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This web site is dedicated to the preservation of the spirit of Tang poetry.

Li Bai and Du Fu

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Read poems by the greatest masters of Tang poetry translated by Lan Hua

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The Adventures of Monkey King

Have you ever heard of the Adventures of Monkey King? A great classic now available in a new translation from Lan Hua

The Gan Yu

Chen Zi'ang is one of the early masters of Tang poetry. Now you can read some of his poems translated for the first time into English by Lan Hua

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A Tang Poetry Sampler

By some estimates there are more than 50,000 poems written during the Tang Dynasty that have been passed down to us today, in one form or another. I have no idea how many of these have been translated into English so far but my guess is that it's less than 10%. While Li Bai and Du Fu are the best known in the west, and the most frequently translated, there are scores of other terrific poets, some almost as well known, others still waiting to be rediscovered. Here is a small selection of some of my personal favorites.

Chang Yueh

Chang Yueh was a poet of the early Tang period (667-731) and while he was very highly regarded by his contemporaries, his work is not so well known today. As with many of the Tang poets, he spent his career in the service of Emperor in a succession of bureaucratic posts, sometimes in favor, sometimes not, several times being posted to the remote hinterlands of the empire. The three poems I've translated below reflect the vagaries of the life of a poet spent in the Imperial service.

Wang Wei

Considered one of the great poets of the early-middle Tang period (699-759) , he was a contemporary of Li Bai and Du Fu. He was also highly regarded as a landscape painter and his poetry is in a similar natural vein known as the landscape school or school of mountains and streams. In his later years, Wang became a devout Buddhist and a strong spiritual sense permeates his writing.

Bai Ju Yi

Bai Ju Yi was a poet of the mid Tang period (772-846), coming along after the glory days of Li Bai and Du Fu. His style, though, is quite simple and straightforward, in some ways more typical of the early Tang period, and his poems are extremely accessible.

Li Shang Yin

Li Shang Yin was a poet of the late Tang period (813-858) and in some ways his style shows much development and greater sophistication than is typical of the early and middle periods. His poems are often packed with dense historical and literary allusions, more cryptic and epigrammatic, making them a nightmare to translate but an utter delight to read when the translation is well done.