Emperor Qianlong’s Poetry on Taiwan

Conference: The European Conference on Arts & Humanities (ECAH2022)
Title: Emperor Qianlong’s Poetry on Taiwan
Stream: Literature/Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Sherman Han, Brigham Young University–Hawaii, United States


Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799) of Qing China considered putting down the local rebellions in Taiwan between 1787 and 1788 one of his ten major military achievements. To remark this great achievement, he had written quite a number of poems, which are collected in Volumes I and II of The Royal Version of Recordings regarding the Pacification of Taiwan. In this paper, I will focus only on the works in Volume II because poems in Volume I have been covered in a separate paper earlier. I intend to accomplish two main goals in this paper: First, evaluate the literary merits and analyze the themes and context of those poems by means of New Criticism and Historical Criticism in order to provide additional insights into Qianlong’s inner feelings about the political situations in Taiwan which are not seen in other official documents. Second, selectively translate some of those traditional Chinese regulated verses into English in the conventional closed forms, using similar kind of dictions, poetic structures, and rime schemes in order to reflect the flavor of their original counterparts. Hopefully the findings from the literary analysis should shed new lights on the emperor’s genuine feelings and concerns behind the major decisions regarding Taiwan; and the English translation would afford non-Chinese speaking readers a chance to appreciate Qianlong’s political poetry pertaining to the relations between China and Taiwan in early Qing dynasty.

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