eight others by Li Yü. In the Mao text, this poem comes directly after these latter eight and before those by Feng Yen-ssu, with a note to the effect that in "another edition" it occurs separately. In all three editions the heading to the larger group reads "Eight Poems." The confusion may be related to uncertainty as to whether the melody "Wang Chiang-nan," which begins the group of eight poems, should be counted as two single-stanza poems, as in Chu and Wu, or as one poem of two stanzas, as in Mao. We shall return to consider this question in more detail below. For the moment, we need only point out that both of the differences were apparently introduced by Ku Wu-fang or Mao Chin—which suggests that the ancestors of Ku Wu-fang's edition were essentially similar
to Wu Na's edition and the Ming manuscript ancestral to Chu Tsu-mou's.
Actually, it is the location of some of the poems by Li Yü and Feng Yen-ssu that raises the most difficult questions about the arrangement of the text. To discuss this, however, it will first be necessary to digress somewhat by summarizing the contents of the Tsun-ch'ien chi and taking up a few other related points. Although no grouping of the poets is explicit in the text, they do fall neatly into the following clusters:
T'ang emperors (3 poets; 7 poems) and "Prince Li" (5 poems)
Poets of the T'ang and Southern T'ang (13 poets, including Li Po, Liu Yü-hsi, and Feng Yen-ssu; 131 poems)
Poets of the Hua-chien school (12 poets, from Wen T'ing-yün to Li Hsün, in the same sequence employed in the Hua-chien chi ; 120 poems)
"Prince Li" (8 poems; 9 in the Mao text)
Feng Yen-ssu (7 poems, followed in Chu and Wu by one by "Prince Li")
Miscellaneous (7 poets not included earlier, including two from the Hua-chien school; 10 poems)
Both the identical ordering of the Hua-chien poets in the Tsun-ch'ien chi and Hua-chien chi and the near absence of overlap between the contents of the two anthologies suggest, as Ku's preface implies and Shizukuishi was again apparently the first to notice, that the former was compiled with the conscious intent of supplementing the latter. Shizukuishi (p. 103) tabulates the eight poems duplicated in the two. Three of these are poems by Wen T'ing-yün to the melody "Keng-lou-tzu" that are attributed to Li Yü (one in each group of his poems) and Feng Yen-ssu in the Tsun-ch'ien chi . Then there are four to the melody "P'u-sa-man" by Wen T'ing-yün and one to "Hsi-ch'i-tzu" by Li Hsün attributed to the same poets in both anthologies. Evidently unaware of Shizukuishi's work, Ch'i Huai-mei and Li Hsin-lung both consider the question of poems duplicated in the two collections, and here each has something new to add. Ch'i, while missing three of the duplications that Shizukuishi noticed, caught another, although she does not make its nature clear. This is the first of the "P'u-sa-man" poems attributed to Li Po in the Tsun-ch'ien chi , which is in fact made up entirely of lines selected from two separate lyrics to this melody attributed, and no doubt cor-
rectly, to Wei Chuang in the Hua-chien chi . Li Hsin-lung makes more clearly and thoroughly a point that Ch'i had only mentioned in passing (Ch'i was, after all, chiefly concerned with the Hua-chien chi ), that the location of the duplicated poems suggests that they may be evidence of textual supplementation in the editing of one of the anthologies. That is, the four "P'u-sa-man" poems by Wen T'ing-yün not only occur in the same order in both anthologies, but also come at the end of Wen's "P'u-sa-man" poems in both, as if they had been "tacked on" at the end, as it were. Li's hunch is that in this case it may actually have been the Tsun-ch'ien chi that was being used to "restore" a damaged Hua-chien chi . If this is what happened, it must have taken place quite early, for an early Southern Sung printed edition of the Hua-chien chi is extant in which these poems are already included. Presumably it was the well-defined length of the Hua-chien chi (exactly five hundred poems) that invited the attempt at restoration.
Even more evident than any relationship between the two anthologies is the appearance the Tsun-ch'ien chi gives of having been supplemented after its initial compilation by the addition of more poems by "Prince Li," Feng Yen-ssu, and the miscellaneous group at the end. When did this happen and who was responsible for it? All we can say at this point is that it was not the work of Ku Wu-fang. This question is one we shall be returning to more than once in what follows.
The Compilation of the Nan-T'ang Erh-Chu Tz'u
It is curious that the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u , which is without doubt more often read than the Tsun-ch'ien chi , and about whose principal poet, Li Yü, there has grown up an extensive (if generally lightweight) body of secondary literature, has attracted the attention of fewer textual scholars than has the latter anthology. There are, however, two excellent brief discussions of it, and we are, as a result, in a position to date the text at least roughly.
It was Wang Kuo-wei who, in his colophon (dated 1909) to the edition of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u printed in the Ch'en-feng ko ts'ung-shu , made the first serious attempt to date it and describe its compilation.
Relying on the names and official titles of several persons mentioned in the notes to the original, particularly Ts'ao Hsün, he proposed that the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u was put together early in the Southern Sung, during the Shao-hsing period (1131–63).
In his comments on this colophon, which he reprints as part of an appendix to his Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u chiao-ting , Wang Chung-wen makes several additional points (pp. 103–4). In the first place, he notes that all of the extracts from tz'u-hua writings and the like that are included in the original text can be found in the compendium T'iao-hsi yü-yin ts'ung-hua of Hu Tzu, which was presumably the source from which they were taken. Thus, Wang reasons, the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u can only have been compiled after the completion of Hu's work, that is, after 1167. The terminus ante quem cannot, he continues, be fixed much earlier than the death of Ts'ao Hsün (1174), who is referred to in the text as chieh-tu (military governor), a title that he received in 1150. This would not have been used after his elevation to grand protector (t'ai-wei ), which took place sometime during the reign of Emperor Hsiao-tsung (r. 1163–90). Second, Wang points out that the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u , unlike most other Sung tz'u collections, is not arranged according to melody name, chronology, musical mode, or seasonal reference, nor does it follow any other apparent principle of order. He suggests, therefore, that it was compiled in a bookshop, specifically for publication as a commercial venture, as was at least one other well-known early tz'u anthology, the Ts'ao-t'ang shih-yü . Wang's conclusions are very persuasive, although it does seem possible that the consultation of the T'iao-hsi yü-yin ts'ung-hua could have taken place quite late in the process of compiling the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u , the larger part of which may have occurred before 1167. In any case, the present compilation must have been printed by 1208, since it heads a series of tz'u collections published by the Liu clan's Changsha bookstore and recorded in the Chih-chai shu-lu chieh-t'i . The series was titled Pai-chia tz'u , and was evidently the ancestor of Wu Na's compendium. The latter, however, included the Tsun-ch'ien chi , which is not included in the Chih-chai list.
Lacking a compiler's name or an original preface, even an anonymous one, we cannot tell just who was responsible for putting the collection together or how it was done. The one source of information that we do have is the various notes appended to the poems or to their titles. These clearly formed part of the original text, and they are found with
only minor variants in all extant exemplars of it. They report on the sources from which the poems were taken, raise questions of attribution, and recount anecdotes associated with the poems. Since much of the discussion to follow will refer to particular poems or the notes attached to them, it will prove convenient if all thirty-seven poems in the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u are listed here. For each poem, the following table supplies a serial position in the collection, the melody title, and the opening phrase. (These phrases are transcribed as given in Wang Chung-wen's text, without prejudice as to arguments that may be advanced later concerning the readings.) In addition, the editorial notes are translated or summarized as they occur:
1. "Ying t'ien ch'ang" i kou ch'u yüeh lin chuang ching
Headnote: "Hou-chu's inscription reads, 'Lyrics composed by the late emperor.' The manuscript belongs to the household of Ch'ao Kung-liu."
2. "Wang yüan hsing" pi ch'i hua kuang chin hsiu ming
3. "Huan hsi sha" shou chüan chen chu shang yü kou
Appended note: Quotes the Man-sou shih-hua , discussing a tasteless emendation of the poem.
4. "Huan hsi sha" han t'an hsiang hsiao ts'ui yeh ts'an
First appended note: Anecdote involving a witty exchange between Li Ching and Feng Yen-ssu in which this poem is quoted; no source is given in the note.
Second appended note: Anecdote relating a conversation about tz'u between Wang An-shih and Huang T'ing-chien in which this poem is cited; no source is given in the note.
5. "Yü mei-jen" ch'un hua ch'iu yüeh ho shih liao
Headnote: "In the Tsun-ch'ien chi there are eight poems in all, lyrics by the last ruler, Ch'ung-kuang [Li Yü]."
6. "Wu yeh t'i" tso yeh feng chien yü
7. "I hu chu" hsiao chuang ch'u kuo
8. "Tzu-yeh ko" jen sheng ch'ou hen ho neng mien
9. "Keng-lou-tzu" chin ch'üeh ch'ai
10. "Lin chiang hsien" ying t'ao lo chin ch'un kuei ch'ü
Appended note: Quotes an anecdote from the Hsi-ch'ing shih-hua that purports to explain the unfinished state of this poem as it is found in the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u ; a continuation comments on the anecdote.
11. "Wang Chiang-nan" to shao hen
12. "Ch'ing-p'ing yüeh" pieh lai ch'un pan
13. "Ts'ai sang-tzu" t'ing ch'ien ch'un chu hung ying chin
14. "Hsi ch'ien ying" hsiao yüeh chui
15. "Tieh lien hua" yao yeh t'ing kao hsien hsin pu
Headnote: "Found in the Tsun-ch'ien chi ; the Pen-shih ch'ü treats it as a work by Li Kuan of Shantung."
16. "Wu yeh t'i" lin hua hsieh liao ch'un hung
17. "Ch'ang hsiang-ssu" yün i kua
Headnote: "When Tseng Tuan-po collected the [Yüeh-fu ] ya-tz'u , he treated this as a work by Sun Hsiao-chih; this is incorrect."
18. "Tao lien-tzu ling" shen yüan ching
Headnote: "Comes from the Lan-wan ch'ü-hui ."
19. "Huan hsi sha" hung jih i kao san chang t'ou
Headnote: "This tz'u is found in the Hsi-ch'ing shih-hua ."
20. "P'u-sa-man" hua ming yüeh an lung ch'ing wu
Headnote: "Found in the Tsun-ch'ien chi ; the Tu Shou-yü tz'u also includes this poem, with some variants in the text."
