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Master of Arts (M.A.)

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Month Degree Awarded



Linked verse, comparison, lian ju, haikai, Han Yu, Basho


Linked verse is a communicative and dynamic poetic form in which a series of verses are usually composed by several poets. It existed in both China and Japan and was fully explored by Han Yu’s circle and Bashō’s school, respectively. This thesis is a comparative study of the lian ju (Chinese linked verse) by Han Yu’s circle and the haikai (Japanese popular linked verse) by Bashō’s school, with focus on the arts of linking, the most important and interesting aspect of this unique poetic form.

This study begins with a broad introduction and comparison of the two literary groups and their linked verse compositions. Representing the highest level of linked verse compositions in China and Japan, Han’s lian ju and Bashō’s haikai share some similarities. Yet whereas the former never outshone individual poetry in terms of influence and popularity, the latter dominated the entire poetic field, at least in Bashō’s day.

In the second chapter, I investigate how the verses are linked. In terms of linking techniques, Han Yu’s circle basically used “close link,” including “word link” and “content link,” which does not exceed the range of the Chinese poetic tradition. In contrast, Bashō’s school valued the “distant link,” which is usually beyond expectation and needs analysis and imagination. In both cases, the linking is usually a combination of “complementary linking” and “competitive linking.” However, the competitive atmosphere prevails in the former while the complementary characteristic is represented more often in the latter.

The third chapter continues the topic of linking, but it focuses on how the verses in a sequence are integrated as a whole. The verses in a lian ju sequence share a topic and are organized as in traditional individual poetry. In a haikai sequence, however, verses with different topics and images are disciplined by detailed rules.

Finally, I compare the styles of the two schools. Both of them created a “new” poetic style by searching for the “old.” Nevertheless, the content of their poetry and their ways of composing poetry are very different.

First Advisor

Stephen M. Forrest