E240 Classic of Poetry Questions
E240 CLASSIC OF POETRY QUESTIONS

Assigned: from The Classic of Poetry (812-20). Also read "Poetry and Thought in Early China" (805-09).

"Fishhawk"

1. Who is the speaker – an individual or the community? In what sense is this poem "lyric"? What does the natural scenery add to the poem's emotional atmosphere?

"Plums are Falling"

2. What state of mind does this poem express? Why might the action of harvesting plums be especially appropriate for conveying such a feeling or state of mind?

"Dead Roe Deer"

3. What is the situation in this poem? How do you interpret the maiden's response to her situation in the final stanza? What does the "dead roe deer" symbolize?

"Boat of Cypress"

4. What might be the source of the speaker's suffering? In what sense is her "utterance" (i.e. the written poem) a way of dealing with it? How is the leading image, the boat of cypress, related to the poem's subject, and what other imagery does the speaker mention to express her grief?

"Gentle Girl" and "Quince"

5. How do "Gentle Girl" and "Quince," respectively, represent the connections people make between the objects of their affection and ordinary (or not so ordinary) material objects? How do these objects prove useful in defining and redefining feelings and relationships?

"Chung-Tzu, Please"

6. This is a romantic poem, but more specifically, how does the young woman speaker mediate between her own passion, the passion of her suitor, and the feelings and expectations of her family and society in general? How does she redefine the suitor's proper role as a lover – what must he do to keep her affections?

"I Went Along the Broad Road"

7. This very short poem nonetheless conveys something significant – how do you interpret its meaning, its message? What is it claiming about past loves and friendships? Do you agree with the sentiment expressed? Why or why not?

"Rooster Crows"

8. In this poem, the male and female speaker express different attitudes towards the coming of the dawn – what attitudes do they convey about it? What future is projected? How do you interpret the final stanza – how does it relate to the previous ones?

"Willows by the Eastern Gate"

9. What is the situation in this poem, and how is the natural scene made a vehicle for the conveyance of an emotional state?

"She Bore the Folk"

10. This poem, rather like the Homeric hymns with its paeans to Ceres and Demeter, celebrates the harvest in the form of a god, Lord Millet. How was Lord Millet born and raised? How is he like and unlike ordinary human beings? Finally, do a bit of net-research and find out why this legend was important to the Chou dynasty.

Lawall, Sarah, ed. The Norton Anthology of World Literature. 2nd edition. Volumes 1ABC. New York: Norton, 2002. ISBN A = 0-393-97755-2, B = 0-393-97756-0, C = 0-393-97757-9.