Key Chinese Concepts





Form and Melody





The term refers to the form, meter and content of poetry. It relates to artistic taste and appeal in poetry criticism. Ge (格) refers to the need to satisfy established rules of meter, while diao (调) refers to the need to adhere to rules of tone and rhyme scheme. Some poetry critics of the Tang and Song dynasties stressed the importance of form and melody in order to establish a set of elegant and authoritative standards for poetry. Theory on form and melody in the Ming and Qing dynasties often emphasized the importance of poets adhering to Confucian orthodoxy, thus constraining their expression of feelings and artistic creations. The term was later also used in discussions of other forms of art.


引例 Citations:






To be elegant and unaffected is to satisfy the requirements of form; to be tuneful and resonant is to follow the rules of melody. (Li Mengyang: Arguments Against He Jingming’s Views)






Jiang Kui’s poems are characterized by ethereal purity. Though at times tinged with loneliness and sadness, they are of the highest standards and taste. (Chen Tingzhuo: Remarks on Lyrics from White Rain Studio)






Nuanced Flavor





This term refers to an effect that allows lasting satisfaction and a rewarding feeling in poetry appreciation, which is a particular sense of beauty offered by poetry. In the Southern Dynasties, poetry critic Zhong Rong proposed in The Critique of Poetry that in writing five-character-per-line poems, one should pay special attention to the combination of form and content, so that readers could enjoy a poem with inexhaustible delight. Later, nuance also came to refer to a kind of taste in literary and artistic creation.


引例 Citations:





Five-character-per-line poems constitute the most important poetic form and are most richly imbued with nuance. (Zhong Rong: Preface to “The Critique of Poetry”)






A literary work cultivates the mind, implicitly satirizes or criticizes a monarch, and enables the reader to obtain a sense of aesthetic appreciation. Reading such works gives one great delight. (Yan Zhitui: Admonitions for the Yan Clan)