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Tracing the traceless antelope: toward an interartistic semiotics of the Chinese sister arts.



Universal and yet culture-bound, the sister arts tradition makes an interesting case for the comparative study of Chinese and Western poetics. As an essential component of Western as well as Chinese poetics this tradition is expressed respectively by the proverbial formulation of ut pictura poesis and of shi zhong you hua hua zhong you shi (literally, there is painting in poetry and poetry in painting). These two formulations indicate the uniqueness of each poetic system in defining and appreciating the sister arts relationship and the related dialectic of word and image, a dialectic that functions in a larger context as "a constant in the fabric of signs that a culture weaves around itself" (Mitchell 43).

In Western poetics, the sister arts tradition traces back to Simonides to whom Plutarch attributes the saying "painting is mute poetry, and poetry a speaking picture." However, it was ut pictura poesis, misquoted from Horace's Ars poetica as a convenient and canonical doctrine enshrined in the Aristotelian tradition (Abrams 33), that has truly inspired critics to develop various interartistic theories for centuries to come. The gist of this doctrine, as Steiner explains, is that "poetry is like painting because both have as their subjects existent reality and both are limited in their mimetic adequacy to that reality" (8). Critics of the Renaissance and the succeeding Baroque "believed that it was in pictorial vividness of representation, or, more accurately, of description -- in the power to paint clear images of the external world in the mind's eye as a painter would record them on canvas -- that the poet chiefly resembled the painter" (Lee 4). Such power is said to be gained through ekphrasis ("the verbal representation of visual representation") (Heffernan 3) and its resultant enargeia ("pictorial vividness") (Hagstrum 11), both of which are concerned with the transportation of the natural sign into the arbitrary sign, and are virtually integrable as one principle that has helped formulate the doctrine of ut pictura poesis (Krieger 14). This doctrine, though challenged by Lessing and Burke from different perspective (Mitchell 50-51) and then kept in limbo during the Romantic period in literary criticism (but not necessarily in poetic creation) when the "mirror" was replaced by the "lamp," was reinvigorated in the modern and the postmodern age and rethought vis-a-vis traditional theories such as that expounded by Lessing in his Laocoon. As Wellbery points out, in the Laocoon "the doctrine of ut pictura poesis is not abandoned, but is relocated on a higher level of generality: in the principle that all the arts draw their efficacy from their status as natural signs" (7).

Compared with ut pictura poesis, the Chinese sister arts tradition has enjoyed a smoother development, promoted vigorously and continuously over the past centuries by poets and painters in general and those from the literati school in particular. As many Chinese literati are interartistic virtousi, their choice between poetry and painting, while indicating personal predilections, is chiefly determined by the consideration as to which medium better expresses a particular type of subjectivity or conceptuality. Owing to the intrinsic limitations of each medium the expression of certain types of subjectivity or conceptuality is either poetry-specific or painting-specific, promising no mediumistic substitution or conversion. As the Song poet Su Shi (1037-1101) writes in his poem "Creek-Light Pavilion:" No one has ever painted the creek light since ancient times, /It all relies on this new poem to be written out" (Su Dongpo ji I, 7: 43). Despite this, a heightened awareness of interartistic complementarity and of the mutually inspiring power of the sister arts permeates literati minds, creating a lyrical resonance between the poet and the painter.

While the proverb "there is painting in poetry and poetry in painting" has become a household word among Chinese poets and painters and an axiomatic sine qua non in their creation as well, the doctrine it represents has never been clearly defined in traditional Chinese literary criticism, partly because such criticism is made ambiguous to some extent by the critic's aesthetic intuition and impression, which, obscurum per obscurius, reads like the Chan discourse. In the modern and contemporary scholarship on the Chinese sister arts tradition there have been various attempts to reshape the poetry-painting relationship into the Lessingian model, but a coherent theory that would truly rationalize this relationship in its native context has yet to be formulated.(1) Such being the case, this paper undertakes to review the Chinese sister arts tradition and relationship from three fresh perspective: a diachronic perspective of the cross-referential context of classical Chinese poetics out of which this tradition has evolved; a semiotic perspective of the signifying economies of classical Chinese poetry that are variously related to the poetry-painting relationship; a crosscultural perspective of the aesthetic connotations of this relationship in special comparison with the China-oriented aspects of Pound's and Fenollosa's poetics. It argues that the Chinese sister arts tradition evolved from the Taoist philosophy of "forgetting words after getting meaning" and then comes to form an aesthetic triangle with the poetics of "resonance beyond tone" and of "emotion-scene fusion." It also argues that as an essential component of the affective-expressive tradition of Chinese poetics the Chinese poetry-painting relationship is best defined as ut poesis pictura rather than ut pictura poesis. If further argues that what makes the "painting" in Chinese poetry is not the descriptive capability of poetry to render thing picture-like and lifelike or its mediumistic convertibility but its semiotic potential to signify ad infinitum beyond descriptive pictorialism. It finally argues that whereas the Poundian notion of "color-sense" as applied to Chinese poetry is comparable (but not equivalent) to the notion of "painting in poetry" the Poundian translation of Chinese poetry spoils such "painting" due to a lack of genuine understanding of the Chinese sister arts relationship. HolisticaIly, these three perspectives contribute towards an interartistic of the Chinese sister arts; one of the reason being that "semiotics has made the painting-literature analogy once more an interesting area to investigate" and "[s]ign theory ... has changed the rules of the game, and so made it worth playing" (Steiner 32).

It was Su Shi, one of the founders of literati poetics, who first broached the issue of poetry-painting relationship. In his colophon to the landscape painting "Misty Rain in Mt. Lantian," attributed to the Tang poet-painter Wang Wei (701-761), Su thus characterizes Wang's artistry: "Savoring Mojie's [Wang's cognomen] poetry, [I found that] there is painting in it; viewing Mojie's painting, [I found that] there is poetry in it" ("Written on Mojie's Painting `Misty Rain in Mt. Lantian,'" Dongpo ti-ba 5: 94). To illustrate his notion of "painting in poetry" Su cites the poem "In the Mountain," purportedly authored by Wang, which will be discussed later in this paper:

[In] the Blue Creek white pebbles lie bare,

[In] the Jade River red leaves turn thin;

On the mountain path there is actually no rain,

The airy green wets men's clothes

(Dongpo ti-ba 5: 94).(2)

In his poem "Eight Sights in Fengxiang County: The Paintings of Wang Wei and Wu Daozi" (ca. 685-758)," Su appraises Wang's painting in comparison with Wang's poetry as well as his contemporary Wu Daozi's painting:

Viewing this painting on the wall,

[I found it] as qing and dun as his poetry.


Master Wu, exceptionally wonderful as he was,

Should still be considered an artisan.

Mojie attained what lies beyond the image,

Like a fairy bird leaving its cage

(Su Dongpo ji I, 1:10).

Since Su's theory is central to literati poetics, his comments above provide a clue for us to understand both his concept of the poetry-painting relationship and literati poetics. First, Su views Wang's painting and poetry as partaking of the common attributes of qing and dun, which carry a plurality of meanings and connote "pure and natural in imagery" and "rich and profound in meaning" in this particular context. Second, Su suggests that Wang is capable of attaining what lies beyond the image in his painting, and this is what makes him an artist rather than artisan. Wang must have attained the same in his poetry since, according to Su, there is "painting" in it. The common aesthetic features peculiar to Wang's poetry and painting alike actually embody Su's ideal of literati art, as Wang was venerated by the Chinese literati as their spiritual patriarch as well as the paragon of poet-painter. Based on his appreciation of Wang's artistry, Su develops his interartistic poetics through "Two poems Written about the Rootless Flowers [in Chinese, zhe-zhi, a subgenre of flower painting] Painted by Secretary Wang from Yanling County:"

Judging a painting in terms of formal likeness,

Such understanding is close to a child's.

Composing a poem that means no more than itself,

Such a person certainly knows no poetry.

Poetry and painting actually follow the same rule -- Both

are tian-gong [literally, the work of Nature] and qing-xin [literally,


Bian Luan's [famous Tang painter, ?-?] painting depicts the vivid looks of


Zhao Chang's [famous Northern Song painter, ?-ca. 1016] painting conveys the

inner spirit of flowers.

But neither is a match for Wang's two scrolls,

Their light, plain touches contain exquisitenesss and harmony.

As someone puts it, a single dot of red

Conveys a limitless spring.

(Su Dongpo ji I, 16: 63).

In this poem, while deprecating formal likeness and closed signification Su argues that the commonality of poetry and painting lies in following the same rule of a achieving the so-called tian-gong and qing-xin. These and similar terms, though used occasionally by Su in his other poems and also by other poets and critics from different periods to critique poetry and painting, can hardly be counted on to define the Chinese poetry-painting relationship due to their ambiguous connotations.(3) It would be far-fetched and futile, therefore, to make Su's formulation of "painting in poetry and poetry in painting" make any aesthetic and semiotic sense by simply interpreting these terms out of context without being aware that his formulation actually signifies, in a way like a Chan koan, the mutuality of poetry and painting. As a matter of fact, it was Su who set the fashion of critiquing poetry and painting in Chan terms; and the ambiguity of his critical terminology is to some extent typical of traditional Chinese poetic writing. Su's concept of the poetry-painting relationship differs from ut pictura poesis in that it is based on the mutuality of poetry and painting in sharing the same aesthetic attributes rather than the one-sided emulation of painting by poetry to approach the status of the natual sign. Commenting on his contemporaries' poems and paintings Su Shi addresses painting's analogy to poetry in terms of the mode of conception and of representation:

Since ancient times painters have never been ordinary men,

Their subtle thoughts actually come from the same source as that of poets.

