If there is one nation in the world, that has its history and culture shaped by poetry, that nation has to be China. In China, poetry is regarded as one of the greatest forms of expression and the highest accomplishment for the Chinese scholar. Poetry has a special place in Chinese society and anyone from monks, generals, farmers, and merchants to emperors and queens can compose poetry. In the view of Chinese, “poetry is not the product of any one particular group in society or personal type, not as the fruit of rare genius or divine inspiration, but as something that almost anyone with a grasp of the rules of prosody and a genuine desire for self-expression can compose” (Watson, 3). In Chinese culture, poetry also means many things. An expression of friendship, a hymn to ancestral spirits, a way to convey political criticisms, a way for advancing courtship, a way for venting grief, and a deep understanding of the beauties of nature are just some of the many meaning of poetry to the Chinese (Watson, 1). Out of the many functions that poetry performed in Chinese society, the celebration of nature as a general theme is the most popular. The celebration of nature can be seen in ancient Chinese poetry as many poems related human sensations and emotions to the images of nature. Therefore, in order to understand the reasons of why the celebration of nature as a theme in Chinese poetry is so popular, one has to look at the history of Chinese poetry, Taoism in Chinese poetry, and Chinese poetry deep connection with nature.
China is a country with the longest uninterrupted culture and this showed throughout its poetry, which has great antiquity and incredible continuity. The earliest collection of poems in China is the Shi Jing, or the Book of Songs, compiled around the sixth century B.C.E (Long, 1). This collection of poems was draws upon an oral tradition whose origins are probably as old as the Chinese people themselves (Watson, 1). Nearly all the poems of the Shi Jing have a, “preponderantly lyrical strain whether the subject is hardship in military service or seasonal festivities, agricultural chores or rural scenes, love or sports, aspirations or disappointments of the common folk and of the declining aristocracy” (Britannica, 153). One of the many interesting aspects of Shi Jing is how the language of the poems was relatively close to the daily speech of the common people. This is mainly the reason for the popularity of Shi Jing since almost every Chinese can understand Shi Jing. Poetic styles continued to grow during the Tang Dynasty, commonly known as China’s golden age of poetry (Long, 2). During this dynasty, three important poets, Wang Wei, Li Bai, and Du Fu have contributed their works and placed themselves in the history book of China. Wang Wei, one of the most famous poets in Chinese history, is known as a model of humanistic education as expressed in poetry, music, and painting. His poems often evoked the mood, scene, and spirit of nature. In his lonely state of mind, the terms “empty” and “alone” were his signatures as shown through this poem:
I sit alone in the dark bamboo grove,
Playing the zither and whistling long.
In this deep wood no one would know--
Only bright moon comes to shine (Long, 2).
In his poems, Wang Wei repeatedly depicted himself within scenes of nature and in his poems the images of running water, evening and dawn, bamboo, and the absence of men’s voices are what stand out (Seth, 12). In the same era that Wang Wei lived in, another renowned poet, Li Bai was going to add his name in Chinese poetry. However, unlike Wang Wei, Li Bai approached poetry from a Taoist point of view. He often expressed his own emotions and thoughts as well as his love for nature. Although Li Bai’s poems are vigor and splendor, they also hide a deep core of loneliness as shown in his poem “Seeing Meng Haoran off to Yangzhou”:
Yellow Crane Terrace: my old friend bids me goodbye.
To Yangzhou in the mists and flowers of Spring he goes.
His single sail’s far shadow melts in the blue void.
All I see is the sky to which the Yangtze flows (Seth, 23).
In this poem, Li Bai has combined the many elements of nature like “flowers” and “spring” as a contrast to his sadness and loneliness when his friend leaved him. Another great poet during the Tang dynasty was Du Fu. However, his view of nature is different from Wang Lei and Li Bai. Du Fu viewed, “nature not as retreat or drama but as an emotional or moral entity set in juxtaposition to human life and human events, whether in sympathy or antipathy” (Seth 13). This view of nature is a result of what he experienced in his life, which was a period of chaos and war.
