The interaction between Li Qingzhao’s life and her works
Li Qingzhao, alias Yi An the Lay Buddist, was the greatest woman ci poet in China and a major link in the poetic tradition—the successor to Su Shi and a precursor of Xin Qiji. She was the first person to point out that ci is different from shi (in her “On the Song Lyric”(Cilun)) as ci is closely connected to music and art. In the early stage of her life, Li Qingzhao’s poems revealed her lively untamed spirit and love of nature; however, her later ci-poems contained more sorrows and are more admired for their pathos. Why did the styles of Li Qingzhao’s ci-poems change so much? Why are some of the poems full of happiness and love ...view middle of the document...
She did not have any worries and concerns at that time and enjoyed the sense of freedom and charm of the nature. As she grew up, works like “Spying a stranger, she walks hastily away in shyness: Her feet in bare socks, her gold hairpin fallen. Then she stops to lean against a gate, and looking back, makes as if sniffing a green plum.” (“Rouged Lips”) visualized the energetic and lovely young lady with a bit shyness.
Li Qingzhao married Zhao Mingcheng at eighteen and their marriage was ideal once. Li and Zhao shared the same passion for poetry and antiques. They enjoyed composing poems together and rhyme with each other’s and touring the city in search of antiques and rare editions of ancient books. This was the best time of Li Qingzhao’s life and gave rise to her more quiet, refined ci-poems. The ci-poems she wrote during this period such as “Nature must have regarded her with special favor, To lavish on her such splendid moonbeams. Come drain these golden cups of emerald Till we are drunk. Of all flowers this is the one beyond compare.” (Fisherman’s Pride) and “What need for light green or deep crimson, You choicest of flowers!” (Partridge Sky) revealed her delightful then and her deep love for her husband.
However, the good time did not last long. The next year after Li Qingzhao got married, her father was demoted and Li Qingzhao had to leave her hometown. She asked her father-in-law Zhao Tingzhi for help but Zhao, for the sake of his own benefit, did not help her. Her husband Zhao Mingcheng’s attitude also changed. He put his own interest of the position in the government ahead of his wife’s suffering and pain. As a result, Li Qingzhao left her hometown without Zhao’s company and their separated days began. During this period, her works reflected the political background of the government, which separated the once “loving” husband and wife apart. In “On the Trail of Sweet Incense”, she compared the fluctuation in the government to the deep gloom of cricket and the innocent people who are affected by it to the leaves that fell. “These sudden changes of sun and rain and wind” represented the changeable situation of the government.
Mid-Stage: After moving to Qingzhou, before Zhao Mingcheng died (1107-1129)
Li Qingzhao’s works during this period of time were mostly depressive and sorrowful, while some of them contain unconstrained criticisms and reflection of the society. After Zhao Mingcheng’s father was persecuted by Cai Jing and Zhao’s positions were deprived in 1107, Li Qingzhao wrote works like “Nowhere to find a messenger to convey my teeming thoughts far away. I am in deep sorrow—a sorrow that never abates.” (“Complaint Against A Prince”) to express her depression. Then, she followed his husband to Qingzhou, where she thought she and Zhao could live together peacefully and quietly. Nevertheless, Zhao Mingcheng was not satisfied with this kind of life and kept trying to get back his position in the government. Li Qingzhao’s works...