An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Quansongshi 全宋詩

Sep 1, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Quansongshi 全宋詩 is a complete collection of regular poetry (shi 詩) from the Song period 宋 (960-1279). It was compiled by the Beijing Daxue Guwenxian Yanjiusuo 北京大學古文獻研究所 under the direction of Fu Yuancong 傅璇琮 (1933-2016) and published between 1986 and 1998. The collection consists of 72 volumes with 3,785 juan, presenting the poems of more than 9,000 persons. The book must not be confounded with the collected regular poems of the Liu-Song period 劉宋 (420-479) that is part of Ding Fubao's 丁福保 (1874-1952) collection Quan Han Sanguo Jin Nanbeichao shi 全漢三國晉南北朝詩.

The genre of regular poems has been associated with the Tang period 唐 (618-907) since long, and a complete compilation of Tang-period shi poems, Quantangshi 全唐詩, was compiled during the early 18th century. However, the genre of regular poems did not cease to exist, and Song-period writers continued to write their lyrics in this style, even to a larger extent, and often in higher quality. Knowledge about the quality of Tang-period lyrics can be attested in the critical compilation works of the Song period, like the anthology Wenyuan yinghua 文苑英華, Yao Xuan’s 姚鉉 (967-1020) Tangwencui 唐文粹, Hong Mai’s 洪邁 (1123-1202) Wanshou Tangren jueju 萬首唐人絕句, or Zhao Mengkui’s 趙孟奎 (mid-13th cent.) Fenlei Tang geshi 分類唐歌詩 and Ji Yougong's 計有功 (early 12th cent.) Tangshi jishi 唐詩紀事.

There are about 2,200 known shi poets of the Tang period, with an amount of 48,000 poems, while there were about 9,000 writers of the Song period who engaged in regular poetry (Qian 1989: 2; Quansongshi bianzuan weiyuanhui 1989: 10).

Yet the contempt for Song-period shi poems found its highlight during the Ming era 明 (1368-1644), when the two groups of the Former Seven Masters (qian qi zi 前七子) and the Later Seven Masters (hou qi zi 後七子) brought forward the slogan of "Han-period prose and Tang-period lyrics are the best" (wen bi Qin-Han, shi bi sheng-Tang 文必秦漢,詩必盛唐). Not just in the field of prose writings, but also in the field of regular poetry, the Tang era overshadowed the Song (zun Tang chu Song 尊唐黜宋).

Only a few Ming-period scholars like Fang Xiaoru 方孝孺 (1357-1402) recognized the value of Song-period shi poetry. Yet a huge amount of collections of Tang-period poems was published, while the achievements of Song writers were neglected.

The collection of Song-period shi poems began during the Qing period 清 (1644-1911), with Wu Zimu’s 吳自牧 (1640-1717) Songshichao 宋詩鈔 (with 12,000 poems), Zhang Yuzhang’s 張豫章 (jinshi degree 1662) (Yuding) Sichao shi (御定)四朝詩 (with 882 writers from the Song period), Cao Tingdong’s 曹庭棟 (1700-1785) Song baijia shicun 宋百家詩存, Li E’s 厲鶚 (1692-1752) Songshi jishi 宋詩紀事 (3,812 writers) and Lu Xinyuan’s 陸心源 (1838-1894) supplement Songshi jishi buyi 宋詩紀事補遺 (3,000 writers), Chen Zhuo's 陳焯 (1898—1950) Song-Yuan shihui 宋元詩會, Faššan's (Ch. Fashishan 法式善, 1752-1813) Song-Yuanren shiji 宋元人詩集 and many smaller collections like Jianghu xiaoji 江湖小集, Jianghu houji 江湖後集, Liang-Song mingxian xiaoji 兩宋名賢小集 (157 persons), and the lost collections Jiangxi shipai 江西詩派 and Jiangxi xupai 江西續派, Qishi'er feng zu hui ji 七十二峰足徽集, Dong'ou shicun 東甌詩存, Penglaige shiji 蓬萊閣詩集 and Taoyuandong ji 桃源洞集. However, all these collections do not constitute more than a quarter of all shi-style poems written during the Song period.

The complete collection of Song-period shi poems was initiated by the Beijing Daxue Guwenxi Yanjiusuo 北京大學古文戲硏究所, which established the compilation team Quansongshi Bianzuan Weiyuanhui 《全宋詩》編纂委員會. Based on existing collections, the team combed collections of individual writers (bieji 別集), poetry discussions (shihua 詩話), fragments quoted in other literature or in the (fragmentary) Ming-period encyclopeadia Yongle dadian 永樂大典 and the fragmentary encyclopaedia Shiyuan 詩淵, the complete encyclopaedias Shiwen leiju 事文類聚 and Gujin hebi shilei beiyao 古今合璧事類備要, stone inscriptions, "brush notes"-style essays (biji 筆記), local gazetteers, texts found in Dunhuang (Dunhuang yishu 敦煌遺書), prefaces (tiba 題跋) to calligraphies and paintings, and various unpublished manuscripts stories in libraries.

The compilation followed the principle to preserve as much regular poems from the Song period as possible, and thus included also anonymous writings and fragments, all regardless of their literary quality. The collection includes poems written before the foundation and after the demise of the Song period, as long as their authors were mainly active in writing literature during the Song period, and within the confines of the Song empire. This means that writers of the Liao 遼 (907-1125) and Jin 金 (1115-1234) empires, and the Five Dynasties 五代 (907-960) and the Ten States 十國 (902~979), were not included.

Authors are arranged chronologically as far as possible. Unlike traditional collections, Emperors, princes, Buddhist and Daoist monks and females were also arranged chronologically, and not put into separate fascicles. The only exception are wholly undateable poems, and fictional authors. For each author, a short biography is provided, and all poems are critically commented, due to the fact that some editions showed considerable variations in the wording of texts. For all texts, source information is provided (chuchu 出處).

Chen Xin 陳新 published in 2005 critical commentaries on the collection, Quansongshi dingbu 全宋詩訂補. A supplement to the collection, Quansongshi jibu 全宋詩輯補, was published in 2016 by Tang Huaquan 湯華泉.

Qian Zhonglian 錢仲聯 (1989). "Qian xu 錢序", in Beijing Daxue Guwenxian Yanjiusuo 北京大學古文獻研究所, ed. Quansongshi 全宋詩 (Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe), 1-4.
Quansongshi bianzuan weiyuanhui 《全宋詩》編纂委員會 (1989). "Bianzuan shuoming 編纂說明", in Beijing Daxue Guwenxian Yanjiusuo 北京大學古文獻研究所, ed. Quansongshi 全宋詩 (Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe), 7-22.