Tomorrow, I will be presenting on the uses of repetition in the poetry of Han Shan 寒山, a mythical recluse from Tang Dynasty China, at Columbia University’s Graduate Student Conference on East Asia. Here‘s the conference website. I’ll be presenting at 2:15 pm in Kent Hall, room 511, for a panel titled “Premodern Chinese Poetry: The Book of Poetry and Its Reverberations.” Here is my abstract:
“Deep, deep, the cold mountain way”: Repetition in Han Shan
Thomas Mazanec, Princeton University
Although repetition appears to be opposed to originality – that quality so highly valued in literary criticism of the West – it is, in fact, central to the art of poetry in classical Chinese. Rather than ignoring or smoothing over acts of repetition in translation, my paper highlights this aspect of the poet’s craft. Specifically, I will examine the immediate repetition of one- and two-character verbal chunks (e.g., fen fen 紛紛 or ciyan ciyan 此言此言) in the corpus of the Cold Mountain (Han shan 寒山) poems of the Tang Dynasty (唐朝, 618-907 CE). These instances of immediate repetition, which appear in 133 of the 309 extant Cold Mountain poems (43%), are of three basic kinds: reduplicative binoms, onomatopoeic binoms, and anadiplosis (dingzhen 頂真). All three types of repetition, though often unnoticed by casual readers, have precedents as far back as the Book of Poetry (Shijing 詩經). Through the use of both linguistic and literary analysis, I will demonstrate that such moments of repetition are integral to the works of one of the most beloved author-figures of the Chinese poetic tradition.
This is one of two papers I’ll be presenting at conferences this Spring, both on repetition. Seems fitting to repeat such a theme. This one is actually only a section of a much longer comparative paper I wrote on repetition in the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins and Han Shan. Due to limits of time and topic, however, I was forced to restrict my analysis. The other paper on repetition concerns the ancient Book of Poetry, especially one poem called “We Are Drunk” Ji zui 既醉 (No. 247 according to the traditional labels), a hymn which was probably recited at early ritual feasts. I’ll presenting that one at the University of Colorado, Boulder Asian Studies Graduate Conference, on either March 2 or 3.
Anyone who wishes to see either paper, please email me. And, of course, you’re more than welcome to show up at either conference.