Complementary Compilation of Shangu’s Ci Poetry


This work is a collection of ci poetry by the Northern Song poet Huang Tingjian (1045−1105), courtesy name Luzhi, style names Shangu Daoren and Fuweng, a native of Fenning, Hongzhou (present-day Xiushui, Jiangxi). Huang’s poetry and prose were admired by his contemporary poet and calligrapher Su Shi (1037−1101) and widely known. Su and Huang enjoyed equal popularity and were often mentioned together as Su-Huang. During the early years of the Yuanyou reign (1086−94), Huang, together with Zhang Lei (1054−1114), Qin Guan (1049−1100), and Chao Buzhi (1053−1110), befriended the Su family. They were called “Four Scholars of the Su Family.” Huang wrote ci lyrics in the manner of the Jiangxi School, which he is said to have “evolved from the embryo and changed the bones, and transformed iron to gold.” He was greatly inspired by Su Shi and had influence on Jiang Kui, Baishi (circa 1155−circa 1235). Huang applied an unconventional approach to poetry and became a leader and representative of the ci poetry of the time. Both his ci poems and those of Qin Guan enjoyed popularity. Northern Song poet Chen Shidao (1053−1102) claimed in his work Houshan shi hua (Houshan’s remarks on poetry) that “among the ci masters today, Qin Guan is the seventh- and Huang is the ninth-best” poets of the Song; thus they were known as “Qin the seventh and Huang the ninth” at the time. Huang’s ci lyrics are characteristic of “creating ci from shi (poem).” An example of this approach to writing ci can be seen in one of his works, entitled Zhegutian: xiao Li Ruchi yu fu ci (Tune of partridges in the sky: Imitating Li Ruchi’s “Fisherman”): “The white egrets fly by Mount Xisai, peach blossoms, flowing water, and fat mandarin fish. The court is still seeking Xuanzhenzi [style name of Tang poet Zhang Zhihe], where can I find more poetry? Green bamboo hat, green straw rain cape, slanted wind and drizzling rain, there is no need yet to return. There are no waves at the bottom of the world; a day storm lasts twelve hours.” In comparison to his poems, which were brilliant, his ci appeared relatively dull. Nevertheless Huang was deservedly regarded as a founder of the elegant Song ci style. Today’s readers find his work similar to Su Shi’s, but readers of the Song compared him to Qin Guan. Research suggests that 180 ci poems of Huang Tingjian are still extant. This copy contains 27 in juan one, 28 in juan two, and 35 in juan three, a total of 90, or half of his total work. These ci lyrics are varied both in content and type; to quote from a commentary by critics, “his good ci poems were from an extraordinarily clever mind and of an unconventional style. The words of the jesting ones are not for wordbooks. The dirty ones would be condemned to Hell by Daoist Faxiu.” Chao Buzhi, another one of the Four Scholars of the Su Family, once said that Huang Tingjian’s short ci lyrics were ingenious, but they were different from conventional ones, as Huang’s ci used popular tunes to sing fine poems.

Last updated: June 25, 2015