Despite its tremendous influence in the early eleventh century, Xikun poetry was essentially written out of the main literary historical narratives of the Northern Song dynasty. When it does appear in such narratives, it is usually used as a foil to set up the reputedly real grand beginnings of Song poetry in the generation led by Ouyang Xiu. This article takes another look at the Xikun phenomenon, arguing that in the Xikun poets' imitative works modeled on the Late Tang poet Li Shangyin, we see a burgeoning interest in creating a more internally consistent world and a tendency toward a more immersive mode of composition that would become a defining feature of the new style of Song poetry. Through closely comparing the technical innovations and rhetorical strategies of the Xikun poets against those used by Li Shangyin, the author demonstrates how these poetic and rhetorical choices made sense in their own new world of creation and how their imitation actually helped advance positive future developments.

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