Yuefu are Chinese poems composed in a folk song style. The term originally literally meant "Music Bureau", a reference to the imperial Chinese governmental organization(s) originally charged with collecting or writing the lyrics, later the term yuefu was applied to later literary imitations or adaptations of the Music Bureau's poems. The use of fu in yuefu is different from the other Chinese term fu that refers to a type of poetry or literature: although homonyms in English, the other fu (simplified Chinese :赋; traditional Chinese :賦; pinyin :fù) is a rhapsodic poetry/prose form of literature.
The term yuefu covers original folk songs, court imitations and versions by known poets (such as those of Li Bai). As opposed to what appears to be more of an authentic anonymous folk verse which was collected by the Music Bureau, verse written deliberately in this style, often by known authors, is often referred to as "literary yuefu". The lines of the yuefu can be of uneven length, reflecting its origins as a type of fixed-rhythm verse derived from now lost folk ballad tunes; although, later, the five-character fixed-line length became common. However, as a term of classification yuefu has a certain elusiveness when it comes to strict definition.Furthermore, the literary application of the term yuefu in the modern sense of a classical form of poetry seems not to have had contemporary application until considerably after the end of the Han Dynasty, thus adding a certain historically ambiguity due to its use in this literary sense not having occurred until centuries after the actual development of this type of verse itself. The use of the term yuefu to generically refer to this form of poetry does not seem to appear until the late fifth century CE.
The word yuefu came first into being in Qin dynasty (221 BC – 206 BC). Yue (樂) means "music", fu (府) means "bureau": put together yuefu means "Music Bureau". Yuefu is particularly associated with the Han poetry of the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), and became a royal government-managed music involving collecting, writing or performing folk songs and ballads in 112 BC. Afterwards, people called poems composed in this folk song style yuefu.
The yuefu poems of the Han Dynasty have been held in high regard over the history of Chinese poetry. The Han yuefu tradition inherited the traditional realistic approach of the Shi Jing's, "feeling of funeral music, causes behind the affairs". Folk songs collected or written by the Musical Department in the Han Dynasty were typically done from the perspective of a certain set of personas—vividly and visually mirroring the perceived typical characters of people whose lives mirrored the different social roles which typified the society of the Han dynasty.
During the last century or two of the Han Dynasty, the poets of the time were noted for writing "literary yuefu", that is yuefu inspired by or imitating the Music Bureau pieces.
During the Jian'an period at the end of the Han Dynasty and into the Three Kingdoms period yuefu continued to be written. Often, the yuefu appearing in Jian'an poetry more personally emotional than the Music Bureau pieces.
During the Six Dynasties era, a form of yuefu using regular five-character quatrains (or paired couplets) similar to the jueju appears in the Midnight Songs poetry.
During the Tang Dynasty certain poets wrote a series of new poems in great variety and profoundness influenced by even sometimes to the point of recycling the old titles and themes of yuefu of the Han Dynasty. The poets behind this "new yuefu" style included many famous poets, such as Li Bai, Du Fu, Bai Juyi, and Yuan Zhen, who participated in the development of this new style and the creation of various individual poems inspired by and inspirational to it. The patterns of new yuefu can be quite free or can take the form of five characters per line or the seven-character per line poems; however, the topics are often conventional. Similar to the ballad tradition of the earlier yuefu, many of the Tang yuefu are spoken in the voice of some persona, often that of a hunter, a peasant girl, or a soldier at the frontier.Similarly, the subjects and themes of the Tang yuefu vary from simply providing song lyrics, to engaging in social satire or criticism, literary exercise, lamentations at the departure of friends, attempts to visit not-to-be-found-hermits, and romantic love in relationship to singing "girls", dancers or other professional entertainers, or the feelings of or for the ladies of the palace harems.
In Han Dynasty: "Mulberry By Road" (陌上桑)， "Armed Escort" (羽林郎), "White Hair Intonation" (白头吟), "Thinking is Being" (有所思), "The Old Soldier's Return" (十五从军征), "The Peacocks Fly to the South and the East" (孔雀东南飞),
In Tang Dynasty: "The Moon at the Fortified Pass (關山月/关山月/guānshān yuè) by Li Bai and the Songs of the Border (塞上曲/sàishàng qǔ) genre.
Li Bai, also known as Li Bo, courtesy name Taibai, art name Qinglian Jushi, was a Chinese poet acclaimed from his own day to the present as a genius and a romantic figure who took traditional poetic forms to new heights. He and his friend Du Fu (712–770) were the two most prominent figures in the flourishing of Chinese poetry in the Tang dynasty, which is often called the "Golden Age of Chinese Poetry". The expression "Three Wonders" denote Li Bai's poetry, Pei Min's swordplay, and Zhang Xu's calligraphy.
