About this Site
This web site has been developed as a joint effort by Lan Hua and Steve Zhang. Our goal is to help preserve and promote the spirit of Tang poetry. Whether you are new to Tang poetry or already an enthusiast, a student of Chinese or a lover of poetry, we hope you'll find something of interest here.
Tang poetry narrowly understood refers to the classical Chinese poetry written during the Tang Dynasty from the 7th Century AD through the 9th Century. This was a period of phenomenal creativity, perhaps the greatest golden age in human history for the art of poetry. The most definitive collection of Tang poems (compiled during the early 18th century in China) contains more than 50,000 poems from more than 2,200 different authors. Emperors and ministers, minstrels and priests all wrote poems. There were women poets, drunken poets and child poets, poetry practiced in schools and among circles of friends. Poetry permeated the entire culture and was an integral part of every educated persons life. And perhaps not surprisingly, the poets of this period include some of the greatest of all time, including great lyric poets such as Li Bai and Wang Wei, and poets of breath-taking subtlety and sophistication, such as Du Fu and Li Shang Yin.
But we think of Tang poetry even more broadly -- as a great and living tradition, which originates in the brilliant poets of the Tang period, and continues through the ensuing dynasties, with many successive generations of poets who wrote under their direct influence, down through the present day and the great translator poets, such as Ezra Pound and Red Pine, who have kept the Tang esthetic alive and brought it to countless non-Chinese readers, as well as other contemporary poets, such as Gary Snyder, whose work continues in the same spirit.
We originally built this site using translations by Lan Hua, which were the only ones with copyright available to us. But we welcome the work of other translators, whether in English or other languages, and hope to build a much broader collection over the coming years. If you like our site, we also hope you’ll subscribe to our bi-weekly Tang newsletter. We’re committed to bringing you all the latest poetry and news from the Tang Dynasty and will email news translations as they become available.