First compiled in the second century AD, "The Songs of the South" contains ancient poems from one of the two great traditions in Chinese poetry. These poems illuminate the Chinese poet's way of looking at the world, his vocabulary of images, and the various assumptions he makes. Opening with a poem written in the fourth century BC, this volume presents the literary achievements of the Chu civilization and features many poems attributed to Qu Yuan, honoured as China's first poet. The powers of shamans and spirits inspired many of these poems, and they are invoked in ways that shocked the puritanical Confucian sensibilities of later generations. The introduction provides historical background information and, through references to western history and culture, elucidates the poetry and its context for English-speaking readers.
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