Analyze on Chinese literature. Cao Zhi’s Gong Yan poem.
Do a critical analysis on an article that analyze the Cao Zhi’s 公宴诗(Gong Yan Poem).
Analyze how Cutter analyze the Cao Zhi’s article and also do some criticism
Cao Zhi’s (192-232) Symposium Poems
Author(s): Robert Joe Cutter
Source: Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR), Vol. 6, No. 1/2 (Jul., 1984), pp.
Published by: Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR)
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Cao Zhi’s (192-232) Symposium Poems
ROBERT JOE CUTTER
University of Wisconsin
One of the first incidents related in Cao Zhi’s VW standard biography in the Records
of the Three Kingdoms is an excursion Cao Cao Wl (155-220) led to Bronze Bird Terrace.1
He took his sons along and commanded them to write rhapsodies, presumably to
commemorate the occasion and to extol his creation of that marvelous scenic spot.2
The rhapsody Cao Zhi wrote on that day in 212 A.D. follows here. We are told that
Cao Cao marveled at the speed with which Cao Zhi wrote it. We might also infer that
he was mightily pleased with its contents, for while the first half of the piece is a not
very original description of the scene from Bronze Bird Terrace, the second half is fully
given over to a eulogy of Cao pere.
Ascending the Terrace3
Accompanying our enlightened lord we wander happily,
And mount awhile this terrace to gladden our feelings.
We see the Storehouse of Heaven open wide,4
‘This article is a revised version of a part of chapter two of my dissertation “Cao Zhi (192-232) and His
Poetry,” diss., U of Washington, 1983, 67-193. An early version was presented at the Western Branch Meeting
of AAS in Boulder, Colorado, September 18-19, 1982. The editors of CLEAR have requested that the Chinese
texts of the poems translated herein not be included.
2San guo zhi E_.,I (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1959) 19:557. On Bronze Bird Terrace, see note 52.
3″Deng tai fu’ RV ; see Jean-Pierre Dieny et al., comps., Concordance des oeuvres completes de Cao Zhi
(Paris: l’Institut des Hautes Etudes Chinoises, College de France, 1977) 2:20. The Concordance, as it shall
henceforth be called, is based on and includes Ding Yan Ti (1794-1875), ed., Cao ji quan ping ITf4i
(Beijing: Wenxue guji kanxing she, 1957 rev. ed.). Ding used the version of the fu found in Yin Dan’s 1t
Wei ji 1a3 to collate the one in the Ming edition of Cao’s works that served as his base text. The Wei ji
version comes from Pei Songzhi’s OiS,Z (373-451) commentary in San guo zhi 19:558. On the dating of
the rhapsody to 212, see Cutter, “Cao Zhi (192-232) and His Poetry” 507-08.
Since the completion of this article a very valuable new tool has appeared, an annotated version of Cao’s
complete works. It is Zhao Youwen MJ $J, Cao Zhi ji jiao zhu W i M Ai (Beijing: Renmin wenxue chuban
she, 1984). Although not perfect, this work is a boon to students of Cao Zhi.
4″Storehouse of Heaven” (tian fu 5kH ) is a term that refers to a place, or even a person, in which everything
is to be found. Sometimes it means a region of great natural richness. See, for example, Wang Xianqian
:E- (1842-1918), comp., Xun ziji shi 4:3~WS 19:332, Xinbian Zhuzijicheng irWsTXh; Guo Qingfan
1IU (1844-1896), comp., Zhuang zi ji shi i:-TfW 2:42, Xinbian Zhuzi jicheng; Burton Watson, trans.,
The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu (New York: Columbia U P, 1968) 45; Zhan guo ce @1~ (Shanghai:
Shanghai gu ji chuban she, 1978) 3:78; and the biography of Zhuge Liang tI$M (181-234) in San guo zhi
35:912. But Cao Zhi may very well be alluding to Wenchang 3H, the principal palace of Ye X, in which
city the terrace was located. The reason this is possible is that Wenchang, “Literary Glory” in Edward Schafer’s
translation, is also the name of an asterism; see Edward H. Schafer, Pacing the Void: T’ang Approaches to the
Stars (Berkeley and Los Angeles: U of California P, 1977) 121. And when we look into Sima Zhen’s WIl et
Tang dynasty commentary to Shi ji Ei , we find him quoting a work entitled Apocryphon to the Spring and
Autumn Annals: The Patterned and Radiant Hook (Chun qiu: wen yao gou Vt l*1 ), which says, “Literary
Glory is the Storehouse of Heaven.” See Shi ji (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1959) 27:1294.
