A Talk on Verses for Singing (¡°C¨ª¡±) by the Mortal World

(1) The best ¡°C¨ª¡± are those that contain a state of mind. Any ¡°C¨ª¡± that has a state of mind would naturally have a good taste and produce famous lines. This is the reason why ¡°C¨ª¡± written in the Five Dynasties and the Northern Song period is so unique.

(2) The difference between the ¡°Ideal¡± and ¡°descriptive¡± schools is caused by the way the ¡°ambit¡± was created or described. It is rather difficult to make a distinction, because the ambit created by a great poet would be natural, while the described ambit would not be far from ¡°ideals¡±.

(3) Some scenes portrayed by the poet has himself in it, some don¡¯t. Such lines as: ¡°The flowers are silent when questioned by weeping voice, they are blown to the swing and then away¡± and ¡°who can put up with the closed doors of the guest house in the cold spring wind, while the cuckoo is lamenting with the setting sun¡± are scenes with the poets themselves. ¡°Collecting chrysanthemum under the eastern fence mindlessly and the sun is setting over the southern hill in peace¡± and ¡°The cold waves are quietly surging up while the white birds are leisurely landing¡± are lines without the poets themselves. When the poets are in the lines, they see things with their eyes, so things are dyed with their personal color; when the poets are not in the lines, things are viewed as things, and you don¡¯t know which is the poet and which is the thing being depicted. Among the ¡°C¨ª¡± by ancient poets, more have poets in the lines. Yet the scenes without the poets in them could be written, it all depended on how the poets would do it.

(4) A scene without the poet himself is obtained in tranquility while the scene with the poet himself is obtained in quietness after movement. Therefore, one is beautiful and the other is magnificent.

(5) Things in the nature are mutually related and mutually limited. When they appear in literature and fine arts, the mutually limited parts are put aside. Therefore, the description artists are also idealists. When fabricating a scene, the material must be gained from the nature, and its structure must conform to the laws of nature. In this sense, idealists are also artists of description.

(6) An ambit does not only mean a scene or things in that scene. Happiness, anger, sorrow and pleasure are a state of mind. So, those who have a state of mind could portray authentic ambit and authentic feelings; while those who don¡¯t have a state of mind can not do so.

(7) In ¡°spring is so noisily presented on the branches of the red apricot¡± , the use of the word ¡°noisy¡± brings out the state of mind; in ¡°flowers show off their shadows when clouds are pierced by the moon¡± , the use of ¡°show off¡± also brings out the state of mind.

(8) A state of mind may be big or small, but you cannot say which is better. ¡°Fish come out in the drizzle while sparrows fly diagonally in the breeze¡± is in no way poorer than ¡°the setting sun shone on the big banners and horses neigh in the roaring wind¡± . ¡°I hang up mindlessly the curtain onto the silver hook¡± is in no way inferior than ¡°the terrace is lost in the fog while the ferry is so unclear in the dim moonlight¡± .

(9) Yan Canglang said in his ¡°On Poetry¡±£¬ ¡°Purport was the secrete of the success of the poets during the prime period of Tang. You can find no traces of it like an antelope hanging itself on the branches of a tree£»it isn¡¯t anything else, but something clear, nimble like a sound in the sky, color of an exquisite article, shadow in the water and an image in the mirror.¡± I think C¨ª before Northern Song was also like this. What is ¡°purport¡± in the mind of Yan and what is a ¡°romantic charm¡± in the eyes of Ru¨£n T¨ªng all refer to the feature only. I got to the roots when I use the words of ¡°state of mind¡±.

(10) Li Bai used to get an upper hand with the atmosphere he created, for instance, ¡°the stone arches of the tombs of the Han Dynasty lie in the west wind and a setting sun¡± bring you to a scene one thousand years ago. Even though Fan Zhongyan and Xia Song of much later period can be compared with Li with their ¡°To the Tune of ¡®Yu Jia Ao¡¯¡± and ¡°To the Tune of ¡®Xi Qian Ying¡¯¡± respectively, yet there is much to be desired in the atmosphere they created.

(11) Zhang Gaowen commented on Wen Tingyun thus: his words ¡°profound, beautiful, broad and well-selected¡±. But I think it would be proper to use these words on Feng Zhengzhong . Liu Rongzhai commented on Wen thus: Wen ¡°is next to nobody in refineness.¡± Such a comment is close to the truth.

