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Pan Yue's "Study of a Widow" and its predecessors.

This article is a case study in the intertextuality of early medieval Chinese poetry, where the imitation of and allusion to earlier works is the focus of the author's craft and the catalyst of literature's emotional power. The study proceeds by analyzing the intertextual relation between a late third-century fu [??] about a widow and its early third-century predecessors, showing how they are linked both by generic constraints and direct allusion and imitation, all of which together tend to create in these works a limiting formality and artificiality. Yet their very formality assists in the expression of emotion and the constitution of authorial subjectivity. Finally, two modern counterparts with their own allusive relationship shed further light on the literary representation of widowhood.

As with much medieval Chinese literature, the textual relationships of interest in Pan Yue's fu are for the most part not allusions, in the sense of specific references to earlier texts, although there are many such classical allusions. What is even more striking is the pervasive use of shared language: phrases, lines, and even larger structures. The term "intertextuality" seems most appropriate to designate these shared usages. (1) Though the texts under discussion in this article include an explicit attempt at imitation, this imitation blends together with classical allusions and repetitions of other texts. Intertextuality here is used to include all these textual linkages, regardless of whether any particular example of shared language was intended to be recognized as such. It is the overall pattern, regulating both the macroscopic structure and local details, that deserves to be termed intertextuality. A close reading of a few poems from the third century C.E. can suggest some of the larger cultural implications of this intertextuality. (2)

The principal text under examination here is the "Study of a Widow" [??] (3) by Pan Yue [??] (247-300), one of several fu by Pan that are preserved in the great sixth-century anthology Wen xuan [??]. (4) Based on a biographical sketch, one would not expect to find tender depictions of grief in Pan Yue's oeuvre. (5) His behavior as a lackey to Shi Chong [??] (249-300) and Jia Mi [??] (?-300) has long been denounced, in particular the treasonous letter he drafted, which was falsely attributed to Sima Yu [??] (d. 300), Crown Prince Minhuai [??]. (6) But his numerous funerary compositions, including both public court pieces and more intimate ones mourning his own wife and children, are also noteworthy. This aspect of his achievement was already recognized in his Jin shu biography, which comments that he "excelled particularly in composing laments and dirges." (7) Not only does he have fu and poems lamenting his wife and others, but also numerous compositions in the genres of epitaphs, lamentations, offerings, and dirges. To give just one example of their popularity, the Wen xuan includes four separate dirges by him. His poems mourning his wife and children are especially moving, and have been the subject of two valuable essays. (8) Here I want to consider Pan's "Study of a Widow," which is not an account of his own loss, but a proso-popoeia, or literary impersonation, in the voice of the widow of a friend. Perhaps this distancing device was one reason that this fu was one of those deemed appropriate for inclusion in the Wen xuan (unlike "Mourning the Departed" [??] for his own wife, for instance). It has more of the formality and general scope of other fu selected for the anthology.

Pan Yue wrote the fu after the death of his friend Ren Hu [??]. The two friends were doubly linked, since they had been close friends since childhood, and Ren Hu's wife was the younger sister of Pan Yue's wife. Thus Ren Hu's death broke up not only his own family, but also Pan Yue's, and the fu is, among other things, a moving response to Ren's death. Lu Kanru [??] has convincingly dated the fu to 276 based on two pieces of evidence. (9) On the one hand, the preface mentions that Ren's wife, whose father was Yang Zhao [??], was already an orphan at the time of composition, and Yang had died in 275. On the other hand, since Ren Hu died around the age of 20, and was a childhood friend of Pan, the fu cannot have been written much later.

The preface sets out the context of the fu in two sections, one on the personal context (Ren's death) and one on the literary context defining the form of the composition (the fu's predecessors): (10)
  Ren Zixian of Le'an was a man whose capacity would have swept the
  world. (11) From youth we enjoyed a friendship that fraternal love
  could not have surpassed. Tragically he died at capping age. (12)
  What grief can compare with the passing of a good friend?
  Furthermore, his wife was my wife's younger sister. She lost both of
  her parents when she was young, and now after her marriage, her whole
  "heaven" has also perished. (13) Ren's now-fatherless daughter is
  very small, only just beginning to smile. (14) This is the greatest
  calamity of human life, and the ultimate anguish of all human
  suffering. [??]

Up to this point in the preface we have a straightforward human story. A young man dies, leaving a grief-stricken wife, herself an orphan, and a daughter. (15) The widow's suffering is set in the context of a series of deaths that affect everyone in her extended family. Extending the scope of the fu even further, it is "the greatest calamity" and "the ultimate anguish." We can already see the how the fu depicts the widow's suffering as a representative of grief in general.

Pan Yue then places the fu in a context that extends beyond the present moment, back to the experiences of widows in the past and their literary representation:
  Long ago when Ruan Yu passed away, Emperor Wen of Wei mourned him,
  and commanded his friends to compose fu for his widow. I have
  imitated these, to relate the feelings of those rendered fatherless
  or widowed. [??]

Here Pan Yue is referring to a well-known event in Jian'an [??] (196-220) history. After the death of Ruan Yu [??] (165?-212), later known as one of the Seven Masters of the Jian'an period, Cao Pi [??] (187-226) commanded that several members of the court write fu on behalf of his widow. Thus the immediate situation and the literary composition portraying it are set in the context of similar situations and poems from the past. As will be shown below, these kinds of intertextual references define the body of the fu as well. Though all the typical reasons for allusion and imitation are relevant here, the final sentence of the preface also identifies a particular significance in the intertextuality of this fu: the motive to describe the feelings of "those rendered fatherless and widowed" in general, not just Ren Hu's wife and daughter.

I translate the term gu gua [??] in the last sentence as "those rendered fatherless or widowed" rather than "the lonely widow" because of the concern throughout the preface not just with widows but also with orphanhood. When gu occurs earlier in the preface it used to refer to the daughter Zelan, who has just lost her father, and not to the widow. The concepts of "widow" and "orphan" in modern English are mutually exclusive, since a widow's child is by definition not an orphan as long as her mother lives. (16) In classical Chinese gu is ambiguous, and can be used for a child who lost just a father, or just a mother, or both, so widowhood and orphanhood would frequently coincide. (17) It makes sense given the tendency of the fu genre towards comprehensiveness that the widow fu would expand to encompass the suffering of the surviving children as well.

In fact, we could question whether the topic of "Study of a Widow" is primarily widowhood itself. The perspective is that of all the survivors after a death, encompassing the children of the deceased, and even the poet and other friends. Although the widow is the nominal topic, her role in the fu approaches that of an occasion for composition more than an actual subject. Much of the content of the fu would be equally apposite to Pan Yue's own situation as mourner. It is worth noting that gu and gua belong to a set of words that can refer either to specific bereavement or to isolation more generally. The other two are guan [??] for "widower" and du [??] for "an aged person without children." (18) Du in fact occurs four times in the fu, not of course in this specific sense but in the broader one of "alone," "without support." Guan of course is not used in the fu, but as explained in the preface, Pan Yue does to some degree share in the widow's sense of bereavement. Thus the subject matter of the fu expands from widowhood towards bereavement and isolation in general, which in the traditional Chinese context is often equivalent with the severing of family ties.