2 Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews 6 (1984)
View all his sage virtue has built.
He raised lofty basilicas jagged and peaked,5 5
Floated twin watchtowers in the Greatest Clarity,
Reared floriate lodges that surge to the sky,
Linked flying galleries to the west city wall.6
I overlook the Zhang River’s long course,
Gaze afar at the burgeoning splendor of untold fruits, 10
Lift my face to the softness of the spring breeze,
Hear the sad cry of a hundred birds.
The efforts of heaven will perpetuate what he has built;
The wishes of his house, attained, achieve display.
He spreads his humanizing influence in the world, 15
Is totally reverent and solemn toward the capital.
Even the way Dukes Huan and Wen prospered.
Cannot compare with his sage enlightenment.
O excellent, 0 beautiful,
His kind favor extends afar. 20
He aids our august house,
Pacifies the four directions.
His compass equals heaven and earth,
His brilliance matches the sun and moon.
May he ever be esteemed and honored without limit, 25
And live as long as the King of the East.7
One writer thinks this rhapsody, though still not free of the epideictic tendencies
characteristic of many Han rhapsodies, shows talent.8 Whether or not that is true, it is
significant as a kind of introductory piece to a Jian’an phenomenon. Like many poems
5Instead of “lofty basilicas” (gao dian i ) one edition has “tall gates” (gao men i r! ); see Zhu Xuzeng
? :9M (fl. 1837), ed., Cao ji kao yi
-^ 3:14b, Jinling congshu 4M . Notes on Things in Ye (Ye
zhong ji I4Od ), a work recovered from the Yongle dadian 7-kAL, says:
To the south side of Ye palace were three gates. Fengyang II li, the westernmost one, was twenty-
five zhang [60.3 m] tall. Above there were six levels. The upturned eaves faced the sun. Below two
gateways opened. Furthermore, a great bronze phoenix was set on top and reared its head one zhang
six chi [3.9 m]. … While yet seven or eight li from Ye, one saw this gate in the distance; Ye zhong ji
1, Congshu jicheng H l: .
The Water Classic Commentary (Shui jing zhu *k*l ) says that this gate was thirty-five zhang, the dis-
crepancy apparently resulting from an addition carried out in the Later Zhao (319-351). See Wang Xianqian,
ed., Wang shi he jiao Shui jing zhu IFt;*ffSt 10:8b, SPPY. This discrepancy might be even larger than
it looks due to the tendency of units of measure to increase in size during the period; see William Gordon
Crowell, “Government Land Policies and Systems in Early Imperial China,” diss., U of Washington, 1979,
6The existence of at least a partial western city wall is implied in Shui jing zhu. See Wang, Wang shi he jiao
Shui jing zhu 10:8b. See also Miyagawa Hisayuki ‘JIfii,t^, Rikucho shi kenkya: seiji shakai hen AUSfR
‘ : i iiM (Tokyo: Nihon gakujutsu shinkokai, 1956) 537.
7Dong wang EI (King of the East), also known as Dong fu ~3, Dong wang gong &, and Dong wang fu,
etc., is a deity associated with immortality. He appears in iconography of Han and Three Kingdoms date
together with the Western Queen Mother (Xi wang mu iE a ). See Michael Loewe, Ways to Paradise: The
Chinese Quest for Immortality (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1979) 121-26; Yang Lien-sheng, “A Note on
the So-called TLV Mirrors and the Game Liu-po A P,” HJAS 9 (February 1947): 206 and plate I; Yang Lien-
sheng, “An Additional Note on the Ancient Game Liu-po,” HJAS 15 (June 1952): 138-39; and Stephen Shih-
tsung Wang, “Tsaur Jyr’s Poems of Mythical Excursion,” M.A. thesis, U of California, 1963, 108-09.