(12) ¡°What could the painted golden partridge do¡±, a line by Wen signifies the class of his C¨ª poetry. ¡°The words of the yellow oriole spoke out by the strings¡±, a line by Wei Zhuang also signifies the class of his C¨ª poetry. If we want to find out the class of Feng Zhengzhong¡¯s C¨ª poetry by singling out a line from his writing, ¡°trying to make up with care, yet also with tears¡± would be the best choice.

(13) Such lines by the second ruler of Southern Tang :¡±The fragrance of lotus flowers is gone and the green leaves damaged, west wind is rising from among the green waves with sorrow¡± give an impression that flowers have not been given a good care and too much weeds have grown out, and that a beauty is getting on in years. Among all lines of poetry, I really appreciate this one: ¡°It is drizzling when I woke up from my dream, and my love is still in the frontier; it is so chilly in the small building when there is only the clear sound from the reed pipe.¡± From these lines we could know how difficult it is to really know a person.

(14) Wen¡¯s C¨ª poetry is outstanding in beautiful lines; Wei¡¯s C¨ª poetry is outstanding in its unyielding integrity and Li¡¯s C¨ª poetry is outstanding in its beautiful manner.

(15) When C¨ª poetry writing came to the last ruler of the Southern Tang, the vision poetry expressed was broadened with deeper emotions. From his time on the verses for musicians became verses for literati in general. Zhou Jiecun was wrong in putting L¨« Y¨´ under Wen and Wei. ¡°This is none other than a life long hate and an eastward running water¡±, ¡°Spring was gone with fallen flowers being washed away, and I descended down to the earth from my royal life.¡± How can you find such scenes in the poems in ¡°J¨ªn Qu¨£n¡± by Wen and ¡°Hu¨¤n Hu¨¡¡± by Wei!

(16) The heart of a C¨ª poet is as pure as that of a newly born baby. Being born deep in the royal palace and grew up among ladies is a drawback for a ruler like the L¨« Y¨´£¬yet it is also an advantage for a C¨ª poet.

(17) An objective poet must have rich experiences in life. The more experiences he has the richer his material and changes, like the authors of ¡¶The Outlaws of Marsh¡· and ¡¶Dreams in the Red Mansion¡·. A subjective poet does not have to have much experience in life, the lesser experience he has the truer his emotions, and the last ruler of the Southern Tang L¨« Y¨´ was such a poet.

(18) Nietzsche said that among all literature he loved those written with blood best. The C¨ª poems by the last ruler of the Southern Tang were truly written with blood. ¡°The Pavilion on the Yanshan Mountain¡± by Emperor Hu¨©z¨­ng could be said to have been written with blood. Yet, what he depicted was his bitter life. The last ruler of the Southern Tang seemed somewhat like Sakyamuni and Christ who tried to be responsible for all the sins of mankind. The difference between the two lies in magnitude.

(19) The C¨ª verses of Feng Zhengzhong not only bear the style of the Five Dynasties, but also convey a unique conception in a greater scale and become a pioneer of the Northern Song style of C¨ª writing. ¡°The Anthology of Being Among Flowers¡± didn¡¯t include the verses by Feng, the second and last ruler of the Southern Tang, and didn¡¯t even mention a word about them.

(20) Aside from the a dozen or so most famous C¨ª verses of Feng such as ¡°To the Tune of ¡®Xitazhi¡¯¡± and ¡°To the Tune of ¡®Pusaman¡¯¡±, I don¡¯t think the line-- ¡°High up on the tree, the magpies are building their nest with branches they moved over; down on the ground, the slanting moon is shedding light on the cold grass¡± can not be surpassed by neither ¡°The firefly slipped away from the top of the pavilion¡± by Wei Yingwu nor ¡°Sparse rain drop on the phoenix tree¡± by Meng Haoran .

(21) One line in Ouy¨¢ng Xi¨± ¡¯s ¡°To the Tune of ¡®Hu¨¤n X¨ª Sh¨¡¡¯¡± goes: ¡°Out of the Green Willow building the swing is up¡±. Ch¨¢o B¨³zh¨© said that no writers later could have come up with the word ¡°out¡±. What I wish to say is that this word ¡°out¡± was borrowed from Feng Zhengzhong¡¯s line in ¡°To the Tune of ¡®Sh¨¤ng X¨ªng B¨¥i¡¯¡±: ¡°The swing besides the willow seems to be out of the painted wall¡±. Only Ouy¨¢ng¡¯s way of using the word ¡°out¡± is more skillful.