21. "Wang Chiang mei" hsien meng yüan
22. "P'u-sa-man" p'eng lai yüan pi t'ien t'ai nü
23. "P'u-sa-man" t'ung huang yün ts'ui ch'iang han chu
24. "Juan lang kuei" tung feng ch'ui shui jih hsien shan
Headnote: "Presented to the prince of Cheng, my twelfth brother."[26
] Additional note: "Followed by the seal of the Heir Apparent's Library in clerical script."
25. "Lang t'ao sha" wang shih chih k'an ai
Headnote: "Comes from the Hsia family at Ch'ih-chou."
26. "Ts'ai sang-tzu" lu lu chin ching wu t'ung wan
Headnote: "The autograph of these two tz'u is in the household of Examiner Wang Chi-kung."
27. "Yü mei-jen" feng hui hsiao yüan t'ing wu lü
28. "Yü-lou ch'un" wan chuang ch'u liao ming chi hsüeh
Headnote: "The following two tz'u come from the household of Governor Ts'ao Kung-hsien; it is said that the autograph used to be in the quarters of an old gentleman living in retirement in the Prince Li Monastery outside the Liang Gate
of the capital, and that as a consequence it is in poor condition and hard to read."
29. "Tzu-yeh ko" hsün ch'un hsü shih hsien ch'un tsao
30. "Hsieh hsin en" chin ch'uang li k'un ch'i huan yung
Headnote: "The autograph of the following six poems is in the household of Prince Meng."
31. "Hsieh hsin en" ch'in lou pu chien ch'ui hsiao nü
32. "Hsieh hsin en" ying hua lo chin chieh ch'ien yüeh
33. "Hsieh hsin en" t'ing k'ung k'o san jen kuei hou
34. "Hsieh hsin en" ying hua lo chin ch'un chiang k'un
35. "Hsieh hsin en" jan jan ch'iu kuang liu pu chu
36. "P'o chen-tzu" ssu shih nien lai chia kuo
Appended note: Quotes [Su] Tung-p'o's description of Li Yü's departure from his conquered state, to which the poem apparently refers.
37. "Lang t'ao sha ling" lien wai yü ch'an ch'an
Appended note: Quotes the Hsi-ch'ing shih-hua on Li Yü's homesickness in captivity.
Wang Chung-wen has already wrung from these notes what little information they can be made to yield on the subjects of the dating and authenticity of the poems. It remains to be seen if further examination of them can advance us to a better understanding of how the book was compiled. Once again, a table will be the clearest way of summarizing the material. For each poem, one or more sources is given, unless none is known. Sources explicitly referred to in the notes summarized and translated above are given without parentheses; sources given here in parentheses are those known to have been in existence by the time of the compilation of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u but not mentioned in its notes. The three groups of poems assigned to "Prince Li" in the Tsun-ch'ien chi are designated by the letters A, B, and C, and the poems are numbered according to their position in each group. For example, "TCC A-4" means "the fourth poem in the first group of 'Prince Li' poems in the Tsun-ch'ien chi ."
1–4. manuscript from Ch'ao Kung-liu (3 is TCC A-4; 4 is TCC B-8)
5. TCC A-5 (headnote says that there were eight poems in TCC)
6. (no other source is known for this poem before the Ming dynasty)
7. (TCC A-1)
8. (TCC A-2)
9. (TCC A-3; Hua-chien chi attributes it to Wen T'ing-yün)
10. Hsi-ch'ing shih-hua ; (T'iao-hsi yü-yin ts'ung-hua )
11. (TCC B-1,2)
12. (TCC B-5)
13. (TCC B-6)
14. (TCC B-7)
15. TCC B-4; Pen-shih ch'ü attributes it to Li Kuan; (Yüeh-fu ya-tz'u attributes it to Ou-yang Hsiu)
16. (Yüeh-fu ya-tz'u , anonymous)
17. Yüeh-fu ya-tz'u , anonymous
18. Lan-wan ch'ü-hui ; (TCC attributes it to Feng Yen-ssu)
19. Hsi-ch'ing shih-hua
20. TCC C-1; Shou-yü tz'u attributes it to Tu An-shih
21–23. (no other source is known for these poems before the Ming dynasty)
24. manuscript from the Heir Apparent's Library; (Yüeh-fu ya-tz'u attributes it to Ou-yang Hsiu; Yang-ch'un chi attributes it to Feng Yen-ssu, with an editorial note in some editions reading, "Misattributed to Yen Shu in the Lan-wan chi ")
25. manuscript from the Hsia family in Ch'ih-chou
26–27. manuscript from the household of Wang Chi-kung
28–29. manuscript from the household of Ts'ao Hsün
30–35. manuscript from the household of Meng Chung-hou
36. Tung-p'o chih-lin ; (T'iao-hsi yü-yin ts'ung-hua )
37. Hsi-ch'ing shih-hua ; (T'iao-hsi yü-yin ts'ung-hua )
Now, there is a certain amount of order to be found here. The poems by Li Ching, all from the same manuscript source, are placed at the beginning; all other poems from manuscripts (24–35) are grouped together, the last being the fragmentary set of poems on the unique pattern "Hsieh hsin en." Three of the four poems found in the Yüeh-fu ya-tz'u are grouped together, as are three of the four poems known from no other pre-Ming source. The poems taken from (or at least appearing in) the Tsun-ch'ien chi are found in the same three groups as in that collection and appear at first glance to have been treated with considerable care. The two poems by Li Ching are transferred to his works, and one by Wen T'ing-yün is silently excluded (B-3). In two cases (15, 20)
involving poems whose attribution to Li Yü in the Tsun-ch'ien chi is contested by another source, the discrepancy is mentioned in the headnotes.
In view of all this, it seems all the more curious that the following questions arise: Why is the division of the poems into three groups followed? Why is another poem by Wen T'ing-yün (9, TCC A-3), whose spurious character is just as evident as that of the one excluded (B-3), included here without comment? Why is poem 18 included on the basis of the Lan-wan ch'ü-hui without any mention of its attribution to Feng Yen-ssu in the Tsun-ch'ien chi ? Why does the headnote to poem 5 simply and specifically say that the latter collection includes eight poems by Li Yü, when there are fourteen poems attributed to "Prince Li" there, and from nine to twelve (depending upon whether one counts poems 11 and 21 as two or four poems, whether one includes poem 18, and so on) from the Tsun-ch'ien chi appearing in the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u ?
In addressing these questions, we shall, in the interest of clarity of presentation, examine the poems in the following groups: 1–4, poems by Li Ching from the Ch'ao manuscript; 5–14, poems from the Tsun-ch'ien chi , with interpolations and deletions; 15–23, poems from other published or unknown sources; 24–35, poems from manuscript sources; 36–37, poems apparently added from the T'iao-hsi yü-yin ts'ung-hua .
If it were not for the manuscript from which poems 1–4 were entered into the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u , it is unlikely that we would know them to be the work of Li Ching, for the Tsun-ch'ien chi makes no distinction between Ching and his son Yü, suggesting that the collection's editor did not know that Ching was a poet. There seems to be no good reason, however, for doubting the authenticity of the manuscript, which is described in more detail in the Chih-chai shu-lu chieh-t'i . Moreover, some of the poems are cited in anecdotes concerning Li Ching that are recorded in historical sources, in particular the Nan-T'ang shu of Ma Ling. The compiler of the Chih-chai shu-lu chieh-t'i , Ch'en Chen-sun (fl. 1230–50), offered the following comment:
The Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u , in one chüan , by the second ruler, Li Ching, and the third ruler, Li Yü. The four poems at the beginning, to "Ying t'ien ch'ang," "Wang yüan hsing" (one each), and two to "Huan hsi sha," are by the second ruler. Ch'ung-kuang [Li Yü] wrote them out, the autograph being with the Ch'ao clan in Hsü-chiang. The inscription reads, "Lyrics composed by the late emperor." I have seen it. It is on mai-kuang
paper, in the po-teng style of script, with an inscription by Ch'ao Ching-yü. I do not know where it is now. The rest of the poems are by Ch'ung-kuang.
Taking this manuscript as authority, the compiler of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u evidently began the collection with these four poems on the assumption that the father's work ought to precede that of the son, even if there were fewer of the father's poems.
Poems 5–14 are somewhat more difficult to account for. It seems clear that the compiler's next step was essentially to transcribe the poems that were found in the Tsun-ch'ien chi . But it is just as clear that this was not done in a mechanical way, at least not from a Tsun-ch'ien chi identical to the texts now current. A straight listing of the poems in the Tsun-ch'ien chi according to their sequence in the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u gives the following order: Group A: 7, 8, 9, 3, 5; Group B: 11a, 11b, (Wen T'ing-yün poem not included), 15, 12, 13, 14, 4; Group C: 20. It is not impossible to see what was done instead. Poems 3 and 4, of course, were omitted, since they had already been included on the basis of the Ch'ao manuscript; 11a and 11b were treated as one, the Wen T'ing-yün poem was simply dropped as spurious, poems 15 and 20 were set aside temporarily because of questions concerning their authenticity, and—and this is simply conjecture—poem 5 was shifted to the head of the group just because it is one of Li Yü's most beautiful and best-known creations and seemed to deserve pride of place. Such a procedure would give the sequence 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, and these are
presumably the eight poems referred to in the headnote, which must have been added at this time.
The questions that remain are two. First, why was poem 9 not omitted at the same time as the other one by Wen T'ing-yün? And second, where did poems 6 and 10 come from, and when were they added? The omitted poem is the first of the "Keng-lou-tzu" lyrics by Wen T'ing-yün in the Hua-chien chi , while poem 9 is the third. One might suppose that the first poem's position called attention to it, while the other one was missed because it was not quite so "visible," though it is only a few lines away in the text. At any event, the oversight probably originated within the textual tradition of the Tsun-ch'ien chi , rather than in that of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u . In the former, both poems have a headnote specifying the mode to which the lyric was to be sung, but this is augmented in the Wu and Mao editions by a reference to Wen T'ing-yün's possible authorship of the poem not found in the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u . Since in general the Wu and Chu editions agree against Mao, Wang Chung-wen's suggestion (p. 65) that the additional note was omitted in the manuscript belonging to Mei Ting-tso, from which Chu was printed, is probably correct. If the additional note goes back so far in the textual tradition of the Tsun-ch'ien chi that it is shared by the Mao and Wu editions, then it may have been present in the original, or at least added to the text by the time of the compilation of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u , whose compiler would have been sufficiently reassured by it that he would not have troubled to check poem 9 against the Hua-chien chi (or Wen T'ing-yün's collected tz'u , to which the Tsun-ch'ien chi note refers) himself, assuming that this had already been done. This hypothesis is consistent with what we can deduce of the care that went into the compilation of the two texts. The Tsun-ch'ien chi , valuable as it is, is prone to misattributions and careless errors, while the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u seems to be the product of an editor who, if not infallible, was remarkably careful and thorough in his work.
