An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Wanqingyi shihui 晚晴簃詩彙 (Qingshihui 清詩彙)

Aug 21, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Wanqingyi shihui 晚晴簃詩彙, or Qingshuihui 清詩彙 for short, is a collection of regular poems (shi 詩) from the Qing period 清 (1644-1911). The anthology was compiled by Xu Shichang 徐世昌(1855-1939), who was not only Prime Minister (1914-1915, 1916) and President (1918-1922) of the Republic of China, but also initiated the compilation of two dozens of literary and historiographical books, among others, Qingru xue'an 清儒學案 and Ming-Qing bajia wenchao 明清八家文鈔. Wanqingyi 晚晴簃 was a studio name of Xu Shichang.

The collection of 200 juan length includes the poems of 6159 persons (in addition to poems written by emperors), with a total amount of 27,000 lyrical pieces. The structure of the anthology imitates older collections like Wu Zhizhen’s 吳之振 (1640-1717) Songshichao 宋詩鈔, Gu Sili’s 顧嗣立 (1665-1722) Yuanshixuan 元詩選, Qian Qianyi’s 錢謙益 (1582-1664) Lichao shiji 列朝詩集 and Zhu Yizun’s 朱彝尊 (1629-1709) Mingshizong 明詩綜 and preserved poems of minor quality if their author was rated as excellent, and presented high-quality poems of relatively unknown persons (yin shi cun ren, yin ren cun shi 因詩存人,因人存詩). In this way, the collection does not onyl present the whole range of Qing-period poems, but also demonstrates the skills and talents of all writers. All persons are introduced by a short biography (xiaozhuan 小傳), and many poems are commented (shihua 詩話).

The comprehensiveness of the collections shows the changes in literary theory and practice over time. During the early Qing period, for instance, writers like Qian Qianyi, Gu Yanwu 顧炎武 (1613-1682), Huang Zongxi 黃宗羲 (1610-1695), Wang Fuzhi 王夫之 (1619-1692), Wu Weiye 吳偉業 (1609-1672) or Wang Shizhen 王士禎 (1634-1711) criticized the tendency of Ming-period 明 (1368-1644) writers just to imitated older models. They were convinced that a poet had to express sincerely and openly his own emotions to reflect the circumstances of his own times. In this way, poems could not be a mirror of history, but might also help to initiate changes. In the high Qing period, there were some theoreticians preparing the ground for more diversity in topics and skills. Such were Shen Deqian 沈德潛 (1673-1769, dediaoshuo 格調說 “structure and melody”), Yuan Mei 袁枚 (1716-1797, xinglingshuo 性靈說 “character and spirit”) or Weng Fanggang 翁方綱 (1733-1818, jilishuo 肌理說 “texture and patterns”). A kind of “poetic revolution” was launched in the mid-19th century by Gong Zizhen 龔自珍 (1792-1841), who left the frame of traditional poetry. Late Qing writers like Huang Zunxian 黃遵憲 (1848-1905), Qiu Fengjia 丘逢甲 (1864-1912), Kang Youwei 康有為 (1858-1927) and Liang Qichao 梁啟超 (1873-1929) began to use poems as an alternative tool of expressing opinions.

The anthology was printed in 1929 by the Tuigeng Studio 退耕堂. This edition was reprinted in 1980 by the Zhongguo Shudian 中國書店 in the shape of 10 cases (han 函). A downscaled version of 4 volumes was published in 1989.

Zhang Yongxiu 章用秀 (1997). "Qangqingyi shihui 晚清[=晴]簃詩匯", in Men Kui 門巋, Zhang Yanjin 張燕瑾, eds. Zhonghua guocui da cidian 中華國粹大辭典 (Xianggang: Guoji wenhua chuban gongsi), 661.