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Illusion and Illumination: A New Poetics of Seeing in Liang Dynasty Court Literature Author(s): Xiaofei Tian Source: Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Vol. 65, No. 1 (Jun., 2005), pp. 7-56 Published by: Harvard-Yenching Institute Stable URL: . Accessed: 07/04/2011 05:39
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Illusion and Illumination: A New Poetics of Seeing in Liang Dynasty Court Literature
Harvard University

Style poetry (gongtishi BII?Nf) of theLiang dynasty ig

(502-557) PALACE Crown 530s and is a name that was Prince Xiao given 540s. This UH (503-551) as deal poetry has long been misunderstood or even exclusively with the topics of women and Gang to poetry written by the and his courtiers in the

of elite life, with poems on women and love being only a part of it; one ought to look at and in considering its formal characteristics, more than its exquisite parallelism or strict observation of tonal rules as then understood. At work in this poetry is something else, which

ing primarily romantic passions (yanqing BEflf).1This paper proposes that we think of Palace Style poetry not only in terms of subject matter but also in terms of its formal aspects. Palace Style poetry covers all aspects


the term "Palace Style" was first coined, itwas used to characterize the style (wenti not the content, of the poetry. See Yao Cha $fcg| (533-606) and Yao Silian <*Jgl?E comps., Liang shu^H (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1973), 4.109, 30.447. Yutai (557-637), for a female read xinyong BEl??J?f^C, a poetry anthology compiled by Xu Ling %$k (507-581) ership, is generally taken to be the representative anthology of Palace Style poetry; and yet, it is no more than a chance survival from the many anthologies compiled in this period.

1 When

extant poems by major Palace Style poets that are not included in Yutai xinyong show Many that the subject matter of Palace Style poetry extends far beyond boudoir life. If the anthol ogy had indeed been intended to be representative of Palace Style poetry, the omission of the originator of the style, Xu Chi ^^ (471-551), would be incomprehensible. 7


TIAN and linguistic orna

goes beyond parallelism, prosodie ingenuities, mentation. The Liang court poets were without

way to account for the distinctive to examine how the poets looked

features of Liang court poetry is at things. Chinese poetry in the an not involved but Liang dynasty prosody alone, entirely new per a was of the world?and this ception phenomenal change of major a group of Liang court poems on can I chose this group of texts because dlelight was Palace which influenced by Buddhist Style poetry, profoundly illusion, illumination, meditative concentration, teachings about consider and candlelit scenes. significance. This paper will

question profoundly indebted to the Yongming ?fci?ft poets, who had developed (483-493) a set of tonal regulations for writing poetry, but they were writing an altogether different kind of poetry in the 530s and 540s. One


texts about candlelight and the mysterious shad intensity.2 These ows it produces the of this innovative po capture spirit unusually etry, illustrating most clearly the new poetics of seeing.3

concerns highly particular moments; and visualization, these mo are best illustrated by the fleeting images of light and shadow created by candles and observed by the poets with fascination and

In recent years, an increasing number of articles and book chapters have addressed the influence on the Liang dynasty Palace Style poetry. See, for instance, Jiang Shuzhuo Ml?^, Huadong shifan daxue xue "Qi Liang fuyan wenfeng yu fojiao" ^^^f?^Ull^^^, bao^XSflB;MMMS "Lun fojiao yu Liangdai 29-36; Wang Chunhong E#ffi, (1988.1): Buddhist de chansheng" Wenxue pinglun ?t^Wm ?&A?H^ft???f?a9*?, (1991.5): Chan y u shixue ft?iJ5|f^f?!p Zhang Bowei ^f?f?, (Taibei: Yangzhi wenhua, 1995), pp. 268-76; Xu Yunhe fftUfcl, "Yuse yixiang yu Liangdai gongtishi" ^filiffiH^f^H?Nf, Wenxue pinglun ~SC^kWm (1996.5): Nanchao fojiao yu wenxue SSHffcSfc 153; and Pu Hui HS, gongtishi 40-56; Jl|3??!p (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2002), p. 209. These works are, however, generally based on the problematic assumption that Palace Style poetry is about women and romantic pas sions, and they discuss the Buddhist influence in terms of Buddhist scriptures' lavish descrip

states (such as jealousy and desire) to their physi from their psychological tions of women, cal forms. 3 Another luminous image that repeatedly appears in the literature of the Six Dynasties period is the firefly, but this image functions differently from images of candles and lamps, was

even though fireflies were reportedly used as a reading lamp by Ju Yin $j|[ (?-401?), who too poor to buy lamp oil. Fang Xuanling M^Sp et al., eds., Jin shu?Hr (578-648) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1974), 83.2177. The firefly does not have the same religious sig nificance as the lamp, which is an important Buddhist symbol; and the firefly does not cast a shadow as candles and lamps do.








people could relate to things in a much more sensuous to trace the history of be useful, before we proceed, way. candles as physical artifacts up to the sixth century. The Chinese of the material culture of a historical period should understanding enable us to better imagine a candlelit world radically different from a time when It would our own, the world of the Liang. When candles animal we that forms the backdrop of the court literature

The Liang court poets have been accused by scholars of a sensu ous love of artifacts, although our own world, in which artifacts are and commodity value, may envy from their use-value inseparable

see the term candle ?A?S), but

(lazhu fat and dried

hemp plant.4 It would, dles without mentioning

theWarring States period. They were made of pottery, bronze, or, more rarely, lamp might have been jade.5 In fact, the first Chinese an instance of the "misuse" of dou M, a shallow and tall stem dish used as food container. on the material of which itwas Depending a wooden one was stem dishes had different names:

of course, be impossible to talk about can lamps. Unlike early "torch" candles, lamps so far are all from survive as artifacts. The earliest lamps excavated

we usually think of wax {zhu 'jg?), in ancient China, zhu was a torch made of as such vitex, reed, and the stems of plants

such made, called dou, a pottery one was a deng 3?, and the metal version of this is the character for "lamp," later deng was written deng ?, which fat (zhi Jb or gao #). Animal fat, how Lamps usually itwith oil extracted ever, had such a foul odor that people prepared from fragrant plants to disguise its unpleasant smell. From the used animal
states: "Before the various plants are burnt into ashes, they are [lT$5?&M Shanhaijing candle {zhu)." Shanghai jing jiaozhu lll??|M^I? Shanghai guji chubanshe, (Shanghai: is also called zhengM or zheng zhu H$|. ?L Kong Yingda's 1980), p. 32. A torch thus made ??? commentary on Liji f?pB says: "In the ancient times there was no wax can (574-648) The called dle, so people (Beijing: Beijing called the torch a candle Zhonghua shuju, (zhu)." Sun Xidan 1989), p. 40. 1992), pp. ?^^?, comp., Lijijijie iBiptiJfl?? 4


written with

the fire radical.

5Gao and Sun Jianjuni^J?ft, Zhongguo dengju Feng ?fijU jianshi tfS^^ffi?
gongyi meishu chubanshe, 10-15. Kong Chen (Changchun:

dengshi jianshang yu shoucang "?^t?iEAK^^ 1996), pp. 6-18.

Gu ?L1I and Li Yan $^, Jilin kexue jishu chubanshe,


10 Eastern Han



Excavations a number which were have already

on, lamp oil was often the extract of various plants. of late Eastern Han tombs in recent decades unearthed of candlesticks led some for thin, long candles, obviously made to scholars the conclusion that wax candles (second cen

in use toward the end of the Eastern Han

in Six candles were first mentioned records, wax sources. The "Ladeng fu" ?iHK Dynasties ("Fu on Wax-burning Fan late third $?|g century to early fourth cen by Jian Lamp") (fl. seems to be a description some sort of a "wax cake" in a of tury) shallow dish rather than a thin, long, pillar-like wax candle. One of the earliest tioned

tury).6 In written


brother Zhou Yi him.8 That families able Northern

as money,

in an extravagant Zhou contemporary Song

instances of the use of wax candles (lazhu) is men in the early fifth-century work Shishuo xinyu t?tt?0TBn, which wax records that Shi Chong 5# had used candles for (249-300) younger display of wealth.7 Shi Chong's who was upset with his Mft (?-324), hurled a burning "wax candle" at J^fg (269-322),

to common

kind of temper tantrum was something only aristocratic could afford, as wax candles were expensive and unavail

in the Jin and throughout the people. Beginning and Southern dynasties, wax, along with other gifts such
cloth, and a court robe, was customarily granted by the


to the family of an

important minister


his death.9

6 7

+ H'SftJB?HK?&, Zhongguo ^H?MKSESkejishiliao

Yan Kejun Han



J?f???. and Liu Xinglin



hundredjm of wax" along with a court robe, a million cash, and other things. Jin shu, 79.2076. The minister Liu Shilong's $Pt??$!: (442-491) family, upon his death, was given "three hun dred jin of wax" among other things. Xiao Zixian If-pP? comp., Nan Qi shuS (489-537), ^?fUr (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1972), 23.430. The custom persisted throughout the Liang in the late sixth century. No such custom was recorded dynasty and seems to have disappeared in the histories of Sui and Tang dynasties.

in his Quan shanggu sandai Qin jicoj??j (1762-1843), ed., QuanJin wen ^?H^C, sanguo liuchao wen ^:_h"?'Hft^?|HS7N^X Zhonghua (Beijing: shuju, 1958), Yu Jiaxi ^Hfjj, Shishuo xinyu jianshu W?ftMf??u^Vi 124.2173. annotated, (Shanghai: 1993), 30.878. Jin shu, 33.1007. Shanghai guji chubanshe, 8 Jin shu, 69.1851. Also see Shishuo xinyujianshu, 6.363. 9 family was given "five Upon his death, the grand statesman Xie An's U?^c (320-385)

19.12 (1998): 61.


deng zhu yuanshi"









of its original,

oldest extant fu on the lamp, which ismost likely a fragment It describes a is by Liu Xin gijgfc (?53 B.C.-23 A.D.).


this dark


is tall and beautiful, a true wonder. Its body is cast into a slender shape, its head and neck extended and curved. Bearing up harboring it is dazzling this bright candle, inside an icy pool, and even

illuminating As night succeeds day, upon the lamp the brilliant

sheds light on all, the tiniest things. one relies.

fti*??, imu^. ?mmm, m^m.

"Harboring lamp, which inside an

#?mb?, mmmt?. wm^il, mmim.

icy pool" (line 6) refers to the body of the It would is empty inside and contains water. appear was a Xin kind of Liu that lamp called gang particular describing deng ilil. Gang deng usually has two parts: the lower part may be in the shape of a cauldron, while the upper part comprises a "plate" a shade, or an enclosed container (for lamp oil and lamp wick) and
with an

in 1968 which was excavated gong deng ?fifKll), Lamp (Changxin the wife of Prince Zhongshan from the tomb of Dou Wan Hlg, ^ inmany art books, lili (r. 154-113 B.C.), and has hence appeared

ing the rising smoke into the cauldron, where the soot would dis solve into the water. This arrangement keeps the air in the room Palace famous Changxin clean from excess smoke and soot. The











is such a gang deng, with the pipe replaced by the empty sleeve of we recon the palace lady whose right hand is holding the lamp. If to the depiction, itwould struct the lamp in Liu Xin's/w according seem that the neck of the crane functioned as a pipe, which turned
10 "Deng fu" fflft Yan Kejun, ed., Quan Han wen ikM3t, 40.346.

12 around



to the lamp plate on the back of the crane and subsumed the smoke into the belly of the crane, which was a container of water. The "bright candle" mentioned in the fifth line was most likely made of animal The fat. point of this fragment of Liu Xin's fu from the lamp's illumination. This ability thing is, of course, the attribute of a monarch sides over his people like the sun and moon, from his observation, while remaining escape is that nothing may to illuminate every or a sage, who allowing pre nothing to impartial with his


favor (as said in the Liji, "The sun and moon have no partial illu we witness the particular mination" shape BBMfkff?).11 Only after of a bird-shaped however, do we realize gang deng from the Han, how precise the author was in depicting the object at hand.12 description vided by the "Gang deng An accurate of this particular kind of lamp is also pro com fu" ?tT?K ("Fu on the gang Lamp"),

posed byXiahou Zhan Jf?ig (243-291):13

A bejeweled, precious vessel, with amazing image and wondrous It gets light but hides the smoke, wrought skillfully with gilded bronze. Melted down and cast in a mold, its form set. its shape is fashioned, And and


Pure white crimson

then it is hidden with gilded plates, separated by a splendid shade. oil dissolves in the movable plate; traceries. ceiling.

sparkle glistens on the window It shines forth in the magnolia hall, the brightness mounts up to the broad

11 Liji jijie, p. 1277. 12 tomb gives us a good idea of the The phoenix lamp excavated from a lateWestern Han crane lamp Liu Xin described in his/w. See Kong Chen and Li Yan, Gu dengshijianshangyu shoucang, pp. 27-28. Kang-i Sun Chang noticed the application of the same critical vocabu lary, namely the fifth and the "skill with words sixth centuries.

in describing things," tofu and poetry in of verisimilitude of Landscape in Early Six Dynasties Po See her "Description to theT'ang, ed. Shuen-fu Lyric Voice: Shih Poetryfrom theLate Han etry," in The Vitality of the Lin and Stephen Owen (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), pp. 109-10. 13 Yan Kejun, 68.1851. ed., QuartJin wen ?WSC,







Its flames gleam on the banquet mats, and radiate brilliance over the patterned


*?*?, mmm,

???x. m^^rn. Mytmm, mmi??. mnmsk&a, msmn.


shown by a bronze gang lamp excavated from the tomb of a Han of Hunan, the "gilded plates" referred to in princess at Changsha thisfu are two small bronze plates acting as "sliding doors" to the lamp plate.14 The doors may be slid open or shut to increase or re duce the lamp light. The "splendid shade" is the cover over the lamp plate, which channels the rising smoke into the attached pipes. Both

the lamp plate on this lamp and the one on the famous Changxin Palace lamp can be rotated. Also taking a lamp as its subject is an inscription by Li You $;fc (first to second century). The piece is rather plain and straightfor assist ward, with an emphasis on themoral function of the lamp?to in their diligent labors: "the worthy and wise" Inscription The The on A Golden Ram Lamp15

worthy and wise labor diligently; for them daytime is not long enough. golden ram carries light so that they may


flames on its back, continue their work.



