Reading Stephen Owen’s “Readings in Chinese Literary Thought”, I was intrigued by the parallels between the different poetic devices found within English poetry as well as Chinese poetry. Specifically, in examining the six principles mentioned: “yi”, “feng”, “fu”, “bi”, “hsing”, “ya” and “sung”, it seemed extremely similar to the varying forms of poetic devices that English poets utilize. For instance, the principle of “bi” is very similar to the use of similes in that there is a comparison to a certain existing component of nature that allows readers to better relate and identify with a concept/idea. In the poem “In the Wilds Is a Dead Doe” (Poem 23), this use of “bi” to compare the lady described in the poem with that of a dead doe is clearly explained. In the context in which the poem was written, there was an existing practice for people to cover a dead doe with rushes as an act of piety. By utilizing the dead doe and making a comparison to the lady, the use of “bi” parallels the lady to someone being “killed” (through seduction) and yet the perpetrator fails to exemplify the same piety as he does not end up marrying the lady.
The Chinese principle of “hsing” is also similar to how metaphors are used in English poems as well. Interestingly enough, “hsing” is described as “the stirring of a particular affection or mood,” which provides a number of English poetic devices that can be classified under this broad category. Devices like the use of pathetic fallacy, personification and even metaphors can be used to evoke certain emotions or create certain moods for the reader. There seems to be a certain universality regarding the nature of poetry that transcends differences in cultures and time periods such that these common identifiers (poetic devices) can be found within poems from varying contexts. Even within the Ramayana and The Odyssey, we find this being a common thread that runs through the poetic texts across cultures.