8Huang Ruhui tltl-, Zhongguo lidai jiu shiren o4f~jELS,AJ (Hong Kong: Shanghai shuju, 1976) 17.
Cutter, Cao Zhi’s (192-232) Symposium Poems
of the period, it is an occasional poem. As was often the case, others wrote pieces on
the same theme at the same time. And furthermore, Cao’s fu adopts a eulogistic tone
that is seen again and again in works of that age. The nature of the occasion is also
significant; excursions and symposia (convivial gatherings for drinking, conversation,
and so forth) were often a time for rhapsodies and poems. In fact, the poets who lived
during the Jian’an period (196-219) spent a fair amount of time feasting and drinking
and going on entertaining little excursions through beautiful gardens and parks. So
many poems were written either as a result of these occasions or refer to them that
the most important early Chinese literary critic mentions them among the characteristics
of Jian’an verse:
Lingering over “wind” and “moon,” dallying by ponds and gardens, telling of the glory
of princely favor, describing wine-flowing banquets, the poets were unrestrained in giving
rein to their ch’i, openhearted in displaying their talents.9
This aspect of their social life is also expressed in prose of the period. Letters by Cao
Pi WS (187-226) and by Cao Zhi himself to Wu Zhi MW (177-230) speak of the
pleasures of eating, drinking, and touring with friends. Sometime after the year 212
Cao Pi wrote the following letter to Wu Zhi:
Letter to Wu Zhi, Prefect of Zhaoge’1
Fifth month, the eighteenth
I trust you are well. Though the road there is near, official duties are confining. My
feelings of longing for you truly are unbearable.” The place you administer is out of the
way and our correspondence has dwindled, so I am increasingly troubled.’2
I often think of our past outings in Nanpi.13 They were genuinely unforgettable. We
wonderfully contemplated the Six Classics and loitered among the hundred philosophers.
9The statement is from Liu Xie’s 0J1 (ca. 465-ca. 520) Wen xin diao long C,’1JUE, and the translation is
from Daivd Pollard, “Ch’i in Chinese Literary Theory,” Chinese Approaches to Literature from Confucius to
Liang Ch’i-ch’ao, ed. Adele Austin Rickett (Princeton: Princeton U P, 1978) 47. The passage is in Fan Wenlan
fi?C ed., Wen xin diao long zhu C,,0’J0 (Beijing: Renmin wenxue chuban she, 1978 rpt.) 2:66 (see
also 9:673-74). See also Ronald Miao, “Literary Criticism at the End of the Eastern Han,” Literature East and
West 16.3 (September 1972): 1014-15.
‘?The letter is in Xiao Tong’s mi (501-531) Wen xuan )P?. See Xiao Tong, comp., Wen xuan, comm. Li
Shan -* (d. 689) (Taipei: Zhengzhong shuju, 1971) 42:7b-8b. Subsequent references to Wen xuan, unless
otherwise specified, are to this edition. On this edition, see David R. Knechtges, trans., Wen xuan, or Selections
of Refined Literature (Princeton: Princeton U P, 1982), 1: 59-60, 524. The letter also appears in Yu Huan’s
AV (fl. third century) Wei liie SkB, quoted in Pei Songzhi’s commentary in San guo zhi 21:608. There are
minor textual variants.
Zhaoge ~4W was to the west of modem Jun Ni County, Henan. The year is not given. Liu chen zhu Wen
xuan /ES- ̂it (Taipei: Guangwen shuju, 1964 rpt.) 42:784 has “twenty-eighth day.” The Wei lie omits
any date at all. The letter must come from a few years after the death of Ruan Yu V^ in 212. See Li Baojun
t A, Cao shi fu zi he Jian’an wenxue WftA,- U25 3 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1962) 30.
“Cf. Mao shi 30/4. On yuan yan IM, see Bernhard Karlgren, Glosses on the Book of Odes (Stockholm:
Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, 1964) nos. 81 and 126.
