Floral Expression: Transition in Classical Japanese and Chinese Poetry

This thesis is a comparative study of Chinese and Japanese literature, focusing on classical poetry. My hypothesis is that there was a shift in classical Japanese poetry from direct expression of emotion to indirect expression of emotion, and that this shift mirrored an earlier one of the same nature that had already occurred in China. To enable analysis of this shift, I will examine the use of flowers in classical Japanese poetry, particularly how they are treated as symbols. My treatment of this topic differs from other examinations of classical poetry primarily in this area of my focus on flower symbolism. The reason I have chosen flowers as the primary vehicle for analysis is that they appear with high frequency in the classical poetry of both countries, and they are usually discrete in their function as symbols. By this I mean that the definitions of the various flowers as symbols are well documented, which allows clear and concise comparison to occur with various other objects or concepts. Comparative works have been done on the poetry of the above mentioned countries, and volumes have been written on the treatment of flowers in poetry in the same nations, yet there is to my knowledge nothing which combines the two as a means for analysis. Because of this, I aim to approach this topic in an as yet unexplored way.

Updated:  27 November 2018/Responsible Officer:  JI Management Group/Page Contact:  Japan Institute