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Leopard

Leopard

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On the nature of poetry

From the Shang Shu (Shujing), a compilation of historical documents dating from the 17th century BCE through the 3rd century BCE and one of the five Confucian classics:

 

Poetry expresses one's will; song prolongs one's words; sounds correspond to melody; instruments accord with sounds; when the eight tones are all balanced and do not encroach upon one another, spirits and human beings will be in harmony.

 

From the Great Preface of the Shih-ching (Shijing), the first compilation of Chinese poetry dating from the 11th to 7th centuries BCE and another of the Confucian classics:

 

Poetry is where one's will goes. In mind/heart it is will; coming out in language, it is poetry. The emotions are stirred within and take on form in words. When words alone are inadequate, we speak them out in sighs. When sighing is inadequate, unconsciously our hands dance them and our feet tap them.

 

(Both taken from The Poetics of Decadence: Chinese Poetry of the Southern Dynasties and Late Tang Periods, by Fusheng Wu.) 

 

 

This is quite different from the roughly contemporary Aristotle's theory of poetics as mimesis.