Nature in Chinese poetry owns its strong existence to a popular philosophy in China called Taoism. Taosim encouraged people to, “seek harmony with nature and with other human beings through a simple life and through calm meditation on the unity underlying all things in the universe” (Encarta). This philosophy was very popular with Chinese poets in the seventh century because during that time northern China was under invasion from its northern neighbors such as the Huns, the Turks, the Tungus, and the Toba (Wu-chi, 59). This event forced Chinese poets to find new homes south of the Yangtze. However, when the poets moved south they also embraced the beautiful scenery of southern China and Taoism philosophy. Taoism was always in the heart of Chinese poets during that time. However, the union with the Tao and nature was not possible under the bureaucrat life of poets at that time. Only when the poets move down south because of the invasion they finally had the time to be with Tao. In Taoism, Tao Te Ching and The Chuang Tzu are the two texts that are most important to this philosophy. In the texts, one of the three area of importance was, “the development of the idea that nature was the manifestation of the Tao and hence, through contemplation of natural scenery, one could realize the underlying unity of all nature and achieve the mystical union with the Tao” (Mysticism, 1). In the movement of Taoism and its contribution of Chinese poetry, there was a great poet that showed his love for nature through the life of a Taoist. T’ao Ch’ien was that poet and he also helped created an era of “Taoism poems” in the post-Han era. In the following verses he showed how the serenity and harmony with nature could be found in Taoism:
I built my cottage among the habitations of men,
And yet there is no clamor of carriages and horses.
You ask: “Sir, how can this be done?”
“A heart that is distant creates its own solitude.”
I pluck chrysanthemums under the eastern hedge,
Then gaze afar towards the southern hills.
The mountain air is fresh at the dusk of day;
The flying birds in flocks return.
In these things there lies a deep meaning;
I want to tell it, but have forgotten the words (Wu-chi, 64).
In this poem T’ao Ch’ien established the connection between life and nature and showed his readers that the highest bliss of life is to be with nature.
Chinese poetry has a deep connection to nature that is quite different from Western poetry. One of the differences is the fact that nature is something that is, “what it is by virtue of itself” (Liu, 49). Therefore, in the Chinese point of view, nature is neither kind nor hostile to man. Chinese poets want to become a part of nature and not struggle against it. This idea of nature is the same idea that Taoism has of nature. The idea of human allowing the cycle of life to consume him or her without struggle is also very popular in Chinese culture and it is also a reflection of the view that life and death is the normal cycle of nature. Those are the main reasons that Chinese poets often accept the fate of nature instead of trying to fight against what is unavoidable. This acceptance of fate is shown in this following verse:
Let yourself drift on the stream of Change,
Without joy and without fear.
When the end is due, let it come;
No need to worry any more then (Liu, 49).
In this poem the poet is clearly showed signs of at peace with the events that will come eventually such as death.
In conclusion, Chinese poetry is very important to Chinese culture and society. It is the glue that holds many Chinese values together and a mean of expression for every Chinese. Chinese poetry has evolved over the years but through out Chinese history poetry never lost its importance. Poetry was used in formal tests to pick out government officials in Chinese society and thus poetry was use to determine the education level of every Chinese who wish to serve his or her country. Chinese poetry was also influenced by Taoism philosophy and gained many benefit from this philosophy. Chinese poetry and its connection with nature are also different from Western view since nature in Chinese poetry is neither kind nor hostile to man.
Hi tobeornottobe ,

