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I have a limited (one year Mandarin) understanding of Chinese. I read that Chinese poetry can rhyme extensively but is there the possibility that a poem might use the appearance of characters or characters that share radicals?

Forgive me for the possibly stupid question.

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  • 1
    I think you need to provide more detail/clues for people to understand. Do you have a specific example of it?
    – r13
    Dec 7, 2022 at 23:25
  • I am sorry, I do not. In English or any alphabetic writing system, if two words shared the same ending but had different beginnings the words would often rhyme. So the idea of a poem created because of similarity of word appearance alone makes no sense. I am talking about a poem in Chinese where the words are chosen not because they rhyme but because there is a visualize similarity between the two characters such as sharing a radical or some other aspect of appearance. That's the best I can do, sorry.
    – releseabe
    Dec 7, 2022 at 23:36
  • You can provide an example in English, it may help.
    – r13
    Dec 7, 2022 at 23:40
  • English has no examples -- only Chinese or other languages that do not use Chinese characters could have poetry based on appearance of characters.
    – releseabe
    Dec 7, 2022 at 23:47
  • 1
    @releseabe Would you consider 对联 to be relevant here? For example, “大木森森,松柏梧桐杨柳;碧水淼淼,江河湖海汪洋。” plays on radicals.
    – EEQ
    Dec 8, 2022 at 0:10

2 Answers 2

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In literary studies, this is dubbed "visual poetry (視覺詩)", and Chinese visual poetry is a rich but understudied field (as of the early 2020s!).

In 2014, Paul Manfredi wrote Modern Poetry in China: A Visual-Verbal Dynamic as part of the Cambria Sinophone World Series.

In 2018, the monograph Chinese Visual Poetry: The Path of a Picturesque Literature was published. Some previous work is available online from parts of the author's PhD dissertation.

Conversely, references to concrete poetry go into great detail on the idea of the Chinese ideogram and its influence, through Orientalism and later, on Western visual poetry. Among them, The Translation and Transmission of Concrete Poetry edited by Corbett and Huang stands out to me.

Some comparative studies have also been done, among them this 2019 study: Comparative Aesthetics of Chinese and Western Visual Poetry Based on the Multimodal Theories.

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  • thanks. that seems just what i was looking for.
    – releseabe
    Dec 8, 2022 at 0:40
  • 3
    I don't think "visual poetry (視覺詩)" is something you are looking for, otherwise, there are many examples of using different languages including English. Nevertheless, the answer is quite educational.
    – r13
    Dec 8, 2022 at 3:21
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  1. 同旁詩、聯邊詩

All characters in each verse share the same radical.

Examples:

黃庭堅《戲題》

逍遙近道邊,憩息慰憊懣。晴暉時晦明,謔語諧讜論。草萊荒蒙蘢,室屋壅塵坌。僮僕侍偪側,涇渭清濁混。

辶辶辶辶辶,心心心心心。日日日日日,訁訁訁訁訁。艹艹艹艹艹,土土土土土。亻亻亻亻亻,氵氵氵氵氵。

黃庭堅《少女遊春》

楊柳枝枝柔,鸝鳴鴛鴦鳧。妍妝妙女嬌,淘淘漫游湖。

沈炯《和蔡黃門口字詠》

囂囂宮閣路,靈靈谷口閭。誰知名器品,語哩各崎嶇。


  1. 拆字詩、一字三呼詩

Each sentence contains a character as well as its component(s).

Examples:

劉一止《山中作拆字語寄江子我郎中》

日月明朝昏,山風嵐自起,石皮破仍堅,古木枯不死。可人何當來,意若重千里,永言詠黃鶴,志士心未已。

日+月=明,山+風=嵐,石+皮=破,古+木=枯,可+人=何,千+里=重,永+言=詠,士+心=志。

白樂三《題壁》 出自《藏頭詩》(嘉慶本)

一大青山雲接天,白水茫茫總是泉。 不見老僧何處覔,舟工來問渡頭舡。

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陳希顏《長沙懷古》

千里長沙隔九重,中心磊落意孤忠, 人到奇才偏潦倒,寸圭尺主幾何封。


  1. 拆字頂真詩、半字連環詩

A radical is used as a component of a character at the end of a verse and as an independent character at the beginning of the next verse.

Examples:

白居易《遊紫霄宮》

水洗塵埃道味甞,甘於名利兩相忘。心懷六洞丹霞客,口誦三清紫府章。十里採蓮歌達旦,一輪明月桂飄香。日高公子還相覓,見得山中好酒漿。

水     甞,甘     忘,心     客,口     章,十     旦,一     香,日     覓,見     漿。

孔平仲《寄賈宣州》

高會當年喜得曹,日陪宴侃自忘勞。力回天地君應憊,心扶乾坤我尚豪。豕亥論書非素學,子孫幹祿有東臯。十年舊友相知寡,分付長松蔭短蒿。

孔平仲《呈章子平》

玉輅聲華星鬥傍,方州投老憩甘棠。木逃剪伐枝長碧,石耐鐫磨性有常。巾楮藏經勤問學,子孫傳業富文章。十年流落歸何暮,日聽除書侍玉皇。


  1. 拆字頂真嵌題詩

The title is made up of the characters formed by combining the characters at the end of each verse and at the beginning of the next verse.

