Li Bai's "Rhapsody on the Hall of Light": A Singular Vision of Cosmic Order

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Li Bai's "Rhapsody on the Hall of Light" offers a grand tour and exuberant depiction of the Mingtang, an edifice central to traditional theories of government and ritual. The poem has often been dismissed as belonging to the poet's juvenilia, but more likely reflects the ambition and self-confidence of his youthful prime. It has also been viewed with suspicion because of the Mingtang's associations with the interregnum of Empress Wu, but this only increases its interest for the modern reader. Comparison with its primary models, the epideictic fu of the Han dynasty, shows Li Bai's ability to transform his sources. He inserts his own flourishes within the cosmic order that the Mingtang represents, while recasting the edifice as a symbol of his own creative prowess. The article concludes with the first complete English translation of the "Rhapsody on the Hall of Light.".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-97
Number of pages63
JournalT'oung Pao
Volume101
Issue number1-3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 28 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Hall of Light
  • High Tang
  • Li Bai
  • Mingtang
  • fu poetry
  • rhapsody

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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