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Bai Juyi

Bai Juyi

Overview
Bai Juyi (772–846) was a Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

. Many of his poems concern his career or observations made as a government official, including as governor of three different provinces. Bai Juyi was also renowned in Japan. Burton Watson says of Bai Juyi: "he worked to develop a style that was simple and easy to understand, and posterity has requited his efforts by making him one of the most well-loved and widely read of all Chinese poets, both in his native land and in the other countries of the East that participate in the appreciation of Chinese culture.
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Quotations

春寒賜浴華清池 / 温泉水滑洗凝脂

Translation:

:...It was early spring. They bathed her in the FlowerPure Pool,Which warmed and smoothed the creamy-tinted crystal of her skin

可憐光彩生門戸 / 遂令天下父母心 / 不重生男重生女

Translation:

:And, because she so illumined and glorified her clan,She brought to every father, every mother through the empire,Happiness when a girl was born rather than a boy.

在天願作比翼鳥 / 在地願為連理枝 / 天長地久有時盡 / 此恨綿綿無絶期

Translation:

Encyclopedia
Bai Juyi (772–846) was a Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

. Many of his poems concern his career or observations made as a government official, including as governor of three different provinces. Bai Juyi was also renowned in Japan. Burton Watson says of Bai Juyi: "he worked to develop a style that was simple and easy to understand, and posterity has requited his efforts by making him one of the most well-loved and widely read of all Chinese poets, both in his native land and in the other countries of the East that participate in the appreciation of Chinese culture. He also, thanks to the translations and biographical studies by Arthur Waley, one of the most accessible to English readers". Today the fame of Bai Juyi is worldwide.
Names
Chinese name
Personal names in Chinese culture follow a number of conventions different from those of personal names in Western cultures. Most noticeably, a Chinese name is written with the family name first and the given name next, therefore "John-Paul Smith" as a Chinese name would be "Smith John-Paul"...

Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

:
白居易
Pinyin
Pinyin
Pinyin is the official system to transcribe Chinese characters into the Roman alphabet in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. It is also often used to teach Mandarin Chinese and spell Chinese names in foreign publications and used as an input method to enter Chinese characters into...

:
Bó Jūyì or Bái Jūyì
Wade-Giles
Wade-Giles
Wade–Giles , sometimes abbreviated Wade, is a romanization system for the Mandarin Chinese language. It developed from a system produced by Thomas Wade during the mid-19th century , and was given completed form with Herbert Giles' Chinese–English dictionary of 1892.Wade–Giles was the most...

:
Po Chü-i or Pai Chü-i
Zì 字: Lètiān 樂天
Hào 號
Chinese style name
A Chinese style name, sometimes also known as a courtesy name , is a given name to be used later in life. After 20 years of age, the zì is assigned in place of one's given name as a symbol of adulthood and respect...

:
Xiāngshān Jūshì
Householder (Buddhism)
In English translations of Buddhist literature, householder denotes a variety of terms. Most broadly, it refers to any layperson, and most narrowly, to a wealthy and prestigious familial patriarch...

 香山居士
Zuìyín Xiānshēng 醉吟先生
Shì 謚
Posthumous name
A posthumous name is an honorary name given to royalty, nobles, and sometimes others, in East Asia after the person's death, and is used almost exclusively instead of one's personal name or other official titles during his life...

:
Wén 文 (hence referred
to as Bái Wéngōng 白文公)

Name variants


Bai Juyi often referred to himself in life as Letian, the older English transcription version being Lo-t'ien. Later in life, he referred to himself as the Hermit of Xiangshan.

Life


Bai Juyi was born and lived in the period poetically considered to be Middle Tang. This was a period of rebuilding and recovery for the Tang Empire, following the An Shi Rebellion, and following the poetically flourishing era famous for Li Bo
Li Bai
Li Bai , also known in the West by various other transliterations, especially Li Po, was a major Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty poetry period. He has been regarded as one of the greatest poets in China's Tang period, which is often called China's "golden age" of poetry. Around a thousand existing...