&^mm, mmm.

Fu Xuan fiji; (217-278) wrote inscriptions for both a lamp and a candle. Zhu ming ffiig on a is translated ("Inscription Candle") below:16

of History at Nanjing lamp is now in the collection of the Department Kong Chen and Li Yan, Gu dengshi de jianshangyu shoucang, pp. 20-24. 15 Yan Kejun, ed., Quan houHan wen JkWM~%, 50.752. 16 Yan Kejun, ed., Quan Jin wen, 46.1725.

14 This





its cue from the Dragon's glow, Taking it imitates the Fusang tree.17 Shining forth upon the dark night, it is as bright as the morning its form, itwatches Burning there is nothing it does not sun. over the world:

is the vermilion candle, Splendid set aflame it flashes light.


mt?ftm. mmmyt. mmak, flg?s?, mmmm.mmn,

mmm. mm^r*.

this composition might be seen as called an "inscription," Although a miniature fu on an object (yongwufu Hc#lK), as it describes the a candle, traces it tomythical, of attributes larger-than-life physical are wont to do in order to exalt the object origins (as many yongwufu being

"watch over



its function:

to illuminate

the night

the world."18

also wrote afu on a can {#/$;(239-294) dle. What is left of thisfu differs remarkably from the other pieces of lighting up the in that the author focuses on the circumstances Fu Xuan's son Fu Xian candle rather than on a detailed we had

description of the object itself. If we on candles, complete fu might find that this was one of the usual phases of the exposition. The preface tells us about the thefu: occasion on which he composed
I came have to Chang'an night a case. to investigate drinks with my fellow-travelers In this faraway place I feel homesick and so as to forget sorrow. Seeing that can

ten suns used to rise and shone upon the world until the hero Yi |? shot nine suns down and ended the terrible drought. See Shanhai jing jiaozhu, 12.438, 4.260. 18 Wan Guangzhi f?t^?o states that the Han inscriptions should also be regarded as "small no strict boundary between ming and/a in the Han times. yongwufu" and argues that there is from which Wan

17 in the Shanhaijing. It has a human refers to the mythical "Candle Dragon" The Dragon it opens its eyes, it is day; when it closes its eyes, it is night. face and a snake body. When Some say it is a dragon holding a candle in itsmouth. Fusang is a mythical tree in the east,

was inHan times, in contrast with loosely and generally applied the generic termfu narrower range of the term in the Six Dynasties. See his Wei Jin nanbeichao wenti me ?MF^L^?* Shanghai guji chubanshe, 2004), pp. 8-14. (Shanghai: out how the much

, "Handai song zan ming zhen yu futi yiyong" \%\X'?&W>^Wl%?\Wl%F& Guangzhi, 101. Indeed, despite its title, Liu Xin's "Fm on Shehui kexueyanjiu jp?#f4INff2L 45 (1986.4): also points a Lamp" cited earlier reads more like an inscription (ming). Li Shibiao $i^

dies within is just the enclosure like sacrificing

burn one's


in order

to serve people, good.19

I feel this


life for the sake of accomplishing

Fu Xian

liness deepened by the shadow the candlelight has created, he sum mons his friends and starts a night banquet. That a candle burns itself out to fulfill its life's purpose echoes the more customary "fu on the practical on object" in its emphasis the author things; and the parallel between on official business tertime) and

begins his fu with grand statements about sources of light for day and night, moves on to the poet's own sleeplessness and how he subsequently lights up a candle, and, finally, his sense of lone

the candle

to the faraway Chang'an devoting its life to serve the human

of (yong ^) a trip (who undertook cold win the during need



In the last decades fu on a whale-shaped Empire

This piece sings praise of the exquisite crafts (Daqin ^^).20 toward the end that the real of the lamp only to emphasize manship interest lies in the lamp's "function" rather than its decoration. And

of the late third century, Yin Ju |g|=Lwrote a lamp, an exotic item from the distant Roman

yet, thefu seems to belie his stated purport: preceding his claim of lines the primacy of the lamp's function are many and elaborate Yin is the lamp's shape. Ju trapped be describing uncomfortably tween the utilitarian value and the aesthetic value of the object. Fu on a Whale A fish spanning
is given the name


over the ocean

"the whale."


species none may compete with it. The people of Daqin it so much admired it carefully. that they observed They delineated its shape,

all the scaled

19 good" comes from the Analects 15.9. "Sacrificing one's life for the sake of accomplishing Liu Baonan ^iJ?ffi, annotated, Lunyu zhengyi IfefplEi? (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1990), p. 620. 20 Yin Ju left behind two fu: one on the whale-shaped lamp, and one on asbestos or fire came from cloth which also and which he had seen in the sec Daqin proof (Qibufu pffl?K), ond year of the Taikang ^Cjj? reign (281), according to his preface. 21 Sun Hui UM 81.1928-29. wen, QuanJin (265-311) wrote a "Baizhi but only two sentences are extant. QuanJin wen, 115.2119. deng fu"Hf?UK,

16 lodging

XIAOFEI it in a bronze


it coils in the splendid hall! In high spirits it stands tall and upright, as if ready to fly away, and yet lingers on. orchid oil within its breast,22 Harboring it illuminates the workers' Ah of all secret intricacies

lamp. is its spine and showy its tail, Bulging up its whiskers and scales extending and opening its head and looking down? Lowering how


careful measurements.

nothing could be more its ornamental beauty, With it achieves its use, as it is designed with clever skill, it does not exhaust It is not that we prize the elaborate decoration, but rather value Ever a model spanning the benefit of its function. for the future generations, a thousand years, it shall never

of craftsmanship, beautiful than this vessel.



mm??, mvtsm. &&mm, ??m. *mmm, nmnm. mmmt, ti^&m. vmnm, mm&m. mnmm, mrmm. mmm^mm, mmmzmm. ?/??*?*?**, mmm^n. mmm^mm. smmsiMcm, mmmmmm. #i?5?m ?k?tt=F%m, m^wmnrn. mm-xi-?ft, mmzn*.
No fu on lamps or candles are extant from the period between on a lamp Fan Jian and Jiang Yan tC?? (444-505). Jiang Yan'sfu was deliberately modeled on Feng fu SK which is ("Fu on Wind"), from dates the Western but attributed to Song Yu 5^5, probably Han. In his fu Jiang Yan differentiates "the prince's lamp" from of "the commoner's lamp" and ends with the prince's appreciation Xi the is mention the minister Also deserving composing fu.23 a lamp in the Zuochi's SKO (?-382) fragmentary poem describing on in in section the early Tang the wind, which is included lamps
22 What with 23 I translate as "orchid" here is in fact thoroughwort (Eupatorium japonicum), sweet-smelling leaves found on riverbanks or inmarshes. 34.3148. Yan Kejun, ed., Quan Liang wen 1?$?X, a plant








is a primarily lamp in the wind Jin. The life and for the fragility and brevity of human Buddhist metaphor as the wind the physical world.24 In the fragment by Xi Zuochi, in the Eastern blows, making ible wind: Brilliant how The the flames flutter, the light gives shape to the invis

was a Yiwen leiju HX|m encyclopedia (comp. 624). Xi Zuochi and struck up a fast friend learned scholar who admired Buddhism one most influential Chinese Dao An of the with 31^ (312-385), ship

lamp flares up with the wind, the wind rises and falls with the lamp

is the lamp during the quiet night; splendidly it glows among the trees. light.25


snwiffl?. mmmm?, mm&ft?.

In the last decades of the fifth century, poetry on objects (yongwu shi tjc#|f#) came into vogue. The first poems devoted exclusively to who Hitt (464-499), lamps or candles were written by Xie Tiao scene Shen Yue dominated with the Yongming and, along literary court exerted the strongest influence on the Liang tfc^J (441-513), Sun Chang has pointed out, Xie Tiao's poems on poets. As Kang-i at banquets to social verse composed and parties objects belonged
in a salon setting.26

24 for the inconstant and illu Candles or lamps in the wind is a favorite Buddhist metaphor toDa zhidu lun sive nature of physical reality. According ^H'Scfro (Mah?pr?jn?par?mit?-s?stra), on Dapin to a commentary attributed boruo jing ^pp$$?Ef&M (Mah?pr?jn?par?mit?-s?tra), from 402 to jf?f?f?ff (344-413 or 350-409) N?g?rjuna ??gf and translated by Kum?rajiva and destruction of the world is like a lamp in the wind." Taish? Shihua yinshua qiye youxian gongsi, 1990) ^CjE0T?^C^I^ (rpt., Taibei: [hereafter T.], #1509, 23.229. But the Buddhist teachings were conveyed through oral preach in the wind" could ing as often as through written texts, and so themetaphor of "lamp/candle have been familiar to Chinese audiences much earlier than the fourth century. The Wei poet 405: "The transformation shinsh? Daiz?ky? 1?l\W.(??217) used AL, ed., Quan Wei shi^?l^p, thismetaphor in his Xian

Liu Zhen

in an untitled fragmentary poem. Lu Qinli ??.$K Qin Han Wei Jin nanbeichao shi Tfe^tH?Mffl^lb^ f$ (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983), 3.373. Ayuefu poem entitled "Yuan shi xing" ^??vfff and (date unknown), compares human life to "the candle in the wind" (feng chui zhu M^'J?) encourages

xing" HP^ff ?M?%, 25 The

the most of it. In this respect, it recalls a yuefu poem "Ximen people to make as well as "Gushi shijiu shou" l?f?NF+Att", #15. Lu Qinli, ed., Quan Han shi 9.275, 9.269, 12.333. 1974),

poem has been given no title. See Yiwen leiju (Taibei: Zhengda yinshuguan, 14.922. 80.1368. Lu Qinli, ed., QuanJin shi?^W, 26 Six Dynasties Poetry (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), p. 122.



TIAN a Lamp

Emitting blue iridescence from the Slanting River,28 it harbors the treasure from the peak of Quarry Mountain.29 Its upright stalk resembles the stand of the bronze it holds light within like the Candle Dragon. Fluttering moths circle it again and again, and blossoms four- or five-fold. immortal,30

Alone, facing the lovesick evening, in vain it shines forth on the stitches of her dancing



f?wmmm, mm^ium. mmm^M, sarasa,


tmm<m, mmumm. busmhs^, sbb**?.

fu in that it in what Cynthia object of images."32 Like a mock the extraordinary rather in the celestial a miniature

standard yongwu poem resembles lists the characteristics of the described Chennault epic, origin it creates

of the lamp, not "in the wild," but realm, and then it likens the lamp to sphere or some transcendental or the bronze immortal. The third cou themythical Candle Dragon
4.1452-53. ed., Quan Qi shi?f?U, Stream Slanting (xiexi) or Slanting River (xiehan) is theMilky Way. 29 appears in Liexian zhuan ^IJ{[JjA|, attributed to Liu Xiang $!][r] (77-6 Quarry Mountain was to It said produce a great quantity of cinnabar, which was often used in making B.C.). to prevent people from getting it, sealed off the mountain elixirs. When the local magistrate 28 Lu Qinli, the cinnabar poured 27

has aptly called a "succession a hyperbolic effect: it first shows

Shumin ?^?g 30 Literally, Emperor Wu

palms to collect "sweet dew," which was thought to help obtain longevity. 31 A variant version reads: "In vain it shines forth?there are no clothes to stitch" f?L^?S!

ed. Wang forth "flying like fire." Liexian zhuan jiaojian ^'Jilijfl?f?tl, Sinica, 1995), p. 114. (Taibei: Academia "resembles the immortal's palm," which refers to a bronze statue built by of Han ??S?'Sf (r. 140-87 B.C.) standing on a tall column with outstretched

Xu Jian ?&H (659-729), Sucomp., Chuxueji &J#fS shuju, 1962), (Beijing: Zhonghua 25.616. 32 in Studies "Odes on Objects and Patronage during the Southern Qi," Cynthia Chennault, in Early Medieval Chinese Literature and Cultural History, ed. Paul Kroll and David Knechtges (T'ang Studies Society, 2003), pp. 334. Kang-i Sun Chang has observed that "the concept in shih is originally based upon the aesthetic principle of the descriptive fu of verisimilitude also discusses the influence pro in general." Six Dynasties Poetry, p. 93. Liao Guodong MW$& duced by yongwufu onyongwu shi. Weijin yongwufu yanjiu M>l?pfc^M${$? (Taipei: Wenshizhe chubanshe, 1990), pp. 544-48.







the rhetoric to a more mundane level, pre plet of the poem moves a the of reader for the unsatisfied paring ending: lonely evening the ending the poem returns to familiar yongwu ter longing. With ritory: the human dowed with some element

sets in, and the depicted object is en sort of human emotion, be it loneliness, desire, or the feeling of insecurity that with the passing of a season, the lamp's utilitarian value will be exhausted and the owner will replace itwith something else. Xie Tiao's poem cal yongwu shi:33 Beneath on a candle ("Yong zhu" ?}cj$?) is another typi

the apricot beams, guests have not yet dispersed,34 Palace will sink into the radiance of the Cinnamon
darkness soon.35

within the light curtain, its light over an ornamented lute. a Back and forth, the silhouette of cloud hairdo; on window tracery. glimmering, gold it lowers

Its colors dimmed

I feel resentful that on a night of autumn moon, you should leave me in the dark shades of a secluded


wummt. ****?, wmnmm, ?mnm&.

