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Yan Shu--Representative of the Wanyue School

Yan Shu--Representative of the Wanyue School of ci poetry in the Song Dynasty

Yan Shu (991 芒鈧€?1055), style name Tongshu, lived in the Northern Song Dynasty. He was the first Prime Minister from Fuzhou of Jiangxi Province. He was a renowned poet, ci writer, and essayist.

Yan Shu was smart and diligent since young. He could write poems at five, and was known as a 芒鈧揷hild prodigy.芒鈧?When he was fourteen, he joined the imperial exam together with some thousand scholars from all over the country. Yan Shu took the exam with easiness and was granted the title 芒鈧搕ong jinshi芒鈧?by the emperor. A man of great learning, Yan Shu handled political affairs with great efficiency, for which the emperor often consulted him with thorny problems, and his advice was often adopted. In the year 1042, Yan Shu was promoted as prime minister; at the age of 64, when he was ill and came back to the capital to see the doctor, he was asked by the emperor to give lectures on classics and history. Yan Shu died of illness in the capital Kaifeng in 1055.

Though being a high-ranked official over long, Yan Shu was amiable and easy to approach. An official willing to appoint people according to their ability, he put quite a few talents in important positions: famous statesmen in the Song Dynasty like Fan Zhong芒鈧劉yan, Kong Daofu, Wang An芒鈧劉shi etc were his pupils, and others such as Han Qi, Fu Bi, Ouyang Xiu, etc advanced their political career thanks to his help and recommendation.

Yan Shu was a scholar with high reputation in the literary circle of the Northern Song Dynasty. He made great achievements and contributions in various aspects of literature. He was an excellent ci poet, essayist, and calligrapher. His talent in ci writing was most remarkable, for which he earned the reputation 芒鈧揚rime Minister ci poet.芒鈧?By absorbing the style of 芒鈧揌uajian School芒鈧?of the Southern Tang and the elegant and flowery style of Feng Yansi, Yan Shu created the graceful and restrained (wanyue) ci-writing style of the Northern Song Dynasty, and was recognized as the representative. His ci poems have their own distinctive features, with clear and beautiful language, harmonious tones, and when it came to describing natural scenery, spirit and life were endowed in the ci poems.

As Yan Shu lived a life of affluence and honor, his ci poems are anything but anxiety and distress. These ci poems may sometimes show some sorrow, but only for those helpless sadness shared by the general human beings, not the grief over some certain things. His famous quote, 芒鈧揘othing can be done about flowers falling away; the swallows, seeming acquaintances, are coming back,芒鈧?depicts the scenarios that cannot be redeemed by individual will. Even if there is some indescribable sorrow of his own, it would imply the eternal helpless sadness of human beings, and thus the inescapable and perpetual destiny of the living creature.

Yan"s 137 ci poems are collected in the volume Zhu-yu ci [Pearls and jade] and reflect the tastes of the affluent conservative literati.


 

Huan xi sha 茂录藛忙碌拢忙潞陋忙虏鈩⒚尖€?/P>

With a cup of wine, listening to songs of new words,
In the same pavilion tower and last year"s weather.
The sun is setting in the west, but when will it return?
Nothing can be done about flowers falling away,
The swallows, seeming acquaintances, are coming back.
Along fragrant paths of the little garden I alone pace to and fro.

 
 

 
   
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