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Mao Zedong's Poetry


The poetry of Mao Zedong (1893-1976) embodies the uplifting principles of the Communist Party and the great spirit of the Chinese nation. The 68 published poems written by Mao Zedong embrace the Chinese revolution through half a century and possess profound ideological meanings -- extolling the heroic revolutionary life led by the proletariat; reflecting a great revolutionary's lofty ideals, remarkable vision and courage; expressing friendship and love under revolutionary conditions.

Mao's poetry exhibits a spirit of boldness and power, weaving together history, reality and commitment, and going beyond the limitations of time and space. When writing about history, he kept his sights on reality and lets history encompass the sequence of events; writing about reality, he posited the possibility of a better world in the future; and when writing about ideology, he based it on facts and deployed myth and imagination within a framework of realism. Mao Zedong advocated a method of literary composition that combines revolutionary realism and revolutionary romanticism, and his poetry was a synthesis of his theory and practice.

Bold transformation of myth and literary quotations are a distinct feature of Mao's poetry. His poetry also radiates sweeping and colorful derivation, like inSpring in a Pleasure Garden(Snow), which described grand and beautiful imagery, andThe Moon over the Qin Bower(the Loushan Pass), which was meant to portray a brutal battle scene. What people garner from the poem, however, is a fig with deep colors and elegant structure. The use of colors in poems not only made tangible the poet's feelings but also deepened the reader's grasp of the poem. Mao was good at using simile and "evocation" in his poetry, as when he compared a hawk's acumen and vigor to a revolutionary's keen insight and generosity, or, a plum blossom to the common people's nobility.  

In his early works, Mao showed the influence of Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1127) poets. On hisWalk Across the Middle Kingdomhe recorded its modern history and used the mystical past to illuminate the present. In several poems he depicted the first battles of the peasant army and national events. After 1949 the poems became more meditative.

Mao Zedong's poetry has been translated into English, Russian, French, German, Japanese, Indian and Greek, etc., exerting a far-reaching influence in the world.

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