An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Quanqingci chao 全清詞鈔

Aug 24, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Quanqingci chao 全清詞鈔 is a collection of lyric-metre-style poetry (ci 詞) from the Qing period 清 (1644-1911). It was compiled by Ye Gongchuo 葉恭綽 (1881-1968). The collection of 40 juan length includes 8260 poems of 3,196 writers.

Albeit the quality of Qing-period poems does not reach that of their predecessors from the Song period 宋 (960-1279), the number of lyric-metre poetry written during the Qing was vast, and surpassed that of the Yuan 元 (1279-1368) and Ming 明 (1368-1644) periods in the mastery of poetry. There were several famous poets during the Qing, like Nalan Xingde 納蘭性德 (1655-1685), Chen Weisong 陳維崧 (1626-1682) or Zhu Yizun 朱彝尊 (1629-1709).

Nalan Xingde said that an excellent poet would have talent (caixue 才學), would have to understand parables and metaphors (bi xing 比興), and be able to leave the field of pure imitation. Nalan’s poems – mainly that of the short form (xiaoling 小令), were pure and simple, without superfluous adornments. Wang Guowei 王國維 (1877-1927, in his poetry critique Renjian cihua 人間詞話) even said Nalan Xingde was the only ci poet after the Northern Song 北宋 (960-1126) who was worth mentioning. Chen Weisong, who wrote no less than 1600 poems, is often compared with Xin Qiji 辛棄疾 (1140-1207) for the wide field of topics and methods, but he also mastered the style of "delicate restraint" (wanyue ci 婉約詞) poems. His school is called Yangxian School (Yangxian cipai 陽羨詞派). Zhu Yizun was a champion in the use of rhymes and tone patters, and is compared to Jiang Kui 姜夔 (1155-1209) and Zhang Yan 張炎 (1248- c. 1320) for the density and smoothness of his lyrics. As founder of the Zhexi School of poetry (Zheci cipai 浙西詞派), Zhu became the leader of the “Six Masters of Zhexi” (Zhexi liujia 浙西六家), the others being Gong Xianglin 龔翔麟 (1658-1733), Li Liangnian 李良年 (1635-1694), Li Fu 李符 (1639-1689), Shen Haori 沈皞日 (1637-1703) and Shen Yandeng 沈岸登 (1650-1702), as well as Li E 厲鶚 (1692-1752). In the early 19th century, Zhang Huiyan 張惠言 adopted an elegiac style (sao 騷) and founded, with the support of Zhou Ji 周濟, the Changzhou School (Changzhou cipai 常州詞派) with their uneasy and profound poems.

Other outstanding Qing poets of ci lyrics were Wu Weiye 吳偉業 (1609-1672), Wang Shizhen 王士禎 (1634—1711), Cao Zhenji 曹貞吉 (1634-1698), Gu Zhenguan 顧貞觀 (1637-1714), Wang Fuzhi 王夫之, Mao Qiling 毛奇齡, Peng Sunyu 彭孫遹 (1631-1700), You Tong 尤侗 (1618-1704), Cao Fu 曹涪 and Zhu Xiaozang 朱孝臧 (1857-1931).

The collection might be criticized for its lopsidedness in the selection of writers, but it represents an excellent overview of the development of ci poetry during the whole Qing period.

Although Ye was supported by a team, the compilation took from 1929 to 1952. Of all 53 assistants, Lu Weizhao 陸維釗 (1899-1980) supported Ye for the whole period. The collection was published in 1975 by the Zhonghua Shuju 中華書局 in Hong Kong, and in 1982 by the Zhonghua Shuju in mainland China, in a two-volume edition. It was based on official collections as well as on books owned by private collectors like Lin Baoheng 林葆恒 (b. 1881).

Qian Zhonglian 錢仲聯 (1986). "Quanqingci chao 全清詞鈔", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, part Zhongguo wenxue 中國文學 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhonguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 1, 656.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1994). Zhonghua gu wenxian da cidian 中華古文獻大辭典, Vol. Wenxue 文學卷 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 246.
Zhang Yongxiu 章用秀 (1997). "Quanqingci chao 全清詞鈔", 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.