Unfortunately, he was not quite so thorough as to tell us where he got poems 6 and 10, or why he entered them where he did. It seems very likely that 10 came either directly from the Hsi-ch'ing shih-hua , with the additional comments added later from the T'iao-hsi yü-yin ts'ung-hua , or else, with both comments, directly from the latter, which quotes the Hsi-ch'ing shih-hua . The question then is not so much where the poem came from, but rather why it was inserted where it was. The same
question can be asked about poem 6, except that here there is an added element of uncertainty, since no other source for this poem earlier than the Ming dynasty is known. We shall return to this problem after other questions of a simpler nature have been dealt with.
If understanding how the compiler of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u incorporated the poems taken from the Tsun-ch'ien chi has required a measure of ingenuity and left behind a residue of unresolved doubts, the measure and the residue that are required and left behind in dealing with the next group of poems are considerably greater. In fact, the rationale for treating poems 15–23 as a group lies only in their being distinct from poems 5–14 before them and from 24–35 after. One can divide them into a number of subgroups. Poem 15, taken from the Tsun-ch'ien chi (B-4), seems to have been shifted here simply to separate it from the eight poems in that source that required no additional discussion. There seems to be no good reason why poem 20 could not have been treated in the same way and placed immediately before or, more consistently, after 15, but this was not done. The poems found in the Yüeh-fu ya-tz'u present a particular problem due to the present state of the text of that work. It has clearly suffered a good deal of corruption, particularly as regards the names of the authors of the poems that it includes. The compiler of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u seems to have supposed that poems without an author's name attached were by the writer of the preceding poem, and this may even have been true, in general, of the edition at hand. But it led to the assumption that poem 17 was attributed to Sun T'an in the Yüeh-fu ya-tz'u , although it is not so attributed in the current text, only the poem that precedes it. The more puzzling questions about the four poems found in both the Yüeh-fu ya-tz'u and the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u are these: Why is poem 24 separated from the other three? And why, since the headnote to poem 17 cites the Yüeh-fu ya-tz'u only to disagree with it, are the other poems from the same collection (15, 16, 24) not credited to it in separate headnotes? The first question is not too hard to answer. It seems clear that poem 24 was entered on the basis of the old manuscript that had once been in the Heir Apparent's Library—the heir, of course, was Li Yü himself. That it was also to be found attributed to Ou-yang Hsiu in the Yüeh-fu ya-tz'u and to Feng Yen-ssu in the Yang-ch'un chi was apparently overlooked by the compiler; or perhaps, having the autograph in hand, he did not think the discrepancy worth discussing.
It is possible that poems 16 and 17 were entered not from the Yüeh-fu ya-tz'u , but from some other source, specified in a headnote to poem 16 that has since disappeared from the text, as Wang Chung-wen suggests
(p. 28). Clearly there must have been some other source for poem 17, for otherwise there would have been nothing to contradict the supposed attribution to Sun T'an. No other extant Sung source includes either poem, however, so we cannot suggest what the alternative source may have been.
The source for poem 18 is not a problem in itself, since it is specified in the headnote. The poem is, however, also found in the Tsun-ch'ien chi , where it is attributed to Feng Yen-ssu. It was not included in the Yang-ch'un chi , Feng's collected tz'u , and this suggests that the attribution to Feng in the Tsun-ch'ien chi may be erroneous.
The problem with poem 19 is not so much its source, which is specified in the note, as its location. That is, one poem from the Hsi-ch'ing shih-hua , 10, is entered earlier, and one, 37, later. To complicate matters, it is very possible that the direct source for 10 and 37 was in fact not the Hsi-ch'ing shih-hua itself, but rather the T'iao-hsi yü-yin ts'ung-hua , which quotes it. But the latter collection also includes this poem, the source cited there being not the Hsi-ch'ing shih-hua , but another, no longer extant book of Northern Sung date, the Chih-i of Liu Fu. Why the Chih-i is not mentioned in the note to this poem is hard to say. It is possible that Ts'ai T'ao, the compiler of the Hsi-ch'ing shih-hua , took the poem from the Chih-i without acknowledging this, and that the compiler of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u got it from the Hsi-ch'ing shih-hua , while Hu Tzu cited the original source. The poem is also cited in another Sung dynasty source, the Men-shih hsin-hua of Ch'en Shan, where it is treated as a shih poem.
Reference has already been made to the puzzling separation of poems 15 and 20, which one would have expected to be grouped together. Poem 20 is also cited in Ma Ling's Nan-T'ang shu , but this text is not explicitly referred to in the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u . The separation is probably not related to poem 20's uncertain placement in the Tsun-ch'ien chi , which placement is, as already noted, most readily explained as the result of an unrelated event in the textual history of that collection.
Poems 21–23 are also something of a puzzle, since they, like poem 6, are known from no other source earlier than the Ming dynasty. Had they come from a manuscript, its origin would presumably have been cited, and they probably would have been placed after the poem taken from the autograph with Li Yü's own seal on it.
The poems from manuscript sources (24–35) are the easiest to deal with, since, except for poem 24, there are no disputed attributions and no questions about the ordering of the poems. Some of them are textually corrupt or incomplete, but that is a different sort of problem.
The last two poems too are quite straightforward, so far as their source, the T'iao-hsi yü-yin ts'ung-hua , is concerned. The authenticity of poem 36 has been questioned on the grounds that it comes from a book of doubtful authenticity, the Tung-p'o chih-lin . As has been pointed out elsewhere, the challenge rests on very shaky logic and is best ignored.
Now, what sort of general conclusions can we draw about the compilation of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u on the basis of the specific observations above? Perhaps the most important one is that a remarkable amount of care went into it, at least in the earlier stages of the process. Both the searching of numerous published works and the gathering of copies from scattered manuscript sources suggest that every effort was taken to make the collection as complete and accurate as possible. Only four poems are still extant that are likely to have been Li Yü's work but not included in the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u . Two of these are written to the melody "Yü-fu." They were inscribed on a painting and then copied into an eleventh-century history of Five Dynasties painting, the Wu-tai ming-hua pu-i of Liu Tao-ch'un. One, to the melody "Liu-chih," is cited as a shih poem in several Northern Sung works; only much later is it treated as a tz'u . The "Yü-fu" melody too is close to a shih in structure, and it is possible that some or all of these poems were known to the compiler of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u , who excluded them as not being true tz'u . The other omitted poem, to the melody "Wu yeh t'i," was attributed to Meng Ch'ang in an early Southern Sung work, the Ku-chin tz'u-hua of Yang Shih, and to Li Yü only—among extant works—in the later, but generally more reliable anthology T'ang Sung chu-hsien chüeh-miao tz'u-hsüan , compiled by Huang Sheng. It is quite possible, then, that the compiler of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u knew this poem too but did not have sufficient reason to attribute it to Li Yü.
If a good deal of care and effort went into gathering and evaluating the materials that went into the collection, the apparently haphazard
arrangement of the whole calls for some explanation, even if it is only conjecture. The work of collecting materials must have been done by someone with access to high social circles, possibly a member of the educated class himself, for the manuscript sources were presumably in collections that would not have been readily accessible. The materials gathered would have been transcribed on separate sheets of paper as they were located, with an identifying note attached to each. The sheets may have been loosely bound in a fixed order, or they may simply have been left sorted but unassembled. Eventually, however, they would have been recopied in order, in preparation for printing. It is possible that the preparation of this transcribed "final" copy, and perhaps some tasks of the later stages of collecting as well, were not the work of the original compiler, that someone else undertook to publish the collection and in so doing either mixed up a few of the sheets or perhaps simply added newly found material on blank parts of sheets that had not been completely filled. If poem 5, for example, had been copied separately by the original compiler with the intention of setting it at the beginning of Li Yü's tz'u (i.e., out of order with respect to its source, the Tsun-ch'ien chi ), there might well have been room for poem 6 to have been added on the rest of the sheet later, perhaps by a different hand. Poem 10 might similarly have been added at the end of what was originally the A group of poems from the Tsun-ch'ien chi , and so forth. Of course, it is possible to imagine various other ways in which the text as it presently exists might have taken shape. Our concern should be not so much to determine the indeterminable as to delimit and reduce—eliminate, if possible—the inexplicable, and some variant of the "careful compiler + conscientious but less meticulous publisher" formula seems to offer the most reasonable way of doing this. The collection of most, if not all, of the materials, the addition of the editorial headnotes, and at least a rough ordering of the contents would have been the work of the former. Preparation of the final copy, perhaps with the addition of some poems or of the anecdotes from the T'iao-hsi yü-yin ts'ung-hua , very probably with a certain amount of rearrangement of the material and perhaps the accidental omission of one or more editorial notes, that of the latter.
Our curiosity is naturally aroused by the question of the original compiler's identity. There is no reason to suppose that we shall ever know who was responsible for assembling the book, but we can deduce a good deal about what sort of person it could have been: a careful scholar, perhaps, well-connected socially, interested in tz'u poetry, and present in Hangchow during some part of the period 1150–70 or so. The lack of a compiler's name attached to the text itself could be due
to any of a variety of circumstances, from political disgrace to accidental loss of the editor's preface from the original text. One doubts, in any case, that identifying the actual compiler of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u will ever become as popular a pastime as proving that someone else wrote the plays of Shakespeare.