The recounting of personal experience we expect from the first part of the preface, as well as the attempt at a comprehensive portrayal of a topic suggested in the latter part, both have precedent in the history of the fu. These conflicting tendencies are present in the Chuci [??] anthology itself, which contains some of the earliest examples of fu, though not identified as such within the anthology. (19) David Hawkes suggested a basic division of the thematic content of the anthology into tristia, the poems of frustration and regret, and itineraria, the poems of journeys, both mystical and geographical. (20) But many Chuci poems do not really belong in either category, being primarily descriptive, on either a grand or an intimate scale. (21) The former kind is exemplified by the "Summons" poems, "Summoning the Soul" [??] and "The Great Summons" [??], and their epideictic description of a

variety of court settings. The other class of fu is also descriptive, but on a lesser scale; it is the genre which begins with the "Ode to the Orange Tree" [??] in the Chuci, (22) the inspiration for many later yongwu fu [??] describing particular objects. Thus as early as the Chuci, we can already see opposing tendencies towards objective description and subjective feeling. In spite of the trend in the Jian'an period towards the briefer shuqing [??] or "lyrical" fu, yongwu [??] fu describing particular objects thrived as well, and both tendencies remained active. 23 Third-century/it on widows, though they in some ways resemble briefer, more emotional shi poetry, also inherited the traditional tendency of the fu towards comprehensive description of a topic. Furthermore, they retain the association of thefr with formal court settings, as we can see in Pan Yue's evocation of the imperial context of his models.

Moreover, Pan places the situation of the widow in the larger context of the extended family and society as a whole. We do not have much historical evidence describing the social position of widows in this period, but much of what does remain concerns the question of widow remarriage. (24) The ideal articulated in the Li ji [??] is that a widow should be forever faithful and not remarry after the death of her husband; in fact, Pan Yue's fit concludes with a statement of resolve not to remarry. (25) However, widows in the Han sometimes remarried after their husbands' deaths, whether or not they had children. (26) Some important figures from Han literary history were widows who remarried. Zhuo Wenjun [??] eloped with the great fit writer Sima Xiangru [??] (179-117 B.C.E.) when she was only recently widowed. 27 Cal Yan [??] (172 B.C.E.--?) was married three times altogether--once widowed, she was captured by Xiongnu and forced to marry a Xiongnu chieftain, but ultimately returned home and married yet a third time. (28) On the other hand, the historical record also includes numerous descriptions of widows who were pressured by their families to remarry but preferred suicide. (29) This was a period when expressions of grief and mourning grew increasingly dramatic, as mourners strove to outdo one another and even exceed the ritual conventions. (30)

Even in this period, however, Pan Yue was exceptional for his choice of personal bereavement as subject matter for poetry. (31) He depicted the topic in a way that was simultaneously formal and affecting, and the preface to the "Study of a Widow" suggests how he composed a piece deserving of inclusion in the Wen xuan. The fu ultimately reveals little about the situation of Ren Hu's widow herself, since the grief blends together with that of the other survivors, and even with the previous griefs expressed in the Jian'an fu. Although Pan Yue starts with an individual situation, he frames it in a much broader context. The earlier fu serve as the inspiration for his composition, not just in their content but also in the particular occasion and conception of writing on behalf of a friend's widow. Pan Yue might have directed his composition towards the specific situation of his friend's family, and emphasized Ren Hu's individual qualities, but instead, in the penultimate sentence of the preface he chooses to emphasize the family of texts to which it belongs. It is as if he wants to demonstrate precisely that it is not a textual orphan, but part of a tradition that gives it greater weight and even provides a kind of comfort in a time of grief. The references to the literary past and to past griefs suggest that this present grief can itself be understood as part of a larger order, thereby becoming a kind of consolation.

The remainder of this paper is divided into two parts. In the former part I describe the literary tradition to which Pan Yue's fu belongs, particularly the Jian'an models. In the latter part I examine how this tradition should affect our reading of the "Study of a Widow" and also place it in a larger context of writing on widowhood.


Pan Yue himself wrote a number of fu describing his own grief after his wife's death, and one might expect this kind of personal writing to be the origin of fit on widows. But in fact the case is the contrary: the first extant fu on these themes are the Jian'an fu on another's widow, and it was only later that poets began to write about their own grief at losing a wife. The exception that proves the rule is the "Lament for Myself" [??] by Favorite Beauty Ban [??] (fl. 32-6 B.C.E.), the concubine of Emperor Cheng (32-6 B.C.E.). (32) The fu describes her loneliness and frustration, after being abandoned by the emperor, in a manner similar to the fu on widows, and Pan Yue borrows phrases from it several times in his "Study of a Widow." But so little literature by women has survived from early medieval China that there are few similar examples. Instead we find more works by men on behalf of widows or abandoned women. This tradition of writing in the voice of the abandoned woman, of course, has precedents in the "Li sao" and other Chu ci poems, where it represents the situation of the unappreciated minister. There is necessarily some ambiguity in the interpretation of these poems, which, even when describing an actual widow, may also refer implicitly to the situation of their authors.

The Jian'an fu on widows also need to be read in context of the standard topics of other fu from the period. Most of the fu composed at the Jian' an court were brief and expressive, of the shuqing type. Although they generally still have a short prose preface, they are written in the voice of the author, without the complicating use of dialogue and other characters. The writers of Jian'an often composed on a single, shared topic. Common themes were war and hunting, along with material objects such as birds and precious gems, although abandoned women and widows were also a regular topic for fu composition. (33) These poems on the suffering of women take a sympathetic stance towards their female subjects: rather than castigate the divorcee for the faults that led her husband to abandon her, for instance, the fu on abandoned women take the side of the wife, to the point of barely mentioning men at all. More than one modern commentator has found in these fu a kind of feminism, or at least a degree of opposition to traditional social roles. But given the material topics, from willow trees to precious gems, that were the popular subjects of Jian'an court compositions, the fact that a poet selected an object as the topic of aft did not imply any special sympathy for the object in question. (34)

One scholar relates Wang Can's "Fu on the Expelled Wife" [??] to the traditional theme of the minister whose wise counsels are rejected by the monarch, as in the "Li sao," and suggests that Wang Can has in mind either Liu Biao or Cao Cao as the ruler who does not appreciate him or follow his advice. (35) The fact that Cao Pi, the dutiful son and heir, also wrote a "Fu on the Expelled Wife" makes this proposition appear dubious. (36) At the same time, it is true that poets frequently insert emotional passages into even the yongwu fu. These yongwu fu are not just descriptive pieces, but instead the nominal topic of the fu is essentially a vessel for the emotions of the author, which then become the main theme. (37)

Thus the fu that recounts the grief of another person is a natural development from the descriptive fu on other topics. It is the fu on purely private suffering, such as those that Pan Yue would later compose, which are relatively unusual. Cao Pi's "Study of a Widow" [??] begins with a short introduction that provides its context as a fu describing the situation of another person: (38)
  Ruan Yuanyu of Chenliu (39) was an old friend of mine. He was
  ill-fated and died young. Whenever I think of his fatherless
  children, I am depressed and grieve in my heart. Therefore I
  have composed this fu to relate the hardship and grief of his
  wife and children, and commanded Wang Can to compose one
  together with me. [??]

Ruan Yu, one of the Seven Masters of Jian'an, died in 212. We might expect Cao Pi to state how sad he was to lose a friend, but instead he explains that he was depressed on behalf of Ruan Yu's wife and children. The situation is very similar to that of Pan Yue's fu, extending even to the mention of fatherless children. Cao Pi goes on to explain how he dealt with his vicarious grief by writing a fu "to relate the sorrowful feelings" of Ruan Yu's family (rather than his own), and moreover "commanded Wang Can" to do the same. On a smaller scale, we see the same movement we find in the preface of Pan Yue's fu, away from the grief of the widow herself towards the feeling shared by a larger group.

