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GAO Shi And Cen Shen

Gao Shi and Cen Shen, both veterans of military service, excelled at writing seven-character line verse. Their poems reflect a common desireto devote their lives to their country-but the artistic techniques adopted in their poems are widely different.

The poetry of Gao Shi (c. AD 702-765) was more realism than romanticism. In describing life on the frontier,Gao Shi sought to reveal the severity of battles and the hardships enduredby soldiers. Very sympathetic to the soldiers, in Song of the NorthernFrontier, he vividly described the desolate barren land, the fierce cast ofwar and a soldier's complex psychology. Gao Shi's poems are powerful,simple and heroic. He has also written some excellent stanzas on parting,such as Bid Farewell to Dong the Oldest Among His Brothers and BidFarewell to Wei, the Adjutant These poems are also imbued with theheroic spirit of his frontier poems.

The poetry of Cen Shen (AD 715-770) unleashed a powerful force,rich imagination and fervent passion. Unlike Gao Shi, Cen tended toheroic myths of frontier life. Cen's poems were basically romantic, asrepresented by Song of the Horse Cantering Plain- To General Feng onHis Western Expedition, Song of Luntai -To General Feng on His WesternExpedition, and Song of White Snow- To Secretary Wu Returning to theCapital In his poem Song of White Snow - To Secretary Wu Returningto the Capital, he even compares snowflakes falling down in August inNorth China to pear blossoms, as in the famous line "Pear trees were allin bloom-a hundred, a thousand." In Cen's poems, cold weather,reluctance at time of farewell and nostalgia are backgrounded in favorof heroism and optimism. Some of Cen's poems which invoke grandlandscapes and diverse folk customs on the frontier are alsomasterpieces, such as Song of Glouds Glowing Red above the Volcano-A Parting Song ,To Cui-Attendant Censor-Returning to the Capital,Luntai in Mid-July and Song of General Gai at the Yumen Pass.

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