 (701-762), Wang Wei (701-761), and Du Fu
Du Fu
Du Fu was a prominent Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty.Along with Li Bai , he is frequently called the greatest of the Chinese poets. His greatest ambition was to serve his country as a successful civil servant, but he proved unable to make the necessary accommodations...

 (712-770). Bai Juyi lived through the reign of eight or nine emperors, being born in the Dali regnal era (766-779) of Emperor Daizong of Tang
Emperor Daizong of Tang
Emperor Daizong of Tang , personal name Li Yu , né Li Chu , was an emperor of the Chinese Tang Dynasty....

. He had a long and successful creer both as a government officaial and a poet, although the two seem to have come in conflict with each other at certain points. Bai Juyi was also a devoted Chan Buddist
Zen
Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism founded by the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. The word Zen is from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chán , which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be approximately translated as "meditation" or "meditative state."Zen...

.

Birth and childhood


Bai Juyi was born in 772, in Taiyuan
Taiyuan
Taiyuan is the capital and largest city of Shanxi province in North China. At the 2010 census, it had a total population of 4,201,591 inhabitants on 6959 km² whom 3,212,500 are urban on 1,460 km². The name of the city literally means "Great Plains", referring to the location where the Fen River...

, Shanxi
Shanxi
' is a province in Northern China. Its one-character abbreviation is "晋" , after the state of Jin that existed here during the Spring and Autumn Period....

, which was then a few miles from location of the modern city. Although he was in Zhengyang
Zhengyang County
Zhengyang County is a county of Henan, China. It is under the administration of Zhumadian city....

, Henan
Henan
Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

 for most of his childhood. His family was poor but scholarly, his father being an Assistant Department Magistrate of the second-class. At the age of ten he was sent away from his family to avoid a war that broke out in the north of China, and went to live with relatives in the area known as Jiangnan
Jiangnan
Jiangnan or Jiang Nan is a geographic area in China referring to lands immediately to the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, including the southern part of the Yangtze Delta...

, more specifically Xuzhou
Xuzhou
Xuzhou , otherwise known as Pengcheng in ancient times, is a major city in and the fourth largest prefecture-level city of Jiangsu province, People's Republic of China...

.

Early career


Bai Juyi's official career was initially successful. He passed the jinshi
Imperial examination
The Imperial examination was an examination system in Imperial China designed to select the best administrative officials for the state's bureaucracy. This system had a huge influence on both society and culture in Imperial China and was directly responsible for the creation of a class of...

examinations in 800.. And, Bai Juyi seems to have taken up residence in the western capital city of Chang'an
Chang'an
Chang'an is an ancient capital of more than ten dynasties in Chinese history, today known as Xi'an. Chang'an literally means "Perpetual Peace" in Classical Chinese. During the short-lived Xin Dynasty, the city was renamed "Constant Peace" ; yet after its fall in AD 23, the old name was restored...

, in 801. And, not long after this Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen
Yuan Zhen
Yuan Zhen , courtesy name Weizhi , was a politician of the middle Tang Dynasty, but is more known as an important Chinese writer and poet, particularly for work Yingying's Biography , which was often adapted for other treatments, including operatic and musical ones...

 began their long friendship. Bai Juyi's father died in 804, and the young Bai spent the traditional period of retirement mourning the death of his parent, which he did along the Wei River
Wei River
The Wei River is a major river in west-central China's Gansu and Shaanxi provinces. It is the largest tributary of the Yellow River and very important in the early development of Chinese civilization....

, near to the capital. 806 was the first full year of the reign of Emperor Xianzong of Tang
Emperor Xianzong of Tang
Emperor Xianzong of Tang , personal name Li Chun , né Li Chun , was an emperor of the Chinese Tang Dynasty...

