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Yuefu Songs of Han Dynasty

Yuefu Songs of Han Dynasty

Yuefu Songs were originated to the "music bereau" in Han Dynasty, a reference to the government organization origingally in charge of collecting, writting the literaty poems, folk ballads, which were built to music. Later, poems and folk ballads organized and compiled by Yuefu were given this generic name. Folk ballads are the essential part of the Yeufu songs of Han Dynasty.

The following folk ballad entitled Jiangnan (south of Yangtze River) in one elaborate work of Yuefu songs of Han Dynasty.

Time to gather lotus in Yangtze Valley,
As lotus leaves are fair and lusty.
Fish frolic amidst the lotus leaves.
Fish frolic to the east of the lotus leaves.
Fish frolic to the west of the lotus leaves,
Fish frolic to the south of the lotus leaves,
Fish frolic to the north of the lotus leaves.

This folk ballad depicted the vivid scene of lotus-gathering in Yangtze where local people were in jouous mood while they were working. The tenor of this ballad was as follows: It was the right time to gather lotus in the huge lakes of Jiangnan. There teemed with lotus leaves in the lake, where little fishes were swimming freely ... The simple, unadorned and vivid atmosphere permeates the whole folk ballad from begining to the end.

Most of the Yuefu songs of Han Dynasty are narrative poems, which truthfully uncovered the sentiment of people life of that period. Some poems mirrored the poverty-stricken life of laboring people; some exposed the misery caused by wars; some manifested the opposition to feudal marriage customs and the pursuit for true love; and some revealed the decadent life of aristocrats and the darkenness of the society.

The best well-known poem in Yuefu songs of Han Dynasty is Peacocks Flying Southeast, which is also the first long narrative poem in Chinese history. It gives a vivid account of a tragedy of two lovers in a feudal family.

Southeast the lovelorn peacock flies.
At every five miles she falters and looks back!
At thirteen years LanZhi learned how to weave;
At fourteen years she could embroider, sew;
At fifteen music on her harp she made;
At sixteen knew the classics, prose and verse ...

Liu Lanzhi, a smart, pretty and kind-hearted girl, got married with Jiao Zhongqing, her beloved man. They loved each other deeply, but Jiao's mom didn't accept their marrige, she was so crud that she forced them to separate. As a result, both Jiao and Liu committed suicide for the sake of love, and turned into a pair of lovebirds.

They cross their bills and sing to one another.
Their soft endearments all night long till dawn.

Hence the lovebirds became the symbol of true love. The tragedy condemned the feudal ethics and evil clan rule, and expressed the wish and determination of the young who were in pursuit for the freedom of marriage.

With rich flavors of life, Yuefu songs of Han Dyansty are in the pursuit of faithfull reflection of social reality and have accomplished artistic achievements, which have had a direct or indirect positively impact on the development of poetry in later generations.

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