("Following the Rhymes in Wu Chuanzheng's `A Song of Withered Trees'"

Su Dongpo ji II, 3:36)

Since ancient times painters have never been ordinary men,

In depicting things they are almost the same as poets.

("Written on His Stone Screen at the Request of Ouyang, the Prince's

Preceptor" Su Dongpo ji I, 2: 27)

What poetry [i.e., the poetry of the famous Song bamboo painter Wen Yuke,

1018-1079] has not yet fully expressed overflows into [his] calligraphy or

turns into [his] painting. Both [his calligraphy and painting] are the


to [his] poetry.

("In Praise of Wen Yuke's Screen of Bamboo Ink Painting" Su Dongpo ji

I, 20: 123)

Su Shi's comparison made above points to the fact that Chinese painting did not begin its process of being gradually elevated to a liberal art until the Six Dynasties period (220-589) while poetry was canonized as the essential of humanistic education as early as the Spring-autumn period (770-476 BC). There is more in Chinese poetry for Chinese painting to absorb than vice versa; and what characterizes the Chinese sister arts relationship may well be ut poesis pictura rather than ut pictura poesis. As "poetry speaks intent" (in Chinese, shi yan zhi, a dictum recorded in the Shu jing or The Classic of History), so does painting. As the Yuan poet Yang Weizhen (1296-1370) observes, "Poetry and painting share the same style: one being the voice of the mind, the other the picture of the mind" (11: 8). Viewed in this light, although Su Shi does not elaborate on what he means by stating that "Shaoling's [i.e., the Tang poet Du Fu's, 712-770] poems: paintings without forms, /Han Gan's [the Tang painter, fl. 742] paintings: wordless poems" ("Han Gan's Horses" Su Shi shi-ji 48: 2630) and that "When Master Su writes a poem, you feel as if seeing the painting" ("Han Gan's Fourteen Horses," Su Dongpo ji 1, 8: 63), the interartistic qualities of Du's and Su's poetry and Han's painting may well be defined and appreciated in terms of Su's own aesthetics.

From an art-historical point of view, traditional Western painting is essentially mimetic, defined by Hagstrum as "a truly imitative art" in which "physical details coexisted simultaneously, like those of nature" (159), and which is able to "produce its effect all at once in a single pregnant moment" (159). For traditional Western poetry, the pregnant moment is the major means of realizing ut pictura poesis, which, when adapted to poetry's signifying economy, turns the temporal flow into spatial stasis. As Lessing argues in the Laocoon, poetry should use similar means as used in painting "in its progressive imitations" (79). In traditional Chinese painting, and in particular literati painting, landscape (shan-shui) is the predominant genre. The pregnant moment does not fit the signifying economy of traditional Chinese landscape painting because it is essentially affective-expressive and therefore is meant for signifying the artist's "mind landscape" beyond natural landscape.(4) Rather, it is the mobile perspective (as opposed to the central perspective) that is peculiar to the mode of spatial representation in Chinese landscape painting. This perspective reconfigures the painterly space of natural landscape into a Taoist meta-space through spatial condensation and displacement. It prescribes a reciprocal mode of viewing; viewers are expected to "roam" the landscape with their mind's eye in a temporal sequence to reify the Taoist ritual of contemplating nature and the Tao, a ritual described by the Six Dynasties poet Xi Kang (223-262) in his "Poems Presented to Elder Brother on his joining the Army: The Fourteenth:" "Looking up and down Ill feel at home, /[Myl mind roaming tai-xuan [literally, the primeval darkness, i.e., the Taoist ultimate realm]" (Lu 483). Through such a temporalized perspective the signifying economy of landscape painting, as it were, is turned into a space-time continuum.

In some Chinese landscape poems an analogous perspective is used that is believed to have introduced "painting" into poetry.5 The cross-media applicability of the mobile perspective constitutes one aspect of the Chinese poetry-painting relationship, though it remains arguable as to whether or not the Chinese poet has actually borrowed the perspective from Chinese painting. In the context of an affective-expressive tradition of poetics, what makes the "painting" in a Chinese landscape poem is not the latter's descriptive capability to render things picture-like or its mediumistic convertibility into a painting but its semiotic potential to evoke the poet's "mind landscape." There can be no "painting" in poetry without the latter's departure from descriptive pictorialism, and the non-paintability of such "painting" creates the paradox that a poem featuring its presence is not a painting and yet more than a painting. That is why even poems from the painting-related genre of ti-hua-shi (poetry that represents and/or critiques painting) cannot be characterized indiscriminately as shi zhong you hua (literally, there is painting in poetry). Such being the case, to impose ut pictura poesis on the Chinese poetry-painting relationship in terms of the pregnant moment amounts to imposing the concept of Western painting onto Chinese poetry. In this respect, Lessing's sign theory on poetry's analogy to painting expounded in the Laocoon provides a crosscultural analogy for us to better appreciate the subtlety of the Chinese notion of "painting in poetry," though he approaches this analogy basically from a mimetic perspective:

A picture in poetry is not necessarily one which can be transferred to

canvas. But every touch, or every combination of touches, by means of which

the poet brings his subject so vividly before us that we are more conscious

of the subject than of his words, is picturesque, and makes what we call a

picture; that is, it produces that degree of illusion which a painted

picture is

peculiarly qualified to excite, and which we in fact most frequently and

naturally experience in the contemplation of the painted canvas (88).


While Lessing defines poetry-painting relationship mainly in terms of poetry's capability to "elevate its arbitrary signs to the status of natural signs" ("Letter to Friedrich Nicolai" [March 26, 17691, qtd. Wellbery 226) Su Shi does so in terms of the sister arts' mutual capability to signify ad infinitum beyond the surface text, as is suggested in his above-cited poem deprecating formal likeness in painting and closed signification in poetry. What Su means by writing that "Poetry and painting actually follow the same rule- /Both are tian-gong and qing-xin" actually refers to such signifying capability, the attainment of which has become a golden rule in literati creation. To appreciate the Chinese poetry-painting relationship in the context of literati poetics, we need to explore the rationale of this golden rule by tracing its origin to ancient Chinese philosophy.

Su's deprecation of formal likeness in painting and closed signification in poetry implies the dialectic of image and idea and that of word and meaning. Both dialectics serve as the semiotic underpinnings of his golden rule.(6) The former dialectic is first expressed through the dictum of li xiang jin yi. (literally, establishing an emblematic image to express an idea fully) in the Yi jing (The Classic of Change), a dictum which postulates the correlation between natural phenomena and human affairs. The Yi jing quotes Confucius (551-479 BC) as saying that written words cannot fully express speech while speech cannot fully express ideas. So the sages have established emblematic images to fully express their ideas (Zhou 250). The latter dialectic is expressed through the dictum of de yi wang yan (literally, forgetting words after getting meaning) in the chapter "Wai-wu" External Things) in the Zhuangzi (reputedly authored by the cofounder of Taoist philosophy Zhuangzi, ca. 369-286 BC), a dictum that establishes the paradox and semiotics of language. Zhuangzi compares words to the fish trap and the rabbit snare, both of which can be forgotten once the catch is secured. By analogy, words can be forgotten once the meaning for which they exist is captured (Wang et al 530).

These two dialectics are interrelated as they each translate into the same relationship between the signifier and the signified. While both privilege the signified over the signifier, they differ from each other in that the former valorizes the semiotic capability of the emblematic image as the faithful carrier of ideas whereas the latter, by assuming the forgettability of words, problematizes their capability to convey meaning. In the Zhuangzi, the forgettability of words is justified through the following argument in the chapter "Tian dao" (The Way of Heaven): "Words have value. What is of value in words is meaning. Meaning has its locus. The locus of meaning cannot be conveyed in words" (Wang et al 254). In the above argument, "the locus of meaning cannot be conveyed in words" echoes the opening dictum of the Dao de jing 7-be Classic of the Tao and Virtues) (reputedly authored by the founder of Taoist philosophy Laozi, an older contemporary of Confucius): "The way that can be spoken of /ls not the constant way; The name that can be named is not the constant name" (Lau 57). What is meant by the locus of meaning" actually represents the Tao which is intangible and ineffable. Knowing that the Tao defies and transcends language, the Taoist wise men forget words after they have grasped the meaning and become silent. For them, the expression of meaning is the end of words' function but not the end of meaning itself. If one focuses too much attention on words, words will function counterproductively as a barrier to meaning rather than a carrier of meaning. Consequently, one will fail to grasp meaning, let alone reach its locus. The paradox inherent in the Taoist semiotics of language is that the conveyance of meaning/ signified entails the use of images/ signifier. Neither images nor words are capable of conveying the locus of meaning. The dialectic of words and meaning is related to the Taoist relationship between xu (the unreal) and shi (the real), which is derived from that between yin and yang. The xu-shi relationship underlies Chinese poetics and the poetry-painting relationship as well. In this sense, in the formulation of "painting in poetry" the so-called painting as an ideational entity is xu while poetry as a tangible form is shi. The reverse is true of the formulation of "poetry in painting."