This is very interesting. Just a few, very minor, corrections, and a few more paragrahs, to make it easier to read. And lose the comma in the first sentence.

If there is one nation in the world that has its history and culture shaped by poetry, that nation has to be China. In China, poetry is regarded as one of the greatest forms of expression and the highest accomplishment for the Chinese scholar. Poetry has a special place in Chinese society and anyone from monks, generals, farmers, and merchants to emperors and queens can compose poetry. In the view of Chinese, “poetry is not the product of any one particular group in society or personal type, not as the fruit of rare genius or divine inspiration, but as something that almost anyone with a grasp of the rules of prosody and a genuine desire for self-expression can compose” (Watson, 3).

In Chinese culture, poetry also means many things; an expression of friendship, a hymn to ancestral spirits, a way to convey political criticisms, a way for advancing courtship, a way for venting grief, and a deep understanding of the beauties of nature are just some of the many meaningS of poetry to the Chinese (Watson, 1). Out of the many functions that poetry performed in Chinese society, the celebration of nature as a general theme is the most popular. The celebration of nature can be seen in ancient Chinese poetry as many poems related human sensations and emotions to images of nature. In order to understand the reasons why the celebration of nature as a theme in Chinese poetry is so popular, one has to look at the history of Chinese poetry, Taoism in Chinese poetry, and Chinese poetry'S deep connection with nature.

China is a country with the longest uninterrupted culture, and this showed through its poetry, which has great antiquity and incredible continuity. The earliest collection of poems in China is the Shi Jing, or the Book of Songs, compiled around the sixth century B.C.E (Long, 1). This collection of poems draws upon an oral tradition whose origins are probably as old as the Chinese people themselves (Watson, 1). Nearly all the poems of the Shi Jing have a, “preponderantly lyrical strain whether the subject is hardship in military service or seasonal festivities, agricultural chores or rural scenes, love or sports, aspirations or disappointments of the common folk and of the declining aristocracy” (Britannica, 153). One of the many interesting aspects of Shi Jing is how the language of the poems was relatively close to the daily speech of the common people. This is THE MAIN reason for the popularity of Shi Jing, since almost every Chinese can understand IT.

Poetic styles continued to grow during the Tang Dynasty, commonly known as China’s golden age of poetry (Long, 2). During this dynasty, three important poets, Wang Wei, Li Bai, and Du Fu have contributed their works and placed themselves in the history book of China. Wang Wei, one of the most famous poets in Chinese history, is known as a model of humanistic education as expressed in poetry, music, and painting. His poems often evoked the mood, scene, and spirit of nature. In his lonely state of mind, the terms “empty” and “alone” were his signatures as shown through this poem:

I sit alone in the dark bamboo grove,
Playing the zither and whistling long.
In this deep wood no one would know--
Only bright moon comes to shine (Long, 2).

In his poems, Wang Wei repeatedly depicted himself within scenes of nature, and in his poems the images of running water, evening and dawn, bamboo, and the absence of men’s voices are what stand out (Seth, 12).

In the same era that Wang Wei lived in, another renowned poet, Li Bai was going to add his name in Chinese poetry. However, unlike Wang Wei, Li Bai approached poetry from a Taoist point of view. He often expressed his own emotions and thoughts as well as his love for nature. Although Li Bai’s poems HAVE vigor and splendor, they also hide a deep core of loneliness as shown in his poem “Seeing Meng Haoran off to Yangzhou”:

Yellow Crane Terrace: my old friend bids me goodbye.
To Yangzhou in the mists and flowers of Spring he goes.
His single sail’s far shadow melts in the blue void.
All I see is the sky to which the Yangtze flows (Seth, 23).

In this poem, Li Bai has combined the many elements of nature like “flowers” and “spring” as a contrast to his sadness and loneliness when his friend LEFT him.

Another great poet during the Tang dynasty was Du Fu. However, his view of nature is different from Wang Lei and Li Bai. Du Fu viewed, “nature not as retreat or drama but as an emotional or moral entity set in juxtaposition to human life and human events, whether in sympathy or antipathy” (Seth 13). This view of nature is a result of what he experienced in his life, which was a period of chaos and war.