Chinese poetry is poetry written, spoken, or chanted in the Chinese language. While this last term comprises Classical Chinese, Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Yue Chinese, and other historical and vernacular forms of the language, its poetry generally falls into one of two primary types, Classical Chinese poetry and Modern Chinese poetry.
Classical Chinese poetry is traditional Chinese poetry written in Classical Chinese and typified by certain traditional forms, or modes; traditional genres; and connections with particular historical periods, such as the poetry of the Tang Dynasty. The existence of classical Chinese poetry is documented at least as early as the publication of the Classic of Poetry,. Various combinations of forms and genres have developed over the ages. Many or most of these poetic forms were developed by the end of the Tang Dynasty, in 907 CE.
Bai Juyi, courtesy name Letian, was a renowned Chinese poet and Tang dynasty government official. Many of his poems concern his career or observations made about everyday life, including as governor of three different provinces. He achieved fame as a writer of verse in a low-key, near vernacular style that was popular throughout China, in Korea and Japan.
Shen Yue, courtesy name Xiuwen (休文), was a poet, statesman, and historian born in Huzhou, Zhejiang. He served emperors under the Liu Song Dynasty, the Southern Qi Dynasty, and the Liang Dynasty.
The Three Hundred Tang Poems is an anthology of poems from the Chinese Tang dynasty (618–907). It was first compiled around 1763 by Sun Zhu (1722–1778), who was a Qing Dynasty scholar and was also known as Hengtang Tuishi. Various later editions also exist. All editions contain slightly more than 300 total poems: in this case, 300 is an estimate; the ten, twenty, or more extra poems represent a bonus. Also, the number 300 was a classic number for a poetry collection due to the influence of the Classic of Poetry, which was generally known as The Three Hundred Poems.
The arts of China have varied throughout its ancient history, divided into periods by the ruling dynasties of China and changing technology, but still containing a high degree of continuity. Different forms of art have been influenced by great philosophers, teachers, religious figures and even political leaders. The arrival of Buddhism and modern Western influence produced especially large changes. Chinese art encompasses fine arts, folk arts and performance arts.
Tang poetry refers to poetry written in or around the time of or in the characteristic style of China's Tang dynasty, and/or follows a certain style, often considered as the Golden Age of Chinese poetry. The Quantangshi includes over 48,900 poems written by over 2,200 authors. During the Tang dynasty, poetry continued to be an important part of social life at all levels of society. Scholars were required to master poetry for the civil service exams, but the art was theoretically available to everyone. This led to a large record of poetry and poets, a partial record of which survives today. The two most famous poets of the period were Li Bai and Du Fu. Tang poetry has had an ongoing influence on world literature in modern times.
Jueju, or Chinese quatrain, is a type of jintishi that grew popular among Chinese poets in the Tang Dynasty (618–907), although traceable to earlier origins. Jueju poems are always quatrains; or, more specifically, a matched pair of couplets, with each line consisting of five or seven syllables.
Classical Chinese poetry forms are poetry forms or modes which typify the traditional Chinese poems written in Literary Chinese or Classical Chinese. Classical Chinese poetry has various characteristic forms, some attested to as early as the publication of the Classic of Poetry, dating from a traditionally, and roughly, estimated time of around 10th–7th century BC. The term "forms" refers to various formal and technical aspects applied to poems: this includes such poetic characteristics as meter, rhythm, and other considerations such as vocabulary and style. These forms and modes are generally, but not invariably, independent of the Classical Chinese poetry genres. Many or most of these were developed by the time of the Tang Dynasty, and the use and development of Classical Chinese poetry and genres actively continued up until the May Fourth Movement, and still continues even today in the 21st century.
The Music Bureau served in the capacity of an organ of various imperial government bureaucracies of China: discontinuously and in various incarnations, the Music Bureau was charged directly, by the emperor, or indirectly, through the royal government to perform various tasks related to music, poetry, entertainment, or religious worship. These tasks included both musical and lyrical research and development, and also directing performances.
Guo Maoqian was a Song dynasty poetry anthologist. He compiled an important collection of lyrical pieces in his work Anthology of Yuefu Poetry (樂府詩集), which contains almost all of the surviving Music Bureau style, or Yuefu from the Han dynasty through the Tang dynasty and to the Five Dynasties, and which includes such famous poems as "Hua Mulan".
