Wen Tingyun, 溫庭筠

Wen Tingyun, 溫庭筠 was born at an uncertain date in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province. He was a descendant of Wen Yanbo, a prime minister of the early Tang Dynasty. Wen himself was a late Tang poet. His approximate dates of birth and death are given as 812–870, the final decades of the dying Tang dynasty.

It seems that no one goes through life without making an enemy.

Wen Tingyun’s implacable foe was the prime minister, Linghu Tao, whoi lived to the ripe old age of 77. Linghu dedicated some of Wen Tingyun’s poems to Emperor Xuānzong (810 – 859, not to be confused with the earlier emperor of the same name) and passed them off as his own. The secret got out and, thereafter, Linghu got his revenge. Linghu Tao had passed the imperial examinations, but when it came Wen’s turn to try, Linghu repeatedly prevented his passing.

Many of Wen Tingyun’s poems revolve around women and their lifestyles as is evident in the following poem.

The Complaint of the Jade Lute

In a bed made of silver on an ice-cold mat, dreams don’t come

The sky is blue but misting, the clouds at night are light

From Xiao-xiang comes the cry a wild goose —

To a twelve-storied building on a moonlit night

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