. Also, 806 was the Bai Juyi was appointed to a minor post as a government official, at Zhouzhi
Zhouzhi County
Zhouzhi County is a county of Xi'an, Shaanxi, China. Its population is 630,000. It is famous for kiwifruit, one type of produce in which Shaanxi province excels....

, which was not far from the Chang'an (and also in Shaanxi
Shaanxi
' is a province in the central part of Mainland China, and it includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in addition to the Qinling Mountains across the southern part of this province...

 province). He was a made a member (scholar} of the Hanlin Academy
Hanlin Academy
The Hanlin Academy was an academic and administrative institution founded in the eighth century Tang dynasty China by Emperor Xuanzong.Membership in the academy was confined to an elite group of scholars, who performed secretarial and literary tasks for the court. One of its main duties was to...

, in 807, and Reminder of the Left from 807 until 815. Except that in 811, his mother died: he spent the traditional three year retirement period, again along the Wei River; and then, returned to court in the winter of 814., where he held the title of Assistant Secretary to the Prince's Tutor, not exactly the highest ranking position, but one which he was soon to loose.

Exile



While serving as a minor palace official, 814, Bei Juyi managed to get himself in official trouble. He managed to make a few enemies at court and with certain individuals in other positions. It was partly his written works which lead him into trouble. He wrote two long memorials, translated by Arthur Waley
Arthur Waley
Arthur David Waley CH, CBE was an English orientalist and sinologist.-Life:Waley was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England, as Arthur David Schloss, son of the economist David Frederick Schloss...

 as "On Stopping the War", regarding what he considered to be an overly lengthy campaign against a minor group of Tatars
Tatars
Tatars are a Turkic speaking ethnic group , numbering roughly 7 million.The majority of Tatars live in the Russian Federation, with a population of around 5.5 million, about 2 million of which in the republic of Tatarstan.Significant minority populations are found in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan,...

; and he wrote a series of poems, in which he satirized the actions of greedy officials and highlighting the sufferings of the common folk.

At this time, one of the post An Lushan
An Lushan
An Lushan was a general who rebelled against the Tang Dynasty in China.His name was also transcribed into Chinese as Āluòshān or Gáluòshān ,...

 warlords (jiedushi
Jiedushi
The Jiedushi were regional military governors in China during the Tang Dynasty and the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. Originally set up to counter external threats, the jiedushi were given enormous power, including the ability to maintain their own armies, collect taxes, and pass their...

), Wu Yuanji
Wu Yuanji
Wu Yuanji was a general of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty who tried to control Zhangyi Circuit without approval from Emperor Xianzong after the 814 death of his father Wu Shaoyang, who had governed the circuit in a de facto independent manner from the imperial government...

, in Henan
Henan
Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

 had seized control of Zhangyi Circuit (centered in Zhumadian
Zhumadian
Zhumadian is a prefecture-level city in southern Henan province, People's Republic of China. It borders Xinyang to the south, Nanyang to the west, Pingdingshan to the northwest, Luohe to the north, Zhoukou to the northeast, and the province of Anhui to the east.Its population is 7,230,744 at the...

), an act for which he sought reconciliation with the imperial government, trying to get an imperial pardon as a necessary prerequisite. Despite the intercession of influential friends, Wu was denied: thus officially putting him in the position of rebellion. Still seeking a pardon, Wu turned to assassination, blaming the Prime Minister (another Wu, Wu Yuanheng
Wu Yuanheng
Wu Yuanheng , courtesy name Bocang , formally Duke Zhongmin of Linhuai , was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reign of Emperor Xianzong...