(22) M¨¦i Sh¨¨ngy¨² said in his ¡°To the Tune of ¡®S¨± M¨´ Zh¨¥¡¯¡±: Flowers on the peartree have all fallen down, the spring is gone; with the setting sun, the green on the tree and the dusk fog are aging. Liu Rongzhai held that Q¨ªn Gu¨¡n was particularly keen on learning this style of composition all his life. I hold, as in the following line written by F¨¦ng Zh¨¨ngzh¨­ng: Now the spring is here, one aromatic exudates follows another sweet flower blossom, and their amorous requests can not be easily satisfied; when spring is finally here after a long period of longing, not to knit your eye-brows and worry about how short spring is. And M¨¦i Sh¨¨ngy¨²was particularly keen on learning this style of composing poems all his life.

(23) People only know ¡°To the Tune of ¡®Di¨£n Ji¨¤ng Ch¨±n¡¯¡± by L¨ªn H¨¦j¨¬ng , ¡°To the Tune of ¡®S¨± M¨´ Zh¨¥¡¯¡± by M¨¦i Sh¨¨ngy¨² and ¡°A Youngster¡¯s Travel¡± by M¨¦i Sh¨¨ngy¨² are master pieces in singing praises of spring grass in the history of C¨ª. They don¡¯t know that before these poets, such words as ¡°The drizzle could only wet the spring grass, it could not, however, stop the flow of time¡±, which are also very descriptive of the spirits of the spring grass.

(24) The poem ¡°Young Reed¡± in the part of the Qin Ballard in the ¡°Book of Songs¡± carries deep thoughts and is full of temperament of a poet. The lines by Y¨¤n T¨®ngsh¨± : ¡°when the dew is withered and wounded, and the autumn wind rises, I am sleepless all night. I scale up the high tower and look at all the roads to the far destinations¡± is quite similar. Only their way of expressions is different, one is smart and one is tragically stirring.

(25) ¡°I looked around, and chaos is everywhere, there is no place for me to settle down¡± depicts how the poet worried about a man¡¯s fate; ¡°when the dew is withered and wounded, and the autumn wind rises, I am sleepless all night. I scale up the high tower and look at all the roads to the far destinations¡± is close to the first line. ¡°I drove the cart here and there, never a person asked me about learning and cultivation¡± shows the poets¡¯ concern about the manner and moral of the time. The following line described the same idea: ¡°When the Cold Food Festival is gone, so will be the spring; even though the land is covered by flowers and grass, where should the precious cart and the horse be parked?¡±

(26) Since the ancient times, anyone who accomplished something great and who are masters epistemologists must go through three stages in their state of mind: ¡°when the dew is withered and wounded, and the autumn wind rises, I am sleepless all night. I scale up the high tower and look at all the roads to the far destinations¡± is the first stage; ¡°I look so worn and haggard from missing her day and night, I wouldn¡¯t regret till the last day of my life that my clothing is getting bigger daily while I become thinner with each day because of thinking of her¡± is the second stage; ¡°I looked for her over and over again in the crowd, when I looked back all of a sudden, she was there standing under a cold lamp¡± is the third stage. Such language could only be produced by great C¨ª poets or master writers. However, if you try to analyze the above mentioned poems with this theory, Y¨¤n T¨®ngsh¨±, Ouy¨¢ng Xi¨± and others may object.

(27) Ouy¨¢ng Xi¨± said, ¡°People are born sentimental, yet their sentimentality has nothing to do with wind and moon,¡± ¡°I shall play to my heart¡¯s content, look at all the flowers in Luoyang city and then return with the spring.¡± You can find some composure in the bold and unconstrained feelings of the poet, and this is where the poet was wiser.

(28) Feng Menghua says in his ¡°Prelude and Examples of Selection of C¨ª from Sixty-One Poets of Song¡±, ¡°both Huaihai and Xiaoshan were heart broken. Their plain comments are thickly poetic and their shallow sayings are vividly sentimental.¡± I think only Huaihai deserves such a praise. While being so unemotional and extravagant, Xiaoshan could only be placed in the same footing as Ziye and Fang Hui and could not be compared to Huaihai.

(29) The scenes of C¨ª written by Q¨ªn Gu¨¡n are usually plaintive in an euphemistic way. Yet, when he wrote, ¡°who can put up with the closed doors of the guest house in the cold spring wind, while the cuckoo is lamenting with the setting sun¡± the plaintive touch has become a sorrow. S¨± D¨­ngp¨® appreciated the last two lines of this C¨ª. What he saw was only superficial.

