Saturday, September 20, 2008

Zuo Si

Zuo Si , courtesy name Taichong , was a writer of the Western Jin.

Zhang Hua

Zhang Hua , courtesy name Maoxian , was a Jin Dynasty official and poet.


Zhang Hua's father Zhang Ping was a commandery governor during Cao Wei, but died when he was young. Zhang Hua's family became impoverished, and he was a shepherd when he was young. A man from the same commandery, Liu Fang , became impressed with his talent, and gave his daughter to Zhang in marriage. He became known for his literary talent, and he wrote a collection of poems, ostensibly about birds -- but in fact about people's tendencies. The poems received great renown, and the commandery governor recommended him to the regent Sima Zhao. Sima Zhao made him one of his secretaries, and he distinguished himself in that role. After Sima Zhao's son Sima Yan established Jin Dynasty , he further elevated Zhang and created him an acting marquess. When Yang Hu encouraged Emperor Wu to conquer the rival Eastern Wu, most officials opposed, but Zhang greatly agreed with Yang and was later heavily involved with the strategies and the logistics behind the conquest of Eastern Wu in 279-280. After the fall of Eastern Wu, Emperor Wu created him the Marquess of Guangwu to honor him for his contributions.

After Emperor Wu's unification of China

However, Zhang soon fell out of favor with Emperor Wu -- when Emperor Wu once asked him who could be a regent for his son , Zhang recommended Emperor Wu's highly talented brother Sima You the Prince of Qi, and while Prince You was clearly capable, Emperor Wu was angry at the recommendation because he feared that all of the officials instead wanted Prince You to be emperor. The officials who previously opposed the campaign against Eastern Wu, who had been embarrassed by Zhang when Eastern Wu turned out to be an easy enemy to conquer, took this chance to falsely accuse Zhang, and Emperor Wu sent him out of the capital to be the military commander of You Province . Zhang distinguished himself capable in that role as well, pacifying the various non-Han tribes of the region easily. Emperor Wu several times considered summoning him back to the capital Luoyang to be prime minister, but each time changed his mind after further false accusations.

Back to the capital

After Emperor Wu's death in 290, Zhang was summoned back to the capital to served as the teacher of his grandson , , but without actual powers. After Empress Jia Nanfeng overthrew and her father the regent in a coup d'etat, she became convinced that Zhang was capable but non-threatening, and so entrusted him with power. During the next few years, with Empress Jia in power, Zhang was able to use his skills to keep the various competing political forces in check, in conjunction with Empress Jia's cousin Pei Wei . For his contributions, he was created the Duke of Zhuangwu.


However, after Empress Jia framed Crown Prince Yu of treason in 299 and had him deposed, the political firestorm became too big for Zhang to handle, particularly after Empress Jia, fearful of a return by Crown Prince Yu, had him murdered in 300. Sima Lun the Prince of Zhao, a granduncle of Emperor Hui, formed a conspiracy to depose Empress Jia. He tried to persuade Zhang to join the conspiracy, but Zhang hesitated. When Sima Lun's coup overthrew Empress Jia later that year, he had a number of her associates, including Zhang, killed, along with their clans. Only his grandson Zhang Yu escaped. After Sima Lun briefly usurped the throne and was then overthrown in 301, Prince You's son Sima Jiong the Prince of Qi, then regent, had Zhang Hua's reputation and title of Marquess of Guangwu restored, and Zhang Yu inherited Zhang Hua's title.

Yuan Shansong

Yuan Shansong , sometimes called Yuan Song , was an official of the . He was known as an accomplished poet, lyricist and also as an historian. Yuan also produced one of the first landscape essays, later to become a popular form in Chinese literature. Much of his work has survived to the present day.

Later, Yuan was given appointment as the Grand Administrator of Wu commandery. During the rebellion of Sun En in 399, he died defending Hudu .

Xie Lingyun

Xie Lingyun , also known as the Duke of Kangle , was one of the foremost poet of the Southern and Northern Dynasties.

Born in , his ancestry was from . Xie served as an official in the Eastern Jin and Liu Song dynasties, however factional intrigues led to his dismissal and exile. Later, because of his defiant attitude, he was arrested, and because he resisted when arrested, he was captured and executed in 433.

Xie was a devout Buddhist and was considered a nature or landscape poet focusing on the "mountain and streams" instead of "field and garden" landscapes. His poetry is allusive and complex.

Liu Ling

Liu Ling , born 221 and died 300, was a Chinese poet and scholar. Little information survives about his family background, though he is described in historical sources as short and unattractive, with a dissipated appearance.

One of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove, Liu Ling was a who retreated to the countryside in order to pursue a spontaneous and natural existence that would have been impossible under the tight constraints of the . Popularly regarded as an eccentric, he was notorious for his love of alcohol. The earliest depictions of him, on tombs in Nanjing, show him drinking wine from a gourd, and his most famous work is a poem titled "In Praise of the Virtue of Wine".

An oft-quoted folk tale about Liu Ling claims that he was followed at all times by a servant bearing a bottle of wine and a shovel, who was equally prepared to offer him wine at a moment's notice or bury him if he fell over dead. Another cites his practice of commonly walking around his home in the , explaining to surprised visitors that he considered the entire universe his home and his rooms his clothing, and then inquiring as to why they had just entered his pants.

Liu Ling's name is commonly misprinted as "劉靈".

Liu Ling and his beliefs about drinking are discussed in Jack London's autobiographical novel John Barleycorn.

Fu Xuan

Fu Xuan was a poet of the Western Jin Dynasty. An impoverished orphan, he became rich due to his literary fame. He also once wrote an essay praising the Chinese mechanical engineers Ma Jun and Zhang Heng, where he lamented on the fact that extraordinary talents of natural geniuses were often ignored or neglected by those in charge .


Fu Xuan's poems, primarily in the ''yuefu'' style, are noted for their powerful and empathetic portrayals of women. Translations of several of his sixty-odd extant poems can be found in the book ''New Songs from a Jade Terrace'' by Anne Birrell .

One of the more famous poets by Fu Xuan is "Woman" which goes as follows:

How sad it is to be a woman!!

Nothing on earth is held so cheap.

Boy stand leaning at the door

Like Gods fallen out of Heaven.

Their hearts brave the Four Oceans,

The wind and dust of a thousand miles.

No one is glad when a girl is born:

By her the family sets no store.

When she grows up, she hides in her room

Afraid to look at a man in the face.

No one cries when she leaves her home --

Sudden as clouds when the rain stops.

She bows her head and composes her face,

Her teeth are pressed on her red lips:

She bows and kneels countless times.

She must humble herself even to the servants.

His love is distant as the stars in Heaven,

Yet the sunflower bends towards the sun.

Their hearts are more sundered than water and fire--

A hundred evils are heaped upon her.

Her face will follow the years changes:

Her lord will find new pleasures.

They that were once like the substance and shadow

Are now as far from Hu as from Ch'in

Yet Hu and Ch'in shall sooner meet

That they whose parting is like Ts'an and Ch'en