T’ang Poetry Appreciation-WangWei 2

The T’ang period is the golden age of Chinese poetry. According to a compilation, the Quantangshi, there were almost 50,000 Tang poems written by over 2,200 authors. Among these outstanding poets, Wang Wei was one of the most famous.

Wang wei was famous for both his poetry and his paintings. Su Shi had a phrase: “The quality of Wang Wei’s poems can be summed as, the poems hold a painting within them. In observing his paintings you can see that, within the painting there is poetry.” He is especially known for his compositions in the Mountains and Streams genre.

The poets in Tang dynasty explored all the possibilities of arranging five-character and seven-character lines beautifully and rhythmically. Bellow is one of Wang Wei’s five-character peom.

In a Retreat among Bamboos
Wang Wei

Leaning alone in the close bamboos,
I am playing my lute and humming a song
Too softly for anyone to hear….
Except my comrade, the bright moon.

However as Chinese is not an alphabetic language and the translation of it into Western language presents unique obstacles. For example the grammar of Chinese is very simple. In Chinese there are no articles, no gender, no case, no tenses, and (in poetry) few pronouns or prepositions etc. That’s why it is always be preferable to read a Tang poem in Chinese rather than in a translation however good.

Tang poetry

Tang Poetry