Christian culture 基督教文化学刊

Introduction of "Idyllic" Style and Modern Poetry in China: Xu Dishan's Translation of the Song of Songs and Its Effect

Author: MA Yuelan, Professor, School of Foreign Languages, Hebei Normal University REN Dongsheng, Professor, School of Foreign Languages, Ocean University of China



Song of Songs, one of the six poetic books of the Hebrew Scriptures (“Old Testament”), attracted Chinese scholarship in the early twentieth century because of its description of unrestrained love, its series of natural images and mix of monologue and chorus. Drawing on Moulton’s English text Literary Study of the Bible (1895), XU Dishan translated the Song of Songs into modern Chinese in 1921, shortly after the publication of the Chinese Union Version of the Bible. This translation evinces an intent to introduce the idyllic style of poetry to China, including its themes, images and prosodic pattern. The paper argues that XU Dishan’s Chinese translation is in fact a recreation of biblical poetry, breaking up the Western missionaries’ monopoly in interpreting and translating The Song of Songs and the Bible itself. The authors contend that XU Dishan not only set a new model of creative translation in The Song of Songs , but also introduced the “idyllic style”into Chinese literature, paving the way for Chinese writers such as SHEN Congwen to adopt the idyllic in their literary writings.



Song of Songs, XU Dishan, idyllic style, Chinese modern poetry


Full Text (International Version):

MA Yuelan & REN DongshengSCN JSCC.pdf


Full Text (Simplified Chinese Version): 

MA Yuelan & REN DongshengSCN JSCC.pdf