) and other officials: the imperial court generally began by dawn, requiring the ministers to rise early in order to attend in a timely manner; and, on July 13, 815, before dawn, the Tang Prime Wu Yuanheng was set to go to the palace for a meeting with Emperor Xianzong. As he left his house, suddenly, arrows were fired at his train. His servants all fled, and the assassins seized Wu Yuanheng and his horse, and then decapitated him, taking his head with them. The assassins also attacked another official who favored the campaign against the rebellious warlords, Pei Du, but was unable to kill him. The people at the capital were shocked and there was turmoil, with officials refusing to leave their personal residences until after dawn.
In this context, Bai Juyi overstepped his minor position by memorializing the emperor. As Assistant Secretary to the Prince's Tutor, Bai's memorial was indeed a breach of protocol: he should have waited for those of censorial authority to take the lead, before offering his own criticism. This was not the only charge which his opponents used against him. The death of his mother had apparently been caused by falling into a well while looking a some flowers: that Bai Juyi had written two poems -- the titles of which Waley translates as "In Praise of Flowers" and "The New Well" -- were used against him as a lack of Filial Piety
Filial piety
In Confucian ideals, filial piety is one of the virtues to be held above all else: a respect for the parents and ancestors. The Confucian classic Xiao Jing or Classic of Xiào, thought to be written around 470 BCE, has historically been the authoritative source on the Confucian tenet of xiào /...

, one of the Confucian ideals. The result was exile: Bai Juyi was demoted to the rank of Sub-Prefect and banished from the court and the capital city to Jiujiang
Jiujiang
Jiujiang , formerly transliterated Kiukiang, is a prefecture-level city located on the southern shores of the Yangtze River in northwest Jiangxi Province, China. It is the second-largest prefecture-level city in Jiangxi province, the largest one being Nanchang...

, then known as Xun Yang on the southern shores of the Yangtze River
Yangtze River
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the...

 in northwest Jiangxi
Jiangxi
' is a southern province in the People's Republic of China. Spanning from the banks of the Yangtze River in the north into hillier areas in the south, it shares a border with Anhui to the north, Zhejiang to the northeast, Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, Hunan to the west, and Hubei to...

 Province, China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. After three years he was sent as Governor of a remote place in Sichuan.. At the time, the main travel route there was up the Yangzi River. This trip allowed Bai Juyi a few days to visit his friend Yuan Zhen, who was also in exile, with whom he explored the rock caves located at Yichang
Yichang
Yichang is a prefecture-level city located in Hubei province of the People's Republic of China. It is the second largest city in Hubei province after the province capital, Wuhan. The Three Gorges Dam is located within its administrative area, in Yiling District.-History:In ancient times Yichang...

. Bai Juyi was delighted by the flowers and trees for which his new location was noted, until 819, when he was recalled to the capital. This was the end of his exile.

Return to the capital and a new emperor


In 819, Bai Juyi was recalled to the capital and put in the position of second-class Assistant Secretary. In 821, China got a new emperor, Muzong
Emperor Muzong of Tang
Emperor Muzong of Tang , personal name Li Heng , né Li You , was an emperor of the Tang Dynasty of China. He reigned from 821 to 824. Emperor Muzong was the son of Emperor Xianzong...

. After succeeding to the throne, Muzong spent his time feasting and heavily drinking, and neglecting his duties as emperor. Meanwhile, the temporarily subdued regional military governors (jiedushi) began to challenge the central Tang government, leading to the new de facto independence of three circuits north of the Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

, whichhad been subdued by Emperor Xianzong. Furthermore, Muzong's administration was characterized by massive corruption. Again, Bai Juyi wrote a series of memorials in remonstrance.

As Governor of Hangzhou



Again, Bai Juyi was sent away from the court and the capital, but this time to the important position of the thriving town of Hangzhou
Hangzhou
Hangzhou , formerly transliterated as Hangchow, is the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. Governed as a sub-provincial city, and as of 2010, its entire administrative division or prefecture had a registered population of 8.7 million people...

, which was at the southern terminus of the Grand Canal
Grand Canal
Grand Canal can refer to multiple waterways:* Grand Canal in eastern China* Grand Canal in Venice, Italy* Grand Canal , between the river Shannon and Dublin in Ireland* Grand Canal d'Alsace in eastern France...

