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Song Zhiwen

Category: Poet


Song Zhiwen or Sung Chih-Wen (simplified Chinese: 宋之问; traditional Chinese: 宋之; c. 660–712) was a Chinese poet considered to be of the Tang poetry tradition of the Tang Dynasty, although technically his poetic career was largely within the anomalous dynastic interregnum of Wu Zetian.

Together with Shen Quanqi, Song Zhiwen is considered to have the "credit for the final perfection" of the "new style" poetry of regulated verse (jintishi) - a style which inspired future generations of poets.

Song Zhiwen was particularly known for his five-character-regular-verse, or wujue, one of which is included in the famous poetry anthology Three Hundred Tang Poems.

As an outstanding court poet in the Early Tang dynasty, Song Zhiwen's poems are famous for his regulated verse which are regarded as Lv Shi(律诗), including heptasyllabic songs. Whilst he was in the royal court his preferred subject matter tended to be court life. Later, however, he preferred to write about landscape and his feelings of 'inner embitterment' due to his exile. His most famous poems are "度大庾岭"(A.D.705) and "渡汉江" (Crossing the Han River, A.D.706).


From A Lute of Jade – Being selections from the Classical poets of China [The Wisdom of the East series] edited and translated by L.  Cranmer-Byng and Dr S. Kapadia [1918]

The son of a distinguished general, he began his career as attache to the military advisers of the Emperor. These advisers were always drawn from the literary class, and their duties appear to have been chiefly administrative and diplomatic. Of his life, the less said the better. He became involved in a palace intrigue, and only saved himself by betraying his accomplices. In the end he was banished, and finally put to death by the Emperor's order. It is necessary, however, to dissociate the man from his poetry, and Sung Chih-Wen's poetry often touches a high level of inspiration.




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