A Time of Poems
A Time of Poems' Great Prosperity - Tang Dynasty. The Tang Dynasty was an exceptional period in China's history.
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The society was prosperous and stable and had achieved great success in culture, art and writing. Writing Poems was a major cultural activity and even the imperial civil examination began to require poem writing instead of essay writing. "A Complete Collection of Tang Poems" includes nearly 50,000 works from more than 2,300 poets.
The development of Tang Poems went through four major periods: Early Tang, High Tang, Mid Tang and Late Tang.
There are four distinquished writers from the early Tang period (618-712): Wang Bo, Yang Yong, Lu Zhaolin and Luo Binwang. They developed the Lu Shi~style and gave the Tang poem new characteristics. As a result, the themes of Poems shifted from the luxury of the palace to the lives of common people and the style became lucid and lively. The most outstanding Poet during this time is Chen Zi'ang. His Poems were vigorous and straightforward. He felt that Poems should reflect reality and he helped lay the groundwork for the development of Tang Poems.
High Tang (712-762) was the highest level of Tang poetry. The topics and styles of the Poems were rich and varied. Poets wrote freely in a romantic atmosphere, some singing the praises of nature, some yearning for life at a frontier fortress, some sighing with frustration. Together, they created an imposing scene that had immense influences on later writers.
Some of the most famous poets in High Tang included Li Bai, Du Fu, Meng Haoran, Gao Shi and Cen Sen. Cen Sen had a gift for writing Poems about frontier fortresses, while Gao Shi wrote about the miserable life of poor people. The "Fairy Poet" Li Bai and "Sage Poet" Du Fu probably had the most profound influences on writing at that time.
In the Mid Tang lived the famous poets Bai Juyi, Yuan Zhen and Li He. Bai Juyi was an expert at satire. He mocked excessive taxes, objected to war and criticized high-ranking officials. He tried to make his language plain, smooth and lively so that more people could appreciate his poem.
Li He only lived to his twenties and was miserable with his life and political career most of the time. His poems, however, were romantic and aesthetic. He brought his Poems to life with a fertile imagination, unique ideas, delicate execution and magnificent language.
The Late Tang period (827-859) saw the well-known poets Li Shangyin and Du Mu. Du Mu' poems were fresh and cool and expressed his sadness and frustration in his official career. There is still debate today over his famous poem "Untitled". Critics argue over weather the poem is a love song or a political statement.
* Lu Shi: a classical poem of eight lines, each containing five or seven characters, with a strict tonal pattern and rhyme scheme.
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