The moon
fect 33 34 for

s?isfta ?s???,

i&kmhw. m&mmm.

scene: although the poem opens with a late night banquet is about to set, the guests have not yet left. The time is per
lighting candles. The next couplet, however, moves away

^C?zfJ^fli?c- Quan Han wen, 22.245. By this period, "apricot beams" had become a common attribute of a luxurious building, as in Shen Yue's poem "Lamenting the Shedding Pawlonia Tree When Frost Descends" "The apricot wood can be made into beams" ?^^i^r^h ~$C Lu Q.inli> ed> Quan Liang shi ?$?B, 7.1666. SJgf?*. 35 Palace was the name of a Han palace, constructed in 101 B.C., to the north Cinnamon at Chang'an. of theWeiyang Palace jjJc'Sr (Weiyang gong 7^^^) Emperor Cheng of Han later itwas the residence of sev (r. 33-7 B.C.) lived there when he was the Crown Prince; eral imperial consorts, including Emperor Ai's ??$? (r. 7-1 B.C.) empress Fu f?- Ban Gu PJ? H (32-92), comp., Han shu?? shuju, 1962), 10.301, 12.347. (Beijing: Zhonghua 36 Both Xie Tiao's poems have also been translated into English with annotations by Richard B. Mather. Leiden, 2003), The Age ofEternal Brilliance: Three Lyric Poets of theYung-ming Era (483-493) 2:44-45. (Brill:

Quan Qishi, 4.1453. W] J?$3#D (179-117 "Apricot beams" echoes a line from Sima Xiangru's fu"?P^K the apricot wood "Decorating ("Fu on the Tall Gate Palace"):

B.C.) "Changmen for the beams" t?




is left alone. At first she plays the lute to party while the woman amuse herself; then she gives up, and begins pacing listlessly to and fro. The concluding couplet unifies the images of the candle and the

to an intimate boudoir setting: here bright colors from the banquet are toned down by faint candlelight, and the wavering shadow on is at the the curtain exposes what is within, showing that the man


no one attending to it, it is going to flicker out. Without flame and a a dead thing. light, itwould be reduced to mere candle, on candles and The poems and poetic expositions lamps that I discussed so far share more or less the same basic structure: from the origin and characteristics of the object, they invariably come to its function of assisting the human world, its use-value. In of Liang ^jft?? this sense, the following quatrain by Emperor Wu is not very different. Emperor Wu was jj?fi?, r. 502-549) (Xiao Yan

a (yin) is proper site for the candle: after all, it to illuminate a dark chamber. Here, is a candle's obligation how a as seems to at if it such it foresees ever, how, with prospect, cringe The dark shades

was more (508-554).

along with Xie Tiao and Shen Yue, one of the "Eight Com Al of the Prince Jingling" panions (Jingling bayou ?HAX).37 his until continued the he 540s, poetic style writing poetry though once, in line with erary community headed the Yongming generation by his sons Xiao Gang On a Candle38 than with the lit and Xiao Yi H?

People wearing gauze and silk in the hall, dancers and singers on the mats: wait till I send forth rippling rays, and
37 The


the nooks

and crannies

for you.

Prince Prince

Crown Cage

a devout

to the northwest of the capital city Jiankang, was a center of literary and Mountain were religious activities. He gathered a group ofmen of letters, and the "Eight Companions" Shen Yue, Fan Yun f?M the most prominent. They were Xiao Yan (464-549), (451-503), Ren Fang fi B? (460-508), Xie Tiao, Wang Rong BK (467-493), Lu Chui R?fil (470-526), and Xiao Chen ftff?. (?-529). 38 Quan Liang shi, 1.1536.

of Jingling was Xiao Ziliang Wi'T'?k (460-494), the younger brother of the was a He lover of literature as well as ofQi 5tS?^C~P ofWenhui (458-493). situated in the Rooster the Yongming Buddhist. During era, his Western Villa,








jg?sfc?$a. wnyt&m, nmm&m.

to "illuminate" focuses on the candle's quatrain capacity a turns dim space into the blur of (zhao Bg). The light of the candle a complex space and brings out the irregular shapes of things. In an


a illumination could easily acquire period, intensely Buddhist an in and for it both Buddhist context, large significance imperial a a of of the particular attribute monarch and the is manifestation achieved by a person in attaining Buddhist enlightenment. CONCEPT


and way we see things is conditioned by our knowledge on a In Deng zan UM the Eastern Ode by Jin ("An Lamp") came Zhi Tandi who from j^?t?S (347-411), originally (Kangqu the lamp JKJgr), is, for the first time in Chinese represented as an aid to achieving Bud


literary history, explicitly dhist enlightenment:39 Shedding light upon it also glorifies close thousand a hundred Spreading it emanates

distant principles,

Seeing one becomes

light that illuminates all. in its radiance, forms, delighting enlightened and

teachings. lamps are a unified radiance;40 branches equally glow. smoke on a clear night,


the subtle


gtwmm, *&ifi?. =?mmm,sf?mm. ?gsj?. m&m&, mytmm. ^mm,

Quan Jin wen, 165.2425. "A thousand lamps" should have been a familiar image to Buddhists, because of the story about a king who decided tomake an offering of a thousand lamps to Buddha by piercing a 40 Mli?, in his own body. The story appears in Dafangbian fo bao'en jing ~f\fj$i$b^?. in the second or third century, and later also inXianyu jing U into Chinese in 445. See T #156, 2.133-35, #202, 1.349-50. The stories ??IM, translated into Chinese are included in the Liang Buddhist See T. #2121, encyclopedia Jinglu yixiang lin?^H^. thousand holes translated 24.131-32, #2121, 25.136. 39

22 The



to Buddha. lamp (Skt. dzpa) is one of the six offerings made are to Buddhist six means According teachings, there (that is, the over Six P?ramit?s from this shore of of crossing 7\S?S8) (du fg) and the births and deaths to the other shore, which is the Nirvana, or means is pr?jna, sixth of these forth light and wisdom.41 Giving

the perfect symbol for illuminating things, the lamp thus becomes to the understand of the uni the ability myriad phenomena pr?jna, verse exactly as they are. In giving praise to the Buddha's image, Zhi Dun

In the fifth century, the famous Daoist Lu Xiujing |g Dynasties.43 a as set down of rules is "the laid for what known Ait (406-477) a Daoist lamp rite" (dengyi??), liturgical ritual usually held after sunset and ?iilMii Lamp")

the famous Eastern Jin monk and poet, 5M (313P-366), to a brilliantly lit torch that illuminated wisdom Buddha's compared his life's path in darkness.42 Indeed, "the lamp of wisdom" (hui ju was a common phrase in the Southern H?g or zhihui deng ^M'M)

involving the use of lamps. His Randeng lizhu weiyi 'MJ?. zan" BJ?? ("Odes to a Bright is lost, but three "Mingdeng in Wushang from this liturgical text have been preserved

transmitted the huanglu dazhai lichengyi M-tl?S^^?Lt?cA, by Southern Song Daoist Liu Yongguang ??F?Jt (?-1225) and recorded These odes in five by his disciple Jiang Shuyu MMM (1162-1223).44

syllable lines liken "my body" to a burning lamp, which "forsakes [its] form and destroys the root of sufferings" #ff^A^?B The lamp, most importantly, emits light, enabling one to see in to the Buddhist the dark. But sight can be deceiving. According the "eye-consciousness" things being seen are no more teachings,
41 42 The

itself is unreal, and the physical than illusory appearances. They

first five are charity, receiving precepts, patience, devotion, and meditation. QuanJin wen, 157.2369. 43 For instance, Xiao Ziliang used the phrase hui ju in a letter. Yan Kejun, ed., Quan Qi wen ikW3C, Yun 7.2829. Hui Ju was the "dharma name" zES (fa ming ???i) ofWang a prominent Liang court poet. Quan Liang wen, 65.3337. Emperor Wu of Liang (481-549), used zhihui deng in his "Mohe boruo chanwen" J?M)|??ft?K. Quan Liang wen, 6.2987. Xi

in a letter to the monk Dao An dated 365, used the phrase "the lamp of bright wis Zuochi, dom" (ming zhe zhi deng ^M^??.$?) QuanJin wen, 134.2230. 44 chubanshe; Shanghai: Shanghai shudian; Tianjin: Tianjin Daozang ?t?c (Beijing: Wenwu Lu Xiujing's lingbao zhai shuo guangzhu jiefa Dongxuan 1987), 9.584. guji chubanshe, is still extant, inwhich he introduced the term M^M9.^iWi^t^i^LW\i?M^\^. dengzhuyuanyi "Candle of Law" the ritual. Daozang, and (fa zhu S'JS) 9.822; 9.825. set up the office of Lamp Attendant (Shideng

'f?f J?) in

LIANG belong






to the realm of form (se fi; Skt. rUpa), the object of eye-con to exist, and sciousness, which depends on causes and conditions In a series it is impermanent. whose very existence is empty because

the founder Zhi Yi gtg (538-597), of lectures given on meditation, with identifies wisdom of the Tiantai Sect ^Ifm, vipasyana explicitly means the particular kind of clear, penetrating, (guan US), which of the world as what it is: transient, rela illuminating observation But how does one and thus unreal. tive, constantly changing, a remarkable meta this illuminating observation? Using achieve a closed room and (dhy?nd) to phor, Zhi Yi compared meditation a vipasyana to bright then itwould tration, one cultivates one's lamp, stating, "If be like a lamp in a closed room, which concen is capa

ble of illumining great darkness" 5gf?^A, #D^?e, fgfegHg.45 is the same as samatha (zhi ih), a state of deep The word "ding" ^ is also called sam?dhi, a Sanskrit word often concentration, which transliterated

HSfPE? was advocated by the famous monk Hui and attracted many elite followers.46 Amit?bha Yuan ?? (334-416) of Infinite Life and Infinite Light; he resides is the Buddha Buddha Western Paradise or the Pure Land (as opposed to the "impure in the terms in sumptuous land" of the mortal world), which is described Amit?bha Buddha in the so-called "Three Sutras of the Pure Land" (Jingtu sanbu jing

In the Eastern techniques to help one concentrate during meditation. a new the fourth Between had sam?dhi acquired significance. Jin, of the belief in the Pure Land and fifth centuries, (Jingtu S?)

as sanmei H#. The cultivation of sam?dhi had had a An by the time of the Southern Dynasties. long history in China a Parthian monk and one of the Shigao ?rt?fii (fl. second century), translated Da anban into China, earliest transmitters of Buddhism which teaches breathing shouyijing ;^;?$8 \fAft (Great?n?p?na Sutra),


on the Buddha wuliangshou jing ?MlifP? (Sutra of the Meditation Amituo and of Immeasurable jing MMWM (Amit?bha Sutra). Life), The first of these was translated in the third century, and the last
45 46 T. #1911, 5.57. Amit?bha Buddha

Wuliangshou jing SJt?Ift (Sutra of InfiniteLife), Guan

in China. remains one of the most popular and best-known Buddhas of the belief in the Pure Land of Amit?bha the origin and propagation during the Six seeWang Qing Tiff, Wei Jin Nanbeichao shiqi defojiao xinyangyu shenhua ?? l^ML Dynasties, shehui kexue chubanshe, 2001), Chapter 3. ^Bf^M?iMlfflUWIi (Beijing: Zhongguo For




#&) or visualizing his a person to be reborn On September 11, men in front of an make a vow

on two in the fifth century. According to these sutras, meditating Amit?bha Buddha by calling out his name (chengming nianfo M^i? would enable image (guanxiang nianfo Wf?^W) into a life of boundless joy in the Pure Land.47

to be reborn in the Pure Land; a he also composed a to on wrote group of poems he and other fellow-believers preface on the Buddha and achieving sam?dhi.^ The poems are meditating no longer extant, save for four verses in four-syllable lines by a cer in which Hui tainWang Qizhi but the preface is preserved, 3E^?; Yuan asserted that the writing
called sam?dhi?

