Qu Yuan (340 - 278 BC) was born into an aristocratic family of the State of Chu, and showed a talent for writing poetry at an early age. As a senior official, he tried to warn the ruler of Chu of danger from the State of Qin, but lost his official post due to intrigue, and was exiled. In 278 BC, the capital city of Chu, Ying, fell to an invading army from the State of Qin. Overcome with grief, Qu Yuan threw himself into the Miluo River in northeast Hunan Province. Tradition has it that this occurred on the fifth day of the fifth month by the lunar calendar. In commemoration of this patriotic man of letters, dragon-boat races are held on this day every year. Also, people eat zongzi (a pyramid-shaped dumpling made of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves). The dragon-boat races are meant to frighten fish away from Qu Yuan's body, and zongzi are supposed to be used to feed the fish, so that they would not eat the poet's dead body. The Dragon Boat Festival is one of the highlights of the Chinese calendar.
Adopting the framework of Chu folk ballads and using the Chu dialect, Qu Yuan created a new type of poems, called the "songs of Chu" genre by later generations. His most famous poem is the long lyric work Li Sao. Qu Yuan's poetic works are filled with devotion to his native State of Chu, and are enlivened with references to ancient myths. They have been translated into many foreign languages.
Writer: David from Seeraa International
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