Ambiguity in Chinese Poetry

it is almost like writing in English with only nouns, verbs, and adjectives and without personal pronouns to indicate speaker. Consequently, classical Chinese poetry, especially Tang poetry, possesses an exceptional intensity and ambiguity.

Francois Cheng [tooltip content= “Chinese Poetic Writing: With an Anthology of Tang Poetry (Indiana Univ Press, 1982)”] [source][/tooltip] [green_message] To understand the reasons why the move from classical Chinese poetry to the poetry of the modern era is often perceived as a further decline from the tepid and imitative poetry of the Ming and Qing dynasties, a discussion of aspects of ambiguity in the classical Chinese poem is helpful. With the emergence of the ?ve-character line as the dominant form and the increasing employment of parallelisms in the classical Chinese poem, functional words were gradually reduced to a minimum. As a result, the lines often work like a shooting list for a movie director, conveying an amazing sense of cinematic time and space. But for all the gains in intensity of content and imagery, there was a corresponding rise in ambiguity, since words were juxtaposed without any signs of relationship between them. Given the fact that Chinese characters do not have in?ections in themselves, it is almost like writing in English with only nouns, verbs, and adjectives and without personal pronouns to indicate speaker. Consequently, classical Chinese poetry, especially Tang poetry, possesses an exceptional intensity and ambiguity.
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