123 monks and lay 402, Hui Yuan assembled at Mount of Lu to Amit?bha Buddha image

of these poems was more

to the concentration

than a lit

erary What and one

exercise: is this concept of one's quietude and undivided; It refers of one's mind

the spirit brightens. no darkness the spirit brightens, and the spirit] are the mysterious function.

the mind is concentrated, the will becomes thoughts. When are when and energy becomes thoughts quieted, unoccupied When vital energy is unimpeded, wisdom its glow; when quiets is not illuminated. These manifestation of nature: two things [i.e., energy come they together and


m%Mmz.m&. s??s-*#,

mmjmf?wm. *?i??is

opening section explains the concept of sam?dhi and its signifi cance. The phrase describing the state achieved by the spirit in con reminiscent of Liu centration?"no darkness is not illuminated"?is on and sheds light all, / illuminating even Xin's/w ("it is dazzling the tiniest things") and Fu Xian's inscription ("there is nothing it does not

is also the third form ofmeditating: by contemplating the true, unchanging nature is the most abstract of the three forms of medi This (shixiang nianfoKffi^?).


of Buddha

was the most widespread form of practic tating, and also the least popular. Name-chanting so much so that nianfo (meditating on the Buddha) had become synonymous ingmeditation, and remains so in themodern Chinese vocabulary. with "chanting the name of the Buddha" 48 "Nianfo sanmei shiji xu" ^?HBiKf?J^. Hui Yuan, QuanJin wen, 162.2402. For Hui Yuan's Amit?bha belief and his method for achieving rebirth in the Pure Land, also see E. ^,

Z?rcher, The Buddhist Conquest of China (Leiden: Brill, 1972), pp. 219-23. Fang Litian fj\L Hui Yuan jiqi foxue W^Bl^{%^ 1984), (Beijing: Zhongguo Renmin daxue chubanshe, 108-43. pp.

LIANG Hui Yuan






But He

on the Buddha

went on to elucidate why, of different kinds o? sam?dhi, is the most commendable:

different kinds to cultivate of sam?dhi, is to meditate the most meri among which on the Buddha. is this? Why is named nirvana, respectfully


then, there are many and yet the easiest exhausted his our will


That?gata;49 sponses meditation He will [to

and reached the great mystery and spirit go along with substance and his re transformations, come from one place. So he who enters this particular call] do not


take the object ror is bright, his inner so that even he

oblivious [to the world around him] and forget knowledge. as a mirror; when of his meditation the mir [Skt. ?lambana] are and shines their forth, rays light joining, myriad images the help of ears and eyes, one can hear and see and of the vacuous in the profound the true substance mirror to fact that the the form of is the luminary enlightened and and natural; thus concerns he deeply observes of this dusty world the mysterious and disappear, of the extreme


without sees

act. Thereupon, and absorption, lucid voice blocked subtlety, and whole, echoing

becomes clear,


in his mind,

harmonious feelings become who could have been able

and open. If not for the method to participate in this?

?, ?*?#.

?K^x?r5?#, mm^rn. wmm?xf&m, mmmm&vt, mu mmmmm,mmmm. #^t?m?, ??*??:

m?m ?*??;?npiM?,

passage offers a detailed description of the experience of med itation. The method of meditation is visual adopted by Hui Yuan either of the Buddha
as as


himself or of the Pure Land. numerous

or "the four inches



latter, the sutras have


a wheel"

striking images,
of fallen

such as

soft, colorful, fragrant carpet on the golden states that since the image of the Buddha is ground.50 Hui Yuan not fixed, each person should "take the object of meditation as a mirror"?which refers to an image being visualized in deep medi that weave and tation. Because this object in itself has no material substance (it is an it and because reflects just everything clearly, it functions image) as an empty mirror: the reflection is not of the mere appearances of things, but of things as they really are, a clarification and an


49 or "Thus Come" a titles. It is a special ref That?gata, ($D5t$), is the highest of Buddha's erence to Amit?bha H^P? that?gata 50 This is also evidenced by Wang Qizhi's poems. QuanJin shi, 14.939.

26 illumination.



one will then realize the "true images will be born" in the mind; substance of the vacuous mirror," which is emptiness. In Hui Yuan's the meditating description, subject and the object of his meditation seem

to Hui Yuan, the light of the mirror (that According will commingle with the the is, shining image being contemplated) from the meditating light emanating subject, and then "myriad

to eventually become one and the same in the image of the mirror. For Hui Yuan, this is themost effective way of achiev bright
ing nirvana.

and eventually the medita for the object of meditation the all-illuminating mirror, one must cultivate The concept of nian ^ concentration. is of vital importance. The character nian means several things: chanting or reciting Chinese the mind on one object (Skt. the Buddha's name; concentrating or an in time instant smrti); (Skt. Ksana; Ch. cha?na JiJU?); chanting a as "a and thought vocalizing; thought. It is often understood In order tive mind to become instant," that is, a momentary such a thought takes. The multiplicity of meanings thought and the fleeting moment


by Shen Yue, literary circle surrounding on Body and Spirit), has been "Xing shen lun" ff^#fro(A Discourse as going Whalen Lai and Richard Mather both rightly recognized by Integrating Lao-Zhuang beyond "the old body/spirit dichotomy."51

one of the most

of nian proves fruitful in an essay revered predecessors of the the Liang princes. This essay, entitled

the treatise is very much part of concepts and Buddhist discourse, a prolonged debate on the relationship medieval Chinese early between body and spirit and whether the spirit is immortal and sep arable from the body. In retrospect, it also sheds light on a new way of seeing in the Liang court literature. Most is the first part of this treatise:52 relevant to our argument

no an a longer feels ordinary person During single instant of concentrated thought, it is so for an ordinary the the existence of his body. While person, sage follows to 51


The Reticent Marquis The Poet Shen Y?eh (441-513): B. Mather, (Princeton: on Lai, "Beyond the Debate University Press, 1988), p. 147. Also see Whalen an Essay by Shen Y?eh," Journal ofOriental Studies 'The Immortality of the Soul': Recovering 138-57. (1981): 52 The essay has been preserved in the Tang monk Dao Xuan's jS 1? (596-667) Guang hong Richard T., #2103, 22.253. Quan Liang wen, 29.3120.


the utmost every in the first place.





if empty

thought-instants an ordinary person.

thought-instant. a With body follow that he would

The is as sage has no self, and his body that is as if empty, the sage encompasses to the utmost.53 This is how

myriad he differs from







clear what differentiates the sage from an ordinary the person: ability not only to concentrate intensely and forget every thing else (including the existence of his own body), but also to con centrate in a succession of thought-instants. In this way, the sage Shen Yue makes

explores the limits of and exhausts the potentials offered by each and every thought-instant as well as the myriad thought-instants. is ever in an alert, focused state. In other words, his consciousness

In Buddhism, it is not only "the sage" (i.e., Buddha) who has no self, but also every human being. "Self" is an aggregate of the Four are condi Great Elements?fire, water, earth, and wind?which

scending one's ego as well as the limitations imposed by the physi cal body and other material thus achieving the ultimate conditions, one freedom in being with the spirit of the universe. In the next section Shen Yue explains that an ordinary person no moments have of self," but while these moments may "having
are When sporadic, the sage's "no-self" is a constant state:

In "Xiaoyao and other writ you" ?t?EiSE (Free Wandering) man no in has self" (zhiren wu ji ? ings Zhuangzi, that "the perfect is a recurring theme. In the Daoist context, it refers to tran AUS)

is no such and so essentially empjy. There tioned, impermanent, as an That that the inherent "self." Shen Yue claims sage has thing an no self (implying that ordinary person does) shows clearly that sense rather than in the Buddhist he is using the term in Zhuangzi's sense.

an ordinary own then person during one thought-instant forgets his body, the function of seeing, and his feet cease his eyes cease the function of treading. he thus forgets his eyes and his feet, what is the difference between When this and

I take zong here as the main verb (encompass), not wu Lai and Mather, translated as "annihilate" or "terminate" respectively). The reason (which Lai and Mather for this is that earlier in this passage we have wu nian bu jin: "[The sage has] no thought instant [that he does] not exhaust or go to the end of." See Lai, p. 152; Mather, The Poet Shen Y?eh, p. 148.

53 Unlike Whalen




no eyes or feet? However, having in "having," actually grounded when already "having" passed nected with instant

the body, one one concentrates one again remembers it. When fades along with the mind, one's thought on one part of the body, then all the other body parts are as ifbelong someone be no different from the "non-self." else, and this would ing to

"not having" is temporary person's ordinary of "not having" will have for hardly one moment succeeds it. When the thought-instant is discon when the forgets thought temporarily [one's body/self];

a a-*,



fernem. #?^@^s,


Shen Yue considers tial reason why

BOffi?llSAH, IW#?*S.
the succession


of thought-instants as the essen can his state of "having no self." the sage maintain a wo linking "non-self" Ingeniously #ft), which is Mahay?na (fei term "having no self" for the Lao-Zhuang Buddhist concept misused a Zhuangzi term), Shen (wuji MS), with "forgetting the self" (again postulates

that "having


self" is the result of being




forget But


in a moment



an ordinary and the moment is fleet is only temporary, person's non-being An and indeed reaches lasts far.54 the very ordinary sage's non-being long, ing; in share one common and a sage originally person path. Forgetting temporarily one thought-instant in myr marks the rank of the ordinary; forgetting everything and iad thought-instants?that spirit] in such terms, then is a great If we consider [the dichotomy sage.55 on causing confusion. it borders of form








54 Here

I follow the T



(based on a Ming

the sentence as "When myriad nien are all forgotten, that is the way of the great sage" (Lai, p. 152). It is, however, not themyriad nian that the sage forgets; in myriad thought-instants (in contrast with an rather he forgets everything continuously, ordinary person, who forgets everything in only one thought-instant). Lai, p. 152. 56 I follow the Sibu congkan edition, which takes the penultimate character, huo, as Here we follow the T. edition, then the punc "confusing" (huo 1?) instead of "some" (huo ^c). If Lai rendered Lai's follow this discourse, then the matter of and is and form well-nigh [understood]. Now there may be people who sus body] [soul spirit translation also follows the T. pect that cause and effect" (Lai, p. 152). Richard Mather's the problem of body and spirit will be near to solution. version: "If we talk in this manner translation is based interaction between cause Some persons doubt the principle that the mutual never varies by the tiniest degree." Mather, The Poet Shen Y?eh, p. 148-49. and fruition

55 Whalen


edition. T, #2103, 22.253. The Sibu congkan edition of Guang hong ? AHtS?/1; edition) has a different version: {BJlA^?fit?^,


would be different: tuation ?A?tMm, I?J&#??.

on the T. version:

"If we









29 an ordi

In these lines, Shen Yue reiterates a and He nary person sage. argues

the difference between that the debate

in a constant spirit is pointless because, of tion, the existence body no longer matters is also abolished. In "Shenbumie Shen Yue

about body and state of intense concentra and the sense of self the Spirit Being of the workings of achieving
and and

Immortal), of concentration, which he believes the "correct enlightenment":

The sentient [the mind]. have no way tered spirit If one is shallow and weak; can be thought to reach the mind;

on lun" #^FMIro (A Discourse a detailed elucidation gives

is the only means

and concerns



distract concerns

all-encompassing, but if it cannot be Before one

then worries

thoughts will invade others will arise, and with before. That and a thought confusion; ciality sional obsession with total

the mind.


the rising fail to be and

then scat all-encompassing, formed, many thought is properly of a multitude of thoughts, itwill be just like is because all-encompassing are a sickness caused confusion of superfi a delu by


nor confused from Being. To be neither superficial proceeds one a total illumination. gain forgetting; only with this total forgetting will one may begin as an ordinary Thus but can end with correct enlighten person ment.57

m?pjm. >mmm, -&m*, spfmm. mtmm. mmmm, ?se. s*??, ?ii9W?. Kg?, *?*?*, mmmm, m? *. m?*&. Ekstm-&. ftikmm. ??^*, ?*?, This

-&*j?, *?##.

m *

is Six Dynasties critical prose at its best: clear, precise, and incisive. Richard Mather is right in pointing out how "Zhuangzi like" this passage is,58 but the terseness and precision of its pro a exposition than gressive argument remind one more of Buddhist in which effusive the discourse, speaker often gets car Zhuangzi's ried away by his own wit and passion for rhetoric. Shen Yue shows us

inability to penetrate deeply to the heart of an issue and pursue it to the point of completely exhausting its possibilities. Superficiality and confusion are signs of a more serious disease: obsession with Being?the

that it is easy to be beset with all kinds of concerns to focus on anything with pro and and unable thoughts found concentration. This lack of focus is due to superficiality?an


of nothingness

(wu ?&) or emptiness

(kong 5?).

