Summer’s almost over so here’s my last post. After gathering lots of information and researching all summer long I’ve come to realize that poetry is very tricky. There are few words on the page and so much of it is bound by cultural context. The books that I’ve used have been really helpful in providing commentary, but I’ve had to get into a mindset to think about what the writer is saying and what they’re not saying.
In my research I’ve found that on one hand, the Ci poems reflect the restrictions placed on women due to their role in society. As women, they had certain roles and were supposed to stay inside the home and were restricted. Poets often portray women as sensuous lovers or lonely women left behind. There is no strong woman who escapes from the confines of society and is praised for it. Some men regard women as property without a second thought. In this way, the poems reflect the reality of Chinese society in the Song Dynasty. However on the other hand, since women sung and sometimes composed these poems the Ci poems also act as a voice for women. One woman poet Li Qingzhao repeated herself in her poems to ensure that her voice would be remembered. Interestingly these two opposites can be found in the Ci song-poems.
Of course there is so much more to explore about the Song dynasty, China, ci poetry, and women in Chinese culture, but unfortunately my project can’t cover it all!