The extant fu (doubtless incomplete) begins with generalities describing the lot of all widows and orphans:

[??] All people face hardship and danger in their lives,

[??] And orphans and widows are always sad.

[??] Everyone else lives in happiness and joy,

[??] I alone resent that I have no one to rely on. (40)

5 [??] Patting my fatherless children I heave a great sigh,

[??] Head lowered in lament with no one to tell.

[??] Sun, moon, and stars revolve, shining in sequence,

[??] Cold and heat progress, advancing by turns.

[??] I passed summer days that were bitter and long,

10 [??] And autumn nights endlessly extended.

[??] A light frost falls, collecting in the courtyard,

[??] While swallows and sparrows fly ahead of me.

[??] Leaving autumn and taking on winter,

[??] The season changes and the time turns cold.

15 [??] Water hardens to become ice,

[??] Snow falls in flurry after flurry.

[??] I grieve for my poor fate of lonely widowhood,

[??] My thoughts are melancholy and I pity myself.

The fu is written in the voice of Ruan Yu's widow, as the first-person pronoun in the fourth line makes clear, but the content and imagery are more abstract. The use of "the people" [??] in the first line (also the title of Shijing 245) also indicates that we are reading about a representative widow, abstractly conceived, rather than the widow of a specific member of Cao Cao's court. Cao Pi has chosen to focus on the psychological experience of the widow. Alternatively, he might have chosen to use her speech to praise his friend Ruan Yu, but in fact the husband is barely mentioned, here or in other widow fu, just as individual characteristics of the widow herself are elided. This is probably only part of the fu as it was originally composed. Cao Pi also has a shi poem written on the same occasion which is strikingly similar to the fu, and even composed in the same meter (XXX [??]XX). (41) This could be seen either as evidence of convergence of shi and fu, or alternatively as an editing mistake--the shi piece may actually be a section of Cao Pi's fu that has become separated from it in the process of transmission.

Wang Can's "Study of a Widow" has a similar degree of abstraction: (42)

[??] I close the door and cease to sweep for guests,

[??] Since I live secluded in the lofty hall.

[??] Carrying my fatherless children I go out the door,

[??] Or walk together with them in the eastern wing.

5 [??] Looking here and there, I pity myself,

[??] Feeling depression, suffering anguish.

[??] I see the grass and trees spread their blossoms,

[??] But sense the time for tilting leaves to fall. (43)

10 [??] Everyone else is moved by joy,

[??] But I alone feel discontented.

[??] The sun is obscured in gloom, but it is not dark,

[??] While the moon gleams, sending forth its radiance.

[??] Sitting in my secluded chamber doing nothing at all,

[??] I climb into the empty bed and let down the curtain.

15 [??] While tears flow freely across my neck,

[??] My heart is knotted in grief and my sorrow deepens.

The first six lines of the fu again describe the widow's sadness and isolation. She no longer has visitors (or no longer welcomes them?), and her depression is only intensified by the pity of those around her. Lines 7-8 again describe the passage of time, while the following couplet repeats the "Everyone else ... I alone ..." formula. In lines 13-16 the widow is again mourning alone, "doing nothing at all." The self-absorption of the fu is almost unbearable, but seems realistic. Wang Can does not idealize the widow, but instead shows how grief is tormenting and deforming her mind. A couplet from Wang's flu preserved in another text adds even more psychological realism: (44)
  [??] I want to draw a blade and end myself,
  [??] But I stop when I see my young son.

This vivid scene makes one wish that more of Wang Can's fu survived. Though some of the language is formulaic, this fu also has the detailed depiction of suffering familiar from his far more famous "Sevenfold Sorrow" [??] poems. (45) The widow, fantasizing about suicide, is freed from her reverie by a glance at her son. She carries on her life in spite of herself; as with the fu in general, a frenzied physical activity is an uneasy equivalent for psychological drama. Pan Yue's fu elaborates on the drama of this couplet.

The most revealing fu on this topic is the "Fu on the Widow" attributed to the wife of Ding Yi [??], another member of the Jian' an circle, executed along with his brother by Cao Pi in 220. (46) If the attribution is correct, it might differ from the other fu on widows in having been written by an actual widow. However, it is also possible that it was written by Ding Yi or his brother Ding Yi [??], together with the fu by Cao Pi and Wang Can, after Ruan Yu's death. It is the only composition attributed to the wife of Ding Yi [??] and it seems likely that there was some confusion about the authorship. The Ding brothers were good friends of Cao Zhi who were put to death by Cao Pi when he declared himself emperor in 220.47 Their two names are often confused, and there is no biographical information available to us to distinguish them. The real author of this fu may have been Ding Yi [??], since it is also attributed to him in some texts, and the two brothers were frequent participants in the literary scene at Ye, with other extant fu (while only this one poem is attributed to the wife). (48)

Recently Gu Nong has supported the claim of the wife of Ding Yi [??], (49) while Zhuang Xinxia [??] argues that the author is the wife of Ding Yi [??]. (50) Both claim that the fu is autobiographical, written after the execution of the Ding brothers upon Cao Pi's rise to power. Their arguments rely in part on an evaluation of authenticity of emotion in the fu; in Gu Nong's memorable words, Cao Pi and Wang Can in their fu are merely "watching a fire from the opposite shore, while the wife of Ding Yi is herself scorched by the flames." (51) Considering the intensity of lines like the isolated couplet from Wang Can's fu that we examined above, this does not seem entirely fair. Moreover, as attractive as the thought of an autobiographical poem on widowhood by an actual Jian'an widow may be, one has to consider how the poem would have been recorded and preserved. Nearly all extant Jian'an fu were composed by members of the Cao family and their salon. These fu survive not because of their inherent excellence (or at least not solely because of it) but because the Cao family had the material resources to make sure that their compositions were preserved. Most such fu survive specifically because they were composed at the demand of Cao Pi or Cao Zhi; this is certainly true of Wang Can's "Study of a Widow," and is probably true of the fu by Ding Yi as well. (52) Given this context, it also seems unlikely that a woman would have been invited to join in the composition, so Lu Kanru's conclusion that the fu should be attributed to Ding Yi [??] himself seems reasonable. (53) This question is not merely a pedantic scholarly crux, but of real importance to one's evaluation of the fu. It belongs to the tradition of fu on set topics, in which the speaker's own emotions may certainly become involved but are never the central focus of the piece. In following Lu Kanru's conclusion I mean to affirm the importance of treating the fu within its contemporary genre and as the product of a particular court context.

The Li Shan commentary to Pan Yue's fu quotes a number of earlier fu on widows, but it quotes this fu remarkably often, nearly twenty times, and it has been reconstructed in large part based on the Wen xuan commentary. I follow Yan Kejun's reconstruction, which necessarily depends on a number of arbitrary choices; however, the rhyme scheme ensures that at least sections of the fu have preserved their integrity. Since the individual couplets were preserved in the Tang-era Li Shan commentary to the Wen xuan, they are in themselves more reliable than the received versions of many Six Dynasties poems, leaving aside the question of the overall order of the couplets.


[??] Girls all must go forth to marry;

[??] This has been the rule throughout the ages.

[??] Leaving my parents and going to wed,

[??] I served in the immaculate traces of my master. (54)

5 [??] Just as hanging moss clings to the pine,

[??] Like floating duckweed that lives on the bank.

