Xie Lingyun Analysis

Other literary forms

(World Poets and Poetry)

The official biography of Xie Lingyun (sheh lihng-YUHN), compiled during the early sixth century, records his collected works in twenty folios and notes that Xie compiled a history of the Jin Dynasty, elements of which still survive. Also extant are fourteen fur hyme-prose compositions (that is, prose poetry, with rhythm and occasional rhyme) and twenty-eight items of official prose, letters, prefaces, eulogies, in memoriams, and Buddhist essays totaling four folios.


(World Poets and Poetry)

Important critics from the sixth century to the eighteenth century have been unanimous in attributing to Xie Lingyun both the founding of the shanshui (literally “mountains and waters”) or “nature” poetry, popular in his own day, and its highest development. His travels in mountain retreats, for which he invented special climbing boots with reversible studs, and which inspired his tumultuous landscape descriptions, further brought him into contact with newly introduced Buddhist ideals, and his profound philosophical speculations added dimensions to the religious debates of his time and to the evolution of Buddhist sectarian thought. A member of the most aristocratic of the Southern Dynasties’ families, his great intellectual abilities and skill as a calligrapher and painter attracted the notice of emperors of two regimes, and he was involved—fatally, as it was to transpire—in the most serious matters of state. Locations in his native Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces are still named after him.


(World Poets and Poetry)

Cai, Zong-qui, ed. How to Read Chinese Poetry: A Guided Anthology. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. Contains a chapter on landscape poems that has three sections on poetry by Xie Lingyun. It takes a step-by-step approach to the poetry, explaining wording and references. Contains English translations, Chinese originals, and romanizations of the Chinese.

Chang, Kang-i Sun. Six Dynasties Poetry. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1986. The second chapter provides a scholarly discussion of Xie Lingyun’s life and poems.

Cheng, Yü-yü. “Bodily Movement and Geographic Categories: Xie Lingyun’s ’Rhapsody on Mountain Dwelling’ and the Jin-Song Discourse on Mountains and Rivers.” American Journal of Semiotics 23, nos. 1-4 (2007): 193-222. Examines Xie Lingyun’s “Dwelling in the Mountains” and his other work and argues that the poet’s landscape poetry was not a static observation of his surroundings but a bodily engagement with them, thus creating a new geographical discourse.

Feng, Youlan. A History of Chinese Philosophy. Translated by Derk Bodde. 2 vols. 1973. Reprint. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1983. Chapter 7 of the second volume of this excellent scholarly work carefully examines various aspects of Buddhism and Xie Lingyun’s role and influence in...

(The entire section is 525 words.)