During the Six Dynasties period the rethinking and reinterpretation of the Yi jing, the Dao de jing, and the Zhuangzi became the vogue of scholarly pursuit; and the dicta of li xiang jin yi and de yi wang _van were reformulated into one of the major topoi of the neo-Taoist metaphysics known as yan yi zhi bian (literally, word-meaning differentiation). The best exponent of this topos is Wang Bi (226-249), who, in his treatise Ming xiang (Elucidating the Emblematic Image), establishes a semiotics of language based on the triangular relationship between xiang, yi, and yan (literally, emblematic image, idea, and word), advocating the Zhuangzian doctrine of forgetting" in the process:

Xiang originates from yi; yan elucidates xiang. To express yi fully

nothing is better than xiang; to express xiang fully nothing is better

than yan. Yan originates from xiang which in turn can be viewed

through yan. Xiang originates from yi which in turn can be viewed

through xiang.... However, forgetting xiang is getting yi; forgetting

yan is getting xiang. Getting yi depends on forgetting xiang; getting

xiang depends on forgetting yan. Therefore, xiang is established to

express yi fully but is forgettable (Han Wei cong-shu 5: 9).

Judging from this discourse, Wang Bi seems to be the first scholar in China to have laid down the semiotic foundation for the poetry-painting relationship, a fact that has hitherto passed unnoticed. The special significance of Wang's semiotics to this relationship is twofold. On the one hand, in analyzing the triangular relationship between image, idea, and word, Wang advances the notions of viewing (or observing) image (guan-xiang) through word and viewing (or observing) idea (guan-yi) through image, which hint at the visibility or pictoriality of idea, "for the very idea of an `idea' is bound up with the notion of imagery" (Mitchell 5).7 On the other hand, in Wang's semiotic triangle, composed of the dialectic of word and image and of image and idea, both image and word are mere signifiers (image also functions as the signified in relation to word) that are forgettable and should be forgotten after the signified has been procured. The paradox of this semiotics is that to express an idea one needs to use words, whereas to capture that idea one needs to forget words. Wang's doctrine is applicable to both the reception and creation of literature and art, which actually prescribes a paradoxical mode of reading (or viewing) and of writing (or painting). Both the reader and the viewer should master the art of "forgetting," knowing better than to cocoon themselves in words or images so that their pursuit of meaning or its locus will not end up in a wild-goose chase.

The art of reading or viewing is essentially the art of "forgetting:" the more one forgets about what one has read or seen, the more meaning one gets, a paradox allegorized in the chapter "Tian di" (Heaven and Earth) in the Zhuangzi through the Yellow Emperor's Dark Pearl (a metaphor for the Tao) lost and regained. Among the four investigators dispatched by the emperor to recover the pearl, only the one called Imageless (in Chinese, Xiang-wang, the concept of non-image incarnate) is able to find it (Wang et al 210). The art of "forgetting" is also discussed in Chan discourses through the metaphor of the antelope, as Chan Buddhism during its development in China absorbed much of the quintessence of Taoist philosophy. In the Song dynasty record of Chan masters' discourses entitled Jing-de chuan-deng lu (A Record Made during the Reign of Jing-de [1004-10071 of Handing Down the Lamp), both Master Daoying and Master Yicun compare the meaning of awakening to the antelope, which habitually stays out of range at night by hanging from the branches by its horns so that no trace will be sniffed out by the hound from the ground. Promoting the art of "forgetting" in the practice of Chan, they admonish their disciples that seeking the meaning of awakening through the mere pursuit of the masters' words is as futile as the hound's tracing the traceless antelope (16: 117; 17: 134).

The art of "forgetting" should also be mastered by the author, which, in this case, refers to the art of writing in such a mode as to make the reader forget words after getting meaning. This art is suggested by the Six Dynasties critic Liu Xie (ca. 465-ca. 520) in the chapter "Shen-si" (Thought and Imagination) in his famous treatise Wen-xin diao-long (The Literary Mind.- Dragon-Carving): "As for the subtle meanings beyond one's thought, and the complicated moods beyond verbal expression, since they cannot be captured by words, one certainly should know when to stop the pen" (Zhao 249). Here, Liu alerts authors to the limitations of language, admonishing them not to overwrite lest words should override and nullify meaning. Between words and meaning there inevitably exist gaps or semiotic blanks, which, nevertheless, can be turned into semiotic potentials from which to tap meaning. Considering how to control one's pen in writing, Liu develops the style of yin (literally, covertness, implicitness) in the chapter "Yin xiu" (Implicitness and Epigrammaticality) that features the signifying mode of yi sheng wen wai (literally, meaning arising beyond writing). According to him, such a signifying mode is analogous to the way the linear emblems are permuted to form endless patterns of hexagram as expounded in the Yi jing (Zhao 335).(8) In semiotic terms, this mode compels readers by its provocative power to pursue the signified by themselves without making it readily available to them. As Giles observes, "A poet should not dot his i's. The Chinese reader likes to do that for himself, each according to his own fancy" (155).

The doctrine of "forgetting words after getting meaning" is addressed not only in Taoism, Chan, and literary criticism but in poetry as well. A case in point is the famous poem "Drinking Wine: The Fifth" by the Six Dynasties poet-recluse Tao Yuanming (365-427), in which the poet describes an epiphanic moment during his contemplation of the pastoral scene:

Picking chrysanthemums under the east hedge,

Leisurely, [Il see the South Mountain.

The mountain's aspect looks good at sunset,

The birds are together flying home.

In this there is true meaning,

Trying to define [or, discriminate] it, [11 forget the words

(Ding 3: 110-111).

Situated, as he is, amidst the twilight scene, the poet seems to have entered a meta-verbal zone where words are gone while meaning, or rather the meaning of meaning (for this is what "true meaning" means), is left alone in its autonomy. In fact, this poem heralds the style of yin discussed above and serves as an apt metaphor for the forgetful mode of reading (or viewing) and writing (or painting). On the one hand, in invoking the neo-taoist topos of "word-meaning differentiation," it makes readers aware that as soon as they see the meaning of the poem they should forget words lest the meaning be lost in words. On the other, it shows when authors should stop their pen once meaning becomes educible from words.

In terms of the mode of signification, Liu Xie's notion of yin is related to the notion of chao-yi (literally, transcendence) developed by the Tang poet-critic Sikong Tu (837-908) in his Shi ping Classification of Poetry ), a discourse defining twenty-four pings (styles, moods, or modes) of poetry that is couched in a poetic language tinged with Taoist undertones and therefore partakes of the forgetful mode of writing. As one of the twenty-four poetic pings, chao-yi refers to a mode of poetic expression capable of evoking open-ended signification. It is valorized by Sikong Tu as a poetic ping par excellence and is characterized in the following mini-discourse in the Shi ping:

Relying neither on divine power,

Nor on Nature's subtlety;

Riding on the white clouds,

Returning on the refreshing breeze.

Beckoned from afar, it appears to be coming,

Approached, it looks different;

Not perfectly conforming to the Tao,

Yet transcending the common way.

Tall trees [amidst] rambling hills,

The beautiful light [of the setting sun shining on) the green moss;

It is constantly intoned and thought,

Yet its sound always turns into silence

(Guo 37-38).(9)

Interweaving pictorial imageries and Taoist idioms, this discourse is as hard to interpret as the notion of chao-yi itself. Fortunately, Sikong also discusses elsewhere the notion of open-ended signification that is characteristic of chao-yi in less baffling terms, which offers a clue to the underlying semiotics of this style. In his "Letter to Jipu [the poet Wang Ji, fl. 8911," he defines open-ended signification in terms of "image beyond image" and "scene beyond scene:" "Dai Rongzhou [the poet Dai Shulun, 732-7891 said: "The scenes created by poets are like the fine jade deposit in Mt. Lantian, which, emitting fumes in the warm sunshine, can be viewed from afar but cannot be brought before one's eyes.' Image beyond image, scene beyond scene, can they be easily discussed?" (Guo 52). In his "Letter to Master Li Discussing Poetry," he further defines open-ended signification in terms of yun wai zhi zhi (literally, resonance beyond tone): "Accessible yet non-superficial, far-reaching yet inexhaustible; only when one's poetry attains this state can one speak of yun wai zhi zhi" (Guo 47). In the same letter, Sikong also compares "resonance beyond tone" to the best taste of food that always lies beyond saltiness and sourness, a metaphor that Su Shi later applied to poetry, painting, and calligraphy. Su characterizes Wang Wei's painting as "attaining what lies beyond the image" and comments that the subtle artistry of Zhong Yao's (151-230) and Wang Xizhi's (303-361) calligraphy "lies beyond the brush strokes" ("Postscript to the Collection of Poetry by Huang Zisi," Su Dongpo ji II, 8: 22). This is what Su means by "a single dot of red /Conveys a limitless spring" (Su Dongpo ji I, 16: 63). Su is also quoted by the Song poet Jiang Kui (ca. 1155-ca. 1221) as saying: "The words that end with endless meaning are the ultimate words in the world" (2). Judging by the conceptual link between Sikong's and Su's poetics, it seems that it is based on Sikong's poetics of "resonance beyond tone" that inspired Su to conceive his poetry-painting relationship; and what Su means by "painting in poetry" and "poetry in painting" may actually refer to the respective attainment of "resonance beyond tone" in poetry and painting. Furthermore, Su uses Sikong's notion to distinguish literati art from what he regarded as artisan's craft in formulating literati poetics.

Although there is no specific reference to the notion of "forgetting words after getting meaning" in Sikong Tu's discourses, the Taoist undertones therein ring strongly enough to suggest that this notion is a source of inspiration for his poetics of chao-yi. The pictorial imagery employed by Sikong in the Shi ping to define chao-yi, as well as the other poetic styles, facilitates the reader's comprehension of his theory. Such an imagistic mode of critical discourse has been viewed by critics as partaking of Wang Wei's art of "painting in poetry." As for why the scene of trees growing amidst hills and the sunlight shining on the moss reifies the notion of chao-yi, readers are expected to decode the authorial intention lurking behind the scene by themselves. judging by the juxtaposed imagery of the sunlight and the moss, Sikong seems to have been inspired by Wang Wei's masterpiece "Deer Park" to conceive that notion:

Empty mountain, no man is seen,

Only heard are men's voices echoing;

The sunlight re-enters the deep wood,

Shining again on the green moss

(Zhao, Wang Youcheng ji jian-zhu 13:4).