(30) ¡°It is so dark and gloomy in the rainy and windy day when chicken was crowing¡± , ¡°The top of a high mountain covers the sun shine, it is so dim with drizzle at the mountain foot; snow is blowing every where and dark clouds are so heavy¡± , ¡°All trees are dyed with the color of autumn, and the afterlight is hanging on the mountain top¡± and ¡°who can put up with the closed doors of the guest house in the cold spring wind, while the cuckoo is lamenting with the setting sun¡± all depict a similar climate.

(31) Prince Zh¨¡o M¨ªng said, the poems of T¨¢o Yu¨¢nm¨ªng are ¡°most outstanding in poetry, because the words he used are unrestrained and amplifying, nobody could match him in diction which is in cadency, bright, clear, lucid and lively.¡± W¨¢ng J¨¬ said of Xu¨¥ Sh¨­u ¡¯s poetic prose as ¡°high and odd in aroma and temperament, vague yet far-reaching in connotation; having reached a state of mind of loftiness, steepness and loneliness.¡± However, these qualities are very much desired in C¨ª writing, only S¨± D¨­ngp¨® is a bit like T¨¢o Yu¨¢nm¨ªng and Ji¨¡ng K¨²i is somewhat liken to Xu¨¥ Sh¨­u.

(32) Whether a piece of C¨ª is elegant or vulgar depends mainly on its content, not on its form. We can find words used by Ouy¨¢ng Xi¨± and Q¨ªn Gu¨¡n in describing love, yet such descriptions were of a higher taste. When we compare these words with those used by Zh¨­u B¨¡ngy¨¤n , we can say one is a lady, the other is a prostitute.

(33) In terms of the depth of conception, Zh¨­u B¨¡ngy¨¤n is poorer than Ouy¨¢ng and Q¨ªn. Yet, when it comes to describe lyric feelings and state of a material article, Zh¨­u B¨¡ngy¨¤n is very much at home and can be regarded as a first rank writer. In general, Zh¨­u B¨¡ngy¨¤n is rich in superb artistic expressions and poor in original creativeness.

(34) In composing C¨ª, we should avoid using substitutes. Zh¨­u B¨¡ngy¨¤n created an excellent scene when he said ¡°osmanthus flower (moonlight) was pouring down from the house top¡± in his ¡°Decoding the Speaking Flowers¡±. The only pity is that he used ¡°osmanthus flower¡± to substitute ¡°moonlight¡±. Ever since W¨² M¨¨ngchu¨¡ng , substitutions had been used more and more. The cause of such an increase was either lack of true thinking as content or lack of power of expression in language. Therefore, substitution should not be used if one has true thinking as content and if one has enough power of expression in language. This is also why S¨± D¨­ngp¨­ mocked at Q¨ªn Gu¨¡n¡¯s lines as ¡°the small building is linked with the pond¡± and ¡°the fragrant chariot with the steed¡­¡±.

(35) Sh¨§n B¨­sh¨ª said in his ¡°Guide to the Official Collection of Ballards (Yu¨¨ F¨³)¡±, ¡°When write about peach, you should not use ¡®peach¡¯ directly, instead, you should use ¡®red rain¡¯ and ¡®Brother Liu¡¯ to substitute peach flower; and when you sing praises of willow trees, you should not use ¡®willow¡¯ directly, instead, you should use ¡®Terrace Zh¨¡ng (ÕĄ̂) ¡¯ or ¡°the bank of Rriver B¨¤ (å±°¶)¡¯ to substitute willow trees.¡± He seemed worrying that people wouldn¡¯t use substitutions. Even if it was necessary to use substitutions to show off one¡¯s artistic attainments, what would so many reference books, dictionaries and tool books since the ancient times for? No wonder ¡°The Synopsis of the Complete Imperial Library of Four Treasure Knowledge¡± showed some contempt to such a practice by derision.

(36) Zh¨­u B¨¡ngy¨¤n says in his ¡°To the Tune of ¡®Q¨©ng Y¨´ An¡¯¡± (It should be ¡°To the Tune of ¡®S¨± M¨´ Zh¨¥¡¯¡±), ¡°Night rain has just stopped, and the morning sun is rising and shining on the wet and round lotus leafs, who are flickering with the wind.¡± Such words presented so well the vividness of the lotus leafs. I therefore felt the two pieces of C¨ª written by Ji¨¡ng K¨²i, namely ¡°To the Tune of ¡®Ni¨¤n N¨² Ji¨¡o¡¯¡± and ¡°To the Tune of ¡®X¨¬ H¨®ng Y¨©¡¯¡±, depicting lotus leafs as well, gives such a bad impression as looking at the flowers through a fog.

