Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for Xue Tao

My theme this year is the ABCEDARIA of Women who have inspired me.

X is for Xue Tao, poet (768 to 831 BCE)  

Xue is one of a few courtesan poets that have intrigued and inspired me over the years. She was known for her wit and her ability to captivate the powers that ruled. She was close (or so it is believed) to another courtesan whose name you may or may not see here in a couple of days! I'm inspired by how prolific she remained and how she supported herself in later years by making paper!
Some 450 poems by Xue were gathered in The Brocade River Collection that survived until the 14th century. About 100 of her poems are known nowadays, which is more than of any other Tang dynasty woman. They range widely in tone and topic, giving evidence of a lively intelligence and more than passing acquaintance with the great tradition of earlier Chinese poetry. (Wikipedia)

And here are two poems


Its spirit leans like a thin hook
or opens round like a Han-loom fan,
slender shadow whose nature is to be full,
seen everywhere in the human world. 

the eagle away from the oversleeve

claws sharp as blades
eyes acute as tinkling bells
hunted rabbits over the plain received high praise
for no reason
soared into serene clouds
I must not again be held on the emperor’s shoulder

One weird and interesting fact about Xue is that a crater on Venus is named after her but in an older form of her name 'Hsueh'. Now I'm going to check to see how many others of my list of women who inspired me have craters bearing their names.

What are we to make of these long ago poets - their lives so different from our own but their perceptions perhaps not so unfamiliar?


Margot Kinberg said...

Oh, this is so interesting, Jan! I hadn't read her work before, but it is evocative. And yes, times may change, but sometimes I think the human experience doesn't so much.

Jan Morrison said...

I did check the Venusian craters and found several of my inspiring dolls there - Rebecca West, Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf, Sojourner Truth, and others. So interesting. Wouldn't you like a crater on a planet far far away to carry your name?

Susan Scott said...

Wow, are there really craters on Venus named after these illustrious women? That is wonderfully amazing! So far away - yet their experiences so near and immediate. Thank you Jan ... Xue's poetry from so long ago, still real, evocative. Good that some is known...

Bish Denham said...

It shows that we humans haven't changed all that much, and that our emotions are pretty much the same across time, across cultures.