This poem helps substantiate the aesthetic link between Sikong Tu's poetics of "resonance beyond tone" and Su Shi's poetics of "painting in poetry." On the one hand, as one of the most celebrated and yet enigmatic pieces in Chinese poetry, it aptly epitomizes the style of chao-yi, whose imagery is "accessible yet non-superficial" and whose signification is "far-reaching yet inexhaustible," to use Sikong Tu's terms. On the other, this poem has also been traditionally viewed as a paragon of reifying Su Shi's notion of "painting in poetry." The signifying economy of this poem is built upon a number of imagery juxtapositions: the empty mountain and the echoing voices, the re-entering sunlight and the deep wood, the moss-shining sunlight and the green moss, and the voices and the moss. Read in a religio-philosophical context in which the poet's background is taken into account, the first juxtaposition can be interpreted to signify the Buddhist relationship between se (literally, color; here referring to the sensible universe) and kong (literally, empty; here referring to the suprasensible realm). The second and third juxtapositions may be read together as a metaphor for the Chan notion of sudden enlightenment when the dark wood of man's mind lights up to become a "Chanscape." Both the first and fourth juxtapositions seem also allusive of the Taoist theme of wu-hua (literally, transforming with things), or man's metamorphosis into things in nature or merger with nature, developed in the chapter "Qi wu lun" (Equalizing All Things and Views) in the Zhuangzi (Wang et al. 51); and the landscape in the poem as a whole can thus be viewed as a "Taoscape." Furthermore, the first juxtaposition can even be read as a Chan paradox about the transcendent state of poetic signification wherein no words are "seen" but the meaning echoes back and forth in a signifying mise en abime. In this sense, the poem seems to function at one level as a meta-poem. All these imagery juxtapositions may interact to evoke unceasingly "image beyond image" and "scene beyond scene." They enable the poem to transcend its surface text and compell the reader to conjure up a subtext reverberant of "resonance beyond tone" by forgetting the imagery. This is a signifying process when "the whole poem ceases to be descriptive, ceases to be a sequence of mimetic signs, and becomes but a single sign, perceived from the end back to its given as a harmonious whole, wherein nothing is loose, wherein every word refers to one symbolic focus" (Riffaterre 12). It seems that there can be no "painting" in this poem without such a symbolic focus. Short as it is, "Deer Park" demonstrates at once how "resonance beyond tone" is signified and how "painting in poetry" is created, which helps explain why Su Shi, in addressing the poetry-painting relationship, would praise Wang Wei for attaining what lies beyond the image in his painting. No wonder the Song critic Yan Yu (1180-1235) would praise the poets of the high Tang period (721-755), including Wang Wei, for their single-minded pursuit of what he calls xing-qu (literally, inspired gusto), a poetic state which he compares in Chan terms to the traceless nocturnal antelope because in this state poetry signifies ad infinitum leaving behind no trace of words (Guo, Canglang shihua jiao-shi 24).(10)

Semiotically speaking, the text of a Chinese poem written in the mode of chao-yi is comparable to what Barthes calls the writerly text as opposed to "its countervalue, its negative, reactive value:" the readerly text (4). As Silverman interprets, whereas the latter "tightly controls the play of signification" and "encourages the reader or viewer to move away from its signifiers ... toward a privileged and originating signified" (243) the former "denies the possibility of closure" (246-47) and "promotes an infinite play of signification" in which "there can be no transcendental signified, only provisional ones which function in turn as signifiers"(246). By the same token, Sikong's poetics of "resonance beyond tone" is comparable to what Eco calls "the poetics of the open work." According to Eco, "there exist works which, though organically completed, are `open' to a continuous generation of internal relations which the addressee must uncover and select in his act of perceiving the totality of incoming stimuli" (21). "The `reader' is excited by the new freedom of the work, by its infinite potential for proliferation, by its inner wealth and the unconscious projections that it inspires" (91).

Let there be no confusion that Sikong Tu's notion of "resonance beyond tone" refers to chao-yi rather than han-xu (literally, implicitness) which he defines as capable of fully attaining the quintessence of things without a single word of direct reference and which therefore differs from chao-yi in the mode of signification.(11) Chao-yi enables a poem to signify ad infinitum; the reader is not so much a decoder of the preconceived signified as a producer of varied signifieds not necessarily intended by the poet. Unlike chao-yi, han-xu is capable only of making a poem signify between the lines, in which the signified, though hidden beneath the surface text, is determinate and ready to be decoded. Some critics also mistakenly associate han-xu with Liu Xie's yin. Since Liu compares yin's mode of signification to the permutation of the linear emblems in the Yi jing that creates hexagram beyond hexagram, it bears analogy to Sikong's chao-yi rather than han-xu. In literati poetics, chao-yi represents the highest level of poetic signification, as it is believed to be capable of signifying the true Tao, which is absolutely silent and inexpressible according to the Dao de jing. Viewed from this perspective, to create "painting" in poetry actually symbolizes the Chinese poet's attempt at expressing what is impossible for the Chinese philosopher to express. As the first poet in China to voice explicitly the concept of poetry as an embodiment of the poet's apprehension of the Tao (Liu 35), Sikong seems to suggest that only by attaining "resonance beyond tone" can the poet attain the Tao whose best carrier is chao-yi.


Sikong Tu's notion of "resonance beyond tone" is related to his other notion of si yu jing xie (literally, mind-scene harmony) advanced in his "Letter to Wang Jia [fl. 890] Discussing Poetry" (Guo 50), which to some extent is interchangeable with the more popular notion of qing jing jiao rong (emotion-scene fusion) but should be construed from a Taoist perspective. For him, only when the poet's subjectivity and the objective world it perceives achieve perfect harmony, as do yin and yang, can poetry attain "resonance beyond tone." In traditional Chinese literary criticism, "emotion-scene fusion" associates itself with "painting in poetry" through the three notions of ru-hua (painting-like, ru meaning "like" ), ru-hua (literally, enterable into painting, i.e., paintable, ru meaning "enter"), and hua-yi (literally, the idea of painting, i.e., painterly flavor). All three notions refer to the painterly qualities or paintability of poetry, each of which is definable in various ways but does not necessarily mean "painting" in poetry in terms of Su Shi's poetics.(12) When Liu Xie observes in the chapter "Quan fu" (Interpreting Fu, fu being rhymed prose) in his Wen-xin diao-long (Literary Mind: Dragon-Carving) that fu is derived from poetry and resembles carving and painting in depicting objects and portraying appearances (Zhao 73), he defines painting-likeness in a mimetic sense. The Qing scholar Shen Zongqian (fl. 1782) defines paintability in a nonmimetic sense when he writes: "Both painting and poetry are what the literati use to cultivate their temperaments and sentiments and get rid of their melancholy and boredom. Therefore, anything that can be put into poetry can be put into painting" (67). The Ming scholar Wang Sishi (1566-1648) interprets the "painting" in Du Fu's poem "Song on the Landscape Screen Recently Painted by Subprefect Liu of Fengxian County" (4: 12-14) in the sense that the poet applies to this poem the Six Principles of painting formulated by the Six Dynasties painter and theorist Xie He (ca. 459-ca. 532) in his treatise Guhua-ping lu (A Record of the Ancient Classification of Painters) (Wang, Du yi 36-37). The Qing critic Ye Xie (1627-1703), analyzes in his treatise Yuan shi (On the Origin of Poetry) the painting-likeness of Du Fu's poem "Song on Painting: To General Cao Ba" (13: 40-43) in terms of compositional analogy (Wang et al., Qing shi-hua 609). He argues about the unpaintability of the line "The emerald [glazed] rooftiles beyond the early chill" in Du Fu's poem "On a Winter Day, North of Luoyang City, Paying Homage at the Temple of the Emperor of the Tao [i.e., Laozi]" (2: 51) on the grounds of painters' inherent incompetence to visualize intangibility and conceptuality (Wang et al., Qing shi-hua 585-86).(13) When the modem scholar Wang Guowei (1877-1927) defines his notion of yi-jing (literally, idea-scene; here referring to the consummate poetic state Wang aspires to) in his Song Yuan xi-qu shi (A History of Song and Yuan Drama) in terms of the formulation that "every expression is as clear as painting while endless meanings lie beyond the words" (126), he hints at the paradox underlying the notion of "painting in poetry" in the sense that such "painting," while being created through painting-like expressions, looks traceless in meaning. Wang considers his notion of jing-jie (literally, boundary; interchangeable and synonymous with yi-jing in Wang's critical vocabulary) a better substitute for Yan Yu's xing-qu (literally, inspired gusto) to define the kind of poetic state which Yan compares to the traceless antelope (Ren-jian ci-hua 10); his above definition of yi-jing actually serves as a conceptual link that connects "resonance beyond tone" to "painting in poetry."(14)

Poetic paintability is also addressed by the Song landscape painter Guo Xi (ca. 1000-ca. 1090) in his treatise on landscape painting Lin quan gao-zhi (Lofty Messages from Forests and Springs). In the section "Hua-yi" (Painterly Flavor), Guo Xi's son Guo Si (fl. 1082), the editor of his posthumous manuscripts, records those "pure and elegant" verses by ancient poets which Guo Xi used to recite because they are "inspired by fine thoughts and are capable of being painted" (Yu 641). In the same section, Guo Si also records his own collection of verses which his father considered paintable (Yu 641). Verses such as the following from this section help us define Guo Si's as well as his father's conception of poetic paintability:

Distant water, cleanly linking the sky,

Solitary city, deeply hidden in mist.