(37) S¨± D¨­ngp¨­¡¯s ¡°To the Tune of ¡®Shu¨« L¨®ng Y¨©n¡¯¡± which portrays poplar filaments was a reply to Zh¨¡ng Zh¨¬f¨± ¡¯s C¨ª of the same title sounds like an original piece; yet, being the original, Zh¨¡ng¡¯s C¨ª sounds like a reply. Different level of talent could lead to such a big gap.

(38) When it comes to describe material objects, S¨± D¨­ngp¨­¡¯s ¡°To the Tune of ¡®Shu¨« L¨®ng Y¨©n¡¯¡± is the best; Sh¨« B¨¡ngq¨©ng ¡¯s ¡°To the Tune of ¡®Shu¨¡ng Shu¨¡ng Y¨¤n¡¯¡± comes second. Despite the recommendable style of Ji¨¡ng K¨²i¡¯s ¡°The Obscure Fragrance¡± and ¡°The Sparse Shadow¡±, not even a single line in these pieces hit the nail on the head. There is really a far cry from such lines of our ancestors, ¡°The early plum by the riverside is in such a blossom the flowers are all over the trees.¡±

(39) Even thought such lines as ¡°The twenty-four bridges are still there, the moon flickers silently in the river and in the cold air,¡± ¡°the miserable and bitter mountain top afar seems heralding a storm at dusk;¡± ¡°Chirping of cicadas on trees are telling people the news about the autumn¡± written by Ji¨¡ng K¨²i are recommendable in their style, yet, there seem to be a partition for the readers who may feel like looking at flowers through a fog. A ¡°partition¡± is where C¨ª poets like Sh¨« B¨¡ngq¨©ng and W¨² M¨¨ngchu¨¡ng failed in describing a scene or material object. The Northern Song style and customs in C¨ª composition broke up after the Dynasty moved to the other side of the river. Is there really a luck in the world?

(40) If you ask what is the difference between having a ¡°partition¡± and not having a ¡°partition¡±, the answer is: there is no partition in the poems by T¨¢o Yu¨¡nm¨ªng and Xi¨¨ L¨ªngy¨´n ; there is a slight partition in the poems of Y¨¢n Y¨¢nni¨¢n . There is no partition in the poems by S¨± D¨­ngp¨­, but there is a slight partition in the poems of Hu¨¢ng Sh¨¡ng¨³ . ¡°The pond is full of spring grass,¡± ¡°The mud carried by the sparrow drops from the beam¡± are excellent lines because they don¡¯t have partitions. The same can be applied to C¨ª composition. Let¡¯s take one C¨ª piece by one poet, Ouy¨¢ng¡¯s ¡°Travel of the Youngster¡± for instance, in the first half it says, ¡°I stand lonely among the twelve balustrades and look at the infinite sky and the earth, the grass and spring clouds blend endlessly for one thousand li, for ten thousand li, for two months and three months, and the traveler is extremely distressed.¡± In here, what every word portrays can appear before you, and therefore, there is no partition. In the latter half it says, ¡°In the pond of Poet Xi¨¨ and by the riverside described by Ji¨¡ng Y¨¡n ¡±. Apparently, there is a partition. Ji¨¡ng K¨²i¡¯s ¡°Groaning at the Jade Tower¡± goes, ¡°This is where the ancient immortals left with cranes. There should be C¨ª poet immortals playing with us on the back of yellow cranes and among white clouds. However, I have been staring for a long time on the high stone steps, and I groan that the only thing I see is the endless bitter grass for a thousand li.¡± There is no partition in it. Yet, there is partition in ¡°To drive away anxiety and worry only by drinking wine, to grind the mettle of a hero by looking at flowers.¡± Even if there was no partition in the C¨ª composed in the Southern Song period, they might not as deep and profound as those by their forerunners.