‘2A fragment of a letter attributed to Du Yu tIf (222-284) is in the early Song calligraphic compilation
Chunhua ge tie (E~* ~. I quote from this fragment as it appears in Chunhua ge tie shiwen IIZ, a recension
of the Song work done in response to an imperial command of 1769: “The year is suddenly at its end. The
length of our separation increases its misery. The road is far and our correspondence, moreover, has dwin-
dled”; Chunhua ge tie shiwen 2:21, Congshu jicheng.
‘3Nanpi Pik was a prefecture in Bohai iMJ Commandery in what is now Henan. There is a modem
county by the same name.
4 Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews 6 (1984)
Pellet chess was set up at intervals, and we finished with liubo.14 Lofty conversation glad-
dened the heart, and the mournful music of zithers was pleasing to the ear. We galloped
the fields to the north and feasted in the lodges south,’5 floated sweet melons on clear
springs and sank red plums in cold waters. When the white sun disappeared, we carried
on by the bright moon. Riding together we roamed the rear gardens. The carriage wheels
moved slowly, and the entourage was silent. Cool breezes arose in the night, and a sad
reed whistle softly moaned. Happiness left and sorrow came, leaving us woeful and mel-
ancholy. I would look back and say that such joy cannot endure. You and the others
thought I was right.
Now we are really apart, each in a separate place. Ruan Yu has eternally gone, translated
to something other.16 Every time I recall these things-but when will it be possible to speak
with you? Just now it is the season of the ruibin note.17 A southerly breeze fans everything.
The weather is pleasantly warm, and the many kinds of fruit are thriving. Sometimes I
harness up and take an excursion. To the north I skirt the edge of the river. Attendants
sound reed whistles to clear the way, and my Literary Scholars ride in carriages behind.
The season is the same, but the time is another; the externals are right, but the people are
wrong. How disturbed I am!’8
At present I am sending a rider to Ye and, so, will have him detour by you. Go, and
take care of yourself.19
In another letter to Wu, this one datable to March 18, 218, he wrote in part:
In last year’s epidemic many of our friends and family met with disaster. Xu Gan tk
(171-218), Chen Lin K (d. 217), Ying Yangm A (d. 217), and Liu Zhen PJ] (d. 217)
‘4On “pellet chess” (tan qi l ), see Joseph Needham et al., Science and Civilisation in China (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1962) 4.1: 327. Pellet chess was a favorite game of Cao Pi’s. See Cao Pi, Wei
Wendi ji IN &fi 1:4b, 24a, Han Wei Liu chao baisan ming jia ji^lAA _.’ t^, ed. Zhang Pu i
(1602-1641) (Taipei: Wenjin chuban she, 1979 rpt.). See also Richard B. Mather, trans., Shih-shuo hsin-yii:
A New Account of Tales of the World (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1976) 363-64.
On liubo, see the two articles by Yang Lien-sheng, “A Note on the So-called TLV Mirrors and the Game
Liu-po” 202-06 and “An Additional Note on the Ancient Game Liu-po” 124-39. See also Needham, Science
and Civilisation in China 4.1: 327.
‘Lui shi St, which I have translated as “feasted,” is a term that appears in Yi li H 4, where its basic
meaning is, according to Zheng Xuan OA (127-200), “eat (or feast) in a group.” See Yi li Zheng zhu
USI 6:lb-2a, SPPY. See also John Steele, trans., The I-li or Book of Etiquette and Ceremonial (1917; rpt.
Taipei: Cheng wen, 1966) 1: 122-23, 140.
‘”The phrase “translated to something other” (hua wei yi wu ^L e A J) also occurs, for instance, in Jia Yi’s
WAi (ca. 200-168 B.C.) rhapsody “Owl” (“Funiao fu” 1 jA, ), a work in which it may be understood to
refer to death and what comes after. See Shi ji 84:2500.
‘7Ruibin AX is one of the twelve notes of the classical Chinese gamut. See Needham, Science and Civilisation
in China 4.1: 170-71. The “Monthly Ordinances” (“Yue ling” A ‘ ) chapter of the Record of Rites says that
this note belongs to the second month of summer; see Li ji Zheng zhu imBSU3 5:1 lb, SPPY. See also James
Legge, trans., Li Chi: Book of Rites, ed. Ch’u Chai and Winberg Chai (Hyde Park: University Books, 1967) 1:
“,Cf. Mao shi 230/1.
