Mar 17, 2014

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Li Qingzhao (1084-1155)

Li Qingzhao (1084-1155), self-titled Yi’an Jushi, is one of the most-talented women in China history in the literature field. Her life was a bittersweet story.

She married Zhao Mingcheng and shared with him the love of poetry and antiquities. They had enjoyed a happy family life before the emperors of the Song Dynasty were captured by the invasive Jin people. In the midst of the invasion, her husband died and she had to flee from her sacked home town. Hardship and suffering made her poetic style widely different from earlier works, which mainly deliver the maiden naivety and the subtle feelings of parting with her husband, or her passion with the nature, plants and pets. It turned to be melancholy and imposing, reflecting the hardship she bore.

She excelled in using normal language to depict the subtle mentality and emotions of the characters. Her choice of images and words is unique and innovative, such as “the red must be getting thin, while the green is becoming plump”; “I dwindle, this as a golden flower”; “spoiled willows and coquet flowers”. She is believed to be the most prolific and accomplished female poet in the history of Chinese literature. Her audacity in expressing the pursuit of true love and delicacy in the depiction of emotions reflect her intuition of being a female. Her prominence unprecedentedly changed the male-oriented field of poetry in her period. And whoever has some interest in Chinese poet, she has the position like Emily Dickinson in American literature.

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