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Poets of the Tang Dynasty: Li Po, Tu Fu, Han-shan, Han Yu, Bo JuyiFlorence Chan http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/oal/course s/image/ias2510/0809/LiBo_DuFu. ppt

Outline

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Li Po/ Li Bo Du Fu Han Shan han Yu Bo Juyi

Modern-style Poetry in the Tang Dynasty

In the Tang dynasty, technically stricter forms of shi were developed. These are collectively referred to as jinti shi (modern-style poetry); by contrast, the loose and older forms cam to be called gu(ti)shi ( ) (ancient-style poetry). The increasing deliberate use of tones as a poetic element led to the development, in the 6th & 7th centuries, of three new subtypes of shi, distinguished primarily on the basis of strict rules governing tone placement. All three are referred to collectively as jinti shi (modern-style poetry).

The Forms of Modern-style Poetry

1. jueju ( ), stopped short lines. It consists of 4 lines, usually of 5 or 7 characters. If the 7-syllable line is used, the 1st line usually rhymes with the 2nd and 4th . Later critics assigned a function to each of the four lines of a jueju: opening development, roundabout, and conclusion.

The Forms of Modern-style Poetry

2. lushi ( ), regulated poem. It has eight lines of 5 or 7 characters. The two internal couplets (i.e., line 3&4; 5&6) must show paralleism, a fact which often makes this form immediately recognizble even in trnaslation. In the opening couplet, parallelism is allowed but is seldom used in practice. Change of rhyme is not allowed in the regulated poems.

The Forms of Modern-style Poetry

3. pailu, linked regulated If more than two parallel couplets intervene between the opening and closing couplets, the poem is said to belong to the linked regulated type. Linked regulated poems of 30-40 couplets are not uncommon, but in this type, too, change of rhyme is avoided as ,much as possible.

Li Po/ Li Bo (701-762)

Li Bo would probably be close to the top on almost anyones list of the greatest Chinese poets of pre-modern times. It is generally agreed that he and Du Fu raised poetry in the shi ( ) form to the highest level of power and expressiveness; later poets at times approached but never surpassed them.

Li Bo (701-762)

It was some centuries before the true worth of Du Fus work was acknowledged, but Li Bos poetry seems to have gained almost immediate recognition. This may due to the fact that, unlike Du Fu, Li Bo was no innovator. For the most part he was content to employ the poetic forms inherited from his predecessors and to devote himself to the conventional themes of the past.

Li Bo (701-762)

Of the 1000 poems attributed to him, about one sixth are in the yuefu ballad style, which means that they are reworking of themes drawn from the old folk song tradition, while another group of his poems is entitled gufeng ( ) or in the old manner. Li Bos distinction lies in the fact that he brought an unparalleled grace and eloquence to his treatment of the traditional themes, a flow that lift his work far above the level of mere imitations of the past.

Li Bo (701-762)

Another characteristic of Li Bos poetry is the air of playfulness and outright fantasy that infuses much of it. The poem, My trip in a Dream to the Lady of Heaven Mountain is a good example, a work in irregular form that in rhapsodic language describes a dream journey to Tianmu, a mountain on the Zhejing coast associated with Taoist lore. After the poet awakes, he resolves to leave the world of fawning and hypocrisy and retire to the mountains, the carefree life of the recluse being another important theme in his poetry. Other works stress the poets unique rapport with nature, or his love of wine.

The Life of Li Bo (701-762)

Though a wealth of legend has accrued about Li Bos name, little is known of the facts of his life. His birthplace was uncertain. He grew up in Sichuan in western China and later traveled extensively in the eastern and central regions. Just what kept him so constantly on the move is difficult to say, since his poetry, unlike Du Fu and many other major Chinese poets, tends to be impersonal in tone and to reveal relatively little about the poets own activities.

The Life of Li Bo (701-762)

Around 742, he gained recognition from the Emperor Xuanzong and was appointed to a post in Hanlin Academy, in the government office charged with literary activities. But a few years later, he was exiled from the capital as a result of slanders. He fled south at the time of An Lushan rebellion in 755 and in time entered the service of Prince Yong, a member of the imperial family who was later accused of treason.

