The Poetry of He Zhu (1052-1125)

Genres, Contexts, and Creativity


The Northern Song poet He Zhu is best known for his lyrics (ci) but also produced shi poetry of subtlety, wit, and feeling. This study examines the latter as a response to the options available to a late-eleventh century writer in the pentametrical and heptametrical forms of Ancient Verse, Regulated Verse, and Quatrains. Numerous comparisons are made with Su Shi, Huang Tingjian, Du Fu, and other important writers. In a major advance over previous methodologies, the author uses a clear system of metrical notation to show how sound patterns reveal the poet's artistic and emotional intentions. This innovation and the author's other meticulous explorations of He Zhu's artistry allow us to experience Chinese poetry as never before.
From the reader's report: "not just an excellent study of an individual poet but also a model of reading the language of classical Chinese poetry. [..] opens up a world of interpretive territory heretofore seldom explored."
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Biographical Note

Stuart H. Sargent, Ph.D. (Stanford, 1977), publishes primarily on Song Dynasty poetry, but his interests include Japanese poetry and Chinese literary theory. He has taught at the University of Maryland College Park, Colorado State University, and Stanford University.

Review Quotes

"He Zhu was an erudite, multifaceted poet. This book, surely the hard-won result of many years of research, reflects that in its form. It is a series of readings of He Zhu’s collected shi poetry through the lens of genre with accurate (and beautiful) translations, lucid metrical notations, copious annotations, and discussions of the contexts of the poems informed by a deep knowledge of He Zhu’s contemporaries, especially Su Shi. Sargent has produced a definitive work that will not be superseded precisely because it refuses to synthesize without sufficient data." – Graham Sanders, University of Toronto, in: Journal of Asian Studies (2009)


Students and scholars of Chinese poetry and history who are interested in genre, prosody, innovation, and responses to the vicious politics of the late eleventh century.

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