‘9The translation “Go” for xing yi f’, derives from a passage in Han shu A and the commentary to it.
The passage has to do with Emperor Wu’s (reg. 140-87 B.C.) acquisition of Wei Zifu WT5, the future
Empress Wei. She was a singer in the household of the Princess of Pingyang when the Emperor saw her.
“As Zifu got in the carriage the princess patted her back and said, ‘Go, and force yourself to eat and give
it your best. When you are esteemed, I hope you will not forget me.”‘ Yan Shigu ?gSti& (581-654) explains,
“Xing yi is like the modem hao qu kf? (“go well”);” see Han shu (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1962) 97A:3949-
Cutter, Cao Zhi’s (192-232) Symposium Poems
all passed away then. How can I speak of the pain? In days past if we went roaming, we
went with our carriages one after another; if we stayed in, we sat on mats placed together.
We would not be separated for an instant. Whenever the wine goblets and ladles were
moving freely and the strings and bamboos played together, we felt tipsy from the wine
and warm about the ears and, lifting our heads, composed poems.20
Wu Zhi had an enviable correspondence. Cao Zhi’s letter to him contains the fol-
Even though in days past by routine transfers22 we were able to be close companions,
and even though we spent whole days drinking and feasting, when this is put up against
our distant separation and infrequent meetings, it still does not dispel my anxieties.
With cups and ladles bobbing about in front and flutes and whistles issuing sounds
behind, you would raise your body like a hawk in flight, gaze like a phoenix and glare
like a tiger.23 I would say that even Xiao and Cao could not have equaled you, Wei and
Hou would have been no match.24 When you looked left and glanced right, I would say
it was as if no one was about. This surely was due to your grand aspirations.25 Munching
while passing a butcher’s door: though I got no meat, I prized it and it made me happy.
At those times you wanted to pick up Mount Tai to use for meat, pour out the eastern sea
to use for wine, cut the bamboo of Yunmeng to use for flutes, chop down the catalpas on
the banks of the Si to use for zithers.26 You ate as if we were filling a great gully, drank
as if pouring into a leaky cup. From what I have said above,27 this joy was absolutely
incalculable. It surely was the joy of a real man.
But the days are not with us, and the Radiant Numen quickens its pace.28 Our meetings
have all the speed of fleeting lights, our separation the vast distances of Triaster and Shang.29
2″Wen xuan 42:9a. The letter is also quoted from the Wei lie in Pei’s commentary in San guo zhi 21:608-09.
The Wei lue provides the year, the Wen xuan version gives the day.
2’Cao Zhi’s letter appears in Concordance 8:147-49 and Wen xuan 42:15a-17a. Its title is “Yu Wu Jizhong
shu” 9:* .
22Cf. the explanation of Lu Xiang Jn[i, who reads chang tiao 9′-, meaning chang xi JR (“often teased”);
Liu chen zhu Wen xuan 42:790.
23Li Shan (Wen xuan 42:15a) says “phoenix” (feng l) is a symbol for what is civil or literary, and “tiger”
(hu * ) is a symbol for what is martial. I follow Concordance 8:147.10 in reading feng guan I (“gaze like a
phoenix”) instead of the feng tan OK of Li Shan’s Wen xuan.
24Xiao He Xi (d. 193 B.C.) and Cao Shen ~ (d. 190 B.C.) were famous officials. Wei Qing W* (d.
106 B.C.) and Huo Qubing IAtNM (d. 117 B.C.) were famous generals.
2VWen xuan 42:15b reads wu zi zhuang zhi -TF i (“your grand determination”) instead of the junzi ?-T
zhuang zhi of Concordance and the liu chen text of Wen xuan.
260n Mount Tai (Tai shan LU ), see Edouard Chavannes, Le T’ai chan: Essai de monographie d’un culte
chinois (Paris: Ernest Leroux, 1910).
Yun W and Meng 9 were originally two marshes that straddled the Yangtze, with Yun to the north and
Meng to the south of the river. Their location was in the south of present Anlu %[* County, Hubei. See
Hu Daojing MiOI, ed., Mengxi bitan jiaozheng 4t09-AK (Taipei: Shijie shuju, 1961 rpt.) 1:200 (no.
81). See also Qu Wanli ESX , Shang shu jin zhu jin yi f-‘i4E (Taipei: Shangwu yinshu guan, 1979
The Si River (Si he 9M ) rises in Sishui 1*7 County, Shandong. Both the marshes of Yun and Meng and
the banks of the Si are mentioned in the “Yu gong” ̂ M (“Tribute of Yu”) chapter of the Classic of Documents.
See Shang shu Kong zhuan fM :[L. 3:2b, 3b, SPPY.
27Some texts, including Wen xuan, do not have this phrase.
28Cf. Lun yu 17.1. I have translated Yaoling *W (sometimes Wi ) as “Radiant Numen,” following Edward
6 Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews 6 (1984)
I want to press down the heads of the six dragon steeds, stop the reins of Xihe, break the
blossoms from the Ruo tree, and block the valley Meng si.30 But the road in the sky is
high and far and has not been followed for a good long time. I toss and turn with nostalgic
yearnings. What shall I do? What shall I do?
These letters are quoted to dramatize the importance Jian’an writers attached to
time in convivial symposia with friends. Of course, such contact is a nearly universal
need, but that it became an integral part of Jian’an literary life is perhaps best accounted
for by the tenor of the times. A common feature of most discussions of Jian’an poetry
is the belief that the years of political disorder and military strife that characterized
the end of the Han dynasty exerted a strong influence on literature. Not only did the
general populace have a precarious hold on life in such times, but the literary figure,
whether he was Cao Cao’s son or a relatively minor official, was not immune from
danger either. This congruity of history and literature is not a fiction.31 The last of the
Han was a dangerous time, with war, politics, and disease all taking their toll, and one
of the ways poets dealt with these stern realities was by joining together to feast and
drink. There seems to have been a genuine concern with the ephemeral and transient
nature of life, and this resulted in a kind of carpe diem mentality, which we see reflected
in the symposium poems. This attitude appears in various forms; for instance, in the
use of conventionally phrased expressions of reluctance to end the festivities.
Cao Zhi’s symposium poems seem mainly to have been written in the early half
of his life; that is, before Cao Pi formally dispatched the Han dynasty and became
emperor of the Wei in 220. By most accounts, these were happier, less trying years.32
Schafer. Hong Xingzu ^iE (1090-1155) quotes the Bo ya ~t4 (Guang ya h1 ) as saying, “Zhuming X
M, Yaoling, and Dongjun * all refer to the sun”; Chu ci bu zhu Q iS~ 5:3b, SPPY. See Zhang Ji ‘3
(fl. late fifth century), comp., Bo ya 9:4b, Zeng ding Han Wei congshu *1J40 , comp. Wang Mo IE
(Jinxi: Wang shi, 1791) ce 21. For these terms Schafer offers the translations “Vermilion Luminosity,” “Radiant
Numen,” and “Lord of the East.” See Schafer, Pacing the Void 167.
29Edward Schafer writes of Shen 0 and Shang i:
Then there were the two sons of a sky god, Shen and Shang, who have a number of distinct myths:
they are sometimes Hesperus and Lucifer, but in a different tradition they are Orion (my Triaster)
and Scorpio (Antares)-bitter rivals,each always out of the other’s sight at opposite ends of the sky;
Schafer, Pacing the Void 127.
See also Gustave Schlegel, Uranographie chinoise (1875; Taipei: Cheng wen, 1967) 1: 395-96, Joseph Needham
and Wang Ling, Science and Civilisation in China (Cambridge: Cambridge U P, 1959) 3: 242, 249, 282.
30This sentence is a series of Chu ci allusions. The idea is that Cao Zhi wishes he could hold back time.
