楚辞 Chu Ci
Chu Ci was a new style of poetry to emerge after The Book of Songs. It originated in the State of Chu in southern China in the 4th century BC. In the course of the formation of this genre, it was much influenced by folk songs, music and the folk literature of the State of Chu, and so it was characterized by a strong local color.
The best representative poet of Chu Ci was Qu Yuan, who is held in the highest esteem in China. On the Dragon Boat Festival every year, Chinese people hold dragon boat race to commemorate him. In the 1950s, Qu Yuan was recommended and cited as an outstanding cultural figure in the world for all people to respect. His main works include Sorrow After Departure (Li Sao), Asking Heaven (Tian Wen)a, Nine Songs (Jiu Ge)b, etc.
Sorrow After Departure (Li Sao) is a colossal political lyric made up of over 370 lines with 2,400 characters. With deep grief, the poet recounts his life, his beliefs and misfortunes, expresses his concern over the fate of the State of Chu and his determination to maintain his lofty aspirations. In this poem, he rode on a jade dragon and a colorful chariot, traveled to Heaven in search of his ideals under the protection of the God of the Moon, the God of Wind and the God of the Sun. Finally he was forced to leave his most beloved State of Chu. Qu Yuan's patriotism and unyielding spirit has encouraged many writers down through the generations.
The use of myths and fantasies, the strange twists of imagination, the vigorous surge of feelings and beautiful verses in Chu Ci demonstrate a unique romanticism that has never faded.