Wang Anshi and the Song Poetic Sensibility


ACLS Fellowship Program


East Asian Languages and Cultures


Classical Chinese poetry reached its golden age in the Tang dynasty. From the second half of the eleventh century onward, Song poets exhibited a growing anxiety over being late comers to a field in which artistic possibilities appeared to have been all but exhausted. This sense of belatedness motivated their search for alternatives that would enable them to embrace as well as to differ from the Tang masters. As a result, a new poetic sensibility developed. Wang Anshi was one of the first major Song poets to approach Tang poetry as a source of inspiration and sustenance while acutely aware of its overwhelming power. This study situates his poetic practice in the development of the Song poetic sensibility.