[??] I fear his favor was plentiful, and my virtue scarce;

[??] Like treading on ice, or approaching an abyss. (55)

[??] Why is my destiny so unfortunate,

10 [??] Meeting only danger and difficulty on my earthly path?

[??] When our blossoms just began to flourish brightly,

[??] Suddenly the one I relied on departed and disappeared.

The first line quotes a stock phrase used several times in the Shijing, "Girls all must go forth to marry" [??]. (56) Probably the other widow fu also originally included passages similar to this one, describing the marriage itself. Although the widow praises her husband's "favor" there is still no specific description of his character. Again there is a statement of the universality of the widow's situation, here applied to the marriage: "This has been the rule throughout the ages." The figures of the lichen that attaches to the pine and the duckweed that attaches to the water also suggest that the marriage is of a universal type. Not until the final couplet of this passage is the catastrophe mentioned.

The next passage explores the widow's grief and loneliness:


[??] Quietly I shut the door and cease to sweep for guests,

[??] My soul is all alone and I live in poverty.

15 [??] I daub my scarlet slippers in white plaster,

[??] Exchange the black canopy for white curtains.

[??] To whom can I complain for the misery I bear?

[??] I embrace my young children for consolation.

[??] When I see the pallor in their sickly faces, (57)

20 [??] Facing those around me I cover my tears.

[??] Now day grows dim and gradually darker,

[??] The sun moves onward and falls to the west. (58)

[??] Birds cross the void and linger in it,

[??] ...

25 [??] Roosters fold their wings and climb up to nest,

[??] Sparrows scatter and vanish in groups.

[??] I return to an empty bed and let down the curtain,

[??] Dust the quilt and mat to sleep soundly.

[??] My anger overflows and entangles me,

30 [??] I hug the white pillow and sigh in grief.

This passage recalls Wang Can's fu in its realistic attention to detail. The widow turns to her children for consolation, but their frustration only increases her misery. In this final couplet here we see that this widow is also angry and embittered. Again, rather than present an elegant, idealized mourning, we see a variety of reactions on the widow's part, some of them unsettling.


[??] I think of the departed and have sustenance:

[??] Throughout the night I see his semblance.

[??] It grieves me that the living and dead follow different paths,

35 [??] In the end all is dark and I cannot reach him.

[??] The passage of time will not stay for us,

[??] I will move his coffin for the great procession.

[??] The dragon hearse is hitched by the gate,

[??] Ancestral offerings are set in the front hall.

[??] ...

40 [??] A rich array of banners soars overhead.

[??] A parting in life is already hard enough,

[??] How could I leave him forever and not grieve?

[??] ...

[??] My tears pour out in torrents.

Pan Yue's fu has a similar but more ornate description of the funeral procession (II. 57-62), also mentioning both the "dragon hearse" (actually a hearse with dragons painted on the shafts) and the funeral banners. Each of these is mentioned in the Li ji, but in that context the dragon hearse is associated specifically with the funeral requirements for the emperor. 59 Whether or not this was an actual custom in the third century, the discrepancy recalls Liu Xie's [??] (ca. 465-ca. 522) criticism, that Pan Yue employed ritual terms too elevated for the subjects of his funerary compositions. (60) The fact that similar usages occur in Jian'an fu may provide a defense for Pan Yue: perhaps it was already common practice by his time to borrow the elevated language of the classic texts on ritual, even if the mourner or the deceased did not have the appropriate rank.

The next section turns to the passage of time and the encroachment of winter:


45 [??] I swallow my worries and remain in distress,

[??] Passing through the four seasons from spring to winter.

[??] The wind soughs and grows fiercer,

[??] The cold is chilling and increasingly harsh.

[??] The frost falls heavily at night,

50 [??] While water freezes over and hardens by dawn.

[??] The snow drops down in flurries,

[??] ...

[??] I gaze at the empty void in the mourning chamber,

[??] Lament that the screen and curtains are placed in vain.

55 [??] Looking up at mighty heaven I sigh deeply,

[??] My intestines are knotted ninefold in a single day.

The elaborate description of the wintry weather functions as an objective correlative for the isolation of the widow, but it also highlights how much time passes during this poem, from spring all the way through the year to winter. The "empty void" here is a good example of the frequent use of absences and negation to represent the situation of the widow in these fu.

The fu concludes with general reflections on mortality:


[??] Every day his spirit grows further distant,

[??] And the work of a year is already done. (61)

[??] Oh, human life upon this earth

60 [??] Is like a fast stallion racing past the chariot rail!

[??] Why calculate by how much you are early or late?

[??] Still we all return together into the darkness ...

Again we have a depiction of the passage of time, as winter approaches, and the husband seems to move farther and farther away. As the seasons change, the death of the husband grows farther away in time, but death continues to approach the widow. Despite the movement of time, the situation is static and unchanging: there is no way to return to the happiness of the marriage and no way to evade death.

One other couplet from the fu survives, though in a different meter (tetrasyllabic): (62)

[??] This poor lady is all alone,

64 [??] Looking to her shadow for a companion.

This is a stark encapsulation of the widow's isolation in just two lines. The widow has no husband, but she cannot bear to be alone; she then finds a companion in her shadow, even though that shadow is the absence of light produced by her own form. In the same manner, these fu have a circularity and repetitiousness that is inescapable, attempting to depict an ongoing state of absence that is difficult to dramatize. Why does it matter how quickly time passes when you are not waiting for anything? Although isolated couplets from these ft are brilliant, as narratives they are not consistently compelling. In part this is surely due to losses in transmission. This single tetrasyllabic couplet opens up the possibility that the original work was in multiple sections in varying meters, and that the surviving text mostly belongs to just one of these sections. In any case, it was left for Pan Yue to make a well-wrought whole that was able to survive the ages intact.


Pan Yue's fu is a summation of its Jian'an predecessors, integrating their rhetoric and specific images. To some extent the increased scale and comprehensive quality of his fu is an artifact of textual history: the Jian'an fu are likely fragmentary, while Pan Yue's is intact by virtue of its inclusion in the Wen xuan. So even though it appears substantially longer than any earlier widow fu, its models could originally have come closer to matching it in length (though nearly all extant Jian'an fu are quite short, suggesting this is unlikely). Leaving aside the question of length, in terms of content Pan Yue's debt to the earlier fu is clear, and made explicit in the preface, as well as in specific textual parallels to Cao Pi's, Wang Can's, and especially to Ding Yi's fu. There is not space here to quote the entire fu, but I outline its structure as follows in five sections. I also identify which lines in the Ding Yi fu are alluded to in each section (in most cases following Li Shan's citations, but also identifying some parallels Li Shan ignores).
Section  Lines  Theme                  Parallel lines in the Ding Yi fu

I         1-20  The widow's fate                               1-2,5-10

II       21-44  Solitary grieving                  11-18,21-22,44,25-26

III      45-92  The passage of time       53-54,33-38,45-51,57-58,19-20

IV      93-118  Imagined speech to                             23,63-64

V       119-32  Assertion of fidelity                              ----

Each of the first four sections has a clear precedent in the Ding Yi fu. Of course, the order of the stanzas in Ding Yi's fu is only hypothetical, based on modern reconstruction and itself influenced by the structure of Pan Yue's fu. But the close relationship between the two fu, extending beyond individual allusions to major themes and overall structure, is clear.

The parallels are evident from the very beginning of Pan Yue's fu:

[??] I lament that I have met with misfortune in life,

[??] Grieve that Heaven's calamities are not as promised. (63)

[??] From youth I was all alone, unfairly orphaned, (64)

[??] So I grieved in bitter agony, my heart rent.

