Mara Poetry



“Onthe power of Mara poetry” written in 1908 by Lu Xun focuses on therole of poets as spiritual warriors. The article is made up of nineparts, which examine the relevance of poetry in relation to theWestern as well Chinese traditions. The first part of the essayhighlights the fall of classical civilizations, specifically theIndian and the Egyptian civilizations. It also touches on the fall ofHebrew civilizations and the Chinese empire crisis and how literaturecontributed to the rise and fall of these civilizations. The essaypoints out that the authenticity of the inner voice of a poet can betraced back to the original voice as well as living tradition in thepast. The inner voice is always dormant as a result of suppressionby official traditions and conventions and the main task of a poet isto activate this dormant voice and make the people aware of thevitality of their tradition. Xun’s argument is that literature canbe utilized to move a nation from a state of isolation andbackwardness to that of prosperity. He points out that China hasbecome desolate due to the absence of the warriors of spirit. It thusfollows that literature has a crucial responsibility in awakening thesociety and that its impacts has an educational value that goesbeyond that of ordinary education.

Themain literature form that Xun focuses on is poetry. Instead ofreferring to poetry as written text, he calls it “voice of thesoul.” He points out the important role that poets play inrevealing the inner truths of a nation. His opinion is thatliterature is responsible for making known nations inferiority andthat revealing of such inner truths is responsible for the creationof a better society. He is of the view that if a nation is unawareof its nationhood, then it is a silent nation and that only thenation’s poets can awaken it, thus helps the nation move forward.Not only does the text identify poetry as an instrument for nationalawakening, but it recognizes the voice of a poet as a having atransformative power. The impact of poetry on a society is not oftenvisible and the results are not always instant and that these factsmay make a conversation on the significant role that poetry plays ininfluencing the society to be a better one to be sneered at. Xunpoints out that literature is a form of art and that just like manyother forms of art, it also serves to delight the audience. He pointsout that “since the advent of literature, humanity is close tofulfillment.” This shows that literature has beensuccessfullyused to meet most wants and needs of the society.

Theessay utilizes India as the main point of describing civilizationsthat had died in the recent times. He points that such civilizationsbecome arid as a result of the shriveling of their cultures. However,he is of the view that despite their shriveling, the voice of thesoul remained firm. According to the essay, it could be possible toregenerate these cultures if thinkers who were bold enough tochallenge the status quo in the society were present. Xun points outthe important role that literature plays in molding the society. Hegoes ahead to state that China still remained an old society due tothe absence of a Mara poet who could inspire the people to evolveinto a modern society.

Literaturecan be utilized to awaken the people. The Mara poets in, Xun’sview, were poets of the 19thcentury who were rebellious and who were called “Satanists” bythe conservatives. Among the Mara poets, Xun highly regards Byronbecause of his tendency to act on what he speaks. His death duringthe struggle for the freedom of the Greek from the Turkish rule iswhat inspires Xun most. Xun points out that these fearless poetsutilized literature to fight outdated ideas, and in the processgreatly contributed to the evolution of their societies from that ofbackwardness to one that is more enlightened. The text reveals thatnew literature is not only responsible for transformation ofsocieties, but that it also plays an important role in the creationof a new man. Xun shows an endeavor to influence the minds of theChinese people who were still holding on traditional ideas byincorporating foreign dynamics as well as energies. However, he doesnot call for a complete overhaul of the traditions, but points outthat it is also important for the prosperous past to be consideredeven as people move forward. To him, tradition still plays animportant role in the development of new poetry and society. He thusreveals the important role that literature plays in the conservationof a people’s history as well as tradition. The fact that poetrycannot be wiped out as stated by Xun makes it an important instrumentfor storing the past traditions and culture of a society.

Xuncalls out for fellow poets in his country to rise and become“warriors of the spirit.” By this, he means that they shouldbecome writers who give the voiceless the platform they require toair their grievances as well as their fears and hopes. This showsthat literature has the power to influence the masses. Xun recognizesthe fact that literature cannot only be used by the spirit warriorsto inspire the reforming of the Chinese society, but that it can alsobe used as an instrument for resisting oppression. Xun identifies anumber of writers who were influential in breaking the silence intheir countries. He particularly gives special praises to Gogol,pointing out that his voice was responsible for breaking the Russiansilence that had existed for many years. Xun states that through hiswriting, Gogol made it possible for the rest of the world to see thesuffering of the Russian people which was previously invisible to theoutside world.

Literaturealso plays an important function in terms of its aesthetic as well asspiritual values. Xun reveals that literature has an emotional powerto reveal the mysteries of life in an extraordinary, not evenachieved by science. Additionally, literature plays the role ofnurturing the human spirit. This means that literature is necessaryfor spiritual growth and that it makes it possible for people tolearn about the unknown. Literature leads people into a new dimensionand is important in satisfying the society’s hunger for knowledge.It is stated that “all the great works of world literature can openone to wonder of life and allow one to intuit the facts and laws oflife, something science is unable to do” (Xun, 1908). Xun is alsoopposed to the sociology of literature in both China and the West.The sociological view of literature holds that it is a must forliterature to be constant with conventional morality. His argument isthat the poets of Mara often go against the conventional morality andthat they “ran counter to the common disposition.” He is of theview that Byron was the most outstanding Mara poet. Other Mara poetsXun mentions include Pushkin, Shelley, Slowacki, Mickiewicz andPetofi. He describes them as being uncompromising, strong, sincereand scornful of convention. He is of the view that through literatureand their utterances, these poets were able to positively influencetheir societies, bringing about a national rebirth that made theircountries become the strongest on the globe.

Inconclusion, literature plays a crucial responsibility of awakeningthe society and its impact has an educational value that goes beyondthat of ordinary education. The inner voice is always dormant as aresult of suppression by official traditions and conventions and themain task of literature as an art is to activate this dormant voiceand make the people aware of the vitality of their tradition.Literature is responsible for making known a nation’s interiorityand that revealing of such inner truths is responsible for thecreation of a better society. It also aids in the molding andtransforming of the society, additionally it can be utilized toawaken the people and as an instrument of storing people’s history,culture and tradition.


Xun,L (1908).On the power of . In Denton A.K (1996) ModernChinese Literary thought.Stanford, Stanford University Press