Ci (poetry)

Ci (Traditional Chinese: ; Simplified Chinese: ; Pinyin: cí, interchangeable with 辭) is a kind of lyric Chinese poetry. The word "ci" is pronounced somewhat like "tsih". It is also known as Changduanju (長短句/长短句 "lines of irregular lengths") and Shiyu (詩餘/诗余 "that which is beside poetry").

Typically the number of characters in each line and the arrangement of tones were determined by one of around 800 set patterns, each associated with a particular title, called cípái 詞牌. Originally they were written to be sung to a tune of that title, with set rhythm, rhyme, and tempo. Therefore, the title may have nothing to do with its contents, and it is common for several ci to appear to have the same title. Some ci would have a "subtitle" (or a commentary, sometimes as long as a paragraph) indicating the contents. Sometimes, for the sake of clarity, a ci is listed under its title plus its first line.

Ci most often express feelings of desire, often in an adopted persona, but the greatest exponents of the form (such as Li Houzhu and Su Shi) used it to address a wide range of topics.

History

Beginning in the Liang Dynasty, the ci followed the tradition of the Shi Jing and the yue fu: they were lyrics which developed from anonymous popular songs (some of Central Asian origin) into a sophisticated literary genre. The form was further developed in the Tang Dynasty, and was most popular in the Song Dynasty.

Classification

Two main categories of ci employed in Song Dynasty were xiǎolìng 小令 (the original form since Pre-Song) and màncí 慢詞 (starting after Liu Yong), depending on the song being either short and in fast tempo or long and in slow tempo. Later in Ming Dynasty and Qing Dyansties, the ci, or rather the cipai, are classified for the number of characters it dictates. It's called xiǎolìng 小令 if it's no more than 58 characters, zhōngdiào 中調 for 59-90, and chángdiào 長調 for over 90. If the ci appears in one stanza, it's called dāndiào 單調, mostly xiǎolìng written in Pre-Song era. The largest majority is shuāngdiào 雙調 with two stanzas or qüè 闋 in identical or nearly identical patterns. There also are rare cases of sāndié 三疊 and sìdié 四疊, for three and four qüè, respectively. In terms of style, ci can also be classified as either wǎnyuē 婉約 or háofàng 豪放.

Cipai

Most cipai consist of three characters. The literal meaning of a cipai can be rather obscure, making it difficult to translate. Some are taken straight from earlier poems, and some are clearly of Non-Han origin — mostly songs introduced from Central Asia. Some cipai have alternative names, usually taken from a famous piece of that very cipai. There also are variants of certain cipai, indicated by a prefix or a suffix.

Example

To the Tune of Riverside City - For ten years here I wander and there you lie
  • 「十年生死兩茫茫。不思量,自難忘。千里孤墳,無處話淒涼。縱使相逢應不識,塵滿面、鬢如霜。 夜來幽夢忽還鄉。小軒窗,正梳妝。相顧無言,惟有淚千行。料得年年腸斷處:明月夜,短松岡。」“For ten years here I wander and there you lie./ I don't think about you often,/ yet how can I forget you!/ With your grave a thousand miles away,/ where can I confide my loneliness?/ Even if we met, could you recognize me,/ with dust all over my face/ and hair like frost?/ Last night I had a dream in which I returned home./ By the window,/ you were combing your hair./ We Looked at each other silently,/ with tears streaming down our cheeks./ There's a place which every year will be my misery:/ the moonlit night,/ the hill of short pines. 「Su Shi, 《江城子·十年生死兩茫茫》,蘇軾?
In the title of this ci, "the Tune of Riverside City" is the cipai, followed by the first sentence of the poem. Su Shi got married when he was 19, his wife 16. His wife died when she was only 27. Because of his government duties, Su Shi had moved to many different places in China, all far away from his hometown. One night in early 1075, about 10 years after her death, Su Shi dreamed of his wife, then composed this famous ci.

Famous Ci Poets

Traditional Chinese
Child systems Simplified Chinese
Chữ Nôm
Sister systems Hanja, Kanji

ISO 15924 Hant

Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.
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Simplified Chinese

Sister systems Kanji, Chữ Nôm

ISO 15924 Hans

Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.
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Pinyin, more formally called Hanyu Pinyin (Simplified Chinese: 汉语拼音; Traditional Chinese: 漢語拼音
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Lyric poetry refers to either poetry that has the form and musical quality of a song, or a usually short poem that expresses personal feelings, which may or may not be set to music.
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Chinese Poetry is the most highly regarded literary genre in China. Traditionally, it is divided into shi (詩), ci (詞) and qu (曲). There is also a kind of prose-poem called fu (賦).
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This page contains Chinese text.
Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.


