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Liu Yong

Liu Yong (c. 987-1053) was the first poet to devote himself totally to the writing of lyrics in the Northern Song Dynasty. He made great contributions in broadening the use of language, developing long lyrics(slow tune) and enriching the expressive techniques of lyric poetry.

LiuYong's lyric poetry falls into three categories, the first being lyrics describing the prosperity of cities and an urban dweller's way of living, as represented by Watching the Tidal Bore. The earliest long lyric (slowtune) written by a scholar, this poem describes the wealth and beautifullandscape of the Qiantangjiang River Second were lyrics describing thelove between men and women. Some lyrics of this kind, such as Calmingthe Waves, reveal the unhappiness of 'people living at the lowest levelsof the society and express the poet's deep sympathy for them. Theseinclude poems about the bitterness of prostitution, their plaints aboutweak-