Examples:

陸龜蒙《鳴蜩早》

閒來倚杖柴門口,鳥下深枝吸晚蟲。 周步一池銷半日,十年聽此鬢如蓬。

                      口+鳥=鳴   蟲+周=蜩   日+十=早

陸龜蒙《飲巖泉》 

已甘茅洞三君食,欠買桐江一朵山。 嚴子瀨高秋浪白,水禽飛盡釣舟還。

皮日休《晚秋吟》

東皋煙雨歸耕日,免去玄冠手刈禾。 火滿酒爐詩在口,今人無計奈儂何。

皮日休《好詩景》 

青盤香露傾荷女,子墨風流更不言。 寺寺雲蘿堪度日,京塵到死撲侯門。


  1. 拆字藏頭詩

The character at the beginning of the fourth verse is made up of the three characters at the beginning of the three preceding verses. These characters combined together spell out a new verse.

Examples:

謝方端 (霜飄枝結淚,花落蝶含愁。)

  霜:   雨余檻外暮蟬鳴,木葉蕭疏秋氣清。   目斷天涯人信杳,霜衣誰為寄邊城。

  飄:   西陵一別幾經霜,示妾音書竟渺茫。   風拂碧梧秋又至,飄篷何日復歸航。

  枝:   木蘭花倚眺行雲,十載幽思萬裏分。   又是秋殘花落後,枝頭杜宇泣黃昏。

  結:   絲絲柳絮鎖青煙,士子飄流不系船。   口說歸期何日至,結成鸞鳳晚風前。

  淚:   水漲江邊日影斜,戶前雙燕又還家。   犬聲空吠人何在,淚灑東風怨落花。

  花:   草蔓池塘又感秋,人在遼西妾倚樓。   七首東風難割恨,花前翻悔覓封候。

  落:   草塘秋綠雨初收,水天一色溯回求。   各懷思念何時會,落寞香閨空自愁。

  蝶:   蟲羽尚知惜別離,世情何故永相違。   木蘭花發為誰伴,蝶戀枝頭幾度飛。

  含:   人世青春有幾何,之南之北別離多。   口傳佳訊無人語,含恨青山對翠峨。

  愁:   禾黍青青半帶黃,火神初退倚秋窗。   心懷遊子征衣薄,愁筆題詩淚萬行。

劉氏 (驛梅驚別意,堤柳暗離愁。)

馬革何人能裹屍?四維不振笑男兒,幸聞碩果存幽閣,驛使無由到雅黎。

木偶同朝止素餐,人情說到死真難,母牽幼女齊含笑,梅骨棱棱傲雪寒。

茍合如何決意休?文姬回漢總堪羞,馬嘶芳草香魂斷,驚醒人間節婦流。

口中節義是誰無?力挽江河總是虛,刀鋸不移巾幗志,別無沾滯是吾徒。

立也悲傷坐也傷,日沉誰與起殘陽?心憐夫婿兒還幼,意慘蠅污女伴娘。

土兵劫去又官兵,日望征人不欲生,匹練有緣紅粉斷,堤邊一撮是佳城。

木架原知冠蓋凋,夕陽古道冷蕭蕭,耳邊似聽貞魂泣,柳絮因風若為招。

日前送別囑陽關,立意當如張別山,音信須憑隴外寄,暗傳夫信已投環。

凶莫兇兮國喪亡,內庭無救各奔忙,佳人命薄成何用?離卻塵囂骨也香。

禾黍離離最可憐!火焚誰與救眉燃?心灰猶念舊夫子,愁殺妻孥盼杜鵑。

郭純貞 (驛梅驚別意,堤柳暗傷情。)

馬蹄踏破板橋霜,四顧無人暗斷腸。幸有香魂縈妾夢,驛門深鎖五更床。

木蘭初發送雲韉,人去南州路幾千。毋謂滇池迷雁跡,梅花傳信待君還。

苟道首期一楫歸,文光遙映美人衣。馬嘶牆外君何去,驚起嫦娥淚暗飛。

口裏嗟君夢裏逢,力窮無路訴蒼穹。刀環在手憑誰贈,別鎖春怨盡掩宮。

立旁閒庭捫翠鈿,曰君曰妾兩相牽。心懷悶懣渾如醉,意擬春蠶已再眠。

土圭測咎度日斜,日泊西山起嘆嗟。是影是真俱是幻,堤絮高噪暮投鴉。

木落山空近晚秋,夕陽歸雁過南樓。耳邊不聽真消息,柳絮紛紜弄黑頭。

日漸西馳事漸遐,立盟空復待年華。音書一斷魚沉海,暗地思君哭落花。

人間何必辨春秋,人死人生總是愁。易理既明休問卜,傷心惟聽淚珠流。

心中眷念君知我,主決仍然我與君。青鳥已空雲外信,情牽終世總無聞。


  1. 離合藏頭詩

A new character is formed by removing the component at the beginning of the second verse from the character at the beginning of the first verse. These new characters combined together spell out a new verse.

謝靈運《離合詩》

古人怨信次,十日眇未央。加我懷繾綣,口詠情亦傷。劇哉歸遊客,處子勿相忘。

古-十=口 加-口=力 劇-處=刂

口+力+刂=別

潘岳《離合詩》 (思楊容姬難堪)

佃漁始化,人民穴處。

意守醇樸,音應律呂。

桑梓被源,卉木在野。

鍚鸞未設,金石拂舉。

害咎蠲消,吉德流普。

谿谷可安,奚作棟宇。

嫣然以憙,焉懼外侮。

熙神委命,已求多祜。

歎彼季末,口出擇語。

誰能默識,言喪厥所。

壟畝之諺,龍潛巖阻。

尟義崇亂,少長失敘。

劉駿《離合詩》(悲客他方)

霏雲起兮汎濫,雨靄昏而不消。

意氣悄以無樂,音塵寂而莫交。

守邊境以臨敵,寸心厲於戎昭。

閣盈圖記,門滿賓僚。

仲秋始戒,中園初凋。

池育秋蓮,水滅寒漂。

旨歸塗以易感,日月逝而難要。

分中心而誰寄,人懷念而必謠。

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