(41) ¡°No one lives for ever, why worry about things one thousand years later? Why blame the night being long because of shorter days? Why not do some walking with a lit candle in the night?¡± ¡°To live long, one took some alchemy drugs, which in the end ruin one¡¯s health. One should rather drink to his heart¡¯s content and put on clothing of whatever material he wishes.¡± There is no partition when description of feeling can reach such a state. ¡°Collecting chrysanthemum under the eastern fence mindlessly and the sun is setting over the southern hill in peace; amid gray dusk birds are returning to the mountains in a leisurely manner.¡± ¡°The sky is like a canopy encompassing the plain. So vast is the sky and so boundless is the plain. When a spring gust blows, cattle and sheep can be seen in the grass.¡± There is no partition when description of a scene can reach such a state.

(42) Among all C¨ª poets in the past and today, no one can match Ji¨¡ng K¨²i in style. The pity is that he didn¡¯t work hard on his creative conceptions; therefore you can not find anything in between his lines and no implications. That¡¯s why he can not be ranked as a first rate poet.

(43) Among Southern Song C¨ª poets, Ji¨¡ng K¨²i has a lofty style but is not as sentimental; L¨´ Y¨­u has vigor but is not as charm. The only one who can be compared to Northern Song C¨ª poets is X¨©n Q¨¬j¨© . When people of today compose C¨ª pieces, they take poets of the Southern Song as their examples, they regard this as a way to inherit from the poetry of the Northern Song. They think it is easier to learn C¨ª of the Southern Song and difficult to learn C¨ª of the Northern Song. When they learn C¨ª of the Southern Song, they take either Ji¨¡ng K¨²i or W¨± M¨¨ngchu¨¡n as their examples, because it is easier to learn from Ji¨¡ng K¨²i and W¨± M¨¨ngchu¨¡n, it is not easy to learn from X¨©n Q¨¬j¨©. When people try to learn from X¨©n Q¨¬j¨©, most of them try to inherit his simplicity, bold unruliness, humor and jocularity. It is not easy to learn what X¨©n was really good at, which are his true feelings and his state of mind. If we look at the atmosphere X¨©n created, it could be as tranquil as ¡°the water under a small bridge¡±, it could also be as ¡°grand and powerful as reaching up to the clouds.¡± How can later base and filthy youngsters match to this kind of mettle?

(44) S¨± D¨­ngp¨­ used to express his broad mind in his C¨ª and X¨©n Q¨¬j¨© used to express his dashing spirit in his C¨ª. Anyone who wishes to learn their way of composing C¨ª without having their mind and spirit would seem to be a Dongshi who tried to imitate how Xishi frowned .

(45) When we read the C¨ª pieces of both Su and Xin, we should take note of their magnanimity and loftiness, which resemble to that of Boyi and Liu Xiahui . Even though Ji¨¡ng K¨²i seemed to have sloughed off the skin like a cicada and looked refreshing and clean, yet after all, he could only lie under Su and Xin.

(46) Both S¨± D¨­ngp¨­ and X¨©n Q¨¬j¨© are unrestrained in their C¨ª writing. Ji¨¡ng K¨²i can be considered as upright. As far as W¨² M¨¨ngchu¨¡ng, Sh¨« B¨¡ngq¨©ng, Zh¨¡ng Y¨´ti¨¢n , Zh¨­u M¨¬ , Ch¨¦n X¨©l¨´ and others are all quite shallow, even though each has his own features.

(47) X¨©n Q¨¬j¨© was drinking to the moon till daybreak on the night of the Mid-Autumn day, by imitating ¡°Questioning the Sky¡±, he composed ¡°To the Tune of ¡®M¨´ L¨¢n Hu¨¡ M¨¤n¡¯¡± to see off the moon, in which he said, ¡°How pretty the moon is tonight! Yet, she is leaving; where is she going to? It must be another world. When she has left, they would discover that the moon is rising up from the east over there.¡± The imagination of the poet conforms to the theory of moon revolves around the earth. What an incredible sense of the poet!

(48) Zh¨­u Ji¨¨c¨²n says, ¡°Sh¨« B¨¡ngq¨©ng likes to use the word ¡®steal¡¯ in his C¨ª writing. This word could be used to rate his character. Liu Rongzhai says, ¡°The fatal flaw of the pieces by Zh¨­u B¨¡ngy¨¤n is licentiousness and the fatal flaw of the pieces by Sh¨« B¨¡ngq¨©ng is being greedy.¡± These comments are so pertinent, people, on hearing them, would laugh at these poets.