(Du Fu, 712-770)

Walk to reach where the water ends,

Sit watching when clouds rise.

(Wang Wei)

The spring tide carrying rain comes rushing at night,

At the wild manless ferry the boat lies across by itself

(Wei Yingwu, 737-786) (Yu 641)

The same conception is adopted by the Song critic Wei Qingzhi (fl. ca. 1240) in his Shi-ren yu-xie (The Poets' Jade Scraps, a compilation of critics' remarks on poetry), in which the entry Ru-hua (literally, enterable into painting, i.e., paintable) collects the couplets from Tang landscape poems, such as follows, that are also thought to be convertible into paintings:

[From] the green [I] know the grass beyond the lake,

[From] the red [1] see the clouds east of the sea.

(Du Fu)

In the sunny sky a single wild goose flies afar,

On the vast sea a lonely sail moves slowly.

(Li Bai, 701-762)

The green trees around the forest contain fine rain,

The cold tides against the city raise flat sand.

(Wen Tingyun, ca. 812-866) (60-61)

To appreciate the so-called paintability of these couplets, we need to differentiate between the two notions of "painting in poetry" and "emotion-scene fusion," which some critics use interchangeably, or define the former in terms of the latter despite their difference. In his comments on the Song poet Lu Juren's (1084-1145) poem "Things Nearby on a Spring Day," the Song critic Zhang Jiucheng (1092-1159) expresses his particular appreciation of its second couplet "The snow has melted on the pond-side pavilion since early spring, /The man has leant on the balustrade until dusk." According to Zhang, this couplet can be converted into painting because the two lines fully express how man feels and how things look like" (Wei 52). By the same token, the Ming critic Xie Zhen (1495-1575) regards as convertible into painting the Tang poet Du Fu's couplet "The man standing in the fine rain with a hoe on his shoulder, /Gibbons on the river bank chatter amid the green screen [of trees]" in his "Five Pieces Written in Late Spring about the Newly Rented Thatched House West of the Rang River" (Du 18: 134) because the emotion and scene therein are blended into a harmonious and natural whole (2: 32). The Qing poet and critic Wang Shizhen (1634-1711) writes in his Yuyang shi-hua (Yuyang's [Wang's cognomen] Remarks on Poetry) that the poems in the Shijing (The Classic of Poetry) read like the painter's portrayal of things. He cites as examples the depiction of the various types of emotion such as the queen dowager's sorrow at the farewell of the king's concubine in Yan-yan (Swallows), the married daughter's nostalgia in Zhugan (Fishing Rod), the unidentified persona's yearning for the beloved one in Jian-jia (Reeds), the returning husband's excitement in Dong-shan (East Mountain). There is no doubt that in these cases Wang views the verbal portrayal of emotion in pictorial vividness as "painting in poetry," as he clearly points out that in the second stanza of Qi-yue (July) the depiction of the brilliant vernal sun leads to that of the peasant woman's sorrow at the end. On the other hand, however, Wang also cites Wu yang (No Sheep) as an example of a poetic picture, commenting that every word in that poem depicts the real herding scene and even the two master painters Shi Daoshuo (of the East Jin dynasty, fl. ca. fifth century) and Dai Song (of the Tang dynasty, fl. eighth century) would be incapable of depicting details in the same exhaustive fashion (181, no. 86). This reveals the ambiguity in Wang's conception of "painting in poetry" that is at once mimetic and non-mimetic, and such ambiguity also features the poetry-painting analogy conceived by some other critics.

The notion of "emotion-scene fusion," which evolves from the idea expressed in the Yue ji (The Book of Music) (recorded in the Li ji or The Book of Rites) that the primary source of literature and art lies in "man's mind [when it is] being affected by things," refers to the interplay of man's inner world and the external world ("emotion" here refers in a broad sense to both thoughts and feelings) in a poetic text. According to the Song critic Fan Xiwen (fl. 1226), "emotion and scene are interconnected and cannot be separated from each other ... Scene will not emerge without emotion and emotion will not arise without scene" (Fan 2: 11). His view is echoed by Xie Zhen: "Composing poetry is based on emotion and scene. Alone, neither makes poetry; the two are not poles apart. Scene is the medium of poetry and emotion the embryo of poetry: the two merge to make poetry." (3: 41). A case in point is Tao Yuanming's celebrated couplet "Picking chrysanthemums under the east hedge, /Leisurely, [I] see the South Mountain," whose signifying economy Su Shi characterizes as jing yu yi hui, (the merger of idea and scene; "Postscript to Tao Yuanming's Poem `Drinking Wine,'" Dongpo tiba 2: 28), a notion which is virtually synonymous with "emotion-scene fusion." Significantly, when appraising Wang Wei's poetry, Su coins "painting in poetry" instead, and this fact registers a subtle difference between his coinage and "emotion-scene fusion" but at the same time indicates that in the paradigm of Su Shi's interartistic poetics the three seemingly-unrelated notions of "resonance beyond tone, "emotion-scene poetry" form an aesthetic triangle within which image and idea interplay to generate colorful scenes of poetic semiosis.

What "emotion-scene fusion" and "painting in poetry" have in common is that both notions are related to the dictum of li xiang jin yi and designate descriptive imagery as the carrier of expressive messages. Where they differ from each other is that, in the case of the former, emotion educed from scene is more or less determinate and definable, whereas, in the case of the latter, "painting" usually has no preconceived content. Read out of context, the couplets cited respectively by Guo Si and Wei Qingzhi merely describe pictorial scenes, whose paintability is definable only in a descriptive sense. However, since they are "inspired by fine thoughts," as Guo Si puts it, they may in turn signify those thoughts when placed in the context of "emotion-scene fusion." For example, in Wang Wei's poem "Retreat in Mt. Zhongnan" (Zhao, Wang Youcheng ji jian-zhu 3: 4), the parallelism in the couplet "Walk to reach where the water ends, /Sit watching when clouds rise" signifies the Taoist yin-yang complementarity, making it possible for the reader to view" the interplay of yin and yang through viewing nature.(15) In the Tang poet Liu Changqing's (709-ca. 786) poem "Seeing Off Monk Lingche" (Liu, Liu Suizhou ji 1: 4), the third line "The lotus-leaf hat [worn by the monk] carries the setting sun" features a montage-like imagery juxtaposition which enables the reader to "view" the spiritual moment of man-nature merger "as immediately as the odor of a rose" (Eliot 247). These two cases suggest that Guo and Wei actually define poetic paintability in terms of "emotion-scene fusion;" and such"paintability" can only be viewed as an oversimplified version of "painting in poetry," though this version has been accepted by quite a few traditional Chinese critics.

A more subtle link between "painting in poetry" and "emotion-scene fusion" is found in the traditional critical notion of shi-yan (literally, verseeye), the figurative (including synaesthetic) use of a key word in a line of a poem that serves as a semiotic catalyzer to generate expressive charges in descriptive imageries, evoke a special mood, or conjure up a synaesthetic illusion.(16) In Wang Wei's poem "In the Mountain," the "painting," if any, refers not to the colorful scene of white pebbles, red leaves, and the "airy green" but to the imaginary scene described in the last line that is conjured up by the verb "wet" as the verse eye." What is meant by "[T]he airy green wets men's clothes" is that the mountain verdure looks so lush that it appears to liquefy into the air, thus wetting men's clothes. Such a scene is essentially a synaesthetic illusion that can hardly be converted into painting without spoiling the aesthetic pleasure it elicits. It does not necessarily evoke open-ended signification or "scene beyond scene" but does create a scene of aesthetic metareality or "reality beyond reality," and therefore can be viewed as a sub-type of "painting" in poetry, for it is this very poem that is said to have prompted Su Shi to develop the twin notions of "painting in poetry" and "poetry in painting." Seemingly painterly and yet unpaintable, the "painting" in Wang Wei's poem exemplifies the paradox of "painting in poetry."

Interestingly, the validity of Su Shi's formulation of "painting in poetry" and "poetry in painting" based on Wang Wei's poem is questioned by the Ming scholar Zhang Dai (1597-1679), who only considers the first couplet paintable ("Letter to Bao Yanjie," Langhuan wen-ji in Qu et al 186) which is descriptively pictorial. Zhang also maintains that a painting with "poetry" in it can never make a good painting and a poem with "painting" in it can never make a good poem (Qu et al. 186). The implication of Zhang's argument is twofold: on the one hand, he defines "painting in poetry" in a descriptive sense, which explains why he fails to appreciate the "painting" in the last line of Wang's poem; on the other hand, he assigns a nondescriptive function to poetry but a descriptive function to painting, believing that the meddling presence of "poetry" in painting and of "painting" in poetry would interfere with the normal functioning of both media. Zhang's view is challenged by Ye Xie, who argues from the perspective of emotion-scene fusion: "Painting is form; and form becomes profound when attached to emotion. Poetry is emotion; and emotion becomes manifest when attached to form" ("Preface to the Collection of Poems from the Chi-xia Tower,'" Jixi wen-ji Qu et al. 210).

