Author: Qu Yuan

Although we know next to nothing about Qu Yuan's time at court, he was said to have been self-assured and unafraid of speaking his mind. Clearly he had a way with words, and people listened to him, including his king. But forthright people have rarely lasted long where power is involved. Qu Yuan aroused the jealousy and envy of others and eventually their slander. When the king believed the slander, Qu Yuan was banished to the north, beyond the Han River. His king, meanwhile, ignored his advice to beware the state of Qin and died a few years later as its prisoner. Qu Yuan was later recalled to court, but the king's son and successor was not receptive and banished him again, this time to the south, beyond the Yangzi, to the region surrounding Dongting Lake. A dozen years later, in 278 BC, Qu Yuan heard that the Chu capital had been sacked by Qin. Feeling that his world had collapsed, he walked into the Miluo River carrying a large stone, not far from where the river enters the lake, and drowned.

A Shaman's Lament
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A Shaman's Lament

Empty Bowl

Poetry. Asian & Asian American Studies. Translated by Red Pine. Before Qu Yuan (340-278 B.C.E.), poems in China read as if they could have been written by anyone. Qu Yuan changed this. It was his voice. He was a poet. Wang Wei once said he never tra...

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