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Classical Chinese poetry

Poetry is the central literary form in classical Chinese literature. There are countless wonderful poems and poets from Chinese history.

Chuci, was created in Warring States Period by the greatly patriotic poet Qu Yuan (339BC- 278BC) who is regarded as the father of Chinese poetry. Chuci was originally the name given to his poetry and later became a style, with its features distinctly related to features found in the State of Chu. It became hugely influential on future classical Chinese literature, similarly to the more realistic style of The Book of Songs.

Started in the Qin Dynasty (221BC- 207BC), Yuefu in Chinese, originally a name of a constitution established by the government to collect folk songs and ballads, is a narrative poetry style with a strong reality sense which prevailed in the two Han dynasties (202BC- 220AD). Mo Shang Sang, the Flight of Phoenix to the Southeast, and Mulan Poetry are good representations of what is typical in this style.

The Tang Dynasty (618-907) produced numerous well known poets and a wealth of poems. In the Complete Tang Poems (Quan Tangshi), about 48900 poems were collected written by over 2300 poets. Libai, Dufu and Baijuyi are arguably the most famous poets from that era and many of their poems are still told around the world today. Libai carried forward romanticism in early Chinese poetry. His poems are vigorous and enthusiastic, permeated with active romanticism. Dufu was the greatest poet of realism in ancient China. His poetry mirrored society, almost like a historical account. It profoundly reflected the social realities of the declining Tang Dynasty. Baijuyi is another influential Tang poet. His works are characterised by vivid imagery, reasonably straight forward language and profound sympathy for the ordinary people. More than 3000 of his poems have been passed down, surpassing all other Tang poets in quantity.

The earliest poetry anthology is The Book of Songs, which is the first monumental work in the history marking the beginning of Chinese literature. It was collected by Confucius and includes 300 poems from the Western Zhou Dynasty (1100BC- 771BC) to the Warring States Period (475BC- 221BC). Some of the poems are folk songs while others are songs used in sacrificial ceremonies or banquets.