 Fortunately for their friendship, Yuan Zhen at the time was serving an assignment in nearby Ningbo
Ningbo
Ningbo is a seaport city of northeastern Zhejiang province, Eastern China. Holding sub-provincial administrative status, the municipality has a population of 7,605,700 inhabitants at the 2010 census whom 3,089,180 in the built up area made of 6 urban districts. It lies south of the Hangzhou Bay,...

, so the two could occasionally get together, at least until Bai Juyi's term as Governor expired.

Life near Luoyang


In 824, Bai Juyi's commission as governor expired, and he relocated with the nominal rank of Imperial Tutor to a village near the "eastern capital", Luoyang
Luoyang
Luoyang is a prefecture-level city in western Henan province of Central China. It borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the east, Pingdingshan to the southeast, Nanyang to the south, Sanmenxia to the west, Jiyuan to the north, and Jiaozuo to the northeast.Situated on the central plain of...

..

Governor of Suzhou



In 825, and fifty-three years old, Bai Juyi was given the position of Governor of Suzhou
Suzhou
Suzhou , previously transliterated as Su-chou, Suchow, and Soochow, is a major city located in the southeast of Jiangsu Province in Eastern China, located adjacent to Shanghai Municipality. The city is situated on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and on the shores of Taihu Lake and is a part...

, on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and on the shores of Taihu Lake. For the first two years he enjoyed himself with feasts and picnic outings, but after a couple of years he became ill, and he was forced into a period of retirement.

Later career


After his time as Prefect
Prefecture
A prefecture is an administrative jurisdiction or subdivision in any of various countries and within some international church structures, and in antiquity a Roman district governed by an appointed prefect.-Antiquity:...

 of Hangzhou
Hangzhou
Hangzhou , formerly transliterated as Hangchow, is the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. Governed as a sub-provincial city, and as of 2010, its entire administrative division or prefecture had a registered population of 8.7 million people...

 (822-824) and then Suzhou
Suzhou
Suzhou , previously transliterated as Su-chou, Suchow, and Soochow, is a major city located in the southeast of Jiangsu Province in Eastern China, located adjacent to Shanghai Municipality. The city is situated on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and on the shores of Taihu Lake and is a part...

 (825-827), Bai Juyi returned to the capital. He then served in various official posts in the capital, and then again as prefect/governor, this time of Henan
Henan
Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

 province, which was the province in which Luoyang was part of. It was in Henan that his first son was born, though only to die prematurely the next year; and, in 831 Yuan Zhen died. For the next thirteen years, Bai Juyi continued to hold various nominal posts, but actually lived in retirement.

Retirement



In 832, Bai Juyi repaired an unused part of the Xiangshan Monestary, at Longmen
Longmen Grottoes
The Longmen Grottoes or Longmen Caves are one of the finest examples of Chinese Buddhist art. Housing tens of thousands of statues of Buddha and his disciples, they are located south of present day Luòyáng in Hénán province, Peoples Republic of China...

, about 7.5 miles south of Luoyang. Bai Juyi moved to this location, and began to refer to himself as the "Hermit of Xianshang". This area, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is famous for its its tens of thousands of statues of Buddha
Buddha
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

 and his disciples carved out of the rock. In 839, he experienced a paralytic attack, losing the use of his left leg, and being a bedridden invalid for several months. After his partial recovery, he spent his final years arranging his Collected Works, which he presented to the main monasteries of those localities in which he had spent time.

Death



In 846, Bai Juyi died, leaving instructions for a simple burial in a grave at the monastery, with a plain style funeral, and not to have a posthumous title conferred upon him. He has a tomb monument, in Longmen, situated on Xiangshan, across the Yi River from the Longmen
Longmen
Longmen may refer to the following locations in China:*Longmen Grottoes , collection of Buddhist cave art in Luoyang*Longmen Mountains , mountain range in Sichuan*Longmen County , of Huizhou, Guangdong...

 cave temples in the vicinity of Luoyang
Luoyang
Luoyang is a prefecture-level city in western Henan province of Central China. It borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the east, Pingdingshan to the southeast, Nanyang to the south, Sanmenxia to the west, Jiyuan to the north, and Jiaozuo to the northeast.Situated on the central plain of...

