- Poetry of Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong(1893-1976), the first Chairman of the Communist Party of Chinaand leader of the People's Republic of Chinafor nearly 30 years, wrote poetry, much of it written during the Red Army's epic retreat during the Long Marchof 1934-1936.
name = 毛泽东
All of Mao's poems are all in the traditional Chinese verse style. Though Mao may not be one of the best Chinese poets, his poems are generally considered well-written and of high literary quality.
As did most Chinese intellectuals of his generation, Mao received rigorous education in Chinese classical literature, and thus his skill in poetry is of little surprise. His style was deeply influenced by the great
Tang Dynastypoets Li Baiand Li He. He is considered to be a romantic poet, in contrast to the realist poets represented by Du Fu.
Many of Mao's poems are still very popular in China. They are frequently quoted in popular culture, literature and daily conversations. Some of his most well-known poems are "Changsha" (1925), "The Double Ninth" (1929.10), "Loushan Pass" (1935), "The Long March" (1935), "Snow" (1936.02), "The PLA Captures Nanjing" (1949.04), "Reply to Li Shuyi" (1957.05.11), and "Ode to the Plum Blossom" (1961.12). General consensus is that his pre-1949 works are superior.
Mao's poems are usually published as a list of twenty poems.
This poem is usually considered one of Mao's best. Line 2: "On the tip of Orange Island"
Orange Islandis an island in the middle of Xiang River, near Changsha, the capital of Hunanprovince. Mao attended Hunan First Normal Universityaround 1912-1917 in Changsha.
Yellow Crane Tower (1927)
Yellow Crane Tower, a building at the bank of Yangtze Riverin Wuhan, is very famous in Chinese history and literary tradition. It is one of the Four Great Towersin China. It's fame mainly comes from a poem written by Cui Hao in early Tang Dynasty, part of which is :
"The yellow crane has long since gone away",
"All that here remains is Yellow Crane Tower".
"The yellow crane once gone does not return",
"White clouds drift slowly for a thousand years."
Mao later discussed the historical context of this poem's writing: "At that time (1927), the Great Revolution failed, I was very depressed and didn't know what to do, so I wrote this poem".
Jinggang Mountain (1928)
This poem was written in
Jinggang Mountains, where Mao organized a Red Army to fight KMTforces after 1927. Jinggang Mountainsis a mountain area at the border of Jiangxiprovince and Hunanprovince. It's there Mao began to experiment his theory of guerrilla war. He was quoted as:"When we can beat the enemy, we fight. When we can't beat them, we run".
Line 5: "From Huangyanggai roars the thunder of cannon",
Huangyanggaiis the place where the Red Army beat KMTarmy after a fierce battle.
The Warlords Clash (1929)
In 1929, Mao's Red Army left
Jinggang Mountainsand marched eastward to the western part of Fujianprovince and built their base there.
"The warlords are clashing anew --"
"Yet another Millet Dream."
Jiang Jieshi's KMTarmy began war with Feng Yuxiangand Yan Xishan's armies in north China. That's why Mao said "the warlords are clashing anew", and "Millet Dream" meant Jiang, Feng and Yan's ambitions were just dreams. And Mao thought he could take this opportunity to his advantage when most of KMTarmy went to fight elsewhere.
Line 5-6 :
Ting Riveris a river in Fujian, both Longyanand Shanghangare cities in Fujian.
The Double Ninth (1929.10)
Double Ninth, also called Chongyang, is a Chinese holiday. By tradition on September 9 (Chinese Lunar Calendar) each year, Chinese people would climb to the peaks of nearby mountains, looking far away, thinking about their family members who are travelling in other places.
New Year's Day (1930.01)
Ninghua, Qingliu, Guihuaare all places in Fujian
Wuyi Mountainis a mountain in Fujian.
On the Guangchang Road (1930.02)
Guangchangis a city in Jiangxi, it was called the "North Gate" of CPC's Jiangxi Soviet.
Gan Riveris a river flowing through Jiangxi.
Ji'anis a city in Jiangxi.
March from Tingzhou to Changsha (1930.07)
Tingzhouis a city in Fujianprovince, Changshais the capital of Hunanprovince. At that time Red Army tried to take Changsha, but they failed. Fujianis at the east, Hunanis at west, so Mao's army marched westward. Huang Gonglyuewas an important military leader of Red Army, he was killed a few years later in battle.
Against the First "Encirclement" Campaign (1931)
Jiang Jieshi's KMTgovernment organized five so-called "Encirclement" campaigns on CPC's Jiangxi Sovietin Southeastern China. The first four all failed. Mao led the Red Army beating the first three campaigns, then he was relieved of leadership due to internal power struggles of the CPC. Zhou Enlaiand Zhu Deled the Red Army to beat the fourth campaign, but they failed the fifth time, and was forced to leave their base and began Long March.
Zhang Huizan, the KMTgeneral who led the first "Encirclement" Campaign. He was killed after being captured by the Red Army.
Buzhou Mountain, a legendary mountain in Chinese forklore. It is said Buzhou Mountain was one of the four pillars supporting the sky. A giant called Gong Gongquarreled with the gods. He was very angry and banged his head against Buzhou Mountain. Buzhou Mountain was broken, thus the sky tilted and water poured from heaven, causing a huge flood on earth. Here Mao expressed his appreciation for Gong Gong's rebellious spirit.