The relationship between "painting in poetry" and "emotion-scene fusion" can be better understood from a crosscultural perspective by comparing the signifying practice peculiar to each notion with that of Chinese poetry as perceived by Fenollosa and Pound. It is true that Fenollosa's controversial essay "The Chinese Character as a Medium for Poetry" betrays his half knowledge and imaginary misconception of the Chinese ideogram and poetry. Nevertheless, his theory does shed light on the semiotics of Chinese poetry which signifies the unseen through the seen the way a small percentage of Chinese characters do. in his essay, Fenollosa develops the notion of "thought picture" to reveal the semiotic essence of Chinese poetry and of the Chinese ideogram, a notion which holds the key to understanding both "emotion-scene fusion" and "painting in poetry." He argues that what underlies the signifying practice of Chinese poetry is the nature-mind relationship: "But Chinese notation is something much more than arbitrary symbols. It is based upon a vivid shorthand picture of the operations of nature .... the Chinese method follows natural suggestions .... The thought picture is not only called up by these signs as well as by words, but far more vividly and concretely" (12).

Fenollosa's "thought picture" is an apt metaphor for Chinese poetry as well as Pound's Imagist poetry; and the nature-mind relationship it implies is similar to that underlying the notion of "emotion-scene fusion" and the aforementioned dictum of li xiang jin yi in the Yi jing. Considering the fact that Chinese poetry originated from an oral tradition and developed independently of the Chinese writing system, what makes a Chinese poem a "thought picture" is not so much the pictorial morphology of the ideogram as the signifying economy of the poem based on the mind-nature analogy in the Yi jing. What the Chinese poet tries to achieve by means of such a "thought picture" is comparable to what Pound does through his haiku-like poem "In a Station of the Metro:" "The apparition of these faces in the crowd: /Petals, on a wet, black bough" (Personae 111). According to Pound, "In a poem of this sort one is trying to record the precise instant when a thing outward and objective transforms itself, or darts into a thing inward and subjective" (Gaudier-Brzeska 89), an instant comparable to the one in Chinese poetry when emotion is fused with scene. The notion of "emotion-scene fusion" is also comparable to the Poundian Image which is meant to be "that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time. " (Literary Essays 4). Pound also associates Image with the notion of Vortex, writing that "[T]he image is not an idea. It is a radiant node or cluster; it is what I can, and must perforce, call a VORTEX, from which, and through which, and into which, ideas are constantly rushing" (Gaudier-Brzeska 92). The arguable parallel between Vorticism and Taoism aside,(17) the Vorticist mode of signification comes close to the open-ended signification effected by means of chao-yi. It is true that both Pound's Image and Vortex carry interartistic overtones, but his poetry-painting analogy is drawn mainly in non-mimetic terms under the influence of Chinese and Japanese poetry. It is the very notion of "emotion-scene fusion" that arouses a crosscultural resonance in Pound's as well as Fenollosa's poetics. As Schneidau argues: "Far more important to Pound's Imagism than any ut pictura poesis theory was the great discovery of the principle of 'living language '.... In an Imagist poem Pound is trying to make us 'see' or grasp' something. But he always eschewed pictorialism, and never subscribed to such demands as Hulme's for constant visualization" (192).

Enlightened by Fenollosa's insights, Pound develops the notion of "color-sense" to characterize Chinese poetry, a notion as important as Fenollosa's "thought picture" for us to explore the crosscultural implications of the Chinese poetry-painting relationship:

I have tried in a way to set forth a color-sense [italics mine]. I have said, as it

were, Such poets are pure red ... pure green.' Knowledge of them is of as

much use to a poet as the finding of good color is to a painter. Undoubtedly

pure color is to be found in Chinese poetry, when we begin to know enough

about it; indeed, a shadow of this perfection is already at hand in translations.

Liu Ch'e [Liu Che, 156-87 BC], Chu Yuan [Qu Yuan, ca. 340-ca. 278 BC], Chia

I Via Yi, 200-168 BC], and the great vers libre [Pound's misconception of the

Chinese poetic form] writers before the Petrarchan age of Li Po [Li Bai,

701-7621, are a treasury to which the next century may look for as great a

stimulus as the renaissance had from the Greeks (Literary Essays 218).

Although Pound does not elaborate on "color-sense" in relation to Chinese poetry, of which he admits inadequate knowledge ' this notion seems to refer to his perception of "painting" or the "painterly" mode of signification in Chinese poetry. It is also related to that of phanopoeia, one of the three major poetic modes formulated by Pound (the other two being melopoeia and logopoeia) who defines it as "a casting of images upon the visual imagination" (Literary Essays 25). In his view, Chinese poets such as Li Bai attain "the known maximum of phanopoeia, due perhaps to the nature of their written ideograph" Literary Essays 26-27). Such being the case, what Pound means by "color-sense" seems to refer to "a casting of images upon the visual imagination," which in turn helps define his Image and Vortex.

It would be difficult to grasp the semiotic connotations of the "color-sense" and phanopoeia in relation to "emotion-scene fusion" and "painting in poetry" without a comparative reading of Li Bai's poetry and Pound's translation of it. A case in point is "Seeing off a Friend" (or "Taking Leave of a Friend" in Pound's translation), one of Li's best-known poems, which is traditionally considered an illustration of both Chinese notions and which, unfortunately and ironically, is translated into English by Pound at the cost of "painting in poetry." The following is a near-literal translation of this poem followed by Pound's version:

Green hills lying across north of the city wall,

White water flowing around the eastern city;

From this place once parted,

The lone tumbleweed journeys ten thousand miles.

Floating clouds, a traveler's thoughts,

Setting sun, a friend's emotions;

[We] wave to take leave here,

[Our] horses neighing to depart (18: 2).

Blue mountains to the north of the walls,

White river winding about them;

Here we must make separation

And go out through a thousand miles of dead grass.

Mind like a floating wide cloud,

Sunset like the parting of old acquaintances

Who bow over their clasped hands at a distance.

Our horses neigh to each other

as we are departing

(Personae 141).

Viewed from the perspective of descriptive pictorialism, the "painting" in Li Bai's poem consists in the literally colorful portrayal of nature and landscape: green hills, white water, white clouds, and glowing sunset. However, this seems not to be what Pound means by "color-sense" or phanopoeia, considering the non-mimetic nature of his poetics. Rather, it is in the couplet of Drifting clouds, a traveler's thoughts, /Setting sun, a friend's emotions" that Pound may have found "color-sense" or phanopoeia. In traditional Chinese literary criticism this couplet has provoked a plurality of interpretations as to how the two parts in each line -- "floating clouds" and "a traveler's thoughts," and "setting sun" and "a friend's emotions" -- are interrelated respectively. In each line there is a missing link created by the paratactic structure, but the loss of the semiotic link is the gain of signifying horizon since such a hermeneutic gap gives room for open-ended signification which not only fuses the poet's emotion with the natural scene but also creates "painting" in this poem.

Pound's translation, its apparent unfaithfulness to the original text aside, actually seals the otherwise indeterminate relationship between the perceptual and the conceptual parts in each line of the couplet in question.18 By forcing an arbitrary link (functioned by the preposition "like") into the semiotic gap between the two parts, it straitjackets the couplet and the poem as a whole into a signifying closure, thus spoiling the "painting" in the source text of the poem. Ironically, although Pound's Imagist and Vorticist poetics bear analogy to the Chinese poetics of "emotion-scene fusion" and "painting in poetry," his translation of this poem and in particular this couplet indicates his "color blindness" to the Chinese "painting in poetry." In the context of the Chinese poetry-painting relationship, the Poundian "color-sense" would make sense only if the "color" can be applied to the "thought picture."

Compared with Li Bai's "Seeing off a Friend," "The Adorned Lute" written by the Tang poet Li Shangyin (?812-858) illustrates "painting in poetry" as well as "emotion-scene fusion" in a different way. In this poem there are also missing links which, however, exist at the interlinear rather than intralinear level, making the poem one of the most intricate and intriguing riddles in Chinese poetry. A near-literal translation of this poem is as follows:

The adorned lute, to no end, bears fifty strings;

Each string, each fret, recalls the prime of life.

Master Zhuang is confused with the butterfly in his dream at dawn,

Emperor Wang entrusts his yearning heart to the cuckoo.

The green sea in the bright moonlight, the pearl in tears,

The Blue Field in the warm sunshine, the jade emitting fumes.

How can this emotion be [expected to be] recaptured?!

-For even then it was already lost

(5: 1).

Interpretations or misinterpretations of this poem are legion. Some treat it as an elegy on the poet's late wife. Others argue that it is the poet's self-lament over his ill fate. Still others suggest that it is actually a poem about the poet's other poems and hence a meta-poem.(19) To this day, however, the true meaning of this poem, if any, remains a jigsaw puzzle, in which the most puzzling pieces are the four lines from the third to the sixth, each of which bears an allusion that presents an imagistic-mythopoetic scene. The line "Master Zhuang is confused with the butterfly in his dream at dawn" refers to the allegory in the chapter "Qi wu lun" (Equalizing All Things and Views) in the Zhuangzi that illustrates the Taoist theme of wu-hua (Wang et al. 51). When applied to literary or artistic creation, this allegory means that only by forgetting one's own identity can one identify with the aesthetic object and then go on to present its inner spirit.(20) The line "Emperor Wang entrusts his yearning heart to the cuckoo" refers to the ancient legend about Emperor Wang who loses his kingdom and turns into a cuckoo after death that spits blood when calling in sorrow. The line "The green sea in the bright moonlight, the pearl is in tears" mixes the folk tale about the mermaid in the moonlight shedding tears that turn into pearls with the allegory about the pearl left uncollected in the sea by the pearl diver that illustrates a talent buried in oblivion. The line "The Blue Field in the warm sunshine, the jade emits fumes" refers to the Tang poet Dai Shulun's comparison of poetic scenes to the legendary jade deposit in the Blue Field (in Chinese, Lantian) Mountain whose shadowy presence is discernable through its fumes and yet inaccessible, which means that the meaning of a poem is tantalizing and elusive and may become comprehensible only through its signifier.

