The Ai Chiang-nan fu by the sixth-century poet Yu Hsin is one of the most famous and difficult of all Chinese medieval poems. It relates in a highly allegorical and elliptical manner the fall of the Liang dynasty, which the poet served. The poem belongs to the genre of the fu; rhapsodical, elegiac works written in an irregular metre. It is, however not at all typical of the genre, which is more often associated with descriptions of hunting parks, sacrifices, plants and birds. The poem thus deserves study both for its literary merits and for its uniqueness. Dr Graham provides a translation of the poem with a very detailed literary and historical commentary. Most previous studies of the fu have concentrated on the Han period but Dr Graham offers an extended discussion in any language of the genre in the period of the six dynasties (222-589). The book also includes an introduction to the history of the period.
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