Beauty In Japanese Literature

992 Words4 Pages
Chinese and Japanese literature dominate throughout the ages because of the profound meaning each word in every piece contains. Every one of their literary creations figuratively reveal the fascinating yet cruel reality of the world that include both positive and negative characteristics. Li Po’s “The River Merchant’s Wife: A Letter”, Li Ch’ing-Chao’s “Peonies”, and Tu Fu’s “Jade Flower Palace” all encompass similar motifs of beauty and time, yet they also include other unique topics that help contribute to the essence of each poem. While all three compositions convey time as the primary reason for the decay of beauty, it also raises a couple of questions: What is the price of beauty? How is time represented in each piece? Why is time the greatest…show more content…
Even something as beautiful as a peony whose “flowerlike face is clear and bright as flowing water” is subjected to the dominion of time, and it evokes a feeling of powerlessness and hopelessness (Ch’ing-chao 4). The fact that all other flowers have withered except for the peony only foreshadows the death of the queen of flowers and the death of its beauty. It does not matter that the peonies outlasted its companions because it will ultimately share the same fate and its beauty will be defeated by the brutality of time. Its life is fleeting, and when the “yellow twilight” dawns upon them, they will become no more than “perfumed dust”. Furthermore, the peony symbolizes female beauty and love, and the speaker personifies the peonies in such a way that the poem also shows the role of women in courtly society. When the peony dies, a woman’s beauty that once was compared to the Palace of Brilliant Light will die and fade only into a captured memory of what used to be a picture of elegance. It is inevitable that both peonies and women will bow down and conform to the laws of time, even if it means that they will have to relinquish what matters to them the most--their
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