Ideas, emotions, and poetic devices: Philosophical lyricism in Feng Zhi’s sonnets

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Chinese literature has a long lyrical tradition, where philosophical ideas are often considered to be too “dry” for poetic treatment. In the course of its development, modern Chinese poetry has incorporated such non-lyrical elements as narrative and dramatic techniques. Still, poetry with strong meditative leanings remains a rarity, and “philosophical lyricism” sounds like an oxymoron. In this context, Shisihang ji (Sonnets 1942), written by Feng Zhi (1905-1993), deserves our special attention. Feng is one of the best lyric poets as well as the foremost philosophic poet in modern China. His sonnets are highly regarded for the meditative musings that fuse seamlessly with nature imagery and subtle feelings, a quality that is rather uncommon in modern Chinese poetry. Instead of dwelling on the much-explored theme of the influences of European literature and philosophy on Feng, this paper examines the dynamic interplay between the abstract ideas, vivid images and delicate emotions in his sonnets. Through close readings of Feng’s representative examples, this study seeks to demonstrate how discursive contents, feelings and certain poetic devices work together to create a remarkable kind of lyricism that tries to go beyond personal experiences and aspires to greater generality and social relevance. Copyright © 2012 Overseas Education College of Xiamen University.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
JournalQuarterly Journal Of Chinese Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


Yu, E. (2015). Ideas, emotions, and poetic devices: Philosophical lyricism in Feng Zhi’s sonnets. Quarterly Journal of Chinese Studies, 3(3), 1-12.


  • Sonnets
  • Poetic devices
  • Modern Chinese poetry
  • Feng Zhi
  • Lyricism


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