The Textual Genealogy of the Nan-T'ang Erh-Chu Tz'u
In the preceding section, we have been concerned only with the compilation of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u as a bibliographic problem. That is, we have not been directly concerned with such problems as choosing between variant readings or determining which of the extant editions of the text is closest to the original compilation or, at an even more remote level, the intentions of the poets themselves. These problems are at once more difficult and more important to solve, for the purpose of bibliography is surely to provide us with better texts. But in the case of these poems, the difficulties are very formidable. In the first place, the standard collection of them was not, as we have seen, assembled until two centuries after the poems were written, and then on the basis of materials of widely varying reliability. Some of the poems had already been included in anthologies or cited in historical or literary works, and such inclusion and citation has continued until the present day. In working with the poems, whether as a critic and interpreter, a translator, or simply an active reader, one faces uncertainties in virtually every line that only a detailed textual study can really resolve: Which edition of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u is to be preferred? Is the Tsun-ch'ien chi , as an earlier compilation, to be followed where it differs from the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u ? In isolated cases one may avoid facing these larger questions by simply rejecting a clearly erroneous reading on its own demerits, so to speak, by sticking to one copy-text, such as one of the early editions of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u , except when it is manifestly wrong, or by simply choosing a preferred reading on impressionistic grounds. But the questions remain, and perhaps the time has come to face them squarely.
To say this is not to suggest that earlier students of the text have been negligent in not undertaking the job before now. The human labor
required to construct a logically consistent textual genealogy of the sort referred to, one that takes into account all of the testimony from the several dozen different witnesses whose readings are incorporated into Wang Chung-wen's magisterial apparatus, would be immense, probably beyond the capacity of a single scholar with only one lifetime to devote to the task. The only practicable way of carrying out such a project is with the help of a computer, and it is with such help that much of what follows was accomplished.
The question we shall investigate here is that of the relationships between the five extant independent editions of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u . These are the only sources to include all the poems, but no other works. The five editions (in each case preceded by the siglum to be used in subsequent discussion) are the following:
CHEN: The Ch'en-feng ko ts'ung-shu edition. This ts'ung-shu was published by Shen Tsung-chi in 1909, but the editing of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u was the work of Wang Kuo-wei (the edition was subsequently included in Wang's collected works). The base text was a "Nan-tz'u" edition now held in the Peking Library.
HOU: The Shih ming-chia tz'u edition. This ts'ung-shu was compiled by Hou Wen-ts'an in the third year of the K'ang-hsi reign (1689) and reissued in 1887 by Chin Wu-hsiang as part of his Su-hsiang shih ts'ung-shu .
HSIAO: This is a manuscript edition prepared by Hsiao Chiang-sheng during the K'ang-hsi period. Our analysis relies on Wang Chungwen's report of this edition, also in the collection of the Peking Library.
LU: This edition was published by one Lü Yüan in the keng-shen year of the Wan-li reign (1620). The copy consulted is in the library of the Jimbun Kagaku Kenkyujo[*] at Kyoto University. It has a note by Yü P'ing-po attached. The collation of the text was carried out by one T'an Erh-chin.
WU: This is the T'ang Sung ming-hsien pai-chia tz'u edition compiled by Wu Na during the Ming (see the discussion of the Tsun-ch'ien chi above). The analysis here is based on Wang Chung-wen's apparatus, which reports on the original manuscript edition. A typeset
edition edited by Lin Ta-ch'un was produced in Shanghai in 1940 by the Commercial Press.
There are 142 variations to be considered, places in the text where these five states of the text are not in agreement. Nine of these variations are identified by the computer's sorting process as inconsistent with the simplest logical interpretation of the relationships between the five editions.
(1) 1.2b: This is a variation in the headnote to the first poem in the collection. HOU and LU omit the phrase "imperially composed song text" (yü-chih ko-tz'u ), which is found in CHEN, HSIAO, and WU. The computer process divides CHEN, HSIAO, and WU here. The bibliographic implication of this is that two of these states, or an intermediary between two of them, restored the phrase, either by reference to the other or on the basis of the familiar passage in the Chih-chai shu-lu chieh-t'i —which T'an Erh-chin, the editor of the LU text, cites in his preface. That WU records the words in a different place, following the book title rather than the melody title, a feature recorded in variation 1.2c, supports this interpretation. The alternative possibility is that the omissions in HOU and LU are independent. We shall test this possibility as well, but in any case variation 1.2b and its formal duplicates 34.1 and 34.3 (see below) are inconsistent with fifteen of the other variations, including nine that would have to be rewritten if 1.2b, 34.1, and 34.3 were not (the other six are themselves rewritten by the computer).
(2) 4.5: This variation occurs in the third line of the second of Li Ching's poems to the melody "Huan hsi sha." The reading yüan (distant) is shared by HSIAO, LU, and WU, against huan (return), which is found not only in CHEN and HOU, but also in all other texts that include these poems. The computer separates CHEN
and HOU. It may be that either, or both, of them was contaminated by the rest of the tradition, or that CHEN took its reading from HOU (or even that HOU took its reading from an ancestor of CHEN). Whatever the cause of this variation, it is inconsistent with thirty-four others, thirty-one of them not rewritten by the computer.
(3) 6.5: In the sixth line of the poem "Wu yeh t'i," where CHEN and HOU read meng-li (in dream), WU reads only meng , with no space for a missing character, and HSIAO and LU (along with all other texts that include this poem) read i meng (a single dream). Here again the computer divides CHEN and HOU. Variation 6.5 and its formal duplicate 27.4 are inconsistent with thirty-five other variations, thirty-one of which are not rewritten by the computer program.
(4) 14.4: In the third phrase of "Hsi ch'ien ying," CHEN, HOU, and WU read p'ing (rely), while HSIAO and LU (along with the Tsun-ch'ien chi and all but one of the later anthologies to include the poem) read p'in (frequent). The computer divides HSIAO and LU. Here again the implication is independent agreement. This possibility is supported to some extent by a note added to the poem in the Su-hsiang shih ts'ung-shu reissue of HOU, which says that p'ing should perhaps be p'in instead. Here it is twenty-four variations, twenty of them not rewritten, that conflict with the one chosen by the computer for division.
(5) 27.4: In the penultimate line of "Yü mei-jen," HSIAO and LU read t'ang (hall); WU reads ko (song), which Wang Chung-wen char-
acterizes as an error; CHEN and HOU, along with all but one of the other texts to include the poem, have lou (tower). Here again the computer divides CHEN and HOU, and contamination seems the likely explanation.
(6) 29.6: This variation is a formal duplicate of 14.4, occurring in the penultimate line of "Tzu-yeh ko." HSIAO and LU agree in reading p'ing (critique), while CHEN, HOU, and WU have a homophone meaning "level." The former is clearly the better reading. That the computer divides the two states that have it, HSIAO and LU, is consistent with our interpretation that one or both emended the received text.
(7) 30.2: In the headnote to the shortest of the "Hsieh hsin en" fragments, CHEN, HOU, and HSIAO read chen (true), while LU and WU read mo (ink) (the Su-hsiang shih reedition of HOU reads mo ). The computer divides HOU from CHEN and HSIAO. Both readings are plausible, and it is hard to see why the variation would occur. It is inconsistent with fourteen others, nine of them not rewritten.
(8) 34.1: This variation, which occurs in the first line of the penultimate poem in the "Hsieh hsin en" group, is a formal duplicate of 1.2b, and so the computer treats it in the same way, dividing WU from CHEN and HSIAO. These states read ying-hua (cherry blossom) while HOU and LU read ying-t'ao (bush cherry). This variation was probably affected by the reading ying-hua in the corresponding position in poem 32. The implication is that either WU or an intermediary between CHEN and HSIAO was emended on the basis of the parallel passage.
(9) 34.3: This variation is the occasion of the only error to have been discovered in Wang Chung-wen's apparatus. Wang notes that the word an (dark) is missing in HOU. In fact, it is also missing in LU, which makes the variation a formal duplicate of 1.2b and 34.1. In this case, however, the form of the note makes it unlikely that WU and an intermediary between CHEN and HSIAO could have come to their agreement independently, so we intervene to divide HOU and LU in this variation.
There are two points to be made about these variations before we proceed.
The first is that they are strikingly few in number. The Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u is a very short text, to be sure, less than two thousand characters, even including the original editorial notes. All the same, and especially considering the relatively large number of variations that occur, that only nine of them are inconsistent with the genealogical diagram implied by all the rest calls attention to the relative isolation within which the textual tradition of the collection appears to have evolved.
The second point is perhaps incidental, but still worth making. It is that the "automatic" process has produced results that are entirely plausible when set against the text itself (the computer process, of course, works only with the abstract relations among sigla as reported in variations). Where the computer has rewritten variations, they have, with the one exception of 34.3, been ones in which either emendation of an evidently less satisfactory reading or contamination from other texts can be seen as providing explanatory occasions.
The computer program concludes this stage of the process by constructing a directionless preliminary diagram that shows the relationships among the five states without implying the location of an archetype (Fig. 3).
The next problem is the location of the archetype. It should be recognized at the outset that any archetype that may be reconstructed for the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u can be claimed to be significant only for the collection as it was assembled in twelfth-century Hangchow (if that was indeed where the compilation took place). If we are to comment at all on the earlier history of the tradition of these poems, we shall have to take other materials into account.
The formal archetype may be located at any of fifteen points on the preliminary diagram—that is, at one of the five states examined, at one of the three inferential intermediaries, or at a point on one of the seven lines connecting these. The search for the formal archetype is essentially
a process of elimination. One looks for clearly directional variations and eliminates the states or intermediaries with the descendant readings. It must be emphasized that the identification of clearly directional variations is not the same as simply identifying variations in which one reading is obviously better than another.
The reason for this is clear if we consider the relation between the manuscript state WU, as reported in Wang Chung-wen's apparatus, and the typeset edition produced from it by Lin Ta-ch'un. No other type of variation is as common in the tradition of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u as those that divide WU off from all the other states (twenty-four examples), and the readings unique to WU are often manifestly inferior, as Wang Chung-wen unceasingly points out. It is precisely this manifest inferiority that makes the variations poor candidates for recognition as clearly directional. The more obviously wrong a reading is, the more likely it is to be corrected, and this is what we see in the typeset edition of WU, in which time after time the errors of the manuscript are replaced by readings found elsewhere in the tradition.
