Chinese poem illustration: 塞下曲 Under the Fortress by Xu Hun


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The Frontier and Fortress Poetry( 边塞诗) is one of the key flavor of Tang poetry, it reflected a powerful empire, as well as the lost feeling when it fading away. This late Tang period poem by Xu Hun belongs to the latter.

Xu Hun is one of the big argument in Tang poetry. His poems were equaled to those of Du Fu’s poems which is of legacy, on the other hand were taken as with less decency, pop song like. As said, his poems were with few or none classical spirits inherited from the Book of Songs(诗经) and Chuci(楚辞).

This poem written in his 20s proves that Xu Hun was of great sympathy, as well as passion to the Tang empire, which is the core value of classical spirits. It employs the classic writing rule as well: never write to the bottom line, leave the space for the readers to think about(言无尽意). Yes! read it once, it seems the poem became a story by itself, read it twice, some snapshot shows up vividly, read it third time, more details shows up…yet, the whole poem is of 20 characters only.



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