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Yuefu Songs of the Han Dynasty
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Yuefu Songs of the Han Dynasty

The word Yuefu (yuè fǔ 乐府) came first into being in Qin Dynasty (qín cháo 秦朝)(221 BC-206 BC). Yue (yuè 乐) means music, Fu (fǔ 府) means bureau, put together Yuefu means music bureau. It laid its foundation in the Han Dynasty (hàn cháo 汉朝) (206 BC-220 AD), and became a royal government Musical Department for collecting, writing or performing folk songs and ballads in 112 BC. After then people called poems which were composed in this folk song style Yuefu.

Yuefu Songs of the Han Dynasty In Yuefu, the lines are of uneven length, though five characters are the most common. Most of the songs are narrative poems which inherited the realism traditions of The Book of Songs (shī jīng 诗经). Musical Department in Han Dynasty created all kinds of characters to mirror every part in the society at that time vividly and visually. 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 darkness of the society.
The predominant characteristics among are the series of ladies all with the character traits of beauties, diligence, kindness, adamancies while no effeminacies at all. However, they also have the lively thumbprints besides those common traits.


Peacocks Flying Southeast (part)
Southeast the love-lorn peacock flies. Alack,
At every mile 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 lute she made;
At sixteen knew the classics , prose and verse,
At seventeen they wed her to Zhongqing,
And from that day what joy and pain were hers!

Peacocks Flying Southeast The best known poem in Yuefu Songs of the Han Dynasty is Peacocks Flying Southeast (kǒng què dōng nán fēi 孔雀东南飞), 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.

With rich flavors of life, Yuefu Songs of the Han Dynasty are in the pursuit of faithful reflection of social reality and have accomplished artistic achievements, which have had a direct and far-reaching impact on the development of poetry in later generations.


      汉乐府就是指汉时乐府官署所采制的诗歌。汉乐府掌管的诗歌一部分是供执政者祭祀祖先神明使用的效庙歌辞,其性质与《诗经》中“颂”相同;另一部分则是采集民间流传的无主名的俗乐,世称之为乐府民歌。据《汉书 • 艺文志》载,“有代,赵之讴,秦,楚之风,皆感于哀乐,缘事而发,亦可以观风俗,知薄厚云”。可见这部分作品乃是汉乐府之精华。《史记乐书》载,汉乐府的Yuefu Songs of the Han Dynasty 设置不晚于汉惠帝二年(公元前193),但搜集民歌俗曲于汉武帝时,已知搜集于东汉末年,共搜集民歌俗曲138篇。宋人郭茂倩所编《乐府诗集》100卷,分12类(郊庙歌辞,燕射歌辞,鼓吹歌辞,横吹歌辞,相和歌辞,清商曲辞,舞曲歌辞,琴曲歌辞,杂曲歌辞,近氏曲辞,杂歌谣辞,新乐府辞)著录,是收罗汉迄五代乐府最为完备的一部诗集。《乐府诗集》现存汉乐府民歌40余篇,多为东汉时期作品,反映当时的社会现实与人民生活,用犀利的言辞表现爱恨情感,较为倾向现实主义风格。


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