5 [??] I read the lingering sighs of "Cold Springs," (65)

[??] Recite again the echoing song of "Thick Tarragon." (66)

The first line recalls line nine of Ding Yi's fu: "Why is my destiny so unfortunate?" [??] One point that is different here is the additional emphasis on orphanhood. Though some commentators understand the third line to mean that the speaker is fatherless, but still has a living mother, that would directly contradict the preface. Moreover, the Shijing poem alluded to in the sixth line specifically mentions losing mother and father. Pan Yue's method here is to combine every aspect of bereavement, as we have seen, so the children's suffering naturally deserves attention. The addition of Shijing allusions may be attributed to the more classicizing, ornate style of the Western Jin, but also increases the sheer intertextual density of the poem. The particular phrasing is important: the two poems are "lingering" and "echoing" in the present. Pan Yue's poem is not an isolated composition but resonates with the harmonic background of the literary tradition.

The second section of Pan Yue's fu describes the loneliness of the widow through various concrete actions:

[??] In silence, I shut the door and live in seclusion,

[??] Living all alone without anyone to rely on.

30 [??] I replace the brocade mat with a grass one,

[??] Exchange for gauze covers a plain canopy.

This passage has a number of parallels to section II of Ding Yi's fu, where the widow puts on her mourning garments and tells of her loneliness. The statement that the widow has no one to rely on is from one perspective inappropriate--surely Pan Yue himself would have contributed to the sustenance of his friends' widow? As in earlier fu, the language here is sometimes abstract, depicting the state of the widow in general rather than individual details. In the same section of Pan Yue's fu (11. 39-40) there is an exact imitation of the couplet in Ding Yrs fu about the roosters and sparrows returning to their nests (section II, 11. 25-26). Pan assembles all kinds of allusions and commonplaces on widows; one can see easily how this text, included in the Wen xuan, could have served as a textbook for future writers.

I will return to the central section of the fu on the passage of time and the seasons, but first discuss some other parallels in sections IV and V. In the moving section IV, the widow imagines speaking to her husband:

105 [??] Standing alone, I gaze at my shadow;

[??] Speaking in isolation, I hear only echoes.

The precedent for this couplet is in the isolated tetrasyllabic couplet mentioned above ("This poor lady is all alone, / Looking to her shadow for a companion"). Pan continues to emphasize the isolation (du [??] ) of the widow throughout.

But in the final section of Pan's fu, the widow finds a measure of encouragement in her own resolution to be faithful to her husband. This section has the fewest references to the extant body of the Ding Yi fu but contains an especially elaborate use of the Shijing in the conclusion:

[??] I follow Gong Jiang in a brilliant oath,

[??] Reciting the pure song of "Cypress Boat."

130 [??] In the end I will return my bones to the foot of a hill,

[??] But while I live I will rely on his lasting glory.

[??] I shall share a grave with my lord,

[??] Swearing until death I shall have no other.

According to the Mao preface to "Cypress Boat" [??] (Shijing 45), Gong Jiang [??] was the young widow of the heir-designate Gong Bo [??] of the state of Wei. [??] She refused to remarry despite pressure from her parents. Thus she serves as a model of a widow remaining faithful after the death of her husband, and by composing a poem, she stands as an exact equivalent to the narrator of theft/. The remaining lines are full of allusions from other texts. The penultimate couplet borrows from the "Lament for Myself" by Favorite Beauty Ban, who likewise speaks of having her bones returned to the foot of a hill. (67) She was not technically a widow, but after being discarded by Emperor Cheng had a similar complaint. Then the final two lines have two separate allusion to the Shijing. The wording of the penultimate line is similar to a line in Shijing 73 (though the context there is unrelated): "While alive we are in separate chambers, / But when dead we will share a grave" [??] The final line again quotes the same "Cypress Boat" poem word for word with the exception of the xi particle: "Till death I swear I will have no other" [??] (1. 5).

In the context of Pan Yue's fu, of course, this oath of fidelity borrowed from "Cypress Boat" could have the specific implication of directing Ren Hu's widow to be faithful to his deceased friend. But its more important role is to weave in other texts from the poetic tradition, going beyond the Jian'an fu on widows to the Shying itself. Indeed, in spite of its numerous similarities to the earlier fu, Pan Yue's has a noticeably higher density of allusion than any of them. In fact one might say that Pan Yue's advance from his models is in the use of allusion, including, paradoxically, allusions to those same models. The several references to "Cypress Boat" in these final lines work together to create a complex re-enactment of the ancient story and poem. This is a more concise version of Pan Yue's frequent use of the Jian'anfu. The Jian'an fu were barely half a century old, but they were respected enough that they survived till the Tang dynasty (and Li Shan's commentary), so Pan Yue would likely have expected the reader to be at least somewhat familiar with them, if not as familiar as with the Shying itself. Thus even though the fu contains countless statements of the individual widow's loneliness, its allusive underlayer is simultaneously emphasizing the message that the grief is shared across time by other widows and other poets.

The Jian'an fu are often striking in their psychological detail and direct expression, but Pan Yue's fu embeds quotations and restatements of the same emotions in a far more elaborate web of allusion, and this use of allusion raises the same experiences to a new literary stratum. Moreover, allusion itself may provide a kind of consolation, reminding the reader repeatedly of the historical precedents for present grief and presenting a companion in that precedent. At the same time, one might wonder whether this use of allusion detracts from the emotional power of the composition, substituting learned quotation for the direct record of experience. Though the answer is partly a matter of taste, for this reader Pan Yue's fu does succeed in an affecting depiction of the grieving process, particularly by showing how grief waxes and wanes with the passage of time and becomes directly associated with separation over time. In this depiction, grief affects one's entire worldview, seeming to prevent the construction of meaning itself, and leaving the world no more than a mass of material objects without purpose. (68) With regard to this theme, the greater scale of Pan Yue's fu allows it to plumb greater depths of experience than its predecessors, as its more thorough descriptions evoke the passage of time more fully.

The passage of time is a major concern even of Cao Pi's fu, and also alluded to in line eight of Wang Can's fu: "But sense the time for tilting leaves to fall." It becomes the central concern of sections IV and V of Ding Yi's fu, lines 45-62, and these sections are drawn on and amplified in the middle section of Pan Yue's fu. That section begins:

45 [??] The resplendent spirit shines and races on,

[??] The four seasons turn and pass away.

[??] Heaven congeals the dew and lets fall the frost,

[??] The trees discard their leaves and lose their branches.

This section continues later:

[??] From mid-autumn I have been ill,

[??] I am tramping on frost and treading on ice.

[??] Show's flurries fly in a rapid descent,

70 [??] The wind's gust rush in an early ascent.

[??] Chilling rain drips down off the roof at night;

[??] The freezing waters gradually begin to harden. (69)

[??] My thoughts grow muddled and wander off,

[??] My spirit vaults away nine times each night.

75 [??] I hoped that as I went farther my grief would abate,

[??] But I felt devastated, and increasingly so.

In the penultimate line here there is no specification of what "farther" means, although Wu chen commentator Lu Xiang [??] interprets it as a reference to time. But the use of yuan [??] "far" is significant in correlating the passage of time with all kinds of distance and remoteness, whether physical, temporal, or spiritual.

This theme is frequently repeated in other sections of the fu as well, even near the end:

[??] The four seasons pass, replacing one another in sequence,

[??] As the year comes to an end, the sun declines in the west.