The first comes from Liu Xiang’s 2J [f (77-6 B.C.) “Jiu tan” ALt, the piece entitled “Roving Afar” (“Yuan
you” XX ); Chu ci bu zhu 16:28a. David Hawkes translates: “I drove my six dragons to the mountain of
Three Perils”; David Hawkes, trans., Ch’u Tz’u, The Songs of the South (Oxford: Oxford U P, 1959) 167. The
mountain is explained by Wang Yi _ET (ca. 89-ca. 158) as a mountain in the west.
Xihe ^U and the Ruo X tree are both mentioned, for example, in “Encountering Sorrow” (“Li sao” N
J ); Chu ci bu zhu 1:21a-b. The first passage goes, “I ordered Hsi-ho to stay the sun-steed’s gallop,” and the
second says, “I broke a sprig of the Jo-tree to strike the sun with”; Hawkes, Ch’u Tz’u 28. See also the passage
on Xihe and the Ruo tree in “Tian wen” XRU; Chu ci bu zhu 3:7b; Hawkes, Ch’u Tz’u 49. Cf. Sarah Allan,
“Sons of Suns: Myth and Totemism in Early China,” BSOAS 44.2 (1981): 296-301.
Meng si WE comes from “Tian wen”; Chu ci bu zhu 3:3b. Hawkes translates it as “Vale of Darkness”:
“The Sun sets out from the Valley of Morning and goes to rest in the Vale of Darkness”; Hawkes, Ch’u Tz’u
47. See also Allan, “Sons of Suns” 301.
3’See Liu Jihua WOEM, Han Wei zhi ji wenxue de xingshi yu neirong m ;Z~ 3fl~ ~9 (Taipei:
Shiji shuju, 1978) 121-22.
32See, for instance, Li, Cao shi fu zi he Jian’an wenxue 34-35; Huang, Zhongguo lidai jiu shiren 17; Chen
Cutter, Cao Zhi’s (192-232) Symposium Poems
One is always a little suspicious of such categorizing, yet it is a fact that certain of the
symposium poems can be generally dated to that time. Although the feast figures to
a greater or lesser extent in all of the poems in this article, these compositions do not
form a strictly homogeneous group. They include some of Cao Zhi’s most and least
important poems, span the genres of fu, shi, and yuefu, and have meters ranging from
mixed line lengths to the five-word line that the Jian’an poets did so much to popularize.
One title is even in the relatively rare six-word line. The first four poems we shall
examine seem to form a special subgroup that I call eulogistic symposium poems.
Occasional poetry is functional poetry, and the eulogistic symposium poems are no
exception.33 In their case function defines form. The ingredients may include a descrip-
tion of the affair, an expression of gratitude or appreciation, and praise.
Cao Zhi’s “Lord’s Feast” (“Gong yan” f2 ) is one such poem. In Wen xuan this
title became the name of a thematic sub-genre. The “Lord’s Feast” section of Wen xuan
includes four Jian’an period poems, one each by Cao Zhi and his contemporaries Wang
Can TE (177-217), Liu Zhen, and Ying Yang.
Cao Zhi’s “Lord’s Feast” is generally accepted as having been written for a banquet
in Ye with Cao Pi, who at the time was General of the Gentlemen-of-the-Household
for All Purposes.34 We surmise the poem is addressed to Cao Pi for a couple of reasons.
First, Cao Zhi’s first line is the same as line 19 of Ying Yang’s poem in the Lord’s Feast
group,35 indicating it may have been composed on the same occasion. The title of this
poem by Ying, “In Attendance at the Jianzhang Terrace Gathering of the General of
the Gentlemen-of-the-Household for All Purposes” (“Shi wuguan zhonglang jiang
Jianzhang tai ji shi” sSi+gM ), makes it clear he means Cao Pi.36 Second,
Cao Zhi’s poem may be a matching poem to Cao Pi’s own “Written at the Lotus Pond”
(“Furong chi zuo” )tif’ ).37
Several scholars date Cao Zhi’s “Lord’s Feast” to 211, on the basis of Cao Pi’s
appointment to office.38 But it has been correctly pointed out by Xu Gongchi $,
Yicheng M1& , Han Wei Liu chao yuefu yanjiu ~MA^IMRJWi (Taipei: Jiaxin shuini gongsi wenhua
jijinhui, 1976) 129-30.
33See the …