Qu Yuan

Qu Yuan (332-296 B.C.) descended from the imperial family and an air of suffering nobility and fantasy can easily be sensed in his works. In his youth, he had a brilliant career as a statesman, a diplomat, court minister, and at one time the envoy to Qi in Shandong), a great neighboring state. Qu Yuan's comet-like success incurred the jealousy of his fellow ministers, who slandered and plotted against him.


His tragic death is commemorated each year on the fifth day of the fifth moon with the Dragon Boat Festivals.  Qu Yuan lived at a time of remorseless wars when King Huai (329-299 B.C.) was busily attempting to extend the frontiers of his kingdom. As Prime Minister Qu objected against the use of force, but without effect; and in 303 B.C. he was banished, and never returned to power. Thereafter he wandered through the countryside, principally in the region of the vast inland T'ung-ting Lake in northern Hunan, collecting legends, rearanging the folk odes, and writing the tragic poem of complaint (against the Emperor) which is known as Li Sao, until he could bear his fate no longer and drowned himself in the Milo river in Hunan province.

Nine Songs
The Great Unity, the Sovereign of the East
On this auspicious day, at the felicitous hour,          
Joyously we entertain the sovereign Lord,          
With long swords and jade guards in our hands,           
With girdles of lapis-lazuli tinkling ling-lang,           
We offer jade gifts on mats of fairy grass,           
Holding up fragrant grasses and jades.           
We pour libations of pepperjuice and cinnamon wine.           
The drum-sticks are raised; we beat the drums.           
Psalters and zithers unfold in a great harmony.           
The ministrants dance in flowing silks and resplendent robes.           
A wafting fragrance fills the spaces of the hall,           
And the five tones in crowded chorus sing:           
Glory and gladness to the happy lord!


Video clip from Qu Yuan film

Li Sao"

Qu Yuan opera

Qu Yuan poetry/music

Qu Yuan's hometown



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