[??] Frost covers the courtyard, wind enters the chamber,

114 [??] As the night passes halfway, the starry Milk Way turns.

These passages all begin to suggest a kind of ennui, a despair that ultimately drains meaning from everything. This is a specific elaboration on the tedium of time's passage after a death that is portrayed especially well by Pan Yue. There seems to be little indication of this important psychological theme in any of the predecessors to Pan Yue's fu, where it is represented brilliantly, as in the following passages:

[??] His hidden soul is far and will not return,

[??] My bitter sorrow collects with no one to bemoan it to.

65 [??] I perceive his traces by the table and mat,


[??] While his spirit has fled to the grave mound.

[??] Alone I point to the sun and swear in my heart:

92 [??] Though the body remains the will is gone.

In each of these passages the physical world remains and the widow's body remains in it, but her mind is vacant as she longs to follow her husband. In yet another passage Pan elaborates on a line from the Ding Yi fu: "Birds cross the void and linger in it" (1. 23). Unfortunately we are missing exactly the following line of that couplet, so it is hard to know what Pan has changed:

[??] It is like crossing over a river without a bridge,

98 [??] Like losing your wings as you penetrate the void.

The widow feels as if she is continuing to make the journey of life but without the necessary tools that ought to guide her forward, without the proper support. Though in any particular case, Pan Yue is probably alluding to or developing some earlier poetic phrase, the individual lines accumulate in his fu to create a portrait of grief that seems to go even deeper into the widow's psyche than the earlier fu had.

The rituals of mourning in our own day are of course quite unlike those of third-century China. (70) But the temporal, physical, and emotional experience of grief is not defined by a specific time or place, and some central themes of Pan Yue's fu can even be found in contemporary representations of mourning. In his memoir A Grief Observed, C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) wrote that he seemed to feel his experience of time stretch out unbearably after the death of his wife from cancer: (71)
  And grief still feels like fear. Perhaps, more strictly,
  like suspense. Or like waiting; just hanging about waiting
  for something to happen. It gives life a permanently
  provisional feeling. It doesn't seem worth starting anything.
  I can't settle down. I yawn, I fidget, I smoke too much. Up
  till this I always had too little time. Now there is nothing
  but time. Almost pure time, pure successiveness.

Lewis here describes the same kind of ennui we have observed in the third-century fu. He feels only the passage of time because there is so little else that interests him at all. Similarly, Joan Didion (1934--) in her memoir written after the death of her husband, The Year of Magical Thinking, one of the most powerful evocations of widowhood in recent years, writes of her new sense of time and of the world's meaninglessness: (72)
  Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of
  the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it
  is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very
  opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during
  which we will confront the experience of meaningless itself.

In light of our discussion of intertextuality, it is interesting to note that one of Didion's responses to her loss is in fact to read A Grief Observed. Didion's book is especially powerful because it is written mainly in a vivid stream-of-consciousness, giving the reader her immediate reactions to all the experiences of her grief, alternating between present and memory as one actually does in life. In a modern idiom and prose genre she is conveying some of the same experience described in the fu.

In conclusion, Pan Yue's fu belongs to the tradition of fu that attempt a comprehensive description of a topic while also including the dimension of personal grief that grew increasingly important from the late Eastern Han onwards. It integrates the language and themes of earlier fu on the same topic, but embellishes them with more intricate and varied literary allusions. Unless we have lost a very great part of the Ding Yi fu, Pan also expanded the form to a greater scale than any preceding one. At the same time, rather than losing psychological coherence with this use of literary allusion, his depiction intensified the complexity and impact of grief relative to the more straightforward earlier fu, showing how time can appear endless and the world uninterpretable to the grieving person. The allusivity and intertextuality of Pan Yue's "Study of a Widow" work to balance the darkness of the subject matter. Taken together, these fu capture the feeling that the present begins to seem inconsequential in comparison with the past that was spent together with the loved one. Writing appears as one way to construct meaning, a way that is all the more effective if, as one begins to write, one's words are not composed in isolation but bound up in a poetic tradition where words are no longer widows.

(1.) Though the term was originally used to describe universal, unconscious borrowings that make up all discourse, in recent academic scholarship it is often applied in this sense to literary works: see, e.g., Edward Kamens, Utamakura, Allusion, and Intertextuality in Traditional Japanese Poetry (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1997), or Stephen Hinds, Allusion and lntertext: Dynamics of Appropriation in Roman Poetry (New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1998).

(2.) There are two important studies of similar phenomena in early pentasyllabic verse: Christopher Leigh Con-nery, The Empire of the Text: Writing and Authority in Early Imperial China (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998), and Stephen Owen, The Making of Early Chinese Classical Poetry (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 2006). Both argue, based on the repetition of formulae and set topics, that the composition of such verse was mechanical and impersonal. I argue here that this conclusion is unnecessary, and that intertextuality can result in greater emotional intensity and investment of personal significance.

(3.) "Study" would not be correct as a universal rendering for fu as a literary genre, but does seem appropriate for works like this one on a set topic. The OED defines study in this usage as "A discourse or literary composition devoted to the detailed consideration of some question, or the minute description of some object" (my emphasis).

(4.) For the text of this fu see in Yan Kejun [??], ed., "Quan lin wen," in Quan Shanggu Sandai Qin Han Sanguo Liuchao wen [??] (first printed 1893; rpt. Taibei: Shijie shuju, 1969), 91.2a-3b; Wen xuan (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1986), 16.734-41; Liu chen zhu Wen xuan [??] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1987), 16.24a-31a; translations in David R. Knechtges, Wen xuan, or Selections of Refined Literature, vol. 3 (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1982-1996), 183-92; Obi Koichi [??] Monzen [??] (Tokyo: Shueisba, 1974-76), 2: 310-29; Erwin von Zach, Die chinesische Anthologie: Ubersetzungen aus dem Wen hsuan, ed. Ilse Martin Fang (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1958), 1: 241-44. See also the texts in Pan Yue's collected works: Pan Yue ji [??] (Han Wei Liuchao bai san jia ji [??], SKQS), 1.33a-36a; Wang Zengwen [??], Pan Huangmen ji jiaozhu [??] (Zhengzhou: Zhongzhou guji chubanshe, 2002), 101-10; and Dong Zhiguang [??], Pan Yue ji jiaozhu [??] (Tianjin: Tianjin guji chubanshe, 2005), 95-103.

(5.) For Pan Yue's biography, see Jin shu 25.1500-7. Useful studies include Chen Shumei [??], Pan Yue ji shi shiwett yanjiu [??], (Taipei: Wenjin chubanshe, 1999); Fu Xuancong [??], "Pan Yue xinian kaozheng" [??], Wen shi [??] 14 (1982): 237-57; Kozen Hiroshi [??], Han Gaku Riku Ki [??] (Tokyo: Chikuma shobo, 1973); Chiu-mi Lai, "River and Ocean: The Third Century Verse of Pan Yue and Lu Ji" (Ph.D. diss., Univ. of Washington, 1990); Matsumoto Yukio [??], "Han Gaku no denki" [??], Ritsu-meikan bungaku [??] 321 (1972): 1-40; Takahashi Kazumi [??], "Han Gaku ron" [??], Chugoku bungaku ho [??]7 (1957): 14-91; Xu Gongchi [??], "'Ershisi you' yu Pan Yue" [??], in Wei Jin wenxue shi [??] (Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1999), 316-44. The "Study of a Widow" has generally been neglected in this scholarship.

(6.) Jin shu 53.1459.

