The poetry in the Tang Dynasty was the culmination of the Chinese lyric literature. In the “Complete Anthology of Tang Poems” compiled in the Qing Dynasty, there are about 50,000 poems written by more than 2,300 poets. This period saw many famous poets producing poems of almost all different styles. There were many poetic schools boasting of divergent styles, shaping up a marvelous, splendid era in the land of poetry, when “all the flowers blossomed.”
As the golden age in the history of Chinese poetry, the Tang Dynasty made brilliant achievements in the different poetic forms of guti (classical poetry), gelv (poem with a tonal pattern and rhyme scheme) and yuefu poetry. And gelv poetry, which only reached maturity and perfection during the Tang Dynasty, is also called “jinti (modern-style) poetry” and falls into the two categories of lvshi and jueju. A lvshi poem usually has eight lines with a strict tonal pattern and rhyme scheme, with each line having five or seven characters. A jueju is the short form of the lvshi. It comprises only four lines, with each line having five or seven characters. The form of gelv poetry has strengthened the artistic characteristics of economy of words, use of imagery and rich connotation in Chinese poetry.
The development of the Tang Dynasty is divided into four periods: Early Tang, High Tang, Mid Tang and Late Tang. Poetry writing in the Early Tang period, though still no free from the ornate style of the Six dynasties, already displayed a breath of freshness. It reached its zenith to flourish in the High Tang period. In several decades’ time many great poets cam onto the scene, such as Wang Wei, Li Bai and Du Fu. By the Mid and Late Tang periods, Tang poetry became more sophisticated and profound, shifting more attention onto writing skill, before it finally declined. In general, Tang dynasty poems are abundant in intriguing imageries and possess expansive and magnificent visions.