The significance of this is of course that it presents us with an example, though perhaps an exaggerated one, of what may have happened in the past as the textual tradition of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u was being transmitted. The lesson for the textual analyst is that great caution is required in the selection of clearly directional variations. This is perhaps particularly important in tz'u poetry, in view of both the highly determined metrical structures and the tendency to conventionalized diction characteristic of the tz'u . It is often easy to see what is "wrong" with a tz'u text, and not much less easy to replace it with something "right." What we shall look for are readings that are not so obviously wrong as to provoke an editor's or copyist's instinct to emend or conflate, while, on the other hand, they can be seen as clearly descended from better readings. The following variations in the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u seem to be possible candidates for the status of clearly directional:
(1) 1.1: The omission of shu (written) in CHEN, HSIAO, and l slightly weakens the clarity of the note but hardly suggests a need for emendation. It is important to bear in mind that the notes of the original compiler are as much a part of the text of the Nan-
T'ang erh-chu tz'u as the poems. Indeed, because they are not subject to the thematic and structural conventions of the poems, they are potentially of particular importance to the textual analyst. Note also that variation 1.2b cannot be treated as clearly directional since the group with the apparently "authorial" reading has been divided by the computer and the evidence of the variations alone cannot tell us which of the resulting subgroups is authorial and which the result of emendation or conflation.
(2) 2.10: Liao-yang is clearly preferable here, being parallel to Mo-ling in the next phrase. The reading found in CHEN, ts'an (remnant), is both a possible misreading of a cursive liao and, combined with the yüeh (moon) that follows, a convincing example of tz'u diction. WU leaves a blank here, also non-authorial.
(3) 5.3: The omission of the headnote in HOU is evidently non-authorial.
(4) 7.7: The editorial note that a character is lacking is typical of the textual notes found in the original and is thus probably authorial in the states including it, HOU and WU.
(5) 17.3: We know from other sources that the tz'u of Sun T'an was Hsiao-chih, written with hsiao (disperse), as found in HOU and LU. The homophone meaning "sleet" found in CHEN and HSIAO is thus probably a mistake, but we cannot say for certain that it was not the reading of the original compilation. The reading in WU, on the other hand, chih (substance), is both wrong and readily understood as a misreading of "disperse" arising after Sun T'an's brief period as a current poet was past.
(6) 18.2: The misplacement of the note in CHEN is non-authorial. As Wang Chung-wen points out, the note actually belongs with the next poem.
(7) 20.3a: The lack of much of the headnote to this poem in HOU is non-authorial.
(8) 25.4: The reading so (lock) in LU and WU (and hence in 2 and 3) is, we should argue, ancestral both to the homophonic so (tiny) in CHEN and HSIAO and to the chien (sword) in HOU. The latter looks, at first sight, like the best reading, given the phrase chuang-ch'i (valiant manner) in the next line, and this is why, once introduced into the textual tradition, it was not corrected. (Indeed, it is common in the anthologies, in which it even gives rise to a variant of its own.) But the whole poem, in fact, is an evocation of the deserted palace, within which "lock" is surely the authorial reading.
(9) 29.4: All states but HSIAO indicate two missing characters, with an editorial note reporting that the manuscript source from which the poem was copied into the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u was damaged and illegible but that the characters were perhaps ho fang (what obstacle). HSIAO simply inserts ho fang into the text proper and drops the note, which makes its reading non-authorial. (Variation 29.4a records a difference in the note. CHEN and LU have mo-mieh [worn away], while HOU and WU have man-mieh [smudged].)
(10) 31.1: The note in CHEN is different in nature from all the rest and thus probably non-authorial.
(11) 31.6: It appears that the "authorial" text had a blank space followed by liu (remain), as in CHEN and HSIAO. LU and WU have the single character ti (flute), while HOU reads ko (item). The latter is hardly intelligible in the context, so it cannot be considered non-authorial on its own. "Flute," on the other hand, makes sense of a sort: "In a jasper window, dreams of a flute in the last of day." But comparison with the adjacent poems makes it clear that this line should have seven syllables, and in fact an argument can be made for filling the lacuna in CHEN and HSIAO with tuan (broken). The ko in HOU can plausibly be seen as a variation on ti by an editor or copyist who could no longer "see" the lacuna and had to work with the text as he found it.
When we combine the evidence of these eleven variations, we find that all but one of them agree on a location for the archetype. That is, it is clear, to begin with, that four of the five extant states are excluded: CHEN, by 2.10, 18.2, and 31.1; HOU, by 5.3 and 20.3a; HSIAO, by 29.4; and WU, by 2.10 and 17.3. Inferential intermediary 1 (and hence CHEN and HSIAO) is excluded by 1.1 and 25.4, while 3 (along with LU, 2, HOU, and WU), is ruled out by 31.6. The one point that will satisfy all ten variations is located between inferential intermediaries 1 and 3. The exceptional variation is 7.7, the textual note in HOU and WU, which requires that the archetype be located either at 2 or at a point between 2 and 3. The argument that this note is authorial because it is similar in kind to others that are is not of course ironclad. The note itself is puzzling in that it seems clear that no character is in fact missing at this point. Therefore, it seems reasonable to adopt, at least provisionally, the location of the archetype implied by the other ten variations.
Now that the archetype has been located, we have a "tree" that
shows the derivation of the five extant states from the logical archetype (Fig. 4). Such a diagram allows us to determine by inspection the archetypal reading in all variations except those in which the inferential intermediaries 1 and 3 do not agree. In addition, it is now possible to comment collectively on the variations occurring at each link of the tree and hence to characterize the processes involved in the production of each of the states. Although this discussion of the variations is in one sense the goal of the entire procedure (it amounts, in effect, to the critical apparatus for a variorum edition), it is here treated as a by-product of our exploration of the history of the textual tradition and is placed in an appendix below.
The Nan-T'ang Erh-Chu Tz'u and the Tsun-Ch'ien Chi
We now return one last time to the Tsun-ch'ien chi . That we have been able to construct a plausible genealogy for the textual tradition of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u naturally suggests the possibility of applying the same methodology to the Tsun-ch'ien chi . We shall not attempt to do this for the entire text of the latter collection, but we shall take up the particularly interesting question of the two (or three) separate groups of poems in it by "Prince Li."
What we should like to know, of course, is if these groups have a consistent common genealogy, which would suggest that they were all included in the earlier editions of the text. If, on the other hand, their genealogies differ, this would suggest that at least one group was added to the text later than the other (or others). We shall not argue that our findings here are conclusive, but rather that they are undeniably suggestive.
In cases such as this one, the advantages of working with a computer
become even more apparent, in that it allows us to test alternative hypotheses quickly and consistently. In the present case, we can not only add the Tsun-ch'ien chi to our Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u problem to see how the two anthologies are related, we can also embody in our tests different assumptions about the history of the Tsun-ch'ien chi . We do this by preparing two different data files. In one of these, all readings from the Tsun-ch'ien chi are treated as though they came from one homogeneous source, represented by the siglum TCC. In the second file, the readings are treated as though they came from three different sources, ACC, BCC, and CCC. The resulting diagrams are shown in Figure 5.
There are at least three interesting points to notice about these diagrams (we shall consider shortly the variations rewritten in the tests). The first is that the position of ACC and BCC in the right-hand diagram supports the hypothesis that these two groups of poems share a common history at least as far back in the tradition of the Tsun-ch'ien chi as we can see. We cannot prove, of course, that these poems were not added in two stages of compilation, but we can suggest with some confidence that the addition, if it took place at all, did so early in the history of the text.
The second concerns the point at which ACC and BCC are joined to the diagram: it is just where we located the archetype for the textual tradition of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u . This again does not constitute proof, but it surely adds support to the argument in favor of that location of the archetype.
The third concerns CCC, which is joined to the diagram not at the "archetype" point, but "out on a limb," as it were. CCC consists of poem 20 alone and is, moreover, a separate group in only two of the three editions of the Tsun-ch'ien chi . We shall consider this point in more detail at the end of our examination of the variations rewritten in these two tests.
(1) 3.6: This variation is rewritten only in the TCC problem, where it is found inconsistent with 5.1 (see below). In the second line of the poem, virtually all states of the text read ch'ung-lou (storeyed pavilion). The exceptions are the Wu and Chu editions of TCC, which read mei-t'ou (eyebrow). The program divides the Mao edition of TCC from the other states. The bibliographic interpretation is probable emendation by contamination in TCC (Mao).
(2) 4.5: See the discussion of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u problem in the preceding section for this variation. The computer divides as follows in this problem: /CHEN/HOU/TCC/.
(3) 5.1: This variation is rewritten only in the ACC/BCC/CCC problem. The same inconsistency between it and 3.6 is discovered, but ACC includes fewer variations than TCC (of which it is only a section), and this shifts the way in which the inconsistency is resolved. The variation consists of ACC (Wu) and ACC (Mao) giving the melody of poem 5 as "Yü mei-jen ying," while ACC (Chu) agrees with all editions of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u in lacking the ying (image). The bibliographic explanation is analogous to that in 3.6: emendation of ACC (Chu) by contamination from the tradition of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u .
(4) 7.14: In the penultimate line, all states but LU and the Wu edition of TCC read jung (gauze); the contrasting reading is a homophone meaning "tangled." Since other variations do not suggest any pattern of contamination between LU and TCC (Wu), the likelihood is that the convergence is the result of independent emendation or error conditioned by homophony. The two characters are occasionally used interchangeably.
(5) 14.4: For this variation, see the discussion of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u above (TCC agrees with LU and HSIAO). In this case, however, the program divides CHEN from HOU and WU. As this division is also consistent with the tree constructed for the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u editions taken alone, we do not intervene.
(6) 20.7: In the second line, where all editions of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u except CHEN read chao (morning), CHEN and TCC (followed by many later anthologies and compendia) read hsiao (night). The latter is the lectio facilior , and we are thus inclined to accept the program's division of CHEN from TCC and explain it in bib-
liographic terms as emendation by contamination in CHEN. This variation occurs only in the TCC problem. In the ACC/BCC/CCC version, there is no inconsistency because CCC is entirely distinct from ACC and BCC. Instead, this variation, not rewritten, "pulls" CCC to its position adjacent to CHEN. That there is a ready bibliographic explanation for the inconsistency of course weakens the need to treat CCC independently at all.
We shall conclude with reflections that are theoretical, or at least methodological, in nature. Before inflicting these on a reader perhaps already weary of technicalities, we might well ask what bearing our findings have on the reader who is not interested in textual problems per se. The simplest way to respond to such a question is to look at an actual case.