, Henan
Henan
Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

. It is a circular mound of earth 4 meters high, 52 meters in circumference, and with a 2.80 meter high Monument inscribed "Bai Juyi".

Works


Bai Juyi has been known for his plain, direct, and easily comprehensible style of verse, as well as for his social and political criticism. Besides his surviving poems, several letters and essays are also extent.

History


One of the most prolific of the Tang poets, Bai Juyi wrote over 2,800 poems, which he had copied and distributed to ensure their survival. They are notable for their relative accessibility: it is said that he would rewrite any part of a poem if one of his servants was unable to understand it. The accessibility of Bai Juyi's poems made them extremely popular in his lifetime, in both China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, and they continue to be read in these countries today.

Famous poems




Two of his most famous works are the long narrative
Narrative
A narrative is a constructive format that describes a sequence of non-fictional or fictional events. The word derives from the Latin verb narrare, "to recount", and is related to the adjective gnarus, "knowing" or "skilled"...

 poems The Song of Everlasting Sorrow, which tells the story of Yang Guifei
Yang Guifei
Consort Yang Yuhuan , often known as Yáng Guìfēi , known briefly by the Taoist nun name Taizhen , was known as one of the Four Beauties of ancient China...

, and The Song of the Pipa
Pipa
The pipa is a four-stringed Chinese musical instrument, belonging to the plucked category of instruments . Sometimes called the Chinese lute, the instrument has a pear-shaped wooden body with a varying number of frets ranging from 12–26...

 Player
. Like Du Fu
Du Fu
Du Fu was a prominent Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty.Along with Li Bai , he is frequently called the greatest of the Chinese poets. His greatest ambition was to serve his country as a successful civil servant, but he proved unable to make the necessary accommodations...

, he had a strong sense of social responsibility and is well-known for his satirical poems, such as The Elderly Charcoal Seller.

Bai Juyi also wrote intensely romantic poems to fellow officials with whom he studied and traveled. These speak of sharing wine, sleeping together, and viewing the moon and mountains. One friend, Yu Shunzhi, sent Bai a bolt
Bolt (fabric)
A bolt is a unit of measurement used as an industry standard for a variety of materials from wood to canvas, typically materials stored in a roll. The length is usually either 40 or 100 yards but varies depending on the fabric being referred to, for example, a bolt of canvas is traditionally 39...

 of cloth as a gift from a far-off posting, and Bai Juyi debated on how best to use the precious material:
About to cut it to make a mattress,
pitying the breaking of the leaves;
about to cut it to make a bag,
pitying the dividing of the flowers.
It is better to sew it,
making a coverlet of joined delight;
I think of you as if I'm with you,
day or night.>

Technical virtuosity


Bai Juyi was known for his interest in the old yuefu form of poetry, which was a typical form of Han poetry
Han poetry
Han poetry refers to those types or styles of poetry particularly associated with the Han Dynasty era of China. 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 a new style of shi...

, namely folk ballad verses, collected or written by the Music Bureau
Music Bureau
Music Bureau , also known as the "Imperial Music Bureau", discontinuously and in various incarnations was an organ of the imperial governmental bureaucracy of several Chinese dynasties...

. These were often a form of social protest. And, in fact, writing poetry to promote social progress was explicitly one of his objectives. He is also known for his well-written poems in the regulated verse
Regulated verse
Regulated verse, also known as Jintishi is a development within Classical Chinese poetry of the shi main formal type. Regulated verse is one of the most important of all Classical Chinese poetry types...

 style.

External links