The Writing Style of Li Bo

The princes downfall involved Li Bos second exile, though he was eventually pardoned and resumed his life of wandering. In spite of his misfortune, Li Bo is little given to expressions of unmitigated despair or bitterness, his poetry on the whole being unusually calm, even at times sunny in outlook.

The Writing Style of Li Bo

It appears to grow not so much out of actual scenes and experiences of his lifetime as it does out of certain convictions that he held regarding life and art, out of a tireless search for spiritual freedom and communion with nature, a lively imagination and a deep sensitivity to the beauties of language. Comparable to Mozart: terrible life in the world (once well-received but later disliked by the king) vs. happy artwork

Li Bo: Still Night Thoughts

This poem used to be known by all Chinese schoolchildren.

Li Bo: Poems on Wine

We may note that for Li Bo and many others, losing oneself in drink provided a means of blurring the distinctions imposed by the human mind, so that the loneliness of individuality might give way to a comforting sense of identity with the eternal order. Li Bos yuefu poems are studded with golden goblets sloshing with wine, with singing, dancing, and eating. The fourth is the most famous of them. The Chinese poetic tradition had no lack of drinking poems, but never had there been one before that spoke to its audience with such violent energy.

II. Du Fu (712-770)

Du Fu is generally known as the sage of poetry. His poems reflect his concern for his country and his love for sovereign, his compassion for the times and his sadness over disorder, his refusal to compromise in adversity, and his integrity in poverty.

Du Fu (712-770)

If the poetry of Li Bo conveys a feeling of spontaneity and effortless flow, that of his contemporary Du Fu gives a quite different impression. Though Du Fu wrote in a variety of styles, his most characteristic work is innovative in language and subject matter and densely packed with meaning.

Du Fu (712-770)

Du Fu seems to have labored over his compositions, employing parallelisms and other rhetorical and prosodic devices in novel and surprising ways, striving to open up new areas of expression. His professed aim being to startle with the creativeness of his work. This is undoubtedly one reason why his importance was not widely recognized by the readers of his time, for his work was too original and innovative for the mass. As in the case of so many artists whose work is experimental and forward-looking, it remained for posterity to recognize the full extent of his genius.

The Life of Du Fu (712770)

Du Fu was born in Henan in the region of Luoyang. Though he came from a distinguished literary family and had influential contacts, his early efforts to secure a governmental position through the examination system or special appointment met with repeated failure.

The Life of Du Fu (712770)

He was 43 when, in 755, he finally succeeded in obtaining an official post. It was anything but a suspicious time to enter the service of the dynasty. Emperor Xuanzong , a distinguished and able ruler in his earlier years, had in his sixties become infatuated with the beautiful Yang Guifei , making her his concubine and showing favors on her relations, a move that Du Fu obliquely censures in his Song of the Beautiful Ladies.

The Life of Du Fu (712770)

With the emperor thus distracted from affairs of state, the court soon became plagued by factionalism and the military leaders in the outlying areas grew dangerously powerful. In 755, the year of Du Fu took office, one such leader with his base in the northeast, An Lushan, raised a revolt and began marching toward the Tang capital area. In time the emperor was forced to flee to the west and abdicate in favor of his son, who set up a new regime. Meanwhile, Du Fu and his family fled north to escape the rebel armies.

The Life of Du Fu (712770)

He then left his family there and he himself attempted to make his way to the headquarters of the new emperor, but was captured by the rebels and held prisoner in Changan . After a semblance of order had been restored, Du Fu was once more given a post in the capital, but incurred the emperors displeasure and was removed to a minor provincial position. In 759 he left this post and spent the remainder of his life in restless wanderings, broken by an interval of relative tranquility when he lived on the outskirts of Chengdu in Sichuan.

The Life of Du Fu (712770)

In his last years, much troubled by illness, he journeyed by stages down in the Yangtze, attempting to reach his old home in the east, but died along the way.

The Writing Style of Du Fu

Much of Du Fus poetry is intensely personal, we can follow in it the tortured course of his life as it was molded by the numerous events of the time. He was imbued with a strong Confucian sense of duty that kept him striving to serve the dynasty to which he professed such deep loyalty. He just hoped to help