We shall consider, for this purpose, the fifth poem in the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u , Li Yü's famous song lyric to the melody "Yü mei-jen." The following text is that of Wang Chung-wen's edition; the translation is Stephen Owen's, as it appears in his chapter in this volume. We shall be suggesting one emendation in the course of the discussion that follows.
Spring flowers, autumn moonlight—when will they end?
How much of what is past can we know?
In the small building last night, spring wind once again.
To my homeland I dare not turn my head in the bright moonlight.
Carved balustrades and stairs of jade—I'm sure they are still there,
it's only the color of a young man's face that changes.
I ask you, how much sorrow can there be?—
it's just like a riverful of spring water flowing to the east.
Professor Owen discusses this poem in his essay, recognizing the existence of textual variants and commenting on one of them. Wang Chung-wen's apparatus numbers sixteen variations associated with this
poem. Subtracting the five in the headnote and two that involve only very late and rarely consulted texts, and lumping together several that are best treated in clusters, we are left with six significant variations in the text of the poem proper, some of them variations that have already appeared in our discussion. We will take them up one by one:
5.7: This variation is found in a famous line and presents a real quandary. Should we read "autumn moon" (ch'iu yüeh ) or "autumn leaves" (ch'iu yeh )? CHEN and HSIAO, together with the only other texts of Sung date to include the poem, prefer "leaves"; HOU, LU, and WU, together with all post-Sung texts, choose "moon." We might best approach the problem by asking two separate questions: First, how might the variation have arisen? Second, which reading is to be preferred?
A likely answer to the first question seems obvious enough, at least to the reader who "hears" these poems in Mandarin. Yeh and yüeh are, after all, close to being homophones in modern Mandarin, sharing even the same tone. That the matter is not necessarily so simple is clear as soon as we consider their pronunciation in Li Yü's place and time, yiap and ngüat . Although these differences might have been lost by the end of the thirteenth century in northern China, perhaps even around Nanking, they persist to this day in the Hangchow area, where the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u was probably compiled. Nonetheless, the variation is surely more likely to have arisen from a confusion of the two sounds than from a confusion of the two characters. Hence, it is likely to have arisen after the time of the compilation of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u , and among speakers of an early form of Mandarin rather than among "true southerners."
In order to consider which reading is better, we have to decide first what we mean by "better." Highly qualified contemporary readers differ on the question of which is the more satisfactory version. Some argue, in favor of the less familiar yeh , that the repetition of words in tz'u is uncommon except occasionally in parallel positions (yüeh appears also in the fourth line), that the poem must be "placed" in one of the two seasons, that the third and the final lines argue for spring (though Professor Owen might object that the latter is a "quoted" season), and that two "vegetable" images make the more appropriate pair to balance the two seasons. Readers who favor yüeh have the familiarity of the reading on their side—only specialists are likely to be aware of the alternative—and can respond to the opposing arguments in the Olympian idiom of Arthur Waley, "If the poem were by P'an Lang, we should entirely
agree." In short, if our question is which reading is aesthetically superior, the evidence is indecisive and the best judges are split.
We might, on the other hand, ask which reading is more likely to have been the original. Bearing in mind both that the occasion of the derived reading's first occurrence is likely to have been northern and late, and that the three texts whose traditions go back the farthest, the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u , the Tsun-ch'ien chi , and the T'ang Sung chu-hsien chüeh-miao tz'u-hsüan all include the poem and all read yeh (to be sure, only one of the two limbs leading from the archetype of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u does), it seems clear that the evidence favors yeh as the archetypal, and indeed the authorial, reading. "Favors," of course, is not the same as "proves," but it shifts the burden of proof in the direction of those who favor the yüeh reading. They must explain how, if yeh did not enter the tradition until the thirteenth century or later, it is to be found in, and only in, the three textual traditions that go most reliably back to earlier times, traditions that were, moreover, relatively "inert"—little known and rarely reproduced until comparatively recent times.
At the same time, we might usefully wonder when the yüeh reading, if not archetypal, entered the tradition and why it has become commonly accepted. What follows is speculative, but perhaps not too remote from actuality. The earliest textual tradition to show the yüeh reading is that of the Ts'ao-t'ang shih-yü , an "active" tradition (as opposed to the "inert" variety characterized above). This text was originally compiled in the Sung dynasty, but was extensively and repeatedly reedited in Ming and Ch'ing times, during which it was the classic anthology of Sung tz'u . It seems reasonable to suppose that yüeh appeared, by phonetic confusion, in this text first and then spread because of its popularity.
One might pursue this speculative history of yeh and yüeh one step farther by asking why contemporary scholars and editors continue to
prefer yüeh over yeh , assuming either that the textual evidence supports it or that such evidence is hopelessly inconclusive and that judgment can be made only on aesthetic grounds. Whether one of the readings is preferable on such grounds is, as we have seen, not a question that can be answered here. What can be ventured is an account of how the reading of the whole poem is affected by the variation. If the poem begins "Spring flowers, autumn leaves," it has a particular "location," a garden in which the alternation of spring and autumn is seen from a single vantage point located in the physical world, whether this is the tiny pavilion in Pien-ching of the first stanza or the carved railings in Chien-k'ang of the second. If, on the other hand, we begin with "Spring flowers, autumn moon," the "location" of the poem is shifted from the garden to the poet's mind; the angle of vision moves from the outward gaze in which the aspect of a single plant can be seen to alternate with the cycle of the seasons to an inward reflection in the mind that perceives flowers in springtime and the moon in autumn as parallel elements in its inner experience of the universe "outside." This kind of difference is perhaps particularly significant in this poem, which is built around the alternation between those lines, the first in each rhymed pair, that register perceptions of something outside, and those, the answering second lines, that respond. (In the last two lines, it is an imagined interlocutor who asks, and the poetic persona who aligns his sorrow with the image of the river.) To read yüeh in the first line does not change this larger pattern, but it blurs the focus, as though the "jadeite stairs" of the fifth line were to be replaced with "bright mirrors." That this blurring was either not noticed or was thought an improvement seems symptomatic of the rise of sentiment (ch'ing ) in the Ming and Ch'ing periods, when a tz'u could be read as though it were framed within some imagined drama. In such a context, the sooner the inner locus for the poetic event is established, the better, and "leaves" is less significantly loaded for this purpose than "moon."
The remaining variations can be dealt with much more briefly, since the evidence concerning them is much less complex and its import more readily grasped.
5.8, 5.9, 5.10: Ma Ling's Nan-T'ang shu quotes the third and fourth lines of this poem as an example of Li Yü's poetry reflecting his homesickness in captivity. There are no fewer than three variant readings, none of which is found in any other text: "Last night to my small garden [yüan ] the west [hsi ] wind came again; I could not bear to raise [ch'iao ] my head to my old kingdom shining beneath the moon." Now, Ma
Ling quotes all or part of five different poems found in the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u in his history, which was compiled around 1100. Variant readings found in Ma Ling's text are found nowhere else in the tradition except in later works that cite it explicitly. The nature of these variants suggests neither the graphic confusion that arises in the copying of documents nor the phonetic confusion (e.g., yüeh for yeh ) that occurs when a text is misheard or misremembered. They are instead substitutions involving words of parallel function, as in the three variants in this poem, a sort of variation that tends to occur when a text is being quoted not for its own sake, but as a "token" signifying some attitude or event connected with a character in a historical narrative. Nonetheless, these three variants are not to be dismissed simply because their absence elsewhere in the tradition makes them unfamiliar. There is something to be said in favor of each of them. Reference to a garden would take up more naturally from the images of the first line, especially if they were flowers and leaves rather than flowers and the moon, as we have suggested. A "west" wind would avoid the repetition in the final line. It would also, of course, suggest autumn rather than spring, and this does not resonate well with the poem's final line. As for ch'iao , it is the more natural motion of someone looking at the moon, and also not the commonplace reading that "look back" is, considered as a piece of poetic diction. We shall not argue that any of these readings is authorial, but they are all early, perhaps earlier than the Tsun-ch'ien chi , and they call attention to the instability of textual traditions in their early history.
5.11: Stephen Owen calls attention to this variation in his essay. This is a case in which there is no doubt about the archetypal reading of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u , but room for discussion, at least, of what the authorial reading might have been. I-jan (just the same) is the reading of all editions both of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u and the Tsun-ch'ien chi , ying yu (must still) that of all other texts. This is not a case in which the arguments made in favor of the "leaves" reading in 5.7 can be persuasive. Although the pronunciation of both phrases has evolved, along with the rest of the language, between the Nanking of Li Yü's day and the Peking of ours, the changes are not striking and certainly do not allow us to argue that confusion would have occurred more readily at one time than at another. This variation does not appear to be the result of phonetic confusion in any case, but rather a matter of "substitution in context," rather like the three in Ma Ling's history. Moreover, both variants were known in Sung times, ying yu being found both in the T'ang Sung chu-hsien chüeh-miao tz'u-hsüan and, as Wang Chung-wen points out, in Ch'en Yüan-lung's notes (which appear first in an edition dated
1211–12) to the song lyrics of Chou Pang-yen. These are later texts than the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u and the Tsun-ch'ien chi , but not so much so as to render their readings necessarily less probable. The likeliest ground for choice, aside from the early agreement of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u and Tsun-ch'ien chi , may be one raised by Stephen Owen: that ying yu would be the less likely reading in T'ang poetic forms that are functionally, if not formally, antecedent to the song lyric. Neither form appears in the Hua-chien chi , nor does any phrase similar to ying yu ; but i-chiu (just as of old) is found there seven times.
