Xie Lingyun

Xie Lingyun (Traditional Chinese: 謝靈運; Simplified Chinese: 谢灵运; Hanyu Pinyin: Xiè Língyùn; Wade-Giles: Hsieh Lingyün, 385–433), also called Hsieh Ling-yün or Hsieh K'ang-lo, Pinyin Xie Lingyun, or Xie Kanglo , also known as the Duke of Kangle (康樂公), was one of the foremost Chinese poets of the Southern and Northern Dynasties. A member of an aristocratic family associated with the displaced southern court, Hsieh served as an official under the Eastern Chin and Liu-Sung dynasties, but incurred the enmity of certain political factions when he supported Liu I-chen, also known as Prince of Lu-ling, in his efforts to become emperor. He was demoted to a magistrate and exiled to remote Yung-chia (in present-day Chekiang), where he wrote his best nature poetry. For the next ten years he alternated between intervals of seclusion on his estate and periods of discontented service as an official. He was accused of rebellion and executed in 433.

Contents

Xie Lingyun was one of China's first nature poets, known for his poems describing "mountain and streams" (山水) landscapes. His poems, composed in the fu style of rhyme-prose, describe the beautiful mountains, lakes and rivers of southern China, often expressing a sense of being lost in the landscape. One of his most famous poems is Shanju Fu (Fu on Dwelling in the Mountains).[1] His evocative, descriptive poetry set the fashion for his age. In the Wen Hsüan (“Literary Anthology”), the sixth-century canon that defined medieval Chinese literary tastes, Xie had more poems than any other Six Dynasties poet. Nearly 100 of his poems have survived.

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Life

Xie Lingyun was born in 385 in Shangyu, Zhejiang, though his ancestry was from Taikang, Henan. He belonged to one of the most illustrious families who moved to South China with the Chin court when North China was invaded by barbarian tribes from across the Chinese border. Several members of the Xie clan achieved distinction as poets in the fourth and fifth centuries. When his father died, he inherited the title of Duke of K'ang-lo, which should have ensured him a prestigious career. However, due to his lavish tastes and his aristocratic arrogance, his fortunes were always uncertain.

When the Eastern Chin collapsed in 419, he served the Liu-Sung dynasty but was demoted to Marquis of K'ang-lo. In 422, he supported his friend, Liu I-chen, also known as Prince of Lu-ling, in his efforts to become emperor. His enemies, jealous of his friendship with the heir to the throne, murdered the prince and the prince of Lu-ling, exiled Xie as a magistrate in remote Yung-chia (in present-day Chekiang). It is from this period that Xie Lingyün matured as a poet. As prefect of Yung-chia, he recorded the scenic attractions around it with a fresh, observant eye; at the same time, suffering had deepened his outlook so that a philosophic vein now ran through his descriptive verse. He remained there for about a year before retiring to his family estate in Zhejiang Province, where he devoted himself to landscape gardening. For the next ten years he alternated between intervals of seclusion on his estate and periods of discontented service as an official. Finally, he contracted the enmity of a powerful clique at court, was exiled to southern China in 431. [2] There, he led an uprising and was almost executed. He was exiled again to Canton. Because of his defiant attitude, and because he resisted when arrested, he was accused of rebellion and executed in 433.

Poetry

Brought up as a Taoist, Xie became a devout Buddhist who supported the Mount Lu monastery in modern Kinagsi province, and translated sutras and wrote religious essays. He is best known for his poetry; he was considered a nature or landscape poet, focusing on the "mountain and streams" (山水) instead of "field and garden" (田園) landscapes favored by his contemporary, T’ao Ch’ien. He is regarded by many critics as the first Chinese nature poet.

