China’s Privately Passionate Poetry

I’m sure that most Westerners do not think of love poems when they think of China. However, there has to be a reason for more than 1.3 billion people besides the Great Wall of China, the Pacific Ocean and the biggest mountain range on the planet, the Himalayas, which helped wall China from the violence that rocked the rest of the world for centuries—at least until the Opium Wars.

For poetry lovers, this book imparts a sense of the private passion that beats in the Chinese heart. The three arts of poetry, calligraphy and painting, the Triple Excellence, are represented on the pages.

The painting, lady weeping at parting from husband, 17th century, comes from the Qing Dynasty and the book says it is a color woodblock print on paper.

Chinese poetry is frequently personal and often linked to a particular occasion (page 9).

Deeply in love, but tonight
we seem to be passionless;
I just feel, before our last cup of wine
a smile will not come.
The wax candle has sympathy ­­–
weeps at our separation:
Its tears for us keep rolling down
till day breaks.

by Du Mu (803-852 AD)

As you can see, the Chinese are a passionate people—they just don’t dramatize these passions publicly as many in the West do—at least until the West invaded China to force—if possible—a different set of values on China’s collective culture.

The Golden Age of Poetry in China was in the Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD).  This book of Chinese Love Poetry was edited by Jane Portal (© 2004) and published by Barnes & Noble Books (ISBN 0-7607-4833-0).

discover China’s Sexual Revolution or Yu Opera with Mao Wei-tao


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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