(49) Zh¨­u Ji¨¨c¨²n says, ¡°W¨² M¨¨ngchu¨¡ng¡¯s best pieces seem to be ¡®the shadow of clouds in the water is flickering with the green waves, so pleasant to the eye, yet one can never own it.¡¯¡± Having gone through the four scripts of ¡°C¨ª of M¨¨ngchu¨¡ng¡±, from script I to script IV, I could not find any piece that deserves such a praise. Maybe, the following two lines could just be considered as good: ¡°there is not the one I miss having woke up from my dream at noon, what I hear is only the rain on the other side of the river,¡± and ¡°in the evening breeze, the wild rice before me seem to be as worried.¡±

(50) If I use one line of M¨¨ngchu¨¡ng¡¯s to describe him, the line would be: slashing on the window in my dream, the rain has sent the green water into disorder. If I use one line of Zh¨¡ng Y¨´ti¨¢n¡¯s to rate him, the line would be: the land has become desolate and jade stone has become aged.

(51) The magnificent scenes in ¡°the bright moon on the piled up snow,¡± ¡°days and nights are gone with the river,¡± ¡°the setting sun hanging on the river is really round¡± are rare in the one thousand years of poems, yet, something similar can be found in the C¨ª written by N¨¤l¨¢n R¨®ngru¨° describing the landscape outside the Great Wall, for instance, in ¡°The Long Missing¡±: ¡°lamps in the ten thousand tents late at night,¡± and ¡°people are so drunk in the ten thousand tents that the stars seem to be falling down¡± in his ¡°To the Tune of ¡®R¨² M¨¨ng L¨¬ng¡¯¡±.

(52) N¨¤l¨¢n R¨®ngru¨° was watching with an objective eye and was writing with an objective attitude, since he had just come to the central plain area, and had not been affected by the norms of the Han people. That¡¯s why he was so innocent and so kind-hearted. He was the only one like this since the Northern Song period.

(53) L¨´ Y¨­u said in his post-script to the ¡¶The Collection from among Flowers¡·, ¡°poetry has become more and more feeble and humble since late Tang and the Five Dynasties period, people are now fond of C¨ª, which, they think, is simple and unsophisticated, and what you do is to fill in words according to phonetic requirement. You don¡¯t ask everyone to do the same thing, as one may prefer to do this kind of things and not others.¡± However, the ¡¶Outline¡· refuted this opinion thus, ¡°one who can lift up 35 kilos would find it difficult to lift 50, but easier to lift 25.¡± This is pure sophism. But I don¡¯t agree with the opinion that composing C¨ª is easier than composing poetry. There is something in what Ch¨¦n W¨°z¨« said, ¡°People of the Song Dynasty forced themselves to write poetry even though they didn¡¯t understand poetry. Therefore, there has been no good poems in the entire Song period Yet, when their emotions in joy and anxiety got to the extreme, they could not help themselves from being excited, so they used what was called the balance of poetry to let off their feelings, and therefore, C¨ª they created is a very nice form.¡± This is also the reason why C¨ª pieces composed at the Five Dynasties period stood alone as the best.

(54) When the four-character-a line poems declined, ¡¶The Songs of Chu¡· came into being; when ¡¶The Songs of Chu¡· declined, there came the five-character-a line poems; when the five-character-a line poems declined seven-character-a line poems emerged. When the ancient style poetry declined, the modern style poetry occurred, and when modern style poetry became feeble, the form of C¨ª came into being. A form of writing, after being popular for a long time, after being used by a great number of people, a special format might have been created. It would then be difficult for even a most talented writer to create anything new. To set themselves free, they might have wished to start a new form and trying not to use the old form. This is why any form of writing flourished at the beginning and declined later. I don¡¯t agree with the opinion that later generation is not good as the former generation in literature development. Yet, as far as a form of writing is concerned, this would be an unavoidable conclusion.

(55) There are no titles in the 305 poems in the ¡¶The Book of Songs¡·, in the 19 ancient poems, in the C¨ª pieces of the Five Dynasties and the Northern Song periods. Why was that? It wasn¡¯t because it was not good to use a title. It was because the title could not fully express the content of the poem. Ever since ¡¶The Hu¨¡ An Selections of C¨ª¡· and ¡¶The Balance of Poetry at the Thatched Cottage¡· , titles under the name of tunes were given, or added onto previous C¨ª pieces. Is this an applicable practice? It is like reading a river and mountain landscape painting, and you want to make it clear which river and mountain that piece of art portrays. Poetry declined when titles were given. C¨ª pieces declined when titles were given. Regrettably, there aren¡¯t many who can understand this and become exalted.