Han poetry as a style of poetry resulted in significant poems which are still preserved today, and which have their origin associated with the Han dynasty era of China, 206 BC – 220 AD, including the Wang Mang interregnum. The final years at the end of the Han era often receive special handling for purposes of literary analysis because, among other things, the poetry and culture of this period is less than typical of the Han period, and has important characteristics of its own, or it shares literary aspects with the subsequent Three Kingdoms period. This poetry reflects one of the poetry world's more important flowerings, as well as being a special period in Classical Chinese poetry, particularly in regard to the development of the quasipoetic fu; the activities of the Music Bureau in connection with the collection of popular ballads and the resultant development of what would eventually become known as the yuefu, or as the rhapsodic formal style; and, finally, towards the end of the Han Dynasty, the development of a new style of shi poetry, as the later development of the yuehfu into regular, fixed-line length forms makes it difficult to distinguish in form from the shi form of poetic verse, and at what point specific poems are classified as one or the other is somewhat arbitrary. Another important poetic contribution from the Han era is the compilation of the Chuci anthology, which contains some of the oldest and most important poetic verses to be preserved from ancient China, as well as the transmission of the Shijing anthology.
Jian'an poetry, or Chien'an poetry (建安風骨), refers to those styles of poetry particularly associated with the end of the Han dynasty and the beginning of the Six Dynasties era of China. This poetry category is particularly important because, in the case of the Jian'an poetic developments, there is a special difficulty in matching the chronology of changes in poetry with the usual Chinese dynastic chronology based on the political leadership of the times. For example, according to Burton Watson, the first major poet of the new shi style that emerged at this time was Cao Zhi, one of the sons of Cao Cao, a family which came into power at the end of Han and developed further during the Three Kingdoms era of the Six Dynasties period.
Gushi is one of the main poetry forms defined in Classical Chinese poetry, literally meaning "old poetry" or "old style poetry": gushi is a technical term for certain historically exemplary poems, together with later poetry composed in this formal style.
Six Dynasties poetry refers to those types or styles of poetry particularly associated with the Six Dynasties era of China. This poetry reflects one of the poetry world's more important flowerings, as well as being a unique period in Classical Chinese poetry, which, over this time period, developed a poetry with special emphasis on romantic love, gender roles, and human relationships. The Six Dynasties era is sometimes known as the "Age of Fragmentation", because China as a whole through this period lacked unification as a state, at least for any extended period of time; and, instead, many states rose and fell, often overlapping in existence with other states. Which of the various states and dynasties constituted the "6" dynasties of the Six Dynasties period varies somewhat according to which of the traditional selection criteria is chosen. The Six Dynasties era covers several somewhat overlapping main periods including all of the following: the Three Kingdoms (220–280), Jin dynasty, the Sixteen Kingdoms, and the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420–589). Sometimes, chronological discrepancies occur in regard to the turbulent political events of the time, from which these traditional historical-era designations derive, together with the somewhat different chronology of poetic developments. Thus, neither the lives of the poets nor the trends in their poetry fit gently and neatly together with these period dates. Furthermore, conversions to the Common Era dating system can create further complications. However, regardless of the chronological difficulties, major developments of poetry during the Six Dynasties include formalizing the distinction between the Jian'an era regular yuefu and the shi style poetry, further development of the fu, theoretical work on technique, and the preservation of both Six Dynasties and earlier poetry by collecting and publishing many of the pieces which survive today into various anthologies consisting all or in part of poetry.
The History of fu poetry covers the beginnings of the Chinese literary genre of fu. The term fu describes literary works which have certain characteristics of their own. English lacks an equivalent native term. Sometimes called "rhapsodies", sometimes called "rhyme-prose", fu are characterized by qualities of both poetry and prose: both are obligatory. The fu form of literary work is a treatment in a poetic manner, wherein some topic of interest, such as an exotic object, a profound feeling, or an encyclopedic subject is described and rhapsodized upon, in exhaustive detail and various angles of view. And, for a piece to be truly considered to be within the fu genre, it must follow the rules of this form, in terms of structure, meter, and so on.
Cao Cao (155–220) was a warlord who rose to power towards the final years of the Eastern Han dynasty and became the de facto head of government in China. He laid the foundation for what was to become the state of Cao Wei (220–265), founded by his son and successor Cao Pi, in the Three Kingdoms period (220–280). Poetry, among other things, was one of his cultural legacies.
Geese are an important motif in Chinese poetry. Examples of goose imagery have an important place in Chinese poetry ranging from the Shijing and the Chu Ci poets through the poets of Han poetry and later poets of Tang poetry such as Li Bai, Wang Wei, Du Fu, and the Xiaoxiang poetry, especially in the poetry of the Song dynastic era. Various poetic concepts could be communicated by the inclusion of the imagery of geese in a poem, and the understanding of allusions to a goose or geese can help provide key insights into the poems of Classical Chinese poetry. Chinese sources typically distinguish between two types of geese, the domestic goose, and the wild goose: of the two, the wild goose is the more important for poetry, whether as significant of migratory seasonal change, or as "bearing a message of love from afar", by persons separated by a great distance, or as the "lone goose", bereft of both mate and flock.