In this poem, the signifying process undergoes three stages: the music of the lute evokes the poet's memory about the prime of his life, the emotion coloring this memory is then expressed through the four imagistic-mythopoetic scenes. These four scenes present four different themes but their very juxtaposition also creates a montage-like effect, which in turn suggests that the scenes may form a single unifying sign and that the themes may function as a thematic whole. The poet, having failed to define this emotion in plain terms, resorts to those imagistic-mythopoetic scenes to recapture the otherwise ineffable and lost emotion, thus making a poetic virtue of semiotic necessity. It remains unclear whether the poet uses those themes in their original sense or adapts them to the signifying economy of his own poem. Also unclear is how those four scenes, each in its own way, or as a semiotic ensemble, signify his lost emotion. Various missing links are found at the three levels of relationship in the signifying economy: between those four scenes themselves, between the lute and the four scenes, and between the four scenes, the lute, and the poet's lost emotion. Nevertheless, it is those missing links that bring about the "painting" in this poem, as the hermeneutic gaps help conjure up "image beyond image," "scene beyond scene," or emotion beyond emotion." The meaning thus signified goes far beyond the immediate images and scenes to become "resonance beyond tone."

The signifying mode of this poem is comparable to Ruskin's notion of the Grotesque in gothic art discussed in his Modern Painters. According to him, the third form of the Grotesque is "that which arises out of the use or fancy of tangible signs to set forth an otherwise less expressible truth; including nearly the whole range of symbolical and allegorical art and poetry" (329). As he further defines, "A fine grotesque is the expression, in a moment, by a series of symbols thrown together in bold and fearless connection, of truths which it would have taken a long time to express in any verbal way, and of which the connection is left for the beholder to work out for himself; the gaps, left or overleaped by the haste of the imagination, forming the grotesque character" (329). Ruskin's definition helps construct the paradox of semiotic gaps and infinite signification that is typical of both the Grotesque and chao-yi. Recognizing such a paradox in the Grotesque, Johnson observes, "The symbol, the grotesque, the concentrated image, allows the mind the 'sense of infinite meaning' because, as statement, it is incomplete, constructed with built-in gaps -- so that it continues to reverberate with new meaning" (125). It seems that the Grotesque and chao-yi, each in its own way, establishes a signifying "fuzzy zone" that resists hermeneutic "zoning" but allows the reader full hermeneutic freedom. Enjoying such freedom, we may view the four scenes along with the lute in Li's poem as an Eliotesque objective correlative that signifies a particularized emotion. Underlying this emotion is the poet's identity crisis. Feeling the loss of his own identity, the poet tries to regain it by identifying himself respectively with the lute (whose identity seems questionable due to the unusual number of its strings), Zhuangzi (who has a confused identity in his dream), Emperor Wang (who changes his identity after death), the pearl (whose identity is oblivious), and the jade (whose identity remains shadowy). Given such a hypothesis, we are able to read from beneath this poem's surface text of emotion lost and regained its subtext of identity lost and regained.

Just as Pound fails to recognize the subtle presence of the "painting" in Li Bai's poem and consequently fails to reproduce such "painting" in English, Young, one of the translators of "The Adorned Lute" (or "The Overdecorated Lute" in Yang's translation) and a poet himself, fails in a similar fashion:

This thing has fifty strings

and nobody knows why

each string and fret brings back

the lost and blooming past

the philosopher, dreaming at dawn,

and his counterpart,. the butterfly

or the shamed, love-mad emperor

melting into the call of the whippoorwills

full moon above the ocean

pearls swelling in a sea of tears

the sun grows warm-in indigo pastures

fine jade begins to smoke

love should live on and on

filling our years and memories

but somehow it dazes us, fading,

and not even sure it was real (167).

For all his effort to "rescue" the poet "from the often wooden and dogged versions of the scholars [i.e., scholar-translators)" (Young 11), Young's translation tampers with the signifying economy of the source text by speculating on the nature of the lost emotion and then specifying it as "love" against the poet's will. In so doing, he actually plays the role of puzzle-solver, rather than translator, who fills the hermeneutic gaps at the expense of the semiotic potential of the original poem. Whereas Young gains in re-creating "an effective poem in English" (Young 15), he loses in translating the "painting" into the target text. Such being the case, the translator's semiotic awareness and subtle management of the missing link or hermeneutic gap in Chinese poetry is essential to reconstructing the poetry-painting relationship in the target text, and a comparative study in this respect helps us better define this relationship.

It may seem far-fetched to conclude that the Chinese sister arts tradition should evolve from the ancient poetics of "forgetting words after getting meaning," a poetics of "amnesia," so to speak, and then come to be associated with the poetics of "resonance beyond tone" and of "emotion-scene fusion." But this is precisely what makes this tradition unique in Chinese poetics. Throughout the history of Chinese literature and art, the interaction of poetry and painting has continued in a virtuous circle," the two arts complementing and enhancing each other to form a holistic art that also incorporates calligraphy and seal-engraving. Influenced by Taoist semiotics, Chinese poets have endeavored to create "painting" in poetry in pursuit of the ultimate meaning beyond words and images. in so doing, they have expanded the semiotic horizon of poetry and promoted interartistic communion and union. For all our efforts toward an interartistic semiotics of the Chinese sister arts it is no easy task to define the Chinese poetry-painting relationship, just as there is no end to the debate on ut pictura poesis, about which Steiner has the foresight to be cautiously optimistic: "The painting-literature analogy has followed just such a Sisyphean pattern and is bound to continue doing so. For there can be no final consensus about whether and how the two arts resemble each other, but only a growth in our awareness of the process of comparing them, of metaphoric generation and regeneration (2). In any case, we hope that our efforts will help facilitate the growth of this awareness across cultures, knowing full well that such efforts may repeat the labors of Sisyphus and may also be no less futile than tracing the tracelss antelope.


(1) For the other approaches in the modem and contemporary scholarship on the Chinese poetry-painting relationship, see Susan Bush, The Chinese Literati on Painting: Su Shih (1037-1101) to Tung Ch'i-ch'ang (1555-1636) (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1971) 22-28; Jonathan Chaves, "'Meaning beyond the Painting': The Chinese Painter as Poet" in Words and Images.. Chinese Poetry, Calligraphy, and Painting, ed. Alfreda Murck & Wen C. Fong (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1991) 431-458; Hans Frankel, "Poetry and Painting: Chinese and Western Views of Their Convertibility," Comparative Literature (1957): 289-307; Wai-kam Ho, "The Literary Concepts of `Picture-like' (Ju-hua) and Picture-Idea' (Hua-i) in the Relationship between Poetry and Painting" in Words and Images.- Chinese Poetry, Calligrapby, and Painting, ed. Alfreda Murck & Wen C. Fong (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1991) 359-404; Qian Zhongshu, Qian Zhongshu lun-xue wen-xuan (Selected Writings of Qian Zhongshu's Scholarship), ed. Shu Zhan (Guangzhou: Hua-cheng P, 1990) 6: 1-32, 61-89; Shi Shuangyuan, "Shi-zhong-you-hua de zai ren-shi" (Re-understanding Poetry in Painting'), Xue-shu yue-kan (Scholarship Monthly) 5 (1984): 64-70; Wu Lifu, Zhongguo hua-lun yan-jiu (Studies in Chinese Theories of Painting) (Beijing: Beijing UP, 1983) 194-242; Xu, Fuguan, Zhongguo yi-shu jing-shen (The Spirit of Chinese Art) (Taipei: Student Book, 1979) 474-484; Wai-lim Yip, "Anderstrebben: Conception of Media and Intermedia" in Chinese-Western Comparative Literature -- Theory and Strategy, ed. John Deeney (Hong Kong: Chinese UP, 1980) 155-178; Zhang Gaoping, Song-shi de chuan-cheng yu kai-tuo (Song Poetry: The Legacy It Receives and the Trail It Blazes) (Taipei: Literature-History-Philosophy P, 1990) 255-507; Zhang Zhiyue, "Shi-zhong-you-hua: Shi-lun Wang Wei shi de yi-shu te-dian" (`Poetry in Painting': A Tentative Approach to the Artistic Features of Wang Wei's Poetry) in Wang Wei shi yan-jiu zhuan-ji (A Special Collection of of Studies of Wang Wei's Poetry). Collected Papers on Tang Poetry, vol. 2, Book 1, ed. The Chinese Language-literature Society (Beijing, 1969) 54-67; Zong Baihua, Mei-xue san-bu (A Stroll in Esthetics) (Shanghai: The People's P, 1981) 1-11.

(2) There is a difference in words between the version cited untitled in Su Shi's postscript and the one collected in Wang Youcheng ji jian-zhu that bears the title "In the Mountain" (Shan zhong). In the latter version, "Blue Creek" (Lan-xi) becomes "Bramble Creek"(Jing-xi) and Jade River' (Yu-chuan) "The weather being cold" (tian han). In his postscript Su Shi expresses his doubt about the reputed authorship of this poem. This poem is also cited by the Song critic Cai Juhou' in his Shi shi (A History of Poet?y); this time `Blue Creek' becoming "Blue Field" (Lan-tian) and "Jade River" "Jade Pass" (Yu-guan). Cai claims that this poem is not written by Wang Wei but by Su Shi himself.

(3) For a helpful discussion on the connotations of tian-gong and qing-xin in the overall context of Su Shi's poetics, see Liu Guojun, Su Shi wen-yi li-lun yan-jiu (A Study of Su Shi's Theories of Literature and Art). (Tianjin: Nankai UP, 1984) 80-89.