5.12, 5.16: These two variations are not adjacent, but parallel, so it will be convenient to treat them together. In place of the phrases wen chün (I ask you) and ch'ia ssu (exactly resembles), which open the last two lines of the poem, the Tsun-ch'ien chi , followed by only a few later texts, reads pu chih (do not know) and ch'ia shih (exactly is). Here again, substitution of functionally equivalent "lead-in" phrases seems to lie behind the variation. It is worth pointing out that this kind of variant is particularly likely to arise in the case of performance literature, such as these lyrics for singing. A performer may not remember the right words, but something must be sung, and something that makes sense in the context. It needs to be recognized that one argument adduced in favor of reading i-jan in 5.11 above pulls the other way here: pu chih is common in the Hua-chien chi , while wen chün is not found. Which is the more satisfying pair of readings depends a good deal on how one reads the rest of the poem. The consistent alternation of outer and inner within each pair of lines, discussed above, is hardly possible with pu chih . On the other hand, the sort of reversal, on which Professor Owen remarks, of the "things, then feelings" pattern (and breaking a pattern is, after all, a common strategy in final couplets) is unaffected by the alternation between wen chün and pu chih , while his reading of the final line as embodying a quasi-quotation is, if anything, strengthened by reading ch'ia shih rather than ch'ia ssu . This, however, only contributes to a preference for ch'ia ssu (and hence wen chün ), for his reading of the poem as a self-conscious combination of frames and clichés inspires its own Waleyesque response (in light of Kang-i Sun Chang's discussion in another essay), "If the poem were by Ch'en Tzu-lung, we should entirely agree."
5.13: The last two variations to be discussed come as an anticlimax; they are both more complicated and essentially trivial. We shall be brief
in consequence. All editions of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u except CHEN have, in the penultimate line, tou yu (in all have), the alternative reading being neng yu (possibly have). There are, in fact, three other possibilities recorded by Wang Chung-wen, including huan yu (still have) in the T'ang Sung chu-hsien chüeh-miao tz'u-hsüan and other texts. Neng yu is found in Sung texts, but only in a fragment of the poem quoted in an anecdote. Such readings do not usually influence the textual tradition of the whole text, but this one apparently did, for it is found in several of the most commonly consulted late compendia, including the Ch'üan T'ang shih . It was apparently one of these late texts that contaminated CHEN.
5.14: This variation is discussed in the Appendix. Either reading makes sense. In fact, given the line's function as a rhetorical question, both make about the same sense. Since the Tsun-ch'ien chi and T'ang Sung chu-hsien chüeh-miao tz'u-hsüan both agree with HOU, LU, and WU against CHEN and HSIAO, to read chi would perhaps show good judgment, while to avoid spending a great deal of energy on the decision would surely be wisdom itself.
Finally, it may be worthwhile to return to the simple tree constructed for the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u and to look more reflectively at the four sorts of elements that compose it—the extant states, the inferential intermediaries, the archetype, and the links among the other three. They are elements in a logical genealogy of states; what are their possible relationships with records, with the actual printing blocks and paper and ink, the voices and memories and inspirations by which these poems have been conveyed across a millennium from the poets' minds to ours?
Let us begin with the states. What is LU, for example? Is it Lü Yüan's edition, as printed? Is it the photocopy, taken from an exemplar of that edition now in the collection of the Jimbun Kagaku Kenkyujo[*] at Kyoto University, used in checking? Is it the sum of the readings in some other copy of the edition, as reported in Wang Chung-wen's apparatus? Is it the result of the check of the Kyoto photocopy against Wang Chung-wen (recall that this check turned up Wang's only error)? In fact, it is none of these, though if our work has been done well and if the Kyoto text really is a copy of the Lü Yüan edition, it will be a duplicate of all of them except the third (because we differ with Wang at that one point). What it really is, of course, is the account, found in the data file prepared for the computer, of the evidence for the readings in Lü's edition. If Wang's apparatus has been misinterpreted or if additional errors in it have been missed, LU will be a fifth "version" of Lü Yüan's edition and one clearly of less value than the others. If, on the other hand, LU succeeds in incorporating a true account of Lü Yüan's text, then it is, for the purpose of textual analysis, a duplicate of it.
In the simplest case, each of the inferential intermediaries represents an actual, distinct edition that has not been collated but whose existence can be inferred on the basis of the readings of the collated states. Like most "simplest cases," this one rarely occurs. What an inferential intermediary really is, is a collection of readings whose existence is necessary to explain the relationship between the collated states. For example, the intermediary labelled I accounts for the agreements of CHEN and HSIAO against LU, HOU, and WU; it certainly does not amount to an assertion that there was exactly one version of the text intermediate between the archetype and CHEN or HSIAO. In many cases, inspection of the variations and of the external bibliographic evidence suggests that the number of actual intermediaries may have been either greater or less than that proposed by the program, whose operations observe the principle of parsimony. It is inherently unlikely, though not demonstrably impossible, that the textual tradition has been transmitted directly from the archetype of ca. 1160 to CHEN, dated 1909, with only one intervening edition, but the program can only infer intermediaries that have at least two independent descendants. That the number of actual intermediaries might be greater is more immediately apparent than that it might be less. It is possible for a single edition to appear in more than one place in the diagram. We see no likely case of this in the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u problem, but it does occur in other textual traditions. Suppose an exemplar of edition A, from which a descendant B derives, is subsequently damaged. If the damaged exemplar and the descendant, but no undamaged examplar, are collated, they will be found to be joined by an inferential intermediary. This latter is, of course, in bibliographic terms the same artifact as its damaged "descendant," but the textual analyst treats them as separate states because the readings they provide are no longer identical.
In other words, both the inferential intermediaries and the collated states are treated by the program as collections of readings, rather than as physical objects, and the value of the process lies above all in its consistent handling of the evidence provided by these readings, which are, after all, by far the most concrete, detailed, and reliable evidence available. The links between elements in the diagram are thus not necessarily lines of descent from one edition to another (although they often are), but rather the loci of textual variation. This is why it is important to
examine the variations occurring at each link, for doing so often reveals patterns that can be useful in the process of relating the diagram to bibliographic evidence.
The archetype remains to be considered. As we have seen, the archetype reconstructed for the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u can be considered valid only for the collection as compiled in the twelfth century. In order to approximate any more closely the authorial states of the poems, we must take into consideration the sources of the collection, as in our discussion of "Yü mei-jen." Even when this has been done, the relationship between an "archetype," as reconstructed by the process followed here, and the textual analyst's presumed final goal, the recovery of the author's last and best intentions concerning the text of his work remains problematic. It should be obvious that even under the most favorable conditions the analyst can never be certain of having entirely attained this goal, and in most cases failure to have done so must be assumed.
Faced with such uncertainty, we can only reiterate the need to acknowledge the difficulties and to devise means of overcoming them to the greatest possible extent. Crucial to such means is the application of the sort of consistent testing mechanism that the computer programs used here represent. We may not find answers to all our questions, but we must be sure that we have asked all the questions possible and sought answers to them in a logical and consistent way. By so doing we can expect not only to have greater confidence in the answers we do arrive at, but also to have a more precise understanding of what the unanswerable questions really are and why they cannot be answered.
Appendix: Commentary on the Variations
The following commentary is organized according to the links in the tree diagram on p. 331, moving from left to right. For each link, defined by the two states (extant or inferential) that it joins, a list of variations is given, followed by the commentary.
1-CHEN : 2.8, 2.10, 4.6, 5.13, 5.14a, 12.2, 13.3, 13.7, 14.2, 16.3, 16.4, 18.1a, 18.2, 20.2, 20.7, 20.23, 21.2, 25.6, 26.11, 28.2, 28.17, 28.18, 28.19,
29.3, 31.1, 31.5, 32.1, 35.1, 37.3, 37.9; plus the rewritten variations 4.5, 6.5, and 27.4. Of these, 2.8, 5.14a, 12.2, 13.3, 13.7, 14.2, 18.1a, 18.2, 20.2, 21.2, 28.2, 28.18, 29.3, 31.1, 32.1, and 35.1 are singleton readings; that is, they are unique to CHEN, being found in no other source. In all the other variations, CHEN agrees with from one to twenty-one other texts, though not with any other state of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u . It is too early in the analysis to offer an explanation of this phenomenon (as we shall see, it stands in considerable contrast to the case of the other four states of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u ). In eight of the fourteen variations, there is at least one Sung text in agreement with CHEN, but in all cases there is at least one late text so agreeing, including the Li-tai shih-yü in all but two cases. These agreements suggest that CHEN was more "present" in the transmission of the tradition of tz'u poetry than were some of the other states of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u , but at this stage we cannot say whether this was a matter of CHEN's being contaminated by other texts or of its being more readily available as a source for later works. In any case, this tendency of CHEN to agree with texts outside the tradition of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u is consistent with the pattern of the rewritten variations 4.5, 6.5, and 27.4, in each of which CHEN and HOU shared a common reading with such other texts.
1-HSIAO : 3.9, 4.6, 5.14a, 7.16, 10.21, 13.4, 17.7, 17.17, 17.18, 19.7, 21.1, 21.3, 26.11, 29.4, 29.4a, 30.1, 30.4, 31.5, 33.3a, 33.4a, 33.5, 35.2, 35.3, 36.5, and 36.7; plus the rewritten variations 14.4 and 29.6. The contrast with CHEN is striking here. In all but four of the non-rewritten variations (3.9, 17.18, 21.3, and 29.4) HSIAO has a singleton reading, and only one text agrees with HSIAO more than once among these four (the Ch'üan T'ang shih , in 3.9 and 21.3). In most cases, the readings unique to HSIAO are plainly careless errors. In the two rewritten variations, however, the reading common to HSIAO and LU is the better one. If it were characteristic of HSIAO to "improve" its text in general, we should feel more comfortable with assuming independent emendation in HSIAO and LU in these two cases. On the other hand, in 29.6, no other texts agree with CHEN, HOU, and WU, so this variation is unlike those rewritten by dividing CHEN from HOU (4.5, 6.5, and 27.4). In the latter cases, CHEN and HOU share their reading with other texts, which suggests the possibility of contamination.
1-3 : 1.1, 2.1, 2.5, 3.2, 4.6, 4.11, 4.13, 5.7, 5.14 (5.14a), 6.3, 9.6, 15.4, 17.3, 22.2, 23.4, 25.3, 25.4, 26.11, 28.3, 28.12, 31.3, 31.5, 31.6, 34.4, 37.4; plus the rewritten variations 1.2b, 30.2, and 34.1. This is the link within which the archetype is located, which means that in none of these variations can we identify an archetypal reading simply by reference to the tree. Four of them (1.1, 17.3, 25.4, and 31.6) are among the
"clearly directional variations" used in locating the archetype. The rest can only be dealt with individually and provisionally. We shall discuss them in four groups.
(a) Variations dividing only states of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u :
28.3: In the note to this poem to the melody "Yü-lou ch'un," 1 read ni (nun), while 3 read chü-shih (recluse). It is easy to see how the confusion could arise from the shapes of the characters, difficult to be sure which reading is preferable.
