List of Chu Ci contents

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This is a list of the sections and individual pieces contained within the ancient poetry anthology Chu Ci (traditional Chinese: 楚辭; simplified Chinese: 楚辞; pinyin: chǔ cí; Wade–Giles: Ch'u Tz'u), also known as Songs of the South or Songs of Chu, which is an anthology of Classical Chinese poetry verse traditionally attributed to Qu Yuan and Song Yu from the Warring States period, though about half of the poems seem to have been composed several centuries later, during the Han Dynasty.[1] The traditional version of the Chu Ci contains 17 major sections, and was edited by Wang Yi (Chinese: 王逸), a 2nd-century AD librarian who served under Emperor Shun of Han.[1] The Chu Ci and the Shi Jing together constitute the chief sources of pre-Qin dynasty Chinese verse.

"Encountering Sorrow"[edit]

Main article: Li Sao

"Li Sao" (traditional Chinese: 離騷; simplified Chinese: 离骚; pinyin: Lí sāo; literally: "On Encountering Trouble, or, Encountering Sorrow") is one of the most famous of the works contained in the Chu Ci: it mainly is upon a theme of seemingly autobiographical material about the relationship between Qu Yuan and the leadership of the Chu kingdom. Although often interpreted as a political allegory, other aspects of this rather long poem seem to refer to religious and mythological themes derived from the culture of the Chu area.[2] Source text of Li Sao (in Chinese): 離騷. One piece.

"Nine Songs"[edit]

Main article: Jiu Ge

"Jiu Ge" (Chinese: 九歌; pinyin: Jiǔ gē; literally: "Nine Songs"), despite the "Nine" in the title, the "Jiu Ge" actually includes eleven discrete parts or songs. These seem to represent some shamanistic dramatic practices of the Yangzi River valley area and other areas involving the invocation of divine beings and seeking their blessings by means of a process of courtship.[3] Text (in Chinese): 九歌

The titles of the poems in Chinese are as follows (English translations of titles follow David Hawkes:

Standard order English translation Transcription (based on Pinyin) Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese
1 The Great Unity, God of the Eastern Sky "Dong Huang Tai Yi" 東皇太一 东皇太一
2 The Lord within the Clouds "Yun Zhong Jun" 雲中君 云中君
3 The Goddess of the Xiang "Xiang Jun" 湘君 湘君
4 The Lady of the Xiang "Xiang Fu Ren" 湘夫人 湘夫人
5 The Greater Master of Fate "Da Si Ming" 大司命 大司命
6 The Lesser Master of Fate "Shao Si Ming" 少司命 少司命
7 The Lord of the East "Dong Jun" 東君 东君
8 The River Earl "He Bo" 河伯 河伯
9 The Mountain Spirit "Shan Gui" 山鬼 山鬼
10 Hymn to the Fallen "Guo Shang" 國殤 国殇
11 Honouring the Dead "Li Hun" 禮魂 礼魂

"Heavenly Questions"[edit]

Main article: Heavenly Questions

"Tian Wen" (Chinese: 天問; pinyin: Tiān wèn; literally: "Heavenly Questions"), also known as Questions to Heaven, addressed to Tian (or "Heaven"), consists of series of questions, 172 in all, in verse format.[4] The series of questions asked involves Chinese mythology and ancient Chinese religious beliefs. The answers are not explicated. Text (in Chinese): 天問. One piece.

"Nine Pieces"[edit]

Main article: Jiu Zhang

"Jiu Zhang" (Chinese: 九章; pinyin: Jiǔ zhāng; literally: "Nine Pieces,or Nine Declarations") consists of nine pieces of poetry, one of which is the "Lament for Ying" ("Ai Ying"). Ying was the name of one of the traditional capital cities of Qu Yuan's homeland of Chu (eventually, Ying and Chu even became synonymous). However, both the city of Ying and the entire state of Chu itself experienced doom due to the expansion of the state of Qin, which ended up consolidating China at the expense of the other former independent states: including Qu Yuan's home state — hence the "Lament". Text in Chinese: 九章.

Standard order English translation Transcription (based on Pinyin) Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese
1 Grieving I Make My Plaint Xi Song 惜誦 惜诵
2 Crossing the River She Jiang 涉江 涉江
3 A Lament for Ying Ai Ying 哀郢 哀郢
4 The Outpouring of Sad Thoughts Chou Si 抽思 抽思
5 Embracing Sand Huai Sha 懷沙 怀沙
6 Thinking of a Fair One Si Meiren 思美人 思美人
7 Alas for the Days Gone By Xi Wangri 昔往日 昔往日
8 In Praise of the Orange-Tree Ju Song 橘頌 橘颂
9 Grieving at the Eddying Wind Bei Hui Feng 悲回風 悲回风

Note that poem numbers 1, 6, 7, and 9 actually lack titles in the original text; rather, they are named for the sake of convenience after the first few words with which theses poems begin.[5] English titles based on David Hawkes' translations.

"Far-off Journey"[edit]

Main article: Yuan You

"Yuan You" (traditional Chinese: 遠遊; simplified Chinese: 远游; pinyin: Yuǎn yóu; literally: "Far-off Journey") 遠遊 One piece.


Main article: Bu Ju

"Bu Ju" (Chinese: 卜居; pinyin: Bǔ jū; literally: "Divination") 卜居. One piece, mixed poetry and prose.

"The Fisherman"[edit]

Main article: Yu Fu

"Yu Fu" (traditional Chinese: 漁父; simplified Chinese: 渔父; pinyin: Yú fù; literally: "The Fisherman"). Text source (Chinese): 漁父. One piece, mixed poetry and prose.

