Page:A history of Chinese literature - Giles.djvu/155

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BOOK THE FOURTH


THE T'ANG DYNASTY (A.D. 600–900)


CHAPTER I

POETRY


The T'ang dynasty is usually associated in Chinese minds with much romance of love and war, with wealth, culture, and refinement, with frivolity, extravagance, and dissipation, but most of all with poetry. China's best efforts in this direction were chiefly produced within the limits of its three hundred years' duration, and they have been carefully preserved as finished models for future poets of all generations.

"Poetry," says a modern Chinese critic, "came into being with the Odes, developed with the Li Sao, burst forth and reached perfection under the T'angs. Some good work was indeed done under the Han and Wei dynasties; the writers of those days seemed to have material in abundance, but language inadequate to its expression."

The "Complete Collection of the Poetry of the T'ang Dynasty," published in 1707, contains 48,900 poems of all kinds, arranged in 900 books, and filling thirty good-sized volumes. Some Chinese writers divide the dynasty into three poetical periods, called Early, Glorious, and

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