T. #2103, 22.253. Quan Liang wen, 29.3120. 58 The Poet Shen Y?eh, p. 151. Mather,

30 The solution proposed which he believes will Shen Yue's



is "total forgetting" of the self, by Shen Yue a to lead "total illumination." of a the background the Southern during

widely In the three collections of stories about the efficacy of Dynasties. written from the early fourth Bodhisattva ??t##11 Avalokitesvara to often emphasized the the authors the intense year 501, century absorption

theory should be seen against held belief in the power of concentration

on the in chanting the Bodhisattva's name, meditating or Bodhisattva, reciting the Guanshiyin jing MWetM (Avalokitesvara Lu A for in from Gao's Hgjg: collection, story (459-532) Sutra). on a the devout describes meditation stance, explicitly layman's Bodhisattva as "without break for even The single thought-instant" the intense concentration caused a

(niannian xiangxu r?^fflU).59 man's shackles to fall off by themselves.

A POETRY OF ILLUMINATION of Buddhism may be a little clouded understanding use of Lao-Zhuang concepts such as "having no self" (wuji) by his and "total forgetting" (jian wang ^?). Yet, itwas characteristic of Shen Yue's of his age to freely mix the two doctrines own making, one's of and his basic argument hybrid theory concentration and illumination, clearly presented, harks back the elite members Both Hui Yuan concentration Shen Yue's into a about toHui


the term nian, thought-instant. He succeeds in breaking up the flow and asks one to of time into myriad thought-instants (wan nian M&) idea is directly relevant focus on each and every one of them. This to the Liang Palace Style poetry: instead of a poetry "about women about a new, and romantic love," this poetry is about concentration, and yet often focused way of looking, and about the extraordinary, of noticing. ignored, power This poetry

that the power of and Shen Yue believed a person to achieve illumination enables (zhao). (ding) of lies in his creative exploitation contribution unique

59 Dong

in the sense that it is intensely visual, not so much "pictorial images," but in the sense that it is about the act
?SH, (Nanjing: annotated Jiangsu and trans., Guanshiyinyingyan ji sanzhongyizhu titula 2002), p. 121.



guji chubanshe,







and how to see. Wei-Jin of seeing itself?what poetry often de terms. Even the great poet scribes things in generic and unspecific sometimes Xie Lingyun USiS lapses into a fragmentary (385-433) some nature in of of his landscape poems, with a moun description
tain scene in one line and a water scene in the next, or vice versa.



or an experience. court poetry in the tradition In contrast, Liang and He Xun of Xie Tiao, Shen Yue, f?J3? (?-518?) works differ a new in the reader This poetry puts relationship with things, ently. which are seen on a temporally and spatially specific level. Instead

in these poems is to express the totality of the landscape. poems evoke another literary genre, thefu, a kind of "poetic to encompass all aspects of an object, a place, exposition" designed desire

and unconceal poem is an act of uncovering ment: the glowing contour of things begins to emerge against a dark and such an emergence betrays a keenly observant eye background, The "dark background" is and often an unexpected perspective. of illumination. The more than just a figure of speech. On the one hand, it refers to the shadows in which things have remained hidden until being illumi nated by the poet's intense gaze, which enables one to see the pow

of being a composite picture of disparate images, Liang court poetry has a center toward which everything in the poem gravitates. The poet's gaze is extremely focused, so much so that one feels the effect

is the somber Buddhist that constantly background" background reminds both poet and reader that everything they see is imperma nent and illusory, and hence has no separate reality apart from the background

der a butterfly's wings leave on flower petals, or notice the slower, heavier flight of birds in a fine drizzle. On the other hand, the "dark

against which

it has emerged.

To emphasize the "visual" aspect of this poetry is not to downplay its auditory qualities, as one may clearly detect in this poetry the influence of the famous prosody theory, which was first explored by the poets of the Yongming generation, most notably Shen Yue and scholars have argued that the attention to prosody in this period had to Wang Rong. Many do with translating and chanting Buddhist scriptures. See, for instance, Chen Yinke ?j|jE[f&> "Sisheng san wen" IZQSfHfn], in Chen Yinke xiansheng wen shi lunji^Sf?5fe4^tUmA (Hong Rao "Wenxin diaolong Publications, Zong-i M^SI, Kong: Wen Wen 1973), 1.205-18; sisheng shuo yu Xitan zhi guanxi jian tanWang 'Shengl? pian' yu Jiumoluoshi Tongyun?lun

wenti" Bin, Liu Shanjing,ShenYue youguan X^ltii?a)BII?*?frjll8SllZgSi?ll wensuhncong ^mx&wm mMzmf?Mm^mmmmmmw, zhonghua
215-36; Sun Changwu pp. 155-77. HH?, Wen tan foying ~St?SL?%>9?(Beijing: Zhonghua

3 (i985):
shuju, 2001),

32 The



things being seen in these Liang court poems exist on a tem I must address the claim porally specific level. In this connection that the Liang poems on objects are often "vapid still lifes."61 This is a statement worth contesting, because by showing these poems are not "vapid
they actually

still lifes," one may

gain a clearer picture

of what


court poems are, to put it simply, "thought-instants." They in living often attempt, successfully, to present things as observed are moments in and moments.62 These words, literally arrested words; much more so than pictures, have a temporal, dynamic quality. the Liang In the Liang court poems, there is often a fertile tension, which did not exist in earlier poetry, between the words of a line and be tween lines of a couplet. It is difficult to explain this tension away by merely attributing the effect to "a more does

ing of fruits and lobsters tells us nothing about time and place: about of the fruits and lobsters there is nothing specific; "representative" are out of real lived time. In contrast, their kind, they objects existing

In the genre of still-life painting, things are often truly still in the sense that they are wrested out of the stream of life. A still-life paint


of Liang court poetry from that differentiates the parallelism of the earlier poetry, which is usually more straightforward and sim this fragment of a poem by the mas for example, ple. Consider, terful poet Xiao Gang, which is entitled "Qiu wan" $cB& ("Autumn

exquisite parallelism," play an important role in creating this although parallelism an interaction between words and I mean tension. By "tension" that cuts across time. This kind of interaction is lines, a movement

61 characterization borrowed the term "still-life" from John Marney's Cynthia Chennault and Patronage during the of the Liang "poetry on object." See her article, "Odes on Objects in Studies inEarly Medieval Chinese Literature and Cultural History, p. 392. Southern Qi," 62 As scholars have pointed out, poetry in the fifth and sixth centuries had a tendency to become increasingly "compact." The reason why many surviving poems are "short" might clopedias, are preserved?for example, Tang ency simply be a function of the sources in which they must be properly which often included only excerpts of prose and poetry?and were as shorter poems undeniably becoming increasingly common fragments. Still, regarded in particular enjoyed unprecedented popularity. Some scholars think in this period. Quatrains

this is due to the great influence of the Southern yuefu songs, which are usually five-syllable I believe we should also con and there is some truth to this claim. Nonetheless quatrains, sider that itwas because the elite loved the quatrain form that yuefu songs gained popularity in the court. 63 Quan Liang shi, 21.1947.







Drifting clouds emerge from the eastern peaks, to the river. in the west the sun descends Hastening Tangled


stretch across

and darken

the walls;

lengthened clouds,

rays obliquely glowing

penetrate red, are made

the window. circular by the

tiny leaves outlined

by a lamp

in the air.





is twilight time, a time of division and ambiguity, when the In the has ceased to be day but the night has not quite begun. day we no see sun east west the is setting; in the moon, only clouds pouring out from the mountains. dominate. Xiao Gang Shadows of shadow is closing in all around. is always fascinated with the play the walls, while shadows are darkening Darkness the window: bound

and light. Here the slanting rays of the setting sun penetrate aries are being traversed. The last two lines are hauntingly had used the word "round" beautiful.

Gang a five-syllable Because

something like "tangled ruddy might at first think the line means the clear water circular." One then realizes that the clouds make pool is circular, and so the clouds reflected in the pool, although all roundness that indi tangled up, are confined and given a shape?a

(yuan H) line as a full verb, and in such a strange sense too. structure in the Chinese of the grammatical original, one

Few poets before Xiao in the third position of

a small, quiet indication of time's passage and the grow branches): The poet notices the silhouettes of the tree leaves out darkness. ing lined by the lamplight. In a world gradually sinking into shadows, to break the where boundaries down, poet traces out lumi begin nous patterns and forms and affirms an order created by human

grant the pool a momentary splendor. This is the last light of nature. In the next line, the light in the water had already passed on and been transferred to something else. Lamps are being lit up (remind lanterns hanging from tree p?em about ing one of Xi Zuochi's

cates perfection. the perfect (In Buddhism yuan is used to describe teachings or enlightenment.) Glowing with the sunset red, the clouds

34 The



are only a fragment of a poem. We do lines by Xiao Gang not know how the poem will turn out, whether itwill fall flat or go into another direction. Yet, these lines suffice to intimate a pecu liar vision of the world?and to work. Xiao Compare in blooming spring splendor; / the clear pool stirs long currents" f?f yfcfllf^l, if??StJtijfl;;64 or "Forests and ravines gather in the dusk the sunset glow" ttfia&llE, colors, / clouds and vapors withdraw to a certain degree of ear These SRife^7!?.65 lines, representative a peculiar way inwhich poetry ismade lines to such lines as: "Trees are Gang's

lier poetic couplets, are taken from poems written by former mas ters. I am certainly not suggesting that they are inferior to Xiao lines, but they clearly belong to a different order. They are Gang's more straightforward and linear in their movement. In Xiao Gang's poem,

even the first couplet, which is the simplest of the three, re the quires that one read back to grasp the picture. One understands eastern of in the clouds the after that significance sky only learning the sun has sunken to the river's one realize that all around level in the west?only then does is darkness. The two lines are not merely each other in a complex manner, creat

poem represents a moment a at time of when, decreasing visibility, vision is focused on even the smallest change in nature and, as a result, nature becomes illu as the delineates the dark of the minated, just lamplight tiny shape autumn leaves. The Liang court poems, in short, are not made from sight like a still life painting, but from experience. Fortuitously, Xiao a hanging image of we begin to see why cinated to an abrupt end with the the Buddhist context, lamp. Keeping the topic of lamps and candles should have fas writers. Lamps and candles are perfect symbols Gang's poem in mind comes

interact with parallel, a tension the lines. The between ing


the Liang the power of illumination of light and vision; they exemplify an concentrated and yet all-encompass achieved through intensely and demonstrate the of ing vision, play light and shadows, which tricks human Partially
64 This

perception and creates mystery and illusion. court poetry resists allegorization, because Liang


poem "Zeng Wang Can" ?3E?I. couplet is taken from Cao Zhi's Wfil (192-232) Wei 7.451. shi, Quan 65 This couplet is taken fromXie Lingyun's poem "Shibi jingshe huan huzhong zuo" 5^ Lu Qinli, 2.1165. ed., Quan Song shi?*?#, tt?iKSWff5.