34.4: In a textual note to another of the "Hsieh hsin en" poems, 1 had shih (is), while 3 read jih (sun). Shih appears to be the better reading, and Wang Chung-wen adopts it. In the Ch'üan T'ang Wu-tai tz'u of Chang Chang and Huang Yü (rpt., Taipei: Wen-shih-che, 1986), p. 485, the reading in HOU is reported to be yüeh (says). I have not seen HOU since the appearance of the Ch'üan T'ang Wu-tai tz'u , but the Suhsiang shih reprint of it reads jih . Chang and Huang are probably right in supposing that either form would be evidence of an ancestral shih either miscopied or derived from a damaged ancestor.
(b) Variations in which other texts agree only with 1:
4.13: While 1 and all other texts read i (lean), 3 evidently read chi (send). The former reading is clearly better, and its being found in all other Sung texts that include this passage tends to confirm that it was the reading of the archetype. It is significant that Wang Chung-wen, who generally follows LU as his copy-text, reads i here. Indeed, he follows 1 in all five variations in this group.
15.4: The reading of 3 (found in HOU, LU, and WU), tao (reverse) for hsin (trust), is unintelligible, as Wang Chung-wen argues. The other texts that include this passage, five of them of Sung date, all read hsin .
26.11: The reading of 3 was a lacuna, while CHEN reads ch'ü (bends) and HSIAO, yüeh (moon). One of the latter is probably the archetypal reading. Both make sense in the context, but ch'ü makes more and better sense. It is also the reading of all other texts that include this poem, and this tends to support its claim to be the reading of the archetype.
28.12: The lacuna in 3, in place of chien (interval) or hsien (leisure), cannot be authorial. The typeset edition of WU and the Su-hsiang shih reedition of HOU both restore the text.
31.5: This variation is most conveniently discussed here, although it is not entirely analogous to the others in the group. The reading of 3 was chin (suffer), which does not make sense in the context. HSIAO reads chih (branch). The reading of CHEN, chin (band), is a homophone of that in 3 and is also written with a similar character. Although the latter two readings both make good sense, the similarity of those in CHEN and 3
suggests that one of them was the reading in 1, and we are naturally inclined to suppose that it was that of CHEN, which is also found in the only other text, a late anthology, to include the poem. On the other hand, if 1 already had an intelligible reading, the chances of variation occurring between it and HSIAO would naturally be reduced. In short, we propose "band" with greater confidence as the authorial reading for the poem than we do as the reading of the archetype of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u .
(c) Variations in which other texts agree only with 3:
2.1: The reading of 1 was yü (jadeite). WU leaves a space here, and 3 read pi (emerald). Neither reading is clearly preferable, but it may be significant that the T'ang Sung chu-hsien chüeh-miao tz'u-hsüan , the only other Sung text to include the poem, agrees with 3.
3.2: That 1 read erh shou (two poems) after the title of this poem while 3 did not is not a dilemma that reference to other texts can resolve; nor is it one of much importance.
4.11: Both the ho (what) of 3 and the wu (without) of 1 are satisfactory readings in the context. That the Tsun-ch'ien chi and the T'ang Sung chu-hsien chüeh-miao tz'u-hsüan both read ho increases the plausibility of accepting it as the authorial reading.
9.6: This variation resembles the preceding. Both shan ("hill," i.e., "high") in 3 and its homophone meaning "coral" in 1 are acceptable readings. That both the Tsun-ch'ien chi , which attributes the poem to "Prince Li," and the Hua-chien chi , in which it is included as the work of Wen T'ing-yün, read "hill" similarly tends to support it as the authorial reading.
22.2: The two homophones in this variation, both read so ("tiny" in 1, and "lock" in 3), occur as substitutions for one another fairly frequently, meaning "chain" or "link." Here the other texts are few in number and late, so they do not help much in resolving this variation, which is of little significance in any case. We are inclined to adopt the "lock" form to be consistent with the clearly directional variation 25.4 (see above), which involves the same pair of homophones. That the elements of the pair take the same positions on either side of the archetype in both variations naturally suggests that we may be dealing with a case of "scribal style."
25.3: Two late texts agree with 3 in reading hang (row), which makes easier sense than jen (allow), the reading of 1. Other late texts have other readings still. While hang is the easier reading, jen remains possible ("One allows the beaded curtains to hang idly unrolled all the time , [since] all day long no one visits").
31.3: The variation between chin (gold) in 3 and han (enclose) in 1 is clearly the result of graphic confusion. "Gold" is probably the better reading, as it matches the fen (pink) earlier in the line.
d) Variations in which other texts agree with both 1 and 3:
2.5: The reading of 1 was yeh (night), while that of 3 was yü (remnant) (WU leaves a blank here). The T'ang Sung chu-hsien chüeh-miao tz'u-hsüan agrees with 3, while a late compendium, the Hua-ts'ao ts'ui-pien , agrees with 1. "Night" is the easier reading, perhaps, but it is not decisively better.
4.6: The reading of 3 here was jung (countenance), with which several Sung collections of anecdotes that cite the poem, as well as a number of later texts, agree. CHEN has shao (beautiful), with which the Tsun-ch'ien chi , the T'ang Sung chu-hsien chüeh-miao tz'u-hsüan , and most later texts agree. HSIAO reads han (cold). The latter looks like an error derived from the reading of 3, which suggests that 1 also may have read jung , in which case the error in HSIAO would be independent of the reading in CHEN, which might be the result of contamination. Alternatively, the reading of 1 (and perhaps even of the archetype) may have been han . Choice of an archetypal reading here is not possible on formal grounds. All three make good sense in the context. That han is found only as a singleton in HSIAO greatly reduces the likelihood of its being archetypal, but the division of even the Sung sources between jung and shao is equivocal.
5.7: See the concluding section of the essay for a full discussion of this variation, in which the reading of 1 was yeh (leaves), while that of 3 was yüeh (moon). We argue there that yeh has the better chance of being the reading of the archetype.
5.14: This variation might well have been classed with group 3 above, as only one late text agrees with 1 in reading hsü (quite), while all others, including seven of Sung date, read chi (how much). This suggests that chi is more likely to have been the reading of the archetype.
6.3: This is a more complex case than most, in that the reading of 3 cannot be determined on formal grounds. The reading of 1, with which several late texts agree, is ti (drip). LU and one late text read tuan (broken). The lacuna in 2, in place of tuan or ti , is non-authorial (the typeset edition of WU fills it with tuan ). The difficulty is, of course, that the reading of 3 cannot be determined when 2 and LU disagree, and this is particularly important since the reading of the archetype was probably that of 3.
23.4: This poem is not included in any Sung texts other than the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u , so it is not so significant (at least not for our attempt
to determine the reading of the archetype) that only one late text agrees with 1 in reading hun (soul), while many agree with 3 in reading meng (dream).
37.4: Most of the Sung texts that include this poem agree with 3 in reading nuan (warm), while the Lei shuo and a few minor texts read nai1 or nai2 (help, fend off) with 1. The latter reading makes the whole line one sentence ("Gossamer covers do not fend off the fifth-watch chill"), while the former makes it two independent clauses ("Gossamer covers are not warm; the fifth watch is chilly").
In short, whenever the archetype is located on a link in the diagram, rather than at a particular state or inferential intermediary, variations occurring across that link can be resolved only by such nonce methods as the authority of other texts or the judgment of an editor.
3-LU: 6.2, 6.3, 7.14, 8.1, 13.4, 19.7, 20.10, 21.3, 23.5, 23.5a, 26.10, 28.16, 37.1, 37.11; plus the rewritten variations 14.4, 29.6, and 34.3. The first point to note about these variations is that they are relatively few in number, fewer than those occurring across any other link leading to an extant state. Only four of them (7.14, 8.1, 23.5a, and 37.1) are not singleton variations, and even in these four the agreements with other texts are not of great significance. Although only in the case of the complex variation 6.3 (see above) can we argue that LU's reading is possibly archetypal, the relatively small number of variations arising at this link suggests that LU is generally the most reliable of the extant states. The result of our formal analysis of the variations thus agrees with Wang Chung-wen's judgment, when he chose LU as the copy-text for his edition.
3-2: 6.3, 7.7, 8.4, 16.4, 19.1, 19.9, 20.5, 29.3, 29.4a, 34.5. These variations too are strikingly few in number. In the most common case, the reading of 2 was a lacuna. In only one of these variations, 20.5, do other texts share the reading of 2. The two Sung texts to include the poem, the Tsun-ch'ien chi and the T'ang Sung chu-hsien chüeh-miao tz'u-hsüan (the latter attributes it to Tu An-shih), both agree with 3 (and hence with the archetypal reading of the Nan-T'ang erh-chu tz'u ) in reading lung (cage), and many later texts agree. This seems a much more interesting reading in the context than the fei (fly) of 2 and a number of later texts.
2-HOU: 1.2a, 1.6, 1.13, 5.3, 8.2, 9.7, 14.1, 15.1, 17.4, 18.1b, 19.2, 20.3, 20.3a, 20.16, 25.1, 25.4, 26.2, 28.4, 30.3, 31.6, 31.7, 35.4; plus the rewritten variations 4.5, 6.5, 27.4, 30.2, and 34.3. Here again, virtually all the variations consist of singleton readings unique to HOU. The three exceptions, 1.6, 20.16, and 25.4 (see above), are all cases of a lectio if not facilior , then at least facilis , and it is possible that independent error is
responsible for one or more of them. Most of the other variants in HOU are clearly erroneous readings or slight variations in the placement of the notes.
2-WU: 1.2c, 1.15, 2.1, 2.3, 2.5, 2.9, 2.10, 3.1, 4.10, 5.2, 6.4, 6.5, 10.4, 13.8, 15.3, 16.2, 16.5, 17.2, 17.3, 24.7, 26.9, 26.10, 27.4, 27.5, 29.2, 29.5, 29.7, 31.2, 31.7, 32.2, 34.2, 37.6; plus the rewritten variations 1.2b and 34.1. In all but one of these numerous variations (the exception is trivial), WU has a singleton reading, and one that is in the majority of cases manifestly inferior, as Wang Chung-wen frequently points out in his apparatus. Many of these errors are "corrected" in the typeset edition.