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Li Qingzhao was born (c. 1083 CE) into a family of officials and scholars. Unlike other girls born in noble families, Li was outgoing and knowledgeable

Before she got married, her poetry was already well known within elite circles. In 1101 she married Zhao Mingcheng, with whom she shared interests in art collection and epigraphy. Her husband and she shared a love of poetry and often wrote poems for each other. They also wrote about bronze artifacts of the Shang and Zhou dynasties. Her earlier poetry portrayed her carefree days as a woman of high society, and was marked by its elegance.

The fall of the northern Song capital of Kaifeng, destroyed her carefree life. The death of her husband was a cruel stroke from which she never recovered. Li subsequently settled in Hangzhou, where the Song government was now established. She continued writing poetry and published the Jin shi lu. According to some contemporary accounts, she was briefly married to a man named Zhang Ruzhou who treated her badly, and she divorced him within months. She survived the criticism of her marriage.

Only around a hundred of her poems are known to survive, mostly in the ci form and tracing her varying fortunes in life. Also a few poems in the shi form have survived, the Afterword and a study of the ci form of poetry. She is credited with the first detailed critique of the metrics of Chinese poetry. She was regarded as a master of ci.
poem )
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Xue Tao was a Tang Dynasty courtesan and poet. She was a prodigy and could write good poem as early as an age of eight. When her father died, Xue Tao picked up the trade of courtesan and befriended a lot of popular poets.
In later years, Xue was able to live independently. A contemporary wrote that she took on the garments of a Daoist adept, signaling a relatively autonomous status within Tang society.
Some 450 poems by Xue were gathered in The Brocade River Collection that survived until the 14th century. About 100 poems of her are known nowadays, which is more than of any other Tang dynasty woman. They range widely in tone and topic, giving evidence of a lively intelligence and more than passing acquaintance with the great tradition of earlier Chinese poetry.
Autumn, Hearing the Headwaters on a Moonlit Night )
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I am [personal profile] snowynight and I will be your host this week.I love poetry because something about how it plays with the language and condense idea and image fascinates me. I have read poetry since I was very young, and they still catch my imagination to this day.

This week I 'd like to introduce to you female poets in ancient China. Because of sexual discrimination, women in ancient China seldom received education. Women were not expected to write so their work were usually lost to the time. Today I bring to you the poem of the first recorded female poet: Lady Lu Xu. She wrote this poem on her way to ask for assistance to save her own country.

The poem )
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Li Shang Yin (813-858) 's advance in career was cut short because he was too honest and independent-minded to survive in the political struggle at the time. His poems were sensuous, dense and allusive, full of imaginative imagery. He was especially famous for his series of Untitled poems. Here's one of them:

昨夜星辰昨夜风;画楼西畔桂堂东。
身无彩凤双飞翼,心有灵犀一点通。
隔座送钩春酒暖,分曹射覆蜡灯红。
嗟余听鼓应官去,走马兰台类转蓬。

 
Last night's bright stars; last night's breeze;
West of the painted tower, east of bay tree hall;
No phoenix wings on my body, to fly away with you;
But our thoughts link by the rhinestone's magic.
Across tables we "passed the hook" with spring wines warm;
Our teams played "guess what" under candle lamps bright.
Pity I have to hear the dawn drum calling me to duty;
And ride between lofty offices like a detached reed




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Despite the distant royal ancestry of Li He (790–816), he died a poor and petty official. Li 's poetry was known for his imagination and unconventional style. His poem often dealt with death and the next world, and that was why he was nicknamed "poetic ghost".

cut for the poem )
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Han Yu (768–824) was more known for being a profound prose writer than a poet. He had a difficult childhood as he was orphaned in an early age, frequent demotion at an adult age and when he finally seemingly found a stable life, he was exiled to the hostile Chao Zhou because he protested against the extravagant and self-destructive behaviour In worshipping the Buddha's bone. His poetry was known to be frank and open in content, playing with different stanza form and structure, which made him influential to later poets in the coming Sung Dynasty.

Here's one of his poem reflecting his style of using daily prose language in poems: 山石 Mountain Stone translated by Betty Tsang
MOUNTAIN-STONES )
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Du Fu (712-770) was a profound realistic poet. He was called "Poetic sage" because of the Confucius thinking and compassion expressed in his poems. His greatest ambition was to serve his country, but he proved unable to bend to the corruption in the government. His life, like the whole country, was devastated by the An Lushan Rebellion of 755, and his last 15 years were a time of almost constant unrest. His poems bore witness to how the country fell from prosperity to ruin.

Du Fu 's poetry was known to unite and inherit the past literary tradition. He mastered all forms of poems, used a wide range of register, and was especially known for the use of lu shi, a form of poems with strict constraint of stanzas.

Here's one of the examples: 春望 Sighting of Spring translated by Betty Tsang

國破山河在,
城春草木深。
感時花濺淚,
恨別鳥驚心。
烽火連三月,
家書抵萬金。
白頭搔更短,
渾欲不勝簪。
The nation is in sunder, yet mountains and rivers still their stances hold and courses run,
Spring has come to Changan overgrown with unruly grass and trees.
Current affairs have me deep in sentiments, and tears overcome me at the sight of flowers,
Detesting separation from family so much, even the twitter of birds frightens me.
Military unrest has been continuing for months on end,
More valuable than tons of gold is a letter from family and kin.
My hair has greyed and grown thin,
There remains almost too little for the use of a hairpin.


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Hi! I'm snowynight and I'll be your host for this week. Since the last time I was a host I've been an more avid reader of poetry and start to try my hand in writing poetry. It's a lot of fun. For more about me, please see my first introduction post here at the comm or visit my personal journal

This week I'll talk about Tang Dynasty poets in China (618-907). Tang Dynasty was an important period for the history of Chinese poetry, because during this period the quantity, quality and variety of poetry had climbed to a new high, which was very influential to later time. I would like to introduce some popular and overlooked poets in Tang Dynasty China.

