A core Course of General Education An outline of the Traditional Chinese Culture 中国传统文化概览 Shandong University Contents

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Li Qingzhao

Li Qingzhao (1084—1155), self-titled Yi’an Jushi, was a native of Zhangqiu, Jinan (in the present-day Shandong Province). Her life was a bittersweet story. She married Zhao Mingcheng and shared with him the love of poetry and antiquities. They had enjoyed a happy family life before the emperors of the Song Dynasty were captured by the invasive Jin people. In the midst of the Jin’s invasion, her husband died and she had to flee from her sacked home town. Hardship and suffering made her poetic style widely different from earlier works, which mainly deliver the maiden naivety and the subtle feelings of parting with her husband, or her passion with mother nature and her love of plants and pets. It turned to be melancholy and imposing, reflecting the hardship she bore. Li Qingzhao is credited with the establishment of ci as a different genre, independent from other genres. She suggested that ci should follow more melodic and rhythmic patterns, distinguishing itself with shi. In practice, she excelled in using everyday language to depict the subtle mentality and emotions of the characters in question. Her choice of images and words, whether they are formal or informal, is unique and innovative. The following lines best illustrate her poetic creativity: “The red must be getting thin, while the green is becoming plump”; “I dwindle, thin as a golden flower”; “spoiled willows and coquet flowers”; “willow-leave eyes and plum-colored cheeks”. Li Qingzhao is believed to be the most prolific and accomplished female poet in the history of Chinese literature. Her audacity in expressing the pursuit of true love and delicacy in the depiction of emotions reflect her intuition of being a female. Her prominence in the Southern Song Dynasty unprecedentedly changed the male-dominated field of poetry.

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