An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Gushiyuan 古詩源

May 14, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Gushiyuan 古詩源 "Source of ancient poems" is an anthology of ancient poems. It was compiled during the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) by Shen Deqian 沈德潛 (1673-1769), courtesy name Queshi 確士, style Guiyu 歸愚, from Changzhou 長洲 (today part of Suzhou 蘇州, Jiangsu. He obtained the jinshi degree in 1739 and was Vice Minister of Rites (libu shilang 禮部侍郎). Shen spent his later years in his hometown and compiled many fine poems in old style. His collected writings are called Shen Guiyu shiwen quanji 沈歸愚詩文全集 (Shen Guiyu quanji 沈歸愚全集). He also compiled the poetry collections Tangshi biecai 唐詩別裁 and Guochao shi biecai 國朝詩別裁.

Shen was deeply impressed by Wang Shizhen's 王士禛 (1634-1711) poetry collection Gushixuan 古詩選, but felt that some aspects in it were missing. He therefore compiled a new, 14-juan-log collection including more than 700 poems from the Warring States 戰國 (5th cent.-221 BCE) to the Southern Dynasties period 南朝 (420~589). Poems from the Classic Shijing 詩經 "Book of Songs" and the Chuci 楚辭 "Poetry from the South" are not included.

In his preface, Shen Deqian stressed the importance of ancient poems (gushi 古詩) as precursors to the poems of the regular-style lyrics (lüshi 律詩) from the Tang period 唐 (618-907) that is often seen as the apogee of poetry. For all poems, Shen has added some words commenting them, as well as marks as a reading help. His selection of poems includes the most important classical poems, like "folk songs" from antiquity (geyao 歌謠), "music-bureau-style" ballads (yuefu 樂府) from the Han 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) and the Southern Dynasties periods or pieces crafted by the famous poets Cao Cao 曹操 (155-220), Cao Zhi 曹植 (192-232), Zuo Si 左思 (c. 250-305), Tao Yuanming 陶淵明 (Tao Qian 陶潛, c. 365-427), Xie Lingyun 謝靈運 (385-433), Xie Tiao 謝脁 (464-499), Bao Zhao 鮑照 (c. 414-466) or Yu Xin 庾信 (513-581). Shen Deqian's anthology is a balanced selection of exemplary poems of all dynasties to the beginning of the Tang period so that his anthology can also serve as a textbook on ancient Chinese poetry.

The anthology was finished in 1719. The most common publications of the Guwenyuan are those from the series Sibu beiyao 四部備要, the Wenxue Guji Press 文學古籍刊行社 (1957) and that of the Zhonghua Shuju press 中華書局 (1963). In 1973, the Renmin Press 人民出版社 in Guangdong published a thread-bound edition.

Table 1. Contents of the Gushiyuan 古詩源
1. 古逸 Remainders from antiquity
2.-4. 漢詩 Poems from the Han period
5.-6. 魏詩 Poems from the Wei period
7.-9. 晉詩 Poems from the Jin period
10.-11. 宋詩 Poems from the Liu-Song period
12. 齊、梁詩 Poems from the Southern Qi and Liang periods
13. 梁詩 Poems from the Liang period
14. 陳詩(并附北魏、北齊、北周詩)、隋詩 Poems from the Chen (app. Northern Wei, Northern Qi, Northern Zhou) and Sui periods
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Zhang Wei 張偉 (2013). "Lun Gushiyuan dui Caishutang gushixuan shixue sixiang de chengxi 論《古詩源》對《采菽堂古詩選》詩學思想的承襲", Zhongguo yunwen xuekan 中國韻文學刊, 2013 (4): 28-33.
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