LIANG critics have ousness"


POETICS it. If we can




(and and why), we will find that one of the greatest virtues of If any allegory Palace Style poetry is its resistance to allegorization. a in Buddhist this poetry, then it is one, concerning the essen figures tial unreality of all things, events, and human emotions. Buddhism also teaches that human and that appearances intense observation a resigned, the wind. are faulty and deluded, and perceptions same. are not In their the prolonged, reality

always disliked serious/frivolous dichotomy

temporarily set aside the consider what constitutes "seri

of the physical world, the Liang court poets offer sad illumination, which flickers like a candle in faintly




OF ILLUSION has left two poems

court poet Liu Xiaowei ?j#lSc (496P-549) on candlelight. Here is the first one: A Poem Harmonizing As with "On a Candle


the Curtains"66

the door opens, the shadow of the curtain comes out; flickering back and forth, the flame in the wind is oblique. Its drifting light shines on the brocade sash; a congealed drop stains the hanging flowers.

mmrn^ta, mmmmm. &ytmmw, w&ffmit.
poem is not so much about an object as about one moment: when the door opens, a breeze slips in, the curtain is lifted up, and the candle flickers, casting wavering shadows, but also illuminating The a presence. meaning,

bring up Chinese carpe diem theme of lighting candles at night and seeking or one may say, as a traditional Chinese critic would do, pleasure; that it is a mere its title), by

One may say many things about, if not the intended the significance of this little poem. One may, for instance, of "a candle in the wind" or the the Buddhist metaphor

a frivolous social verse poetic exercise, and therefore emotionless, meaningless,

(as testified and, by

Quan Liang shi, 18.1884.




immoral. The truth is that this little poem represents implication, no more than a moment of "enlightenment," but first of all, it is about paying attention to small details of life. It articulates a way of experiencing the physical world. What the texture of the textile: the embroidered on

the long train of loose gowns or on the drapery itself (whose as it is accentuated unconcealed, materiality by the wax stain)?all a the revealed This is how is, by incidentally candlelight. Liang court poet typically looks at the world: illuminated things become in one precious, ifbrief, instant; and this instant is inmotion, mov in fact sominute ing from a local scene to a detail even more minute, that one can hardly tell whether it is real or imaginary?although

stands out in the poem is sash, the flower patterns

this imaginary is, like the powder left on petals by a butterfly's wings, in the empirically true. grounded The Xiao

revealing moment of a curtain being lifted up also figures in Yi's poem on the candle, which shares many of the elements of Liu Xiaowei's quatrain, but turns out in a slightly different way: Candle: Candle within An Ancient Mood67

a flower? the curtain.

the wind blowing bright and blazing, No silhouette of anyone coming, turning around

its light, it faces the empty air.





the enigmatic first line, "Candle within a flower," some about the material culture of the period. requires knowledge one most of the the Southern Dynasties, During popular decorative motifs for porcelain vessels, including candlesticks, was the lotus understand

flicker. As
67 68

syntax of the second line (literally, "bright pattern.68 The Chinese creates the illusion that it and blazing, moving the curtain wind") is the flames of the candle that are making the wind in the curtain inXi Zuochi's poem fragment, flames are defining and

Ibid., 25.2058. See Lin Shimin


Qingciyu Yueyao ^^3IS^



guji chuban

she, 1999), p. 39.







giving shape to the wind, but Xiao Yi ismuch more sophisticated in articulating this. than Xi Zuochi Xiao Yi's poem is about loneliness and the illusion produced by the wind blowing on the curtain for someone loneliness. Mistaking coming, the person holding course nobody is there. The cupied space?here

sky or empty air, as well as noth kong means ingness (Skt. s?nyat?), which is perhaps themost important Buddhist in Chinese is the same as "shadow" concept. "Silhouette" (ying): it that is, there is no sil is present in the poem only as an absence, loneliness thus described in Xiao houette of anyone coming. The Yi's poem The evokes a yuefu song: night is long, I cannot sleep, the bright moon, how brightly it shines! I think I hear my sweetheart call out to me, for nothing?into and I answer back?all the empty air.69

the candle quickly turns around, but of candlelight illuminates an empty, unoc


on these "No

mmwMm, mm^m.

scholar, exclaims, could have uttered

physical world. Xiao Gang wrote

texts should easily associate this "realistic" song, as well as Xiao Yi's about a hal poem, to one of the most famous Buddhist metaphors is caused by an optical or aural disorder and is lucination which to the illusive likened to the unenlightened one's vain attachment a response Candle: Harmonizing Candle Tears within as if itwere to his brother Xiao Yi's poem:

an eminent yuefu lines, Xiao Difei MM?t, one who had not experienced it in person familiar with Buddhist this."70 However, anyone


An Ancient Mood, the Prince of Xiangdong71

a flower?

sharing human feelings. of longing flow onto the lap, the candle's flares fall into the flower.
shi, 19.1042. (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 2002), p. 62.


#33. QuanJin "Ziye ge" ?SSft, 70 Xiao Difei shuo yuefu???E??^Jft 71 Quan Liang shi, 22.1977.





mmxMm. ?w?e??,


it is poem explicitly displaces human feelings onto the candle: weeping wax tears, as though itwere sharing human feelings and sympathizing with the person facing the candle (the third line delib the wax erately plays with the double references of "tears"?both tears of a candle and human in the last line: are ominous candlestick tears).72 The "sharing," however, grows the sparks falling into the flower-shaped themselves referred to as "flowers," whose fall, as

the candle is consuming itself, is illuminated by the burning flame and points to the approaching hour of darkness. It is difficult for us who live in the era of brilliant, glaring elec

the very kind of world that provided the material for background a cre Palace The of candle is that it Liang Style poetry. paradox ates shadow as well as light. Playing on this paradoxical nature, one of Shen Yue's lover achieves on the old motif of longing quatrains an unexpectedly novel effect: Song: The Dipper Every Night73 for an absent

tric lighting to imagine an old world of shades, dim corners, and the large, distorted shadows cast on walls and rising up to the beams:

stretches across the sky, the heart is suffering alone. every night strike the pillow, Moonbeams obliquely in lamplight half of the bed is in shadow.

72 This Chen dle:


/? ????:,


Chen shi^?^I$, 4.2510. The image later returns in a famous quatrain, "Zeng bie" Sf^'J, by the Tang poet Du Mu Jitfc (ca. 803-852), whose last two lines read: "The wax candle has a heart and pities that we must part, / shedding tears on our behalf till the dawn breaks" &? #AU?M?R^. Mf?'bMf?Wl, ed. and annotated, MMWi, p. 311. 73 Quan Liang shi, 6.1622. The xin >|> ("heart") puns with xinf? ("wick"). Feng Jiwu Fanchuan shijizhu ^)\\WMf?i shuju, 1962), (Beijing: Zhonghua

recalls the last couplet of a quatrain, "Zi jun zhi chu yi" [?II?^LHj^I, by the last emperor Chen Shubao Hi/Kit "My longing for you is like the night can (553-604): Lu Qinli, / shedding tears till the rooster crows" ,SHt#DS'J3?, l?Mi?HRi. ed., Quan








last line, translated literally, would be "Lamplight half hides assume that there is a woman because the bed." We the image of the empty bed echoes the second of "Nineteen Old Poems,"74 though do not know on which she is in the dark side of the bed her body is. However, or in the light does not matter. What light and

whether matters For

is the contrast between her feel more the Liang

poignantly court poets, shadow was just as fascinating as illu on the former. for they knew that the latter depended mination, on Shadow is impermanent, conditional, and empty: contemplation it leads to enlightenment. Shadow illusions: we have all experienced both how is an illusion and produces a familiar face or an ordi

trast that makes

shadow, for it is this con the emptiness of her bed.

silent, and ex nary object of daily life can be rendered mysterious, In Chinese pressive to the point of being eloquent in semi-darkness. the of best-known instance illusions with the help history, creating of lamps and candles is probably the story inwhich a wizard claimed to be able to summon the soul of Lady Li, Emperor Wu of Han's a favorite consort, who had died young. The wizard set up curtained enclosure, where he hung up lamps and candles, the emperor sit in another curtained enclosure. saw a and then he made

from the "Gazing distance he [that is, the emperor] whose lovely woman, was like that of Lady Li, walking around the place set appearance for her within the curtains. But he could not go to take a closer look. Emperor then felt longing and sadness wrote this poem: The Is it her or is it not? I stand and gaze at her, yet she glides along, so slow
in her coming."75

even more

strongly, and

no Buddhist, but as a Confucian to felt compelled moralist, he nevertheless present the story of Lady Li as one about the illusory nature of romantic love: Emperor Wu's The historian Ban Gu


Quan Han shi, 12.329. 75 Han shu, 97.3952. Quan Han shi, 1.96. Stephen Owen's translation. An Anthology ofChinese Literature: Beginnings to 1911 (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1996), pp. 216-17.




In many passion for Lady Li was exposed as a pursuit of shadows. of the Liang court poems on candlelit scenes of passion, we seem to hear the echoes of the story of Lady Li. When unfulfilled, passion, itself illusory, creates illusions, as can be seen inXiao Yi's quatrain on a candle, or in the last four lines ofWang jEftffi (465 Sengru's 522) poem entitled "Ye chou shi zhu bin" SSf?ff ? ("Night Sorrow: Be Shown The toMy Guests"):77 lonely curtains are all closed, cold oil burned out, more added. that my heart and eyes are Who would understand in such confusion? when I look at vermilion, it suddenly turns into emerald.


mmm^m, ***??.



But more often than not the story of Lady Li is turned around, as the poet succeeds in taking a closer look. What fascinates the poet moment when the woman's face from the dark and is the emerges illuminated is completely emotions when cealment, describes Person"):78
Her gauze clothes rustle, but she doesn't advance,

such a moment

of uncon the moment by candlelight: can no longer be suppressed. Shen Yue on A Lovely in his "Liren fu" HAK ("Fu


in the shadow

of the bright

lamp, not yet


she rests a while, upon the walkway turns around and goes back. she the portico along in the pond, opening up a surface Lotus leaves overturned for her reflection; grove, blowing been waiting, but she does not arrive until midnight. From the dusk I have a breeze stirs the bamboo on the clothes.

76 in "Yi jian: Du Han shu 'Li furen zhuan'" -^Jjl See Stephen Owen, IA?IA$^?f?, : trans. Tian Xiao fei Tashan de shitouji: Yuwen Suoan zixuanji f?lljl^??SJfpB ^^CW?^^lMM:, fflS|!l 2003), pp. 105-19. (Nanjing: Jiangsu renmin chubanshe, 77 the title is simply "Night Sorrow," which would In Yutai 12.1766. shi, xinyong Quan Liang have seemed to create the impression that the speaker is a woman. 78 Quan Liang wen, 25.3097.







from the darkness, stepping Emerging she bashfully conceals her charms.

into light,

The woman coming



into the light also cap a tures the poet's imagination in quatrain by Liu Xiaowei's brother one of the best-known court Liu Xiaochuo $!l#|| poets (481-539), in the Liang: A Woman to Come

out from the shadows

On Where


Forth79 shadow; sound.

I see hairpin's when the hangings stir, I hear bracelets' She hesitates and will not come forth, the curtain opens, always shy of the candle's light.

The woman's

mnwmwt. SMHj?m


presence is conjured up like Lady Li's ghost. It is indi cated by no more than a glimpse of shadow and some faint sound. And yet, as the poet is peeking, the woman behind the scene is also rev looking back at him. The poet is savoring the moment before elation, and he knows it. The following quatrain by Xiao Gang, focusing on the woman's the face illuminated by the lamp, urges eruption of passion?or does it? Song The of Roosting Crow80

folding screen of brocade, with silver hinges? her red lips and jade face emerge in lamplight. They gaze at each other, breathing hard, expecting who can be so shy, as not to come forward?


79 80

Quan Liang shi, 16.1843. Ibid., 20.1922.





The woman and meets (which quickens

the reader realizes, is only tem displacement, in poetic time: the poem in real time but becomes permanent porary comes to an eternal standstill, like the love-scene painted on Keats's still hold back? The Grecian urn, precariously positioned right on the verge of the head fall. long considers the woman In his reading of this poem, Stephen Owen

as they are standing so close to each other. But the antic into the poet's rhetor ipated advancing and embracing are displaced ical question put to her and to himself: at such a moment, who can

in this poem has come forward from behind the screen is a pause, a mutual the man face to face. There gaze court poetry), and their breathing in the Liang is unusual

as a painted figure on the screen.81 There is certainly an ambiguity this reading possible. If one adopts such a in the poem that makes a a rich irony: the of is all sudden with reading, the poem tinged image in the second line becomes

smile, as he comments on the foolishness of the viewer who, despite knowing better, still cannot help taking s?nyat? (kong) for r?pa (se for reality.82 ?, illusory appearances literally "colors"), composed Apart from poems on lamps and candles, Xiao Gang a "Dui zhu fu" 1H?? the Candle"),83 which con ("Fu on Facing
81 Mi-Lou:

even more forceful, as the flood the forth from the dark as if painted woman ing lamplight brings a self-mockery? were turns out to the be she real; closing question at his secular self with a the enlightened Buddhist layman looks

tion of the unreality of paintings and statues leads to enlightenment regarding the empty nature of the physical world. The story is included in the Liang Buddhist encyclopedia Jinglu yixiang. T., #2121, 44.229. 83 Quan Liang wen, 8.2997. Xiao Yi and Yu Xin gffif (513-581) both wrote afu with the same title. These 15.3038; which, pieces might have been composed on the same occasion. Quan Liang wen, They are both excellent compositions, Quan hou Zhou wen 1kf?.f?~%, 9.3925-926. in this paper. due to the limitation of space, will not be discussed

Harvard University Press, 1989), Poetry and theLabyrinth ofDesire (Cambridge: pp. 210-11. 82 Xiao Gang wrote about a palace In another poem "Yong meiren kanhua" HcJiA^m, suggesting that both were "painted" and lady looking at the portrait of a beautiful woman, thus unreal. Quan Liang shi, 22.1953. This recalls a Buddhist story about how the recogni







world?the through

state, the sensory illusions, induced they convey the near-hypnotized at and hard the dancing flames. The poet's atten by looking long so in the phenomenal tion is intensely focused that any change passage of time, the passage the changes in the candle: of a breeze?is noticed

tains a few lines that are among the best in all Chinese writings on In the sensitive manner of Xiao Gang, the candle. characteristic


After a while

crimson flowers,

one feels the rush of flowing beads, stared at closely, multiply. is bright; has just passed.