"Nine Changes"[edit]

Main article: Nine Changes

"Nine Changes" (traditional Chinese: 九辯; simplified Chinese: 九辩; pinyin: Jiǔ biàn; literally: "Nine Changes", or "Nine Disputations", or "Nine Arguments"). Attributed to Song Yu. Chinese source: 九辯. Number of individual pieces uncertain. No separate titles.

"Summons of the Soul"[edit]

Main article: Zhao Hun

"Summons of the Soul" (Chinese: 招魂; pinyin: Zhāo Hún; literally: "Summons of the Soul"). Text source (in Chinese): 招魂. One piece.

"The Great Summons"[edit]

Main article: The Great Summons

"The Great Summons" (Chinese: 大招; pinyin: Dà zhāo; literally: "The Great Summons"). Text source (in Chinese): 大招. One piece.

"Sorrow for Troth Betrayed"[edit]

"Sorrow for Troth Betrayed" (Chinese: 惜誓; pinyin: Xī shì; literally: "Sorrow for Troth Betrayed"). Text source (in Chinese): 惜誓. One piece, with luan.

"Summons for a Recluse"[edit]

"Summons for a Recluse" (traditional Chinese: 招隱士; simplified Chinese: 招隐士; pinyin: Zhāo yǐnshì; literally: "Summons for a Recluse"). Textsource (in Chinese): 招隱士. One piece.

"Seven Remonstrances"[edit]

"Seven Remonstrances" (traditional Chinese: 七諫; simplified Chinese: 七谏; pinyin: Qī jiàn; literally: "Seven Admonishments"). Text source (in Chinese): 七諫. Seven pieces, plus luan.

"Alas That My Lot Was Not Cast"[edit]

"Alas That My Lot Was Not Cast" (traditional Chinese: 哀時命; simplified Chinese: 哀时命; pinyin: Āi shí mìng; literally: "Lamenting this Season of Fate"). Chinese text source: 哀時命. One piece.

"Nine Regrets"[edit]

Main article: Nine Regrets

"Nine Regrets" (traditional Chinese: 九懷; simplified Chinese: 九怀; pinyin: Jiǔ huái or Jiǔ Huái; literally: "Nine Regrets or Verses on Huai"). Attributed to Wang Bao, who flourished during the reign of Emperor Xuan of Han. Source text (in Chinese): 九懷. Consists of nine sections, plus a luan.

"Nine Laments"[edit]

Main article: Nine Laments

"Nine Laments" (traditional Chinese: 九歎; simplified Chinese: 九叹; pinyin: Jiǔ tàn; literally: "Nine Laments"). (歎 is a variant for 嘆). Written by Liu Xiang (77-6 BCE). Text (in Chinese): 九歎. Nine pieces, each one including a final "Lament", entitled 'Embittered Thoughts':

  • 1. 'Encountering Troubles'
  • 2. 'Leaving the World'
  • 3. 'Embittered Thoughts'
  • 4. 'Going Far Away'
  • 5. 'Lament for the Worthy'
  • 6. 'Saddened by Sufferings'
  • 7. 'Grieved by this Fate'
  • 8. 'Sighing for Olden Times'
  • 9. 'The Far-off Journey'

"Nine Longings"[edit]

Main article: Nine Longings

"Nine Longings" (Chinese: 九思; pinyin: Jiǔ sī; literally: "Nine Thoughts"). By Wang Yi, a Han dynasty librarian and compiler and annotator of the Chu Ci. Chinese text source: 九思. Nine pieces, plus a luan.


  1. ^ a b Hawkes, David. Ch'u Tz'u: Songs of the South, an Ancient Chinese Anthology. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959), 28.
  2. ^ Davis, xlv-xlvi
  3. ^ Davis, xlvii
  4. ^ Yang, 9
  5. ^ Hawkes:1985, 152


  • Davis, A. R. (Albert Richard), Editor and Introduction,(1970), The Penguin Book of Chinese Verse. (Baltimore: Penguin Books).
  • Li Zhenghua (1999). Chu Ci. Shan Xi Gu Ji Chu Ban She. ISBN 7-80598-315-1. 
  • Trans. David Hawkes (1985). The Songs of the South: An Anthology of Ancient Chinese Poems by Qu Yuan and Other Poets. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-044375-4. 
  • Hinton, David (2008). Classical Chinese Poetry: An Anthology. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. ISBN 0374105367 / ISBN 9780374105365.
  • Murck, Alfreda (2000). Poetry and Painting in Song China: The Subtle Art of Dissent. Harvard University Asia Center. ISBN 978-0-674-00782-6. 
  • Scarpari, Maurizio (2006). Ancient China: Chinese Civilization from the Origins to the Tang Dynasty. Vercelli: VMB Publishers. ISBN 88-540-0509-6
  • Yang, Lihui, et al. (2005). Handbook of Chinese Mythology. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-533263-6
  • Yip, Wai-lim (1997). Chinese Poetry: An Anthology of Major Modes and Genres . (Durham and London: Duke University Press). ISBN 0-8223-1946-2
  • Zhuo, Zhenying (2006). 楚辞 [The Verse of Chu]. Library of Chinese Classics. Changsha: Hunan People’s Publishing House. 
  • Sukhu, Gopal (2012). The Shaman and the Heresiarch: A New Interpretation of the Li sao. SUNY Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture. Albany: State University of New York Press. 

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