Chinese Poetry - Tang Poetry & Poets


Chinese Poetry

 The Classic of Odes, Chu Ci, Han Yuefu
 Tang Poetry & Poets
 Song Ci & Yuan Qu

The Han Dynasty Ode is another popular style originated in the first unprecedented powerful empire - Han. It is an artistic reflection of the optimism and self-reliance of that time. Although the mode of expression is a little bit flowery, it gives an insight into the abundance of products, vastness of the country, splendor of the palace and the achievements of emperors. Lament for Qu Yuan, Ode of Returning-to-Land, and Ode of two Capitals are the most sublime representatives.

Tang Poetry

Poetry in the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) is an unparalleled system and reaches the pinnacle in the development of the poem. It really deserves its fame as a rarity of Chinese culture. Its dazzling value consists of an ideal combination of thoughts and art. In later study of literature, it is spoken of as being representative of the whole classical literature along with two other styles of poetry - Tang Shi, Song Ci, Yuan Qu (Poetry in the Tang Dynasty, Ci in the Song Dynasty, and Qu in the Yuan Dynasty).

When considering authors, we find that, poets exist in all walks of life, ranging from emperors, officials, monks, peasants, fishermen and even children. From the point of view of themes, it tells of politics, the military, history, landscapes, street scenes, love and so on. From angle of style, there are creations of varying depth and initiated through numerous and complicated genres. As for quantity, a total of over 50,000 poems have been collected and no one has any idea how many more have been lost.

Depending upon the period of its development poetry dating from the Tang Dynasty, can be classified into four groups, namely early Tang Dynasty, Flourishing Tang, Mid-Tang and late Tang Dynasty.

In the early Tang Dynasty, most of the poets followed the style of their forebears and created a blend of the characteristics of the north and south. Eventually the field of literature was refreshed and became more vigorous as a result of those who are known as The Four Talents - Wang Bo, Yang Jiong, Luo Binwang, and Lu Zhaolin,. In spite of their lower social status, each of them was gifted and has left us with their cheerful spirit.

Famous Tang Poets

Poems of the period known as the flourishing Tang Dynasty enjoyed a golden environment owing to the wise reign, prosperous economy, and the prevailing strength of diplomacy. The era endowed poets with broad horizons, positive and unrestrained emotion, and innovative inspiration. There are many representatives we can enumerate:

Li Bai enjoys the title of the 'Supernatural Being of Poem'. He was a genius whose works were full of passion, imagination and also elegance. Even now his 'Jing Ye Si' (Thoughts on the Silent Night) is quite popular and nearly everyone knows it even children as young as two years of age. His other verses, exceeding nine hundred in all, are also notable.

Du Fu, known as the 'Saint of Poem', was strict in his use of metrical verses. His Deng Gao (Climbing Up) achieved the perfection of sheer professionalism.

Wang Wei, the poet of landscape, has written lots of elegant and exquisite verses, such as 'bright moon lighting on the pine forests, clear water found running on the stones'. The tranquil feeling he gave through his poetry is utterly wonderful.

Cui Hao created the best of the seven-worded regulated poems - The Yellow Crane Tower with the verse 'yellow crane flies and never back, white cloud floats away for thousand years'.

Cen Shen was skillful in his descriptions of colorful scenes in the then northwest China and his famous sentence conveying the delight with snow 'just like the sudden spring wind overnight blows, thousands of pear trees come to bloom'.

In the Mid-Tang Dynasty, numerous poets came to prominence. In this period, the politics suffered many rebellions and became recessionary. The poets also subsequently diverted the attention from state affairs to the trivialities of daily life, and from the glorification of landscapes to the anchorage of spirits and hopes. Poets like Liu Zongyuan and Wei Yiwu expressed themselves through the plain depiction of sights around them - a lonely old man fishing on the river that was covered with snow is the typical scene of their poems. Another renowned literary figure is Bai Juyi. His The Old Charcoal Seller fully satirized the dark social reality. And the Chang Hen Ge (Song of Eternal Lament) praised the eternal love between Emperor Xuanzong in flourishing Tang and his beloved concubine Yang Guifei.

In late Tang Dynasty, with the deterioration of government, the poems reflected more and more the hopeless and helpless feelings of the people in a heavy way. Poets turned to song with nostalgia for the old times and former splendor. The most talented of these were Li Shang Yin and Du Mu. Some of their works are about beauty, some about disconsolation as rulers were fatuous and failed to value them.

Chinese Poetry

 The Classic of Odes, Chu Ci, Han Yuefu
 Tang Poetry & Poets
 Song Ci & Yuan Qu
- Last updated on Aug. 09, 2022 -
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