Zhang Ruoxu (張若虛) was a Chinese poet of the early Tang dynasty from Yangzhou in modern Jiangsu province. He is best known for “Spring River in the Flower Moon Night” (Chun Jiang Hua Yue Ye, 春江花月夜), one of the most unique and influential Tang poems, which has inspired numerous later artworks.

Zhang Ruoxu was a native of Yangzhou in modern Jiangsu province, and served as a minor military officer in Yanzhou in modern Shandong. Little is known about his life today. He is traditionally grouped with He Zhizhang, Zhang Xu, and Bao Rong as the Four Poets of Central Wu (吳中四士), the Lower Yangtze region.

Only two of Zhang Ruoxu’s poems are extant, but one of them, “Spring River in the Flower Moon Night”, has long been well known and considered an extraordinary work. The poem can be divided into nine quatrains and three sections. The first section describes the scenery of the moonlit Yangtze River in spring. The second and third lament the ephemerality of life, as well as the sorrow of travellers and the loved ones they leave behind. The poem marks a stylistic break from the poetry of the preceding Six Dynasties, and anticipates the content and style of High Tang poetry.

 

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