(7.) Jin shu 25.1507.

(8.) Chiu-mi Lai, "The Art of Lamentation in the Works of Pan Yue: 'Mourning the Eternally Departed,'" JAOS 114.3 (1994): 409-25; and Lin Wen-yueh [??], "Pan Yue de qizi" [??], Zhongwai wenxue [??] 17.5 (1988): 4-28.

(9.) See Lu Kanru, Zhonggu wenxue xinian [??] (Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1985), 2: 668-69.

(10.) All translations are my own, but for this fu, including the preface, I have consulted the translation of Professor Knechtges, although some of my interpretations differ from his.

(11.) Le'an was located southwest of modern Zouping [??], Shandong.

(12.) I.e., at the age of twenty.

(13.) According to the Sang fu zhuan [??], quoted by Li Shan, "the father is heaven to his son, the husband is heaven to his wife."

(14.) The term shi hai [??] means a young child "between the ages of two and three, still in swaddling clothes, who has learned to smile, to hold and embrace" [??], Here hai means "to smile," not "child." The explanation comes from Zhao Qi's [??] (ca. 108-121) commentary in Mengzi zhushu [??] Shisanjing zhushu [??] (1815; rpt. Taipei: Yiwen, yinshuguan, 1965), 13A.9b (but I follow the text quoted by Li Shan). In fact babies smile at just a few months, which just shows that one should not turn to Mencius commentators for child-raising advice.

(15.) Extending the tragedy, this daughter would die soon afterwards, at the age of three, according to the preface to Pan Yue's composition "Lament for Fatherless Zelan Composed on Behalf of Ren Zixian's Wife" [??]. See Yiwen leiju [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1965), 34.609; Yan Kejun, "Quan Jin wen," 93.6b.

(16.) This has not always been the case, however. OED cites Thomas Heywood's (?-1641) The Second Part of the Iron Age, act V. scene 1, which contains the couplet: "Sweete Orphant do; thy fathers dead already, / Nor will the fates lend thee a mother long." See The Dramatic Works of Thomas Heywood (New York: Russell & Russell, 1964), 3: 429.

(17.) For an example where gu refers solely to losing a mother, see Hou Han shu 34.1503.

(18.) See the consecutive glosses on these four words in Shi nzing [??] (SBCK), 3.24a, based on Mengzi zhushu [??], Shisan jing zhushu, 2A.14a.

(19.) The Chuci poems have an inderminate status in terms of genre, not fully fu yet certainly not shi either. Here I treat them as early examples of fu because they certainly had a formative influence on fu proper. Liu Xie [??] calls the sao "the ancestor of the fu" [??]. See Fan Wenlan [??], comm., Wenxin diaolong zhu [??] (Taipei: Wenguang chubanshe, 1973), "Bian sao," 1.46. Modern scholars concur; for instance, Cao Daoheng [??] writes that the Chuci should be considered fu, even though they are not entitled fu. See Han Wei Liuchao cifu [??] (Taipei: Qunyutang, 1992), 8.

(20.) See Hawkes, "Journey of the Goddess," in Studies in Chinese Literazy Genres, ed. Cyril Birch (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press, 1967): 71-94.

(21.) In the spirit of Hawkes we might call these the exposita maiora and exposita minora.

(22.) Chuci buzhu 4.153-55.

(23.) See Guo Weisen [??] and Xu Jie [??], Zhongguo cifu fazhan shi (Nanjing: Nanjing daxue gudian wenx- ian yanjiusuo zhuankan, 1996), 202; Wan Guangzhi [??], Han fu tonglun [??], 142-75.

(24.) Useful surveys of the question of widow remarriage in early and early medieval China include Yang Shuda [??], Han dai hun sang lisu kao [??] (Shanghai: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1933), 53-62; Chen Guyuan [??], Zhongguo gudai hunyin shi [??] (Shanghai: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1933), 39-53; Peng Wei [??], Han dai hunyin xingtai [??] (xi'an: Sanqin chubanshe, 1988), 195-225; and Ch'u T'ung-tsu and Jack L. Dull, ed., Han Social Structure (Seattle: Univ. of Washington Press, 1972), 42-44. Jen-der Lee argues in "Women and Marriage in China During the Period of Disunion" (Ph.D. dissertation, Univ. of Washington, 1982) that after the fall of the Han, women often had expanded options as moralistic restrictions on their behavior were loosened.

(25.) The Li ji states succinctly that women "do not marry after their husbands have died" [??]. See Li ji zhushu [??], in Shisanjing zhushu, 26.19a.

(26.) A number of such cases are cited in Yang, Han dai hun sang lisu kao, 53-54.

(27.) See Shi ji 117.3000; Ch'ii and Dull, Han Social Structure, 44. Though this episode seems fictionalized, that does not reduce its significance as evidence of Han social norms.

(28.) See Hou Han shu 84.2800-3; Ch'il and Dull, Han Social Structure, 42. Note that Cai Yan was considered an "exemplary woman" in spite of her multiple marriages (one forced, to be sure).

(29.) Yang, 57-62, cites numerous such stories from the Han; there are similar accounts from the Jin, e.g., fin shu 96.2525.

(30.) See Keith N. Knapp, Selfless Offspring: Filial Children and Social Order in Medieval China (Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai'i Press, 2005), esp. ch. 6, "Exceeding the Rites': Mourning and Burial Motifs." There seem to have been increasingly visible expressions of bereavement beginning in the late Eastern Han; see Miranda Brown, The Politics of Mourning in Early China (Albany: State Univ. of New York Press, 2007), esp. ch. 2, "Centuries of Tears and Woe," 41-63.

(31.) On this point see Lai, "The Art of Lamentation," 410.

(32.) This fu is preserved in Han shu 67B.3983-88, compiled by Ban's grand-nephew Ban Gu giffl (32-92), and there is little question of its attribution. There is a translation of the fu in Burton Watson, Courtier and Commoner in Ancient China (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1974), 261-65. See also David R. Knechtges, "The Poetry of an Imperial Concubine: The Favorite Beauty Ban," OE 36 (1993): 127-44.

(33.) See table in Cheng Zhangcan [??], Wei fin Nanbeichao fu shi [??] (Nanjing: Jiangsu guji chubanshe, 2001), after p. 46.

(34.) See also Liu Shull [??], Xian Qin Han Wei Jin funu guan yu wenxue zhong de nuxing [??] (Beijing: Xueyuan chubanshe, 2008), 221-70. Liu discusses the range of moralistic or symbolic significance that fictional women assume in Jian'an literature.

(35.) Ronald C. Miao, Early Medieval Chinese Poetry: The Life and Verse of Wang Ts'an (A.D. 177-217) (Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1982), 256-57.

(36.) Robert Joe Cutter makes a similar observation in "Cao Zhi (192-232) and His Poetry" (Ph.D. diss., Univ. of Washington, 1983), 378.

(37.) Wei Jin Nanbeichao fu shi, 56-57.

(38.) See Yan Kejun, "Quan Wei wen," 4.4a-4b; Han Geping [??] et al., Quan Wei Jin fu jiaozhu [??] (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe, 2008), 9. Yan Kejun has assembled this preface from Yiwen leiju 34.600 and a quotation in Li Shan's [??] commentary to the Wen xuan [??], in Pan Yue's [??] "Study of a Widow." See Wen xuan, 16.735. For more on texts preserved in Li Shan's commentary see below.

(39.) Ruan Yuanyu is Ruan Yu [??] (165?-212), one of the Seven Jian'an Masters [??].

