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Poems Recited at the 2022 Chinese New Year Party

Updated: Jul 22, 2022

Contributors to the Poetry Pavilion and I chose seven poems to recite as part of an inaugural Poetry Slam event at the Chine New Year Party, 2022. We began the event by listening to a recording by Helen T. Lin’s father, Professor Dai Junren (戴君仁教授) reciting poems from the Tang dynasty. Among the poems that he recited was Thoughts on a Quiet Night by Li Bo. Li Bo (701-762) is one of the most famous of Tang dynasty poets and Thoughts on a Quiet Night is among the most famous of his many poems. The two poems by Li Bo below are shi 詩poems in five-character regulated verse, with five characters in each line and internal rhymes.

月上(Moon Rise) from 销闲清课图(Album Depicting Life of Leisure and Solitude) by 孙克弘 (Sun Kehong, 1532—1611)Ming Dynasty. National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan


A less well-known poem by Li Bo explores the pleasures of life as a recluse, who has withdrawn from a life of service to enjoy the pleasures of solitude.

落花詩意圖 (Poetic Feeling of Fallen Flowers) Shen Zhou (沈周, 1427–1509), Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), Album leaf, Nanjing Museum


Meng Haoran (689-740) was a close contemporary and friend of Li Bo and Wang Wei. He lived the life of a recluse and was famed for the images of nature in his poems. This poem, in five-character regulated verse, is one of his best- known works.

“Peach Blossom and Sparrows” (Detail) from 緙絲(Kesi) Tapestry Album of Birds and Flowers, Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) Palace Museum, Beijing, China


Li Qingzhao (1084-ca. 1155) was born in Jinan, in present-day Shandong Province into a highly cultured, highly literate family. Her mother was a noted poet. Li Qingzhao married the scholar-official, Zhao Mingcheng, when she was 18 and together they enjoyed books, poetry, calligraphy, and the study of ancient bronzes. She endured the fall of the Southern Song and the death of her husband. Most of Li Qingzhao’s poems are ci 詞 poems. In this style of poetry, verses are written to fit pre-existing musical tunes. As in the two examples below, the lines are often of different lengths.

蓮池白鷺図 ( Lily Pond with Egrets, ca., 1852) detail. Egrets in a Lotus Pond by 山本梅逸筆(Yamamoto Baiitsu, Japanese, 1783–1856). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City


海棠禽兔( Begonia, Bird and Rabbit, ca. 1759, detail) by 华嵒 Hua Yan (1682-1756) Qing Dynasty. Palace Museum, Beijing, China

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