Themes of Life in Ancient Eastern Literature

This week’s post focuses on the theme of valuing human experience and nature shown in Ancient Eastern literature. The readings focused on this week are as follows: “Classics of Poetry” compiled by Confucius, a collection of poems by Du Fu, and “Yuan Zhen, the Story of Yingying”. Each one of these writings show a beautiful and unique perspective on human experience or nature. 

A good example of how these readings show the theme of human experience and life is the poem “Peach Tree Soft and Tender”, a poem about a bride going to her new house after her wedding. Marriage is a universal human experience, and a large milestone in life for many people. The poem focuses on it and brings attention to this aspect of the human experience. 

Another example is the poem “Painted Hawk” about a hawk hunting for prey. This poem highlights nature, painting a picture of the hawk and its hunt with its words. 


To teach this concept and the theme of these works to your students, I would recommend giving them a writing exercise.

Have them come up with an experience of their own to write a short poem about, and give them the option to share it with the class. 

Another option is to ask them in class to think of modern representations of a theme from one of the poems they read. For example, unrequited love as shown in the poem “Quince”. Have them explain how that experience they chose shows up in the narrative, and see if they can find any similarities between the chosen media and the poem. 

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