Modern Poetry in the Guangzhou Area During the May-Fourth Era and Its Relation with Christianity: On Li Shenghua’s Harmony Collection
Keywords:基督教意象, 雅歌體, 李聖華, 和諧集, 五四小詩運動, Christian Imagery, Song of Songs, Li Shenghua, Harmony Collection, Little Poetry Movement
LANGUAGE NOTE | Document text in Chinese; abstract also in English.
Li Shenghua’s Harmony Collection (Hexie ji) is the earliest extant collection of modern (vernacular) poetry published in Guangdong province. Recently it was rediscovered and republished by Hong Kong poets, and has attracted considerable attention. The earliest piece in it was completed in 1922, only six years after the first poetry in the vernacular. There is little information about the author Li Shenghua (1902-1986), in May Fourth documents, and the materials for his biography still need to be compiled and examined. For now, though, sources for the history of Christianity in Hong Kong do provide some information on his life and career.
This article contains two sections. The first section of the article uses primary sources to examine the author’s life and determine the dating of his writings and publications. The second section examines the nexus of literature and Christianity, comparing the modern poems in the collection with contemporary works composed in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hangzhou. This article uses the Harmony Collection to demonstrate that modern poetry in Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao had already made substantial progress in the 20s and 30s, and overturns the common view that modern poetry had not yet appeared in Guangdong in the 20s. This article further explores how this collection was influenced by the imagery and styles of the Bible, thereby showing how Christianity and Biblical culture entered May Fourth literature via modern poetry, broadening the very nature of modern Chinese poetry. The discussion of the poems addresses two main issues: (1) Christian imagery and the prayer-like poems of the May Fourth era; and (2) poems imitating the style and romantic imagery of the Song of Songs, and their religious mysticism.
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