Night grows deep?color flame flickers?a breeze


flowers" are the sparks could also be the spots of light in they too ing intently at the flames. They phrase "sky flowers" (kong hud), which "crimson in the sky as the result of an optical empty nature of the physical world.

given off by the candle, but the eyes of the beholder gaz remind one of the Buddhist refers to illusory flowers seen disorder and signifying the

a The/tt itself reads like narrative poem, with alternating seven-, and famil four-, six-, and five-syllable lines. The story isminimal iar: it is a chilly autumn night; a party that goes on too long finally
to an end; man and woman retire to the bedchamber, shar



an intimate moment Behind mica windows


is a space suitable for flowery rugs; within ailanthus curtains, a sumptuous banquet is set up.84 But let's not fetch those night-illuminating pearls, and there is no need At

for lighting the golden-ram lamp. still no trace of the crescent moon; third the night watch, of stars embracing the midnight only a multitude sky. same candles the Thereupon, swaying bright sharing


with ailanthus, a plant that is supposed to sixth century agricultural treatise Qimin yaoshu ?K?ifi by Jia Sixie J| ?ESS (A- the first half of the sixth century) claims that "if one hangs the seeds of ailanthus in one's house, then ghosts do not dare to enter." Miao Qiyu fP??'|?, ed. and annotated, Qimin Ailanthus curtains are curtains embroidered off evil. The (Beijing: Nongye chubanshe, 1982), p. 227.


yaoshu jiaoshi ^KllSl^fi

44 we put out dishes Slumbering

paired phoenixes,



inlaid with gold. dragons coil on the side,

reversed, at peace.



pushing open be too wide. Emerald

vermilion wax

so it faces the right the bixie candlestick, way;85 screen but worried the crack might the window kingfisher blue,

torches harboring


fat is suitable for flames, Leopard and ox fat good for enduring the cold. Bronze zAz-plants intertwine in a tight embrace around it, golden

and wrap

lotus roots tangle, yielding lotus flowers. at the splendor of the oblique plumes of flame, Looking we see the hesitation of beeswax tears. After a while crimson flowers, one feels the rush of flowing beads, stared at closely, multiply.

is bright; has just passed. Only as the night draws on does one need to bother with weather being cold, have no fear of moths. Night grows deep?color flame flickers?a breeze When
to an




is served,

the banquet

is coming

after Green
her gauze

Jade finishes dancing,


she feels the thinness of

crosses over, hovering over the long pillow; of smoke arise, drifting toward the fruit plate. wisps it sheds light behind the golden screen: Turning, shadow a mutual gaze, with unspoken feelings.

85 86



immersed inwine and taken on the fifth day of the fifth month; see Zong Lin ^fjl reprinted inJing Chu suishi (ca. 500-563), y*"?*?Chu suishiji ^?J?cNff?B, ed. and annotated by Wang ii jiaozhu ^ejicNrl?Bt?Q:, Yurong TiSit^l (Taibei: Wenjin :hubanshe, 1988), p. 158. 87 "Green Jade" is supposed to have been the name of a singing girl in the Liu Song period. 1er name became a yuefu song title. Calamus

is a mythical beast. was customarily







nmm?ftiE, ??aros*. ?mmm, *?#?. mmnK ^wmm. mmzzmm, mi&mw&ft, &??**??. ?rflSiESfc?,Ift?l?ME^. WSfiS, ??Sil. S?fci&S8fc?l, ??ftuSS*. &Bm&tt, ??f?*si. asa^p?,
The/w woman deeply once



In one of his most famous paintings, images. Two sits half turning away with Flames," Magdalene "Magdalene from the viewer, one hand holding a skull. On the table there is a in front of the candle, a mirror. The flame is re burning candle; painting candlelit flected in the mirror; hence the title of the painting. the reformed prostitute, is contemplating the vanity Magdalene, of the secular world and preparing herself for a religious life. The

is irrelevant to the subject of our fu, for the candle appropriate?it to is about be extinguished. was famous for The French painter George la Tour (1593-1652)

again abruptly stops at the point when the man and gaze at each other, and the tension in the holding back is comes next will remain unspoken, which is only felt.What

candle curiously painter's choice of a mirrored court fascination with poets' Liang candlelight as John Berger says, "when perhaps because,

to the corresponds reflected in water, than

there is more

one figure, it is hard to be sure whether each is real or only the dream projection of the other. Every lit form proposes the possibility that it is no more than an apparition."88 "Reflected image" is, in of the essential emptiness fact, one of the tenMahay?na metaphors of the phenomenal world: both Emperor Wu and Xiao Gang had on these composed poems metaphors.89
88 89

About Looking (New York: Vintage Books, 1980), p. 116. The ten metaphors are: conjured image (as inmagic), flame, moon inwater, empty air, echo, city ofmirage, dream, shadow, mirrored image, and assumed forms (such as by a god). five are still extant in Quan Liang shi, 1.1532-33. Of Xiao Yan's Six of "Shiyu shi" +B?f$, Xiao Gang's "Shikong shi" +^I$ are extant in Quan Liang shi, 21.1937-938. Similar

46 As



the illusory it is, reflected candlelight perfectly symbolizes a nature of physical reality. Water, much more however, proves it flows, undulates, unreliable mirror: quivers under the slightest causes shines and distortions of reflected wind, images. Candlelight on water

but can never penetrate it. It remains a glittering surface, ripples. sparkling with burnished The following example is a poem by Xiao Yi, "Yong chizhong of Candlelight in the the Reflection zhuying" %"M^MB ("On the cinders go out in the fish-form lamp, its radiance? the blaze of the crane lamp pause there is, all by itself, the candle-holding dragon91 whose blue flame enters the vermilion gate. Let and Reflecting upon water, churned in the waves, Candelabra. the grove like the shadowy will-o'-the-wisp; Entering or crossing the islet, like fireflies. hangs


it seems

like the Three the Nine

it resembles

Shinings,92 Branch

The Milky Way

fog rises, pearl

low, fan-moon when


descends; ends,93



the Zhanghua

pursue one

the banquet


mmw&w. g^r?f??f ?aa*p. ?SfiiM, bmc?h?, mmm%m. xnmm?, mm^mm. mmm^m, mm&ttm. m&m?n. s?*m#.
(Vimalak?rti Sutra), metaphors with some variations also appear in the Weimojiejing l^j^fol^ one of the best beloved Buddhist texts in the Six Dynasties, which by the Liang dynasty had been translated into Chinese at least six or seven times. Xie Lingyun wrote a group of odes or encomiums

on these metaphors. Although these treated as prose pieces by Yan Kejun, 33.2617. odes are verses in rhymed five-syllable lines. Yan Kejun, ed., Quan Song wen ^5j^3t, 90 Quan Liang shi, 25.2047. 91 but dragon and phoenix also are the This line hints at the mythical "Candle Dragon," most common pattern decorating the candlestick. 92 It is said that Emperor Wu of Han had seen a divine light ("shining three times during one night") appearing on the altar after he made sacrifice to the Earth God. Han shu, 6.195. 93 (r. 540-529 B.C.). In afu on Zhanghua Terrace was built by King Ling of Chu HUEE the Zhanghua Terrace, Bian Rang j?HI (fl. late second or early third century) described a great night banquet but ended with the king's "returning to his senses" in the morning and Ling a praise of his sober rule of the country. Quan of Chu met with a tragic end. houHan wen, 84.929-30. In actuality, King








poem begins with a rhetoric device not unlike a priamel (i.e., the fourth as the best). listing three nice things but then mentioning it offers a series of similes: the divine light on the Earth God Then and things altar, an object of artifice (the nine branch candelabra), and fireflies). It also presents the move of nature (will-o'-the-wisp of the party: entering the gate, lingering beside the pond, The and the islet. into the then grove, couplet again crossing going formed by lines 9 and 10 both marks the passage of time (the moon a late-night or early-morning is descending, the increasing illusion of human perception and drinking). and by the merry-making

fog is rising) and implies (caused by the late hour The reflections

in the


seem to have transformed the pond into the Milky Way? so the human realm is at how low it is!?and the speaker marvels as the turned into the heavenly singers and dancers grow sphere: is being laid down. The tired, the round fan, resembling the moon, rise of the fog further confuses the senses: pearls worn by the palace from the stars?both ladies cannot be distinguished have become
As the poet stops using such words as "suspect," "resem


ble," or "like," the rationality of the previous four lines deteriorates and reality becomes blurred. and the boundary between metaphor in lines was written on the Liu Xiaowei's quatrain seven-syllable third day of the third month, a festival day celebrating the arrival stream of spring. The custom was to gather together by a winding on and float wine whenever the it; cups cup (often man-made) had to finish the wine, Stream

in front of someone, the person paused new itwith wine, and let it drift on. On the Reflection of Candlelight


in theWinding a at the Jiale Palace at Drinking Party on the Third Day of the Third Month94 flower-heart



but fragrance already golden branches.96

94 95

has not yet grown long,95 flows from the honeyed flames of

Quan Liang shi, 18.1884. in fire" or "fire-proof cloth" huo huan alludes to asbestos, "cloth washable "Fire-washed" bu 'X-lEf? There is a record of asbestos being used as lamp wicks inWang Jia's EEj? (ca. fourth century) Shiyiji ?p?ftlB (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1981), p. 225. The "flower-heart" refers to the candlewick. If it ismade of asbestos, for mi i||. The as the candle burns. 96 Here mi $} is a loan character itwill not burn down but seem to get longer golden branches refer to a candelabra.

48 The

XIAOFEI lotus pond saturates waters the peach-blossom

TIAN the abiding reflection, lead the flowing light on and on.

'X??fobm*n, &ftffi?EaE3?. 3iwmmm&?, m&*w&myt.

The of the appearance last couplet of the poem seems to balance water. water in and in In still the "lotus pond" tranquil flowing light a term the reflection may be still; but the "peach blossom waters," are referring to spring floods (which arrive when the peach trees a are more stream. for As the appropriate winding blossoming), seems water flows on, the candlelight to it reflects be flowing too, and the crimson shimmering of the water inevitably reminds one of Tao "Peach Blossom Spring," a stream that Qian's ffigf (365P-427) is covered with peach blossoms and leads the inquisitive fisherman
Utopian realm.

to a marvelous

Another was


on the same

composed poet inXiao Gang's the same occasion illusion and

by Yu

lines topic and also in seven-syllable a court major Jianwu StJPt? (ca. 487-551), circle. Whether the two poems were written on but they are both concerned with

is unknown,

inconstancy: in theWinding Stream Third of the Month98 Day

of Candlelight On the Reflection on the Third at the Imperial Banquet Manifold wind

flames yield flowers like a fragrant tree, are hard to stay still. blows, water stirs?both caress the riverbank, brushing over the Spring boughs reflections; returning wine through light. cup flows around a guest, passing


is compared
and Cao

to a flowering

tree in spring,
chi" ?gffi.




Both Cao Pi W^ (187-226) Quan Wei shi, 4.400, 7.462. 98 Quan Liang shi, 23.2004.

Zhi wrote poems

to the title "Furong







glory most fleeting. The candle is blown by the wind, and its reflec tion disrupted by the ripples. The "golden boughs" of the chande lier in Liu Xiaowei's per poem are replaced by "spring boughs," of those willows haps brushing the water in the wind and disrupting

the reflection; but the branches may also be a reference to the stems in which case it would be their shadow on the of the candelabra,

ground that caresses the bank. The wine cup floating on the stream, itself a sparkling speck, ismoving through the currents of light. The poem itself is like a segment cut off from the stream of time: it does not stand still but Xiao is a fluid moment. poem Gang's night adds a peculiar Sending Rows A Palace of brocade on sending a palace lady back to her boat to the "candlelight in water" motif: touch Lady Back by Night to the Rear Boat99 at

curtains shelter her barge, oars float, brushing the waves. magnolia Her departing candle still patterns the waves; her lingering scent still fills my boat.

The cade




in a barge well protected by the bro palace lady is departing is nonetheless very curtains from the prying eye. Her absence much present, filling up the entire space: her perfume permeates
his boat, and her candle creates a

of sight and the other of smell?are evanescence of the feeling transitory (with highlighted by the adverbs insist you and shang, "still"), but these fleeting signs of her absence on reminding us of her. The poem is an eloquent articulation of the effects?one unity of sensuous appearances (se) and emptiness (kong).

pling water.







CODA: THE CHESSBOARD Liu Xiaochuo's command

99 327. Ibid.,


poem on candlelight, though hastily written on a social occasion, a good example is nevertheless
The translation is Stephen Owen's.


An Anthology of Chinese Literature, p.




and in this sense it is representative competent public performance, of the average Southern Dynasties social verse. The poem, however, and echoes, and it thus acquires has a subject rich with associations a weight context.

to its origin when placed in its historical disproportionate It is for this reason that I wish to end the paper with this on the Candle as Demanded Composed Shining on a Chessboard When the Candle (Finished Was Burned Down by Half an Inch)100


A Poem


instruments have stopped string and woodwind at Nanpi;101 the host urges the guests to stay so as to finish the chess game. As the sun goes down, the room darkens, lady is asked to bring in the sparkling Oblique light illuminates the entire chessboard; the flame twirls, her body half in shadow. the beautiful She does not mind only regretting candle.


her slender hands growing tired? that night will be getting toward morning.

ffiSK^si, ?^fig*. myt^mm, 0????#.