Nature in Chinese poetry owns its strong existence to a popular philosophy in China called Taoism. Taosim encouraged people to, “seek harmony with nature and with other human beings through a simple life and through calm meditation on the unity underlying all things in the universe” (Encarta). This philosophy was very popular with Chinese poets in the seventh century because during that time northern China was under invasion from its northern neighbors such as the Huns, the Turks, the Tungus, and the Toba (Wu-chi, 59). THESE eventS forced Chinese poets to find new homes south of the Yangtze. However, when the poets moved south they also embraced the beautiful scenery of southern China and TaoisT philosophy. Taoism was always in the heart of Chinese poets, however, the union with the Tao and nature was not possible under the bureaucrat life of poets at that time. Only when the poets moveD down south because of the invasion DID they finally HAVE the time to be with Tao.

Tao Te Ching and The Chuang Tzu are the two texts that are most important to this TaoisT philosophy. In the texts, one of the three areaS of importance was, “the development of the idea that nature was the manifestation of the Tao and hence, through contemplation of natural scenery, one could realize the underlying unity of all nature and achieve the mystical union with the Tao” (Mysticism, 1). In the TaoisT movement and its contribution TO Chinese poetry, there was a great poet that showed his love for nature through the life of a Taoist. T’ao Ch’ien was that poet, and he also helped created an era of “Taoism poems” in the post-Han era. In the following verses he showed how the serenity and harmony with nature could be found in Taoism:

I built my cottage among the habitations of men,
And yet there is no clamor of carriages and horses.
You ask: “Sir, how can this be done?”
“A heart that is distant creates its own solitude.”
I pluck chrysanthemums under the eastern hedge,
Then gaze afar towards the southern hills.
The mountain air is fresh at the dusk of day;
The flying birds in flocks return.
In these things there lies a deep meaning;
I want to tell it, but have forgotten the words (Wu-chi, 64).

In this poem T’ao Ch’ien established the connection between life and nature and showed his readers that the highest bliss of life is to be with nature.

Chinese poetry has a deep connection to nature that is quite different from Western poetry. One of the differences is the fact that nature is something that is “what it is by virtue of itself” (Liu, 49). Therefore, FROM the Chinese point of view, nature is neither kind nor hostile to man. Chinese poets want to become a part of nature and not struggle against it. This idea of nature is the same idea that Taoism has of nature. The idea of humanS allowing the cycle of life to consume him or her without struggle is also very popular in Chinese culture and it is also a reflection of the view that life and death is the normal cycle of nature. Those are the main reasons that Chinese poets often accept the fate of nature instead of trying to fight against what is unavoidable. This acceptance of fate is shown in this following verse:

Let yourself drift on the stream of Change,
Without joy and without fear.
When the end is due, let it come;
No need to worry any more then (Liu, 49).
In this poem the poet is clearly showed signs of at peace with the events that will come eventually such as death.

In conclusion, Chinese poetry is very important to Chinese culture and society. It is the glue that holds many Chinese values together and a mean of expression for every Chinese. Chinese poetry has evolved over the years but throughout Chinese history, poetry never lost its importance. Poetry was used in formal tests to pick out government officials in Chinese society and thus poetry was use to determine the education level of every Chinese who wish to serve his or her country. Chinese poetry was also influenced by Taoism philosophy and gained many benefit from this philosophy. Chinese poetry and its connection with nature are also different from Western view since nature in Chinese poetry is neither kind nor hostile to man.
THis is a message from tobeornottobe. For some reason I can not log in. Thank you so much for helping me. I am also happy that my gramma rmistakes are not that many and not that serious. I am an student from France who study in Massachusetts right now. English is not really my thing but I need it in the next 4 years or so before I can return to Paris.

A quick question. What is the differences between "left" and "leaved".
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
"left" is the past participle of the verb "to leave"

"leaved" refers to the things that grow on trees - a leaf, some leaves.

[adj] having leaves or leaves as specified; often used in combination; "a fully leafed tree"; "broad-leafed"; "four-leaved clover" (hyperdictionary)
I clarified some of the things you've said about Tang poetry. Please I need some help correcting the grammar of my paper.

I'm very fond of Tang poetry, by the way. Feel free to ask any questions about Li Bai, Du Fu or Wang Wei (who was a Buddhist, not a Taoist)