The History of Ancient Chinese Poetry

Ancient Chinese poetry (古诗)is the earliest form of Chinese literature. The earliest poems are believed to have been written between the 11th and 6th centuries BC. Early poems were written to honor the gods and other heroes.

During the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD) many art forms began to flourish in China, including poetry. During this period, poetry began to reflect the daily lives of the poets – their joys, their
sorrows, their simple day-to-day lives. People loved the relatability of the poems, and thus poetry became very popular during this period.

The Renowned Chinese Poet, Li Bai

李白 Li bai (701-762), a poet in the Tang Dynasty, is widely considered as one of China’s greatest poets, rivaled only by his contemporary, Du Fu. His poetry is known for its clear imagery and conversational tone. Li Bai was a romantic. He wrote about love, war, nature… He wrote about “the every day”.

This is a poetry from LiBai.

One of his famous poems, 静夜思(jìnɡ yè sī),

describes the feeling of the poet sitting in a friend’s home, looking up at the moon on an autumn night. The poems use metaphors, foils and other techniques to express the feelings of homesickness as a guest. The language is fresh and simple and the charm is subtle. The poem is widely known and recited.

床前明月光    ,

The bright moonlight shone on the window paper,

疑是地上霜    。

as if a layer of frost appeared on the ground.

举头望明月     ,

I couldn’t help raising my head and looking at the bright moon in the sky outside the window that day,

低头思故乡     。

I couldn’t help but lower my head in thought, thinking of my hometown far away.

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