Han Yu

Let us add another poet, but not just a poet, for Han Yu (韓愈, 768 – 824) was a Chinese essayist, Confucian scholar, politician, and poet during the Tang dynasty, comparable in recognition to Shakespeare, Dante, and Goethe, says one adoring Western publication (The Indiana Companion). A scholar of the Ming dynasty ranked him first among eight great prose masters of the Tang and Song dynasties.

Han Yu was born in Heyang (present day Mengzhou) in Henan province. In 786, he came to Chang’an. He took the imperial examination three times before passing it in 792. Slow to find a posting, he took a position with the Military Governor of Bianzhou, Tung Chin. He received his first posting in Chang’an in 802, but was exiled for several reasons. For a dozen years, beginning in 809, he was back in good graces, but then he wrote an essay, a protest against the influence of Buddhism in China. Emperor Xianzong ordered his execution, but he was spared by the intervention of friends.

After a formal apology, he was again back in good standing with the Imperial Court. Emperor Muzong, the successor to Xianzong brought Han back to Chang’an. When given the task of persuading a rebel general to renew his allegiance to the Tang dynasty, he was successful. For this he was rewarded the position of head of the Imperial University, a position he held until his death at the age of 56.

Han Yu, 韓愈 image from Wikipedia