Li Bai 李白 (701-762) was a profound and popular poet in China. He was nicknamed " Banished Immortal" because his poems were famous for his imagination, his willingness to break the formal poetic rules and his seemingly easiness to bound all these into great poetry. However, his life was tragic. He was unable to use his talent to serve the country as he wished and later died in exile. The conflict of Taoist belief of transcending the worldly affair and the Confucius ideal of building a name by serving the country built up the tension in his life. There's a more comprehensive account of his life on wikipedia.

I would like to share one of his popular poems Drinking Alone Under the Moon here, which I think gives a glimpse of why he was nicknamed "Banished Immortal." It 's a five-word poem in old poetry style.
In amongst flowers with a bottle of wine / I drink alone for there is no one close by. )
Question: How do you enjoy the poem? Does the description of the poet remind you of anything? Are there any aspects of Tang Dynasty poetry and poets you're interested in?
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辛棄疾: 寄調 醜奴兒採桑子: 書博山道中壁
Xin Qizi (1140-1207): To the tune of Chou Nu Er/ Cai Sang Zi (The Ugly Page/ Picking Mulberries): Written on a Wall on the Way to Boshan
 
1    少年不識愁滋味
2    愛上層樓
3    愛上層樓 
4    為赋新詞強說愁
 
5    而今識盡愁滋味 
6    欲說還休
7    欲說還休 
8    卻道天凉好個秋
 
1    When young I never did know the taste of woe or sorrow,
2    Up to the top floor, I loved to go;
3    Up to the top floor, I loved to go---
4    For to compose new verses, I feigned my sorrow and woe.
 
5    Now sorrow and woe I've tasted, and the bitterness withal,
6    To speak, I wish, and yet I stall;
7    To speak, I wish, and yet I stall---
8    O how fair though chilly this autumn! I say, after all.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)      譯者: 黃宏發

Link to the translation

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天净沙·秋思
马致远

枯藤老树昏鸦,
小桥流水人家,
古道西风瘦马,
夕阳西下,
断肠人在天涯

Translation by Shi Wen-lin:

Tune to “Sand and Sky”
——Autumn Thoughts
By Ma Zhiyuan

Dry vine, old tree, crows at dusk,
Low bridge, stream running, cottages,
Ancient road, west wind, lean nag,
The sun westering,
And one with breaking heart at the sky’s edge
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不远的灯火 文/玩偶

还有什么可以撼动眼下的落寂
影浮在井底,你看它、水中的人看你,吞进去,再吐出来
还是原来的物体?眼神越过碎针般的光芒
这不等同于虚无,一滴水中有蠢蠢欲动的大河
繁衍地村庄,阳光下的老人,经过最初的颤栗,停止生长
与某段记忆死磕,叨念残缺时光。这些都可以归为
固执的残存反应,孤立形态相互融合。混杂。碰撞出来的紧迫
像这繁杂世界,流淌出来的羞辱气息,神经兮兮
怎样都感觉不到踏实。或许,这就是命中注定的卑贱
保持矫情的姿态,严守途经的秘密
Lights Not Far Away by Toy Figurine, translated by Lush Greenness

What else can shake off loneliness in our eyes?
Reflections sway on the water while you gaze into a well. They stare back at you,
being swallowed and thrown up.
Are they objects as before? Your visions pass beyond the light scattering,
And herein do not equal nothingness, just as a drop of water leaks out a river’s
intention to move.
In ever prospering villages, the elders in the sun cease to grow after early shivers,
They knock on a piece of past memory, chattering about time-honored fragments. and
Wherein obstinate responses result in isolated individuals mixing and mingling. All
factors collide into mutual urgency.
From the present complicated world flows out humiliation, and nervousness,
Minus any dependable feelings. This may be our destined inferior.
Let's maintain an affected attitude, keeping strictly the secret of our daily routine.

http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_49d962600100q4gb.html

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In Tang Dynasty (618-907), a famous Chinese writer Han Yu wrote an article when saying goodbye to his friend, Mang Jao to express his sympathy of his friend's fate and his thought about literature. According to the article, one voices when agitated. When someone feels injustice in life, they sing with their words. Different famous people expressed themselves under different situation but their words were all relevant to their time. And Han Yu did live out his theory by writing frankly about his career, his life, his feelings and his friends. His theory has impact in the later Chinese literary criticism.

Question: Have you ever been inspired to write poetry by current events? What do you think about these poems?

cut for the poetry )
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I am [personal profile] snowynight and I will be your host this week.I love poetry because something about how it plays with the language and condense idea and image fascinates me. I have read poetry since I was very young, and they still catch my imagination to this day.

This week I 'd like to share about China and its literary theory about poetry. I remember in one Chinese literature lesson, my professor shares with us about the famous Nineteen Old Poems, 古詩十九首. They have been regarded as influential in the development of poetry in Ancient China. Interestingly, some poems contains theme that are quite amoral considering their historical context, such as 青青河畔草 – Green, Green, Grass on the Riverbank, where the female narrator entertains thought of adultry. Or 今日良宴會 – Today we hold a splendid feast, where the narrator shares his ambition of striving for richness no matter the cost. These however didn't lessen their literary value in ancient Chinese's eyes because they 're honest to what the poets feel, and the honesty resonates with the readers even today. Honesty 's the baseline how a poem 's evaluated. To those interested, I find a translation to all 19 poems here.

Discussion: When you read or write poetry, what does honesty mean to you, and how does it factor into your appraciation or creation?

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