(56) The work of masters can touch you by the heart when they talk about feeling and open your eyes when they describe a scene. Their words were naturally uttered out without make-up or artificial processing. What they watched were things authentic and what they learned was in depth. Creation of both poem and C¨ª is the same. We wouldn¡¯t be mistaken if we use this standard to judge a writer of the past and today.
(57) One would already mastered half of the requirements in filling in the C¨ª if they don¡¯t praise and castigate in their creation of poem or C¨ª; if they don¡¯t use their creation as a gift to others and they don¡¯t write purposely for an occasion; if they don¡¯t quote classical allusions or cite past examples and if they don¡¯t use words that were made-up or processed.

(58) B¨¢i J¨±y¨¬ ¡¯s ¡¶Song of Eternal Regret¡· was fantastically conceived with grandeur. It only used one classical allusion¡ª¡°Xi¨£oy¨´ and Shu¨¡ngch¨¦ng¡± . This shows B¨¢i had enough talent. Yet, ¡¶The Round and Round Number¡· by W¨²M¨¦ic¨±n had to use many more allusions. This shows clearly who is better than the other between the two. This applies to the creation of poetry, but to the creation of C¨ª as well.
(59) Among all forms of poetry, the four line poems are the best, the eight line poems come next and the last being long poems. Because long poems are like rhythmical prose, which is not applicable for lyric or expressing one¡¯s ambitions. Among all forms of C¨ª, ¡°short lyric¡ªÐ¡Á equals to four line poems, ¡°C¨ª of more than 91 words¡ª³¤µ÷¡± equals to eight line poems, among them such tunes like ¡°b¨£i z¨¬ ling¡± and ¡°q¨¬n yu¨¢n ch¨±n¡± are very close to long poems.

(60) When confronting the universe and life, a poet should be inside of them and at the same time stand outside of them. To be inside, the poet can therefore depict them; to be outside, the poet can observe them. The poet is full of vigor because he is inside of them; the poet has a vision because he stands outside of them. Zh¨­u B¨¡ngy¨¤n was able to get to the inside of them, but was not able to get out and stand outside. Ever since Ji¨¡ng K¨²i, it remains a dream for any poet in getting inside and standing outside.

(61) A poet should belittle things outside him, so that he could maneuver wind and moon in the nature; a poet should also take things outside him seriously so that he could share the joy and anxiety of flowers, birds, worms and grass in the nature.

(62) Such lines as ¡°she was a prostitute, now wife of a loafer; the loafer is far away, it is hard for her to keep the bed empty;¡± ¡°why not go forward and occupy the main pass? One should not be satisfied with being poor, there is no end in the hard life¡± are most lustful and sordid; however, we should not look down upon these lustful and sordid words, because they expressed true feelings. The great C¨ª poets of the Five Dynasties and the Northern Song are like this. We are not saying that they don¡¯t write lustful or sordid words, but such words they wrote are vivid and touching; we are not saying that they don¡¯t write lustful or sordid lines, but such lines are seminal and vigorous. Therefore, what was wrong with lustful and sordid words was not because of being lustful or sordid, but because of groundless words that were used. For instance, in the ancient poems there was such a line, ¡°not that I don¡¯t miss you, you are just too far away.¡± To this point, Confucius refuted, ¡°she didn¡¯t miss him at all, and not because of he was too far away.¡± That is to say the glib tongue in ancient poems is disgusting.

(63) ¡°Riding a slim horse against the west wind on an old road; coming into a small mountain village surrounded by green waters; crossing the small bridge, the crow was chirping on the tree twined with old vine; the sun is setting and I, the heart-broken man, am still at the edge of the world.¡± This is the ¡°short lyric¡± by M¨£ Zh¨¬yu¨£n who could reach the height of Tang Dynasty short poems in only so fewer words. All other C¨ª poets in the Yuan Dynasty couldn¡¯t do the same.

(64) ¡°Rain on the Parasol Tree on the Autumn Night¡±, the heroic, solemn and stirring poetic drama musical written by B¨¢i R¨¦nf¨³ ranked at the first place at the time, yet his ¡°Sound of the Sky¡± is extremely coarse and shallow, which could not even be qualified to the slave of X¨©n Q¨¬j¨©. Was it because it is easier to write with the newly created form or hard to succeed with the old form? Or poets have different talents? The fact that readers feel that the C¨ª pieces of Ouy¨¢ng Xi¨± and Q¨ªn Gu¨¡n are far better than their poems may reveal something in it.