Three Hundred Tang Poems

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Three Hundred Tang Poems
Traditional Chinese 唐詩三百首
Simplified Chinese 唐诗三百首

The Three Hundred Tang Poems (simplified Chinese: 唐诗三百首; traditional Chinese: 唐詩三百首; pinyin: Tángshī sānbǎi shǒu) is an anthology of poems from the Chinese Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) first compiled around 1763 by Sun Zhu (1722-1778[1]), the Qing Dynasty scholar, also known as Hengtang Tuishi (衡塘退士 "Retired Master of Hengtang"). Various later editions also exist. All editions contain over 300 poems: in this case, three hundred means not exactly 300 but refers to an estimative quantification; the ten, twenty, or more extra poems represent a sort of a good luck bonus,[2] analogous to the "baker's dozen" in the West. Even more, the number 300 (or more exactly 305) was a classic number for a poetry collection due to the influence of the Classic of Poetry (Shijing 詩經), which was generally known as The Three Hundred Poems.[3]

Dissatisfied with the anthology Poems by a Thousand Masters (Qianjiashi 千家詩) compiled by Liu Kezhuang in the late Southern Song, and influenced by Ming Dynasty poetry anthologies, Sun selected the poems based on their popularity and educational value. The collection has been popular ever since and can be found in many Chinese households. For centuries, elementary students memorized the poems and used them to learn to read and write. It contains poems by Du Fu, Li Bai, Wang Wei, Li Shangyin, Meng Haoran, Han Yu, Du Mu, Bai Juyi, Liu Changqing, Cen Shen, Wang Changling, Wei Yingwu, and more.[4][5] Li He is one notable Tang poet absent from the compilation.

Organization of poems

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The original Qing Dynasty version of the 300 Tang Poems was organized by the poem's formal type, of which there were seven:

  • Folk song styled verse (yuefu)
  • Ancient verse (gushi):
    • Five-character ancient verse
    • Seven-character ancient verse
  • Modern style verse (jintishi):
    • Eight-line regulated verse (lüshi):
      • Five-character regular verse
      • Seven-character regular verse
    • Quatrain (jueju):
      • Five-character quatrain
      • Seven-character quatrain

Out of 317 poems in one edition, 90 were in the gushi form and 227 were in the lüshi or the jueju forms.[6]


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The poets of the Tang shi include a number of authors ranging from the well-known and famous to obscure or anonymous poets, and even include at least one emperor. The poet with the most pieces included in this collection is Du Fu, with thirty-nine. Li Bo is a close runner-up, with thirty-four. Wang Wei has twenty-nine poems included in the anthology and Li Shangyin has twenty-four. Meng Haoran has fifteen, Wei Yingwu twelve, Liu Changqing eleven, and Du Mu ten. After that, each of the other poets' included pieces number in the single digits; however, some of these poets are quite important, such as Liu Zongyuan or Bai Juyi. Some important poets, such as Li He, are not represented at all.


The first complete translation of the Three Hundred Tang Poems into English was published as The Jade Mountain, translated by Witter Bynner and Jiang Kanghu. From 1929 through 1972 it went through ten editions.[4] It has also been translated by Peter Harris in 2009.[7]

See also


  1. Yu, 64-65
  2. Rexroth, xvi
  3. Yu, 64-65
  4. 4.0 4.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  5. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  6. Watson 127


External links