The Tang Dynasty that existed from 18th June 618 to 1st June 907 could be said to have been built with its poets. The ability to write good poetry that expounded social and ethical issues was the passport to entering the government. Some Tang Dynasty poets also wrote poetry of a more personal nature.
Tang dynasty poetry covered three major areas: special occasions, nature, and like most other poetry, philosophy. The most famed poets of this period were Wan Wei, Li Po, and Tu Fu who lived between the years 699 and 770. Wang Wei was quite austere in his approach to poetry, while Li Po was a romantically inclined eccentric, and Tu Fu, a Confucian moralist.
Tu Fu was the most popular and was considered the greatest poet of the times. His poetry covered politics, social problems, and even his own personal family life.
Wang Wei’s poems were quite simple and short and were mostly about nature. Li Po too loved nature and his work reflected that extensively. His poetry also carried a leaning towards Taoism, and several of his poems revealed his deep love for people.
Tang dynasty poetry essentially captures people’s deepest emotions and talks about matters of everyday life: the losing of friends, remembering the good times of the past, voicing innermost feelings, and crying out against social injustice. This reveals the wide range of interests of the people of the Tang Dynasty.
The oldest of Tang poetry comprised of 4 words or even characters with every alternate line rhyming. This slowly changed to accommodate 5 to 7 characters or words. The simple and yet profound approach to life, keeps the poetry of this era still alive in people’s hearts.
The Tang Dynasty’s encouragement of poetry ensured that it survived generations and is today still being translated into several languages all over the world.