中文       Deutsch       Français       日本語
Search      Subscribe
Home    Nation    World    Business    Opinion    Lifestyle    China Focus    ChinAfrica    Multimedia    Columnists    Documents    Special Reports
Do We Still Need Classical Poems in Today's Modern Society?
A classical poems contest triggers debates on whether the modern society needs ancient poems
  ·  2019-03-04  ·   Source: NO. 10 March 7, 2019

A stage photo of Chinese Poetry Congress (XINHUA)

Since 2016, China Central Television has been airing an annual prime-time cultural game show on classical and modern Chinese poetry. Chinese Poetry Congress, broadcast every evening during the Spring Festival holiday, is meant to remind people of the beauty of classical poems and promote traditional culture.

This popular show's numerous participants are from all walks of life, from middle school and college to engineers, farmers and food delivery boys. The participants have to recite poems, guess a poem from clues, and take part in other poetry-related contests. The number of viewers has been swelling, hitting 200 million and proving the show to be a hit.

Chinese classical poetry dates back 2,500 years and developed through different dynasties. It boasts a huge number of eminent poets and numerous excellent poems.

But with the onset of the information-technology and the artificial-intelligence age, things like ancient and classical poetry and literature are regarded as outdated by many. The TV show and society's interest in classical poems have been regarded with some skepticism as well. Critics say such kind of TV programs are out of sync with the times as the life described by the classical poems is too remote from us and too different. They think classical poetry, which has to vie with computer games and videos to find space on computers and cellphones, is a waste of time and is no longer needed in modern life.

However, a surprising number still believes that classical poems will never become outdated. They are the root of Chinese literature and cultural values. Besides, they offer relief from the high pressures of modern life. They say it's natural that society has begun to embrace the genre through the TV show. Here are the views of some netizens.

Jewel in the crown

Pan Yumin (China Education Daily): Poetry is a very important part of Chinese traditional culture. Reading classical poems will help to improve people's cultural knowledge and taste. In today's modern times, Internet language is distancing people from the elegant language of classical poems. Instead of being outdated, today, people need the nourishment of classical poems more than ever.

In today's information era, people's ways of living and working are tremendously different from those in ancient times. So ancient poems remain a cultural tie that we can't afford to sever. Classical poems are the jewels in the crown of Chinese literature. For thousands of years, Chinese classical poems have accumulated a rich and precious cultural heritage for today's society. Chinese classical poetry has a complete system, encompassing all issues and scenes of ancient Chinese society.

Today, we learn classical poems not because all of us want to become poets and writers, but because we hope to enrich our minds and improve our cultural taste. It's widely believed that reciting poems once you have fully understood the meaning improves your chance of becoming a poet. However, for modern society, the ultimate goal in studying classical poems is to learn to behave well and to be a good citizen.

If you learn hundreds of poems by heart it may not help address all your grievances but it will still bring you inspiration and enjoyment.

Jin Zhiwei (edu.enorth.com.cn): Classical poems are the root of China's traditional culture, and more importantly, they give Chinese people confidence and pride in their culture.

There are many social factors behind the wide popularity of Chinese Poetry Congress. Chinese culture, with classical poems as its best name card, is going deeper into people's heart and soul at the time of globalization. This is an irreversible historical trend.

Chinese classical poetry and literature are an integral part of Chinese culture and values. It covers social life, including social, political, economic and cultural life, and the state. The aesthetic level and tendency reflected by Chinese classical literature is not outdated at all. Instead, it stands out in world literature and culture and is a treasure trove of world culture.

Necessity for modern society

Lu Yuan (Qianjiang Evening News): With vulgar words, especially four-letter words, widely used on social media and cellphone screens dominated by similar offensive language, society is becoming poisoned.

I don't mean that all vulgar language and not-so-elegant parlance should be forbidden. They are products of this age and conversely, also shape the modern time. However, reading classical poems in this vulgar language era, while not directly or immediately changing our modern life, will at least help people remember another era.

For most people who read classical poems, they are far removed from their tedious daily life and their economic status will not improve because they have memorized hundreds of poems. However, their passion for classical poems transcends social, educational and family background constraints, representing the purest and truest kind of love.

In the Internet age, things are easily replaced by newer and fresher substitutes, and ancient things in general have no place in modern society. However, interestingly, cultural heritage from the agricultural era, when life was slow-paced, continues to be frequently mentioned in today's modern society, like Li Bai and Du Fu, two top-notch poets dating back 1,200 years, and William Shakespeare, together with their masterpieces.

Why haven't they been marginalized and replaced? Because they represent the basic values and the defining spirit of their societies. With advancing globalization, this kind of cultural identification and bond appears more important and precious.

Cultural traditions are a set of values and lifestyle that are retreating in China today. Given this gloomy situation, it's not a bad idea to revisit classical poems.

Li Zhaoqing (www.zgnt.net): The beauty of Chinese classical poems is obvious from the aesthetic and emotional perspectives. They are rhythmic and rhyming. People can easily feel the joy of reading classical poems, while at the time, broadening their minds and becoming inspired. History influences the present and can shape the future, so our life is not isolated, or severed from history. Through reading poems, people will learn to pay more attention to daily life and live their lives more intensely.

Today, people are pressured by all kinds of burdens of life and work and are tired of the fast pace of life. Struggling in their dull everyday life, they feel invigorated by the fresh breath of air brought by the Chinese classical poetry game show.

The excellent presentation helps more people realize that life is not all about work and tedious things; there is something subtle and beautiful as well, although it is beyond the reach of modern society.

The popularity of Chinese Poetry Congress shows Chinese people's sentimental attachment to classical poems. Their interest in the poems will not cease even though the TV show has come to an end.

Xu Nantie (Yangcheng Evening News): Although many people like to post classical poems on the Internet and there are TV shows devoted to classical poems, this is not a time for classical poetry. Some people have been trying to write poems in the classical style but most of their poems are awful.

Classical poetry will exist as long as it can, but it will not become widely popular. It will be limited to a small fraction of people and become a kind of rare art. Take calligraphy for example. In ancient times, it played a major role in writing and drawing, but today, calligraphy no longer plays that important role and has become naturally marginalized.

Those who love classical poems and even like to write in that style are free to do so. But they can't turn a blind eye to real life and society. Chinese Poetry Congress created a sensation, but we hope people's passion for classic poems will not become a pursuit of simply what's in vogue.

Copyedited by Sudeshna Sarkar

Comments to dingying@bjreview.com

About Us    |    Contact Us    |    Advertise with Us    |    Subscribe
Partners: China.org.cn   |   China Today   |   China Pictorial   |   People's Daily Online   |   Women of China   |   Xinhua News Agency   |   China Daily
CGTN   |   China Tibet Online   |   China Radio International   |   Beijing Today   |   gb times   |   China Job.com   |   Eastday   |   CCN
Copyright Beijing Review All rights reserved 京ICP备08005356号 京公网安备110102005860号
Chinese Dictionary: