misty poets

Post Cultural Revolution Chinese Poetry The Misty Poets Shu Ting Li-Young Lee

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Context for Misty poets. Credit to JXS


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Post Cultural Revolution Chinese Poetry

The Misty PoetsShu Ting

Li-Young Lee

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The Misty Poets1979-1989Influenced by Western ideasChallenge Maoist ideasComment on political and social issuesCelebrate individualityOften write using obscure imagesMany were exiled after Tianaman Square


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First some Historical ContextThe Cultural Revolution began in the summer

of 1966Students in Beijing formed into military

groups called Red GuardsSchools and colleges were closed so that the

curriculum could be re-written to make young people more aware of Communist ideas

The first aim was to get rid of all “capitalist” and “bourgeois” influences

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Aims of the Cultural RevolutionThe Red Guards began a “Four Olds

Campaign” against Old cultureOld customsOld ideasOld habits

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MethodsThere were huge paradesThere were attacks on anything which

seemed capitalist or bourgeoisPhysical attacks occurredMany works of art were destroyedPlaces were renamedMao said “to rebel is justified.”

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The Red Guards ran wildBy 1967 law and order had broken downRed Guards began to fight among themselves

and against “reactionaries”It is estimated that 400,000 wee killed and

thousands more beaten, tortured or imprisoned

Mao was worshipped as a heroTeachers were attacked as being “too


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ImpactYoung people had missed education Industrial output had fallenFarming was disruptedOld culture was lost or destroyedMany intellectuals had been persecuted or


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What is the significance of this?We are studying a literature course. How will

this information help us understand the misty poets?

Discuss in pairs?

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First ImpressionsWhat is your favourite pair of lines?Why?Action Activity

What imagery do you notice?What is its impact?

How does this poem relate to the background context?

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Structure and Jintishi PoetryDeveloped in the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD)Strict structural features (equivalent to a


8 Lines divided into 4 couplets Each couplet presents parallel ideas from a

contrasting perspective with similar grammatical patterns

Theme was often history or politics

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Sleep Black Prays



Breath Drift


Lovely Rose (v)



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Li-Young LeeFather was a Doctor for Chairman MaoExiled to IndonesiaLater moved to AmericaWrites in English

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What’s it all about?百合Beauty?Sensuality?Death?Significance of the layout?Use of language?Differences between stanza one and two?