A Chinese character or Han character (Simplified Chinese:
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A Tonal language is a language that uses tone to distinguish words. Tone is a phonological trait common to many languages around the world (though rare in Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Pacific). Chinese is perhaps the most well-known of such languages.
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persona, in the word's everyday usage, is a social role or a character played by an actor. The word derives from the Latin for "mask" or "character", derived from the Etruscan word "phersu", with the same meaning.
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Li Houzhu (Chinese: 李後主; Pinyin: Lǐ Hòuzhǔ; literally "The Latter Lord Li", 936–978), also known as Houzhu of Southern Tang
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Su shi may mean:
  • Sushi, in Japanese cuisine, a food made of vinegared rice.
  • Su Shi, an 11th century writer.


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Southern and Northern Dynasties
(420–589)

Southern Dynasties: Northern Dynasties:
Liu Song
Southern Qi
Liang
Chen
Northern Wei
Eastern Wei
Western Wei
Northern Qi
Northern Zhou
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Book of Songs (Arabic: Kitab al-Aghani) written by the 9th century Arab scholar Abu al-Faraj, see Kitab al-Aghani.


Shi Jing (Traditional Chinese: 詩經
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Yue fu (Traditional Chinese: 樂府; Simplified Chinese: 乐府; Hanyu Pinyin: yuèfǔ) are Chinese poems composed in a folk song style. The term literally means "music bureau", a reference to the government organisation originally charged with collecting or
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Central Asia is a vast landlocked region of Asia. Though various definitions of its exact composition exist, no one definition is universally accepted. Despite this uncertainty in defining borders, it does have some important overall characteristics.
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The Song Dynasty (Chinese: 宋朝; Pinyin: Sòng Cháo; Wade-Giles: Sung Ch'ao) was a ruling dynasty in China between 960–1279 AD; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms era, and
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The Song Dynasty (Chinese: 宋朝; Pinyin: Sòng Cháo; Wade-Giles: Sung Ch'ao) was a ruling dynasty in China between 960–1279 AD; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms era, and
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Liu Yong (Chinese: 柳永, 987—1053) is a Chinese poet of the Song dynasty. He was born in Chong'an (崇安) of Fujian.
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History of China
ANCIENT
3 Sovereigns and 5 Emperors
Xia Dynasty 2070–1600 BCE
Shang Dynasty 1600–1046 BCE
Zhou Dynasty
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History of China
ANCIENT
3 Sovereigns and 5 Emperors
Xia Dynasty 2070–1600 BCE
Shang Dynasty 1600–1046 BCE
Zhou Dynasty
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Li Houzhu (Chinese: 李後主; Pinyin: Lǐ Hòuzhǔ; literally "The Latter Lord Li", 936–978), also known as Houzhu of Southern Tang
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Liu Yong (Chinese: 柳永, 987—1053) is a Chinese poet of the Song dynasty. He was born in Chong'an (崇安) of Fujian.
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Ouyang Xiu (Traditional Chinese: 歐陽修; Simplified Chinese: 欧阳修; Wade-Giles: Ou-yang Hsiu) (1007 – September 22, 1072
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Su shi may mean:
  • Sushi, in Japanese cuisine, a food made of vinegared rice.
  • Su Shi, an 11th century writer.


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Huang Tingjian (Chinese: 黄庭堅, 1045—1105), is predominantly known as a calligrapher but was also admired for his painting and poetry. He was one of the Four masters of the Song Dynasty.
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Jiāng Kuí (姜夔) (c. 1155 – c. 1221) was a famous Chinese poet, composer and calligrapher of the Song Dynasty. He composed numerous poems inclucing the famous "He Bei Lai" and more well known "San Wan Yue."
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Xin Qiji (28 May 1140—1207) was a Chinese poet and military leader during the Southern Song dynasty.

At the time of his life, northern China was occupied by the Jurchens, a people from what is now north-east China then regarded as barbarians but later to become
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Li Qingzhao (Traditional Chinese: 李清照; Simplified Chinese: 李清照, pinyin: Lǐ Qīngzhào; Wade-Giles: Li Ch'ing-chao) (1084–c.
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Nalan Xingde (Na-lan Hsing-te) (Simplified Chinese: 纳兰性德; 1655-1685) was a Qing Dynasty poet most famous for his ci poetry. Born in Beijing in the January of 1665, Nalan Xingde was an aristocrat related to the founder of the Qing Dynasty himself.
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Mao Zedong pronunciation   (Simplified Chinese: 毛泽东; Traditional Chinese: 毛澤東; Pinyin: Máo Zédōng; Wade-giles:
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