(4) For the modem attempts to appreciate the Chinese literature-painting analogy in terms of the pregnant moment, see Qian, Qian Zhongshu zhi-xue wen-xuan 61-89; Zhang Gaoping, 435-438, 463-472; Zhu Guangqian, Yi wen za-tan (Miscellaneous Talks on Art and Literature) (Hefei: The Anhui People's Press, 1981) 212; "Landscape Poetry and Natural Beauty" in Shan-shui yu mei-xue (Landscape and Esthetics), ed. Wu Lifu. (Shanghai: Shanghai Literature-art Press, 1985) 208-209.

(5) For some interesting discussions on the painterly perspective in Chinese poetty and especially landscape poetry, see Lu Yifan, Wen-yi xin-li-xue (Psychology of Literature and Art) (Nanjing: The Jiangsu People's Press, 1985) 88-95; Wang Bo'min, Tang-shi hua zhong kan (Viewing Tang Poetry in Painting) (Taipei: Donghai University Book Co., 1993) 215-237; Zhang Gaoping, 429-434; Zong, 80-98.

(6) Su's deprecation of formal likeness in painting also implies the dialectic of formal likeness (xing-si) and spiritual likeness (shen-si) in his esthetics, which is partly derived from the Six-Dynasties painter Gu Kaizhi's (345-406) theory of "depicting the inner spirit through outward appearance" (yi xing xie shen) (See Su, "Chuan-shen ji" [Notes on Conveying Spirit], Su Dongpo ji, Continued Collection, 12: 10). Su views painting as an expression of the artist's subjectivity rather than a mirror to the external world. According to him, only by transcending formal verisimilitude can painting embody the inner spirit of the esthetic object. In his remarks on painting, Su expresses this dialectic in terms of the common form (chang-xing) and the common li (chang-li; the term li is borrowed from the neo-Confucian philosophy of li-xue [lilogy] in Su's times, which means the fundamental logic and law underlying things), privileging the latter over the former. He argues that artisans may be able to create the common form of things perfectly but only men of unusual insight and talent are able to discern the common li of things. (See Su, "Notes on the Paintings at Jing-yin Monastery," Su Dongpo ji, Collection I 31: 18).

(7) In elucidating the idea of imagery, Mitchell mentions the Platonic differentiation between the eidos, conceived of "as a `suprasensible reality' of `forms, types, or species,'" and the eidolon, conceived of "as a sensible impression that provides a mere `likeness' (eikon) or `semblance' (phantasma) of the eidos" (5). Significantly, the dialectic of the eidos and the eidolon is analogous to that of shen (the inner spirit) and xing (the outward appearance) or of chang-li (the common li) and chang-xing (the common form) in Chinese esthetics as expounded by Su Shi.

(8) For a helpful discussion on Liu Xie's notion of yin in relation to the Yijing, see Wai-lim Yip, Diffusion of Distances: Dialogues Between Chinese and Western Poetics (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993) 149-60.

(9) In this mini-discourse the last character xi does not mean "rare" or "dim" but refers to the unhearability and hence intangibility of the Tao. According to the Laozi, "What is listened to but cannot be heard is named xi" (XIV); "The sound of the great note is xi" (XLI).

(10) Guo Shaoyu, ed., Canglang shi-hua jiao-shi (The Annotated Canglang shihua) (Beijing: The People's Literature Press, 1962) 24. In his Dai-jing-tang shi-hua (Remarks on Poetry from the Classics-Carrying Study), the Qing critic Wang Shizhen (1634-1711) echoes Yan Yu by pointing out that the Tang poets' five-character-perline quatrains (wu-yan-jue-ju) often achieve the state of Chan, whose subtle artistry is characteristic of "forgetting words after getting meaning" (Shanghai: Sao-ye shanfang Press, n.d., vol. 3: 1).

(11) Partly responsible for such confusion is Wang Shizhen, who, in advocating his theory of shen-yun (literally, spiritual tone) in his Dai-jing-tang shi-hua, associates the attainment of han-xu in poetry with that of "resonance beyond tone" (Shanghai: Sao-ye shan-fang Press, n.d., vol. 3: 3).

(12) For an art-historical analysis of the two notions of ru-hua (painting-like) and hua-yi (painterly flavor), see Wai-kam Ho, "The Literary Concepts of `Picture-like' (Juhua) and `Picture-Idea' (Hua-i) in the Relationship between Poetry and Painting" in Words and Images: Chinese Poetry, Calligraphy, and Painting, ed. Alfreda Murck & Wen C. Fong (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1991) 359-404. Ho is mistaken in stating that "it was not until the early Sung that the concept of picture-like became associated with beauty in nature" (365) since Li Bai begins his poem "Ascending Xie Tiao's North Tower in the City of Xuancheng on an Autumn Day" with the line "The riverside city looks like in the painting."

(13) For an interesting critique of Ye Xie's and another Qing scholar Lu Ying's notions of poetic unpaintability, see Jonathan Chaves, "`Meaning beyond the Painting': The Chinese Painter as Poet" in Words and Images: Chinese Poetry, Calligraphy, and Painting, ed. Alfreda Murck & Wen C. Fong (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1991) 439-442.

(14) For a roundup of critical perspectives on Wang Guowei's theory of yi-jing or jing-jie, see Yao Kefu, ed., Ren-jian ci-hua ji ping-lun hui-bian (Remarks on Ci Poetry in the World and a Compilation of Criticisms) (Beijing: Shu-mu wen-xian Press, 1983).

(15) My interpretation of this couplet develops partly from Francois Cheng, "Some Reflections on Chinese Poetic Language and Its Relation to Chinese Cosmology" in The Vitality of the Lyric Voice: Shih Poetry from the Late Han to T'ang, ed. Shuen-fu Lin & Stephen Owen (New Jersey: Princeton UP, 1986) 43-44.

(16) In his "The Verse Eye and the Self-Animating Landscape in Chinese Poetry," Tamkang Review 8.1 (April 1977): 123-153, Craig Fisk defines the "verse eye" as "a name for the strategic or unexpected use of a word such that it dominates the reader's reaction to a line of verse" (123). For a detailed analysis of the semiotics of the "verse eye," see Ge Zhaoguang, Han-zi de mo-fang (The Rubik's Cube of the Chinese Characters) (Hong Kong: Chinese Press, 1989) 181-204.

(17) For an attempt to establish a relationship between Pound's poetics and Taoism, see Reed Way Dasenbrock, The Literary Vorticism of Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis: Towards the Condition of Painting (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins UP, 1985) 220-28.

(18) In Wai-lim Yip, Ezra Pound's Cathay (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1969) 22, the author holds a different view on Pound's translation of this couplet: "The original juxtaposition of the two relatively concrete images is skillfully changed. Here an abstract idea is placed against a concrete image, forming an interest no less poetic than the original one." In Eugene Chen Eoyang, The Transparent Eye: Reflections on Translation, Chinese Literature, and Comparative Poetics (Honolulu: U of Hawaii P, 1993) 208, the author defines Pound's translations as "surrogate translations," "where the reader is expected to be innocent of the language in which the original was written" (192). He argues that "Pound produces surrogate translations of variable quality, ranging from misjudged exercises in failed rhetoric to superlative re-creations with a life of their own."

(19) In Qian Zhongshu, Tan yi lu (Discourses on Art), enlarged ed. (Beijing: Chinese Press, 1984) 434-38, while refuting other interpretations of this poem the auhor favors the view that it may well serve as a preface to the self-collection of Li's poems since it is placed at the beginning of that collection. For a detailed historical and textual analysis of this poem that yields yet another interpretation, see Xu Fuguan, Zhongguo wen-xue lun-ji (Collected Discourses on Chinese Literature) (Taipei: Student Book Co., 1985) 177-254. For a hermeneutical reading of this poem, see Zhang Longxi, The Tao and the Logos: Literary Hermeneutics, East and West (Durham: Duke UP, 1992) 148-155. For a comprehensive study of Li Shangyin's poetry including, its annotation and translation, see James Liu, The Poetry of Li Shang-yin: Ninth-Century Baroque Chinese Poet (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1969). Wu-chi Liu and james Liu translated the penultimate line of Li's poem respectively into "These feelings can expect to linger long in the mind" (Wu-chi Liu, An Introduction to Chinese Literature. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1968, 97) and "This feeling might have become a memory to be cherished" (Wu-chi Liu & Irving Yucheng Lo, ed. Sunflower Splendor. Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1975, 240). Both versions are problematic, as both translators interpreted the character ke (can) to mean "can," whereas it actually means he or "how can" in this line.

(20) Su Shi's poem "Written on Wen Yuke's [ca. 1019-1079] Bamboo Painting Owned by Chao Buzhi [1053-1110]" echoes Zhuangzi's allegory and its theme of wuhua:

When Yuke was painting bamboo,

He saw bamboo but not himself.

Nor was he simply blind to himself,

Trance-like, he left his own body.

His body transformed with bamboo,

Creating inexhaustible freshness.

Zhuangzi is no longer in this world,

So who can understand such absorption?!

(Su Dongpo ji Collection I, 16: 62)

In Zhou Zhenfu, ed., Qian Zhongshu Tan-yi-lu du-ben (A Reader of Qian Zhongshu's Discourses on Art) (Shanghai: Shanghai Educational Press, 1992) 85, Qian Zhongshu problematizes the view that wu-hua is a thematic concern of Li's poem.


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Title Annotation:poetry and painting
Author:Da'an Pan
Publication:College Literature
Date:Feb 1, 1996
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