āi jǐng xiě lè 哀景写乐
Depict Sorrowful Scenery to Express Happiness
Depicting sorrowful scenery to express happiness is a technique which integrates sentiment and scenery and indirectly expresses sentiment through describing scenery. Although it is quite common to express sadness through joyful scenes, artists rarely describe sorrowful scenery to express joy. Thus, we can better understand the latter technique by comparing it with the former. Both are techniques of expressing sentiment implicitly by describing scenery. Sentiment and scenery set each other off beautifully and are well integrated, thus giving works an aesthetic elegance and a unique and lingering charm.
“When I left here, willows were gently swaying in the wind. Now I’m back, snow flakes are in the air.” This poet describes happy scenery to express sadness and sorrowful scenery to express happiness, thus intensifying both sentiments. (Wang Fuzhi: Desultory Remarks on Poetry from the Ginger Studio)
Sentiment and scenery seem to be distinct from each other, but in fact they cannot be separated. A good poet knows how to integrate them seamlessly. An ingenious combination of sentiment and scene means scenery embedded in sentiment and vice versa. (Wang Fuzhi: Desultory Remarks on Poetry from the Ginger Studio)