During his year in exile as a magistrate in Yung-chia, he wrote some of his best poetry, expressing his feelings about the injustices in the government. He became interested in the Taoist tradition which emphasized harmony with nature and freedom from worldly concerns. His poems, composed in the fu style of rhyme-prose, describe the beautiful mountains, lakes and rivers of southern China, often expressing a sense of being lost in the landscape. One of his most famous poems is Shanju Fu (Fu on Dwelling in the Mountains).[3]

His poetry is allusive and complex. His evocative, descriptive poetry set the fashion for his age. He wrote mainly in the five-word style, using an erudite vocabulary that was popular at that time. In the Wen Hsüan (“Literary Anthology”), the sixth-century canon that defined medieval Chinese literary tastes, Xie had more poems than any other Six Dynasties poet . Nearly 100 of his poems have survived. In addition to poetry, he was skilled at calligraphy and painting. .


Overnight On Stone Gate (Yèsù Shímén Shī )
At dawn plucked orchids in the garden,
Fearing they would wither in the frost.
At dusk return to stay in the clouds,
Savor moonlight on the rocks.
Birdsong welcomes night's perch,
Bending trees clasp rising wind.
Novel sounds bound together,
Mutual resonance rustling chirping.
Remarkable moment no one to share,
Fragrant wine, who will share it?
My Fine One abruptly fails to join,
In vain my hair steams in the sun.
Xiè Língyùn, 385-433 Translator: Dongbo [4]
Returning Across the Lake from Our Monastery at Stone-Screen Cliff
In the transformation of dusk and dawn, skies
fill rivers and mountains with crystalline light
crystalline light bringing such effortless joy
a wanderer rests content, all return forgotten
The sun was rising when I left my valley home,
and daylight faint before I started back, sailing
past forested canyons, gathering dusky colors
and twilight mist mingling into flushed cloud
past lotus and chestnut a lavish luster woven
through reeds and rice-grass toppled together
Then ashore, I hurry south on overgrown paths,
and settle into my eastern home, enchanted still.
When worry ends, things take themselves lightly,
And when thoughts lull, inner patterns abide
I offer this to adepts come refining their lives:
Try this old way of mine, make it search enough.
Xie Lingyun, Translation by David Hinton[5]

Notes

  1. Dorothy Perkins, 1999, Encyclopedia of China the essential reference to China, its history and culture. New York: Facts on File. ISBN 0816026939 ISBN 9780816026937
  2. Xie Lingyun, bookrags.com, 2008, Retrieved December 6, 2007.
  3. Dorothy Perkins, 1999, Encyclopedia of China the essential reference to China, its history and culture. New York: Facts on File. ISBN 0816026939 ISBN 9780816026937
  4. Overnight On Stone Gate, Mountainsongs. Retrieved December 15, 2007.
  5. Poems from/based on Early Liturgies of Local Divinities. Retrieved December 15, 2007.

References

  • Barnstone, Tony, and Ping Chou. 2004. The Anchor book of Chinese poetry. New York: Anchor Books. ISBN 0385721986 ISBN 9780385721981
  • Frodsham, J. D. 1967. The murmuring stream the life and works of the Chinese nature poet Hsieh Ling-yün (385-433), Duke of K'ang-Lo. Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya P.
  • Lin, Wenyue. 1977. Xie Lingyun. Gu feng cong shu, 3. Taibei: He luo tu shu chu ban she.
  • Liu, Wuji and Irving Yucheng Lo. 1975. Sunflower splendor three thousand years of Chinese poetry. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books. ISBN 0385097166 ISBN 9780385097161
  • Perkins, Dorothy. 1999. Encyclopedia of China the essential reference to China, its history and culture. New York: Facts on File. ISBN 0816026939 ISBN 9780816026937
  • Seaton, Jerome P. 2006. The Shambhala anthology of Chinese poetry. Boston: Shambhala. ISBN 1570628629 ISBN 9781570628627
  • Xie, Lingyun and David Hinton. 2001. The mountain poems of Hsieh Ling-yün. New York: New Directions. ISBN 0811214893 ISBN 9780811214896

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