The fine moment which

btm*h. *?**?,

mm^mx. m^mm.

of this poem comes in the third couplet: the chess center of attention, is illuminated?the is the board, only woman space of light in the surrounding dark; the holding the can dle watches on, and she is obviously standing, so only parts of her

body are illuminated by the candlelight, but her face remains in the shadow. The intensity of the game is thus brought forth in the play is so fascinated by the game that of shadow and light. The woman she worries that itwill soon be dawn and, candle rendered unnec essary, How would she will be dismissed. Liu Xiaochuo's immediate circle react to this poem?

100 Quan Liang shi, 16.1840. 101 is the place where Cao Nanpi ary friends. See his "Yu Wu Zhi ?, 7.1089.

Pi, when he was a young man, had parties with his liter Yan Kejun, shu" H^HHlIred., Quan Sanguo wen ^HSI








to show off his quick wit. It served was, after all, an opportunity the same purpose as coming up with swift, clever repartee, such as of anec those admiringly recorded in the fifth-century compilation dotes Shishuo xinyu. The poet's contemporaries might also hear in Liu Xiaochuo's a echo the of southern poem yuefu song, and readers familiar with the literature of the period would likewise share such an association: I parted with my sweetheart, Today when will we ever meet again? The bright lamp shines upon an empty chessboard? it shall be faraway, for there is no date yet!102

first of all, applaud the speed with imagine that they would, the poem was composed. The part of the title recording the exact composition time indicates the pride the poet felt: the poem


?#?emp#? m?m&m,


are key images the "bright lamp" and the "empty chessboard" a scene not only because create and of loneliness absence, but they ran are to word the also because they pivotal play: you (faraway) on qi puns on "oil burns" (you ran jft;$8); qi M (appointment, date) on "no chess the would become board" ^ piece (chess pieces)?thus "no date." When The battle

poem would likely have occasioned educated readers both of his own time and recognition by of a later age: "night getting towards morning" (ye xiang chenS? a one in of the Shijing poems, "Ting liao" H H) is phrase appearing in the Courtyard"). As traditionally '$? ("Torch interpreted, this last line of Liu Xiaochuo's another poem is supposed to be about a king who throughout the night con stantly asked his attendant the time because he was anxious about late for themorning court. Here

it is empty, the chessboard, originally a space of an for domination, is inscribed with erotic meaning.


is the last stanza of the Shijing


goes the night? It is getting towards morning.


#62 is almost shi, 19.1040. "Duqu ge" MttSK, "Ziye ge," No. 9. QuanJin except for the first two characters of the opening line. Quan Song shi, 11.1344.


52 The



torch is smoking in the courtyard. My princely men are arriving;? I see their banners.103

The ment






political reading of this poem is evidenced by the surviving frag of theWestern of a verse of the same title by Fu Xuan Jin. court scene on New Fu Xuan's poem describes a grand morning various

from Day, with lamps and torches all lit up and emissaries countries paying respects to the emperor.104 It is certainly in the poem a "remonstrance" tempting to detect in Liu Xiaochuo's tradition of thefu, which was expected to counter the depiction of

pleasure reading deduce

the poem or his fellow-officials against wasting time on the phrase ye xiang chenmight have been sim trivial games. Besides, into contemporary the literary vocabulary without ply assimilated commanded
author or the reader ever becoming conscious of its locus classicus.

lesson. And yet one would be by concluding with a moral too much into this lighthearted social verse if one were to that Liu Xiaochuo intended to warn the prince who had

poem? In light, then, may we now read Liu Xiaochuo's our as as was the is much embedded in many ways, reading history If hindsight offers us contemporaries. reading of Liu Xiaochuo's then it has to be a retrospective viewpoint which any advantage, In what Liu Xiaochuo's
have possessed:


circle of audience
we recognize


not possibly
as a sur

in other



of a magnitude that was yet vivor. It survived historical to its author: the destruction of the capital Jiankang unimaginable events

to the admiration then in Jiangling. When, his brothers, and his friends, Liu Xiaochuo

that in siege, famine, plague, and slaughter; the Hou Jing Rebellion even not into and half but the into many fragments country split the burning to ashes of tens of tually led to the dynasty's downfall; thousands of books in the imperial library, twice, in Jiankang and of his imperial patrons, dashed off the poem on

In R?an Yuan ^f^IE?. |?7C7C, comp., Shisanjingzhushu ""hHJK?iS (rpt-, 1999), p. 665. The translation isJames Legge's. The Chinese Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe, Classics (Taibei: Jinxue shuju, 1969), 4:295. 104 Quan Jin shi, 1.571.

103 Maoshizhengyi

LIANG a candle how






lighting up the chessboard, the match would end.

he certainly did not anticipate

Of various forms of leisure activities, chess (sometimes translated as encirclement chess, or^?) is perhaps most closely associated with moves in a chess game are paralleled with martial accomplishments:

defeat and victory seen as mirroring what hap military maneuvers; a on As Zu-yan Chen real battlefield. pens says, chess is "intrinsi or an warlike game, governed primarily by skills cally antagonistic and tactical encoun in handling strategic operations developed to this is found in a number oifu on chess (Weiqi ters."105 Testimony

fu H?R)?by

(?-308), and Emperor Wu of Liang (fl. third century), Cao Shu U? himself, a great chess aficionado.106 The political history of the Six apart from its internal power struggles, had been a series Dynasties, of constant battles and diplomatic dealings with the Northern mil itary threat: the shadow of Northern power, sometimes weakened, sometimes intensified, was nonetheless always present. In the view of later generations, in chess-playing was deeply of the partially because grained in the image of the Six Dynasties,

Liu Xiang, Ma Rong Hfi? (79-166), Cai Hong H&

political instability and military strife that characterized much of the Six Dynasties, partially because of the defining role played by chess a in historical battle that had decided the fate of the Southland. Xie An,

the great minister of the Eastern Jin, was a chess lover. In the ruler Fu Jian f?H stationed his army of year 383, the Northern on a the million soldiers Eastern reportedly Jin border, aiming to this background, Xie An destroy the Jin and unify China. Against played a game then in charge of chess with his nephew Xie Xuan ?t};?, who was of the defense army of no more than eighty thou sand soldiers. They made a bet on Xie Xuan's villa. Xie Xuan had a on been much chess than better his uncle, but that always player concentrating
105 Zu-yan

day, nervous

like everybody else in the capital city, he had difficulty and lost both the game and his villa to an unruffled

in Chinese Poetry," JAOS 117.4 Chen, "The Art of Black and White: Wei-ch'i (Oct.-Dec, 1997): 643-53. 106 18.566. QuanJin wen, 81.1928, 107.2074-75. Quan Han wen, 35.321, Quan Liang wen, of Liang authored Qi fa |R?? as well as Weiqi pin 8ft?p, 1.2951. Emperor Wu neither of which is extant. The emperor's chess skill had reportedly obtained "the superior level." Liang Shu, 3.96.

54 Xie said: held An.



with all the military matters awaiting his decisions. When the news of a grand victory later reached Xie An, he was again playing chess with a guest. He sumed the game. all the letter, indifferently put it aside, and re Pressed by the anxious guest, he answered coolly: the kids have smashed the intruders."107 read the stories about

to his maternal Turning nephew Yang Tan ?H, Xie An "The villa now is all yours." He then went to the villa and a did he return home to deal big party. Only after midnight

"Oh, Of

this probably coolness in the face of a powerful enemy is a favorite sub ject of later poetry. The best known is perhaps the late Tang poet Wen Tingyuan's which ffiJSS "Song of Lord Xie's Villa" WuSMi, Dynasties, cultivated captures that famous moment scene. The chess-playing None were Lords He

the panache (fengliu Sott) of the Six represents a crowning moment. Xie An's

in an elegantly drawn sketch of the second part of the poem reads as follows: the least noise, and beech and bamboo all rested their

of the guests made

hushed, of golden cicadas chins on hands. faces the board, thousand miles,

scepters of jade,

he knits his brows,

he sees a

and The

the capital has already seized the long serpent's tail. Southland's royal aura twines through his open lapels? and he never let Fu Jian cross the river Huai.108

relevant to our view of Liu important things, immediately Xiaochuo's poem, stand out in the Xie An story. The first thing is the bet, which resulted in the changed ownership of the villa. Wen Two Tingyun grasped its significance, for it is cleverly reflected in the

107 Shishuo xinyu, 6.373. Also see Jin shu, 79.2075. 108 Wen Feiqing shiji jianzhu ImMM^WzMQ. Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1980), (Shanghai: An Anthology of Chinese Literature, p. 332. Paul pp. 33-34. The translation is Stephen Owen's. Rouzer Tingyun (Stanford: gives an excellent analysis of the poem in Writing Another's Dream: Stanford University Press, 1993), pp. 130-31. The Poetry ofWen





SEEING the second

55 line of the

("Xie lang dong shu" IBERAS). The transition from one to the other is signif icant because, had Xie An not won the chess game, the panache with which he played the chess game would never have been rec in the much larger "chess game," where ognized as such. Similarly, the bet was the fate of the Eastern Jin empire, itwas again the final as the defining context forXie victory of the battle that had served flair. Without the victory, Xie An would have been

Xie's Villa"?and title of his poem?"Lord states: which poem "Theyoung Master Xie's

eastern villa"


seen as a

concentrate, while his opponent could not. grasped this point. In his portrayal of Xie Again, Wen Tingyun An, both the knitted eyebrows and the opened lapels indicate Xie in the chessboard in front of him. Not even An's deep absorption

How on earth did Xie An win? After all, he had far less skill in chess than his nephew, and the Eastern Jin army was not even one leads us to the second tenth of the size of its enemy's forces. This important point of this story: Xie An won because he was able to

Fu Jian's powerful army could distract him. The royal aura of the Southland, however, could not be sustained. and prosperous For nearly half a century, the peaceful reign of a sense had lulled into Wu the of secu of Emperor Liang kingdom Look rity, but it all came to an end during the Hou Jing Rebellion. on a chess game in can poem ing back now, we see Liu Xiaochuo's a than his little differently dlelight contemporaries might have
perceived it. It, of course, can never compare with the chess game

parties Whereas

in a prince's salon or perhaps even in the imperial court. Xie An's had a triumphant context, Liu chess-playing for has its Xiaochuo's poem backdrop a dynasty's downfall. There was never to obtain the kind of panache doomed character fore, it izing Xie

played with aplomb by Xie An during the Battle of the Fei River: itwas just an inconsequential chess game at one of those evening

Liang court poets, had materialized represented

An and his version of the Six Dynasties; instead it has a a in the of the later-born. even, eyes frivolity acquired lightness, To play a chess game and win requires concentration. For the the concentration of the myriad thought-instants crafted poems, each of which into exquisitely a moment of absorption in the sensuous appearances




looking for "a lesson" in every historical event, partic by moralists in the is for the new dynasty ularly collapse of a state. The purpose are to to and avoid the thus last forever. Without they serving pitfalls

and the ultimate emptiness of things. Is it really true, then, as an austere Tang historian or a Northern Song neo-Confucian philoso was would the all that failure of the the con conclude, pher empire a a I of misdirected attention? is This, sequence think, myth, created

military victory;109 in contrast, exactly because of the weight of his in the poem remains light?both tory attached to it, Liu Xiaochuo's sense of being weightless and inconsequential, and in the sense of being

a doubt, one can always find what one looks for, but the degree of earnestness with which one searches may compromise the finding. was Xie An's made the possible by weight of a grand lightness



its faint light, however,

the room

is dark

inertia, the opacity of the world."110 The lightness of Liu in this chapter Xiaochuo's poem, and all the little poems discussed about lamps and candles written by the Liang court poets, to borrow

After all, literature represents a series of attempts on the part of to resist what ?talo Calvino has described as "the weight, humankind the

is achieved by way of a penetrating gaze and a lightness, which belief in the emptiness of all things as taught by the Buddhists. Because of the court poets' intensely attentive way of seeing things, and the world is illu hitherto concealed patterns are unconcealed,

the phrase of the thirteenth-century Italian poet Guido Cavalcanti, belongs to the lightness of "snow falling without wind."111 It is not the scattered, chaotic, directionless kind of lightness but a focused

109 The veracity of the accounts of the battle has, however, been questioned by some mod ern historians. Michael "The Myth of the Battle of the Fei River Rogers, [a.D. 383]," TP defends the view that an invasion took place. 54.1/3 (1968): 50-72. But Charles Holcombe Han: Literati Thought and Society at theBeginning of theSouthern Dynasties In the Shadow of the (Honolulu: Hawaii University Press, 1994), p. 154. Perhaps the scale of the victory has been 1988), p. 4. exaggerated. 110 Six Memos for the Next Millennium (New York: Vintage, 111 Next Millennium, p. 14. Cited from SixMemos for the