East Zhejiang Poetics from the Late Yuan Dynasty to the Early Ming Dynasty and the Tradition of the Book of Songs
Ma Xin;Institute of literature, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences;
Praising highly on the value of the Book of Songs(《诗经》), the East Zhejiang literati from the late Yuan Dynasty to the early Ming Dynasty established a set of poetic thoughts to flaunt elegance on the basis of the texts of the Book of Songs and its related theories, which awakened the theoretical vitality of the Book of Songs. There are four features in the study of the East Zhejiang literati. Firstly, they took the Book of Songs as the highest standard to evaluate the poems from previous dynasties and set the poetry of the Han-Wei and the Tang Dynasties as the "spokesman" of the Book of Songs. However, there occurred some disputes between their learning from its meanings and their learning from its dictions. Secondly, they took "the theory of the orthodox and shifted styles of folk songs and odes"(正变说) from Mao's Text of the Book of Songs(《毛诗》) as a framework. Some of them explained the change of poetry with the political prosperity and decline of their times, some others incorporated their personal moral cultivation into the political rise and fall of their times, and still some others stealthily turned political prosperity and decline into the changes of literary style, so as to follow, break through or deviate from this theory. Thirdly, they developed "the view of euphemistic remonstration"(讽谏说) from Mao's Prefaces to the Book of Songs(《毛诗序》), criticized the reality with poems, presented the appeal of the people of lower position, and connected this view with the utilitarian studies(事功之学) of the Yongjia Period(永嘉) of the West Jin Dynasty(西晋) and the tradition of Wuzhong literature(吴中文学). Finally, they were enlightened by the view that "love starts from emotion, but stops by the etiquette"(发乎情,止乎礼义) and pursued the simple and unadorned poetic style by acting according to the etiquette(明道) and expressing emotions(言情).