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East Asian Tang Poetry by Angela, Teen Blogger

Asian poetry has a rich history. It was over a thousand years ago when poems were engraved on stone tablets, and hand-written on bamboo pieces which connected to form early books. There were different forms of poetry across different nations and time periods in East Asia, but there is no doubt, one of the most remarkable forms is Tang Poetry.

Li Bai or Li Po - Chinese Poet drawing


"Tang Poetry" refers to the poetry written in the Tang Dynasty (618 ~ 907 CE) in China. The Mid Tang period was a lot like the Renaissance, where everything flourished under a stable, peaceful society. There were around 50,000 recorded poems by over 2,000 famous poets at the time. Most of the Tang poems are four lines, with five or seven words in each line, and the rhyming scheme of AABA or ABCB. Of course, there are always exceptions. Some of the poems are twenty lines long.

Li Bai (or Li Po) was probably one of the most recited poets of the time. Even now his works are often used in essays and shared on the Internet. His poems are casual and easy to understand, which is why they exist a thousand years later. He was given the title “God of Poems” for the value of his literature.

An example of a poem by Li Bai - 李白

静夜思 Jìng yè sī 

床前明月光, Chuáng qián míng yuè guāng, 
疑是地上霜。 Yí shì dì shàng shuāng. 
举头望明月, Jŭ tóu wàng míng yuè, 
低头思故乡。 Dī tóu sī gù xiāng. 


English TranslationBright Moon, White Clouds book cover

Night Thoughts

(I wake to a lonely night) and moonbeams lay in front of my bed, 
On the ground they look like glittering frost.
I raise my head and there the bright moon shines, 
As my head drops I think of my hometown.

I hope you enjoy and understand this poem. You can learn more about Tang poetry by checking out this adult poetry book from the library: Bright Moon, White Clouds : Selected Poems of Li Po / edited and translated by J.P. Seaton.


To be honest, Tang poems are written in figurative language that is hard to analyze -- like passages of Shakespeare. They might even be harder…  Well, it depends on the poet and his mood of the day ;)

Teen Blogger,



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