Against the Second "Encirclement" Campaign (1931)
Dabodiis the site of a battle which actually took place at the beginning of 1929. The background: at that time, Mao's Red Army had left Jinggang Mountainsto look for a new base. Red Army was beaten several time by the pursuing KMTarmy. They used up all amunitions and were starved. Then on the New Year of 1929 they fought a desperate fight in the snow at Dabodi, using stones and bare hands, and beat their enemy. Mao revisited this place several years later and wrote this poem.
Loushan Pass (1935)
This is a famous poem written during
Long March. Loushan Pass is a place in Guizhou, where a fierce battle supposedly took place. However, there are several reports that the battle was dramatized as propaganda for the Red Army.
Three Short Poems (1934-35)
This poem is also known as "the Three Songs." It is written as three poems with sixteen characters each. This poem was written sometime between 1934-35 during the
Long March.cite book
last = Barnstone
title = The Poems of Mao Tse-tung
year = 1972
publisher = Bantam
language = English
pages = 164 ] .
"I whip my quick horse and don't dismount"
"and look back in wonder".
"The sky is three feet away.
"The sea collapses and the river boils".
"Innumerable horses race"
"insanely into the peak of battle".
"Peaks pierce the green sky, unblunted.".
"The sky would fall"
"but for the columns of mountains".
The Long March (1935)
This poem was written toward the end of 1935 when the
Long Marchwas almost finished. In it Mao listed some places Red Army had travelled through. Five Ridges and Wumeng are both big mountains in southwestern China. Jinshais actually another name for certain parts of Yangtze River. Dadu Riveris at the west part of Sichuan, here in a heroic fight, 22 volunteers carried out a suicide attack on the KMTgarrison across the iron-chained Luding Bridgeand saved the Red Army from being destroyed. Min Mountainis a mountain at northwestern part of China and is already at the end of Long March's route. To get rid of the pursuing KMT army, the Red Army had to climb over its 13000 foot peak and many froze to death on it.
The last line: "The three Armies march on, each face glowing."
Long Marchwas done by three CPC armies separately. One was Mao's 1st Red Army from Jiangxi Soviet, another was Zhang Guotao's 4th Red Army from Hubeisoviet, the third one was He Long's 2nd Red Army from west part of Hubei. Here, Mao was glad all three Red Armies were together.
Kunlunmountain is a huge snow mountain on the upper reaches of the Khotan Riverin XinjiangProvince, Northwestern China. In Chinese legendary it's resided by some gods.
Mao wrote on this poem, commenting "An ancient poet said, 'Three million dragons of white jade are fighting, their broken scales fly all over the sky. In this way he dsecribed the flying snow, but here I have usd it to describe snowy mountains. In summer, when one climbs the Min Mountain, one looks out on far mountains that seem to dance and shine in dazzling whiteness. There was a saying among the people that years ago the Monkey King (Sun Hsing-che) passed by, all the mountains were on fire. But he borrowed a palm-leaf fan and quenched the flame and that is why the mountains froze and turned white."
Mount Liupan (1935.10)
"Mount Liupan" was written in late 1935 after the Red Army almost finised the famous
Long March. Mount Liupanis a mountain in northwestern China.
Line 3: "If we fail to reach the Great Wall we are not men,"
This famous quote of Mao inspires millions of tourists visiting the
Great Walleach year.
This poem is almost certainly the most famous poem by Mao. It was written in 1936, but was not published until Mao went to
Chongqingin 1945 to hold peace talks with Jiang Jieshi. It caused quite a stir among Chinese intellectuals at that time.
In the first half Mao praised the grandeur beauty of northern China in the winter. The more interesting part is the second half, where Mao listed some of the greatest Emperors in China, include
Qin Shihuang, the first Emperor of China; Han Wudi, the great Han emperor who defeated Huns; Tang Taizong( Li Shimin), the second Emperor of Tang Dynasty; Emperor Taizu of Song, the Emperor who started Song Dynasty; and Genghis Khan. Here Mao hints he aspires to be even greater than these emperors.
The PLA Captures Nanjing (1949.04)
In late April 1949, the
communistPLA (People's Liberation Army) crossed Yangtze Riverand captured the capital of KMTgovernment: Nanjing. Mao wrote this poem to celebrate this historical event.
Line 1: "Over Zhong Mountain swept a storm, headlong,"
Zhong Mountain is a hill at the suburb of Nanjing.
Line 2: " Great River " means
Line 3-4: "The city, a tiger crouching, a dragon curling, outshining its ancient glory;"
Nanjing, a great city, had been the capital of six dynasties in Chinese history. Strategiests said this city was like a "crouching tiger", and a "curling dragon".
Line 7: " And not ape Xiang Yu the conqueror seeking idle fame."
Xiang Yuis the hero who led the uprising that toppled the Qin Dynasty. After winning the war against the Qin dynasty, Xiang Yu fought against Liu Bangfor the control of China. Xiang Xu was defeated and killed. His tragic story was immortalized in the famous Beijing Opera"Farewell My Concubine".
Reply to Mr. Liu Yazi (1950.10)
Line 1: "Crimson Land", similar to " Divine Land ", is another way Chinese people call their own country.
Line 5: "Yutian", a place in
Xinjiang, here means far away places.
The Long March
* [http://maoist.wikia.com/wiki/Selected_Poem%27s_of_Mao_Zedong Mao Zedong's Poems]
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