(40.) This formula of self-pity, used frequently in thefu under discussion, is a variation on lines in the Shying like "No one of the people is not at ease, /I alone dare not rest" [??](Shtjing 193/61-62).

(41.) Yiwen leiju 34.595-96.

(42.) Yiwen leiju 34.601; Yan Kejun, "Quan Hou Han wen," 90.3a--b; Han Geping [??], Jian'an qizi shiwen ji jiaozhu yixi [??](Changchun: Jilin wenshu chubanshe, 1991), 185-86; Fei Zhengang [??] et al., eds., Quan Han fu jiaozhu [??] (Guangzhou: Guangdong jiaoyu chubanshe, 2005), 1044. See also the translation in Miao, Early Medieval Chinese Poetry, 255-56.

(43.) For ging ye [??] cf. Cao Zhi's "Qiu cunwen qinqi shu" [??] (San guo zhi 19.571): "Like the leaves of the mallow and pulse that tilt [towards the sun]" [??]. There Cao Zhi compares himself seeking the favor of Cao Pi to a plant turning its leaves towards the sun, so ging ye is also a suitable symbol for the widow who used to receive the favor of her husband.

(44.) This couplet from another part of the original fit is preserved in the Li Shan commentary to Pan Yue's fu: see 11. 89-90, Wen xuan 16.739.

(45.) This couplet is very similar to that depicting the plight of the widow in the first "Sevenfold Sorrow" poem: "Not even knowing how we are to die, /How can I keep the two of us alive?" [??]. See Wen xuan 23.1087.

(46.) See "Quan Hou Han wen," 96.10b-11 a. Yan Kejun has assembled the text from Yiwen leiju 34.601 (II. 1-6, 9-18, 21-22, 25-28, 31-38, 41-42, 45-50, 53-62); the Li Shan commentary to the Pan Yue's "Guafu fu" (II. 7-8, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 44, 17-18, 21-22, 25-26, 33-34, 37, 40, 45-46, 47, 51, 49-50, 29-30, 57-58, 19-20, 23, 63-64, in that order); the Li Shan commentary to Tao Qian's "Gui qu lai ci" [??] in Wen xuan 45.2027 (11. 21-22); and from the Chu xue ji [??] (Taibei: Xinxing shuju, 1966), 14.17b (IL 1-4). Though this reconstruction may appear haphazard, Yan Kejun essentially followed the Yiwen leiju text and then inserted lines from the Li Shan commentary to the Wen xuan where they seemed appropriate and also conformed to the rhyme scheme.

(47.) For conjectures on their birth dates, see Cao Daoheng [??] and Shen Yucheng [??], Zhonggu wenxue shiliao congkao [??] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2003), 88-89; and Lu, Zhonggu wenxue xinian, 321.

(48.) It is attributed to the wife of Ding Yi [??] in Yiwen leiju, to the wife of Ding Yi [??] in Wen xuan 16.735; and to Ding Yi [??] in Wen xuan 26.1231 and Chu xue ji 14.17b. There is one other quotation in Li Shan's commentary that bears on the question of authorship; the commentary to Lu Ji's [??] (261-303) poem "Da Jia Changyuan" [??] (Wen xuan 24.1139) quotes 1. 22 of our fu as "Guafu fu" by Ding Deli [??]. The zi of Ding Yi [??] and Ding Yi [??] respectively were Jingli [??] and Zhengli [??], so the Wen xuan kaoyi argues that this is an error for Zhengli, with the word "wife" also omitted. The Tang manuscript version Wen xuan jizhu [??] has "Ding Deli fu" [??] instead (see Tang chao Wen xuan jizhu huicun [??] [Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 2000], 1: 243), which also suggests that the author was the wife of one of the Ding brothers, although it does not help us determine which one.

(49.) Gu Nong [??], "Zhonggu shidai de sipian 'Guafu fu'" [??], in Gu Nong, Wen xuan luncong [??] (Yangzhou: Guangling shushe, 2007), 128-31.

(50.) See Zhuang Xinxia, "Ding Yi qi 'Guafu fu' zuozhe ji xiangguan wenti kaolun" [??], Zhongguo dianji yu wenhua 61(2007): 6-12.

(51.) Gu, "Zhonggu shidai de sipian Guafu fu," 130.

(52.) Yan Kejun suggests that the fu was written "on demand" (ying jiao [??]) after the death of Ruan Yu. See "Quan Hou Han wen," 96.10b.

(53.) Lu, Zhonggu wensue xinian, 388.

(54.) "Immaculate traces" is an honorific term for another person, originally deriving from the image of dust kicked up behind someone's chariot.

(55.) A shortened form of Shying 192/44-45: "Like approaching a deep abyss, /like treading on thin ice" [??].

(56.) See Shijing 39/9, 51/3, 51/7, and 59/7.

(57.) I follow the textual variant mentioned by the Wen xuan kaoyi (Wen xuan 16.743), giving cui [??] for yan. This line is not in the Yiwen leiiu. only in the Li Shan commentary.

(58.) This couplet is reminiscent of Song Yu's "Jiu bian" [??]: "The season moves onward and passes the center; /Oh! I stayed over but did not succeed" [??]. See Chuci buzhu [??] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983, rpt. 2002), 184.

(59.) For the dragon hearse, see Li ji zhushu 8.23b; for the banners (specifically zhao SE), see Li ji zhushu 7.15b.

(60.) Fan Wenlan [??], Wenxin diaolong zhu [??] (Taipei: Wenguang chubanshe, 1973), 41.637; also discussed in Lai, "The Art of Lamentation," 410-11.

(61.) Fei Zhengang et al., Quan Han fu jiaozhu, separates this couplet from the body of theft/instead of including it in this section.

(62.) This is also from the Li Shan commentary to Pan Yue's "Study of a Widow," 11. 105-6.

(63.) Li Shan cites an Erya gloss of chen [??] as xin [??] and explains that "Heaven causes disasters, not in a reliable manner" [??] Cf. also Shijing 236/3: "Heaven is hard to trust" [??]

(64.) Li Shan explains the term piangu [??] by saying that the wife's mother was still alive, so she was only partially orphaned. But the preface to the fu explicitly says that both her father and mother were dead.

(65.) Shying 32, not titled "Cold Springs" but including the phrase in line nine, complains of a mother's sufferings.

(66.) Shijing 202 complains of losing both mother and father. I follow the translation of the title in Arthur Waley, The Book of Songs (1937; revised edition: New York: Grove Press, 1996), 184.

(67.) See Han shu 97B.3986.

(68.) This stands in contrast to the philosophical insouciance towards death expressed in works like Jia Yi's "Funiao fu" [??] (Shi ji 84.2499): "Transforming into another thing, / What more concern is that?" [??]

(69.) Lines 69-72 have a regular parallel structure: "Form of weather--descriptive binome--descriptive binome--particle--descriptive term--verb meaning to fall." The sequence conveys the depressing tedium of winter's onset, and follows lines 47-51 of Ding Yi's fu closely.

(70.) For one study of how mourning practices have changed in Europe and America, see Philippe Aries, Western Attitudes Toward Death: From the Middle Ages to the Present, tr. Patricia M. Ranum (Baltimore: John Hopkins Univ. Press, 1974).

(71.) C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (London: Faber and Faber, 1966), 29-30.

(72.) Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking (New York: Knopf, 2005), 189.

Nicholas Morrow Williams

Hong Kong Baptist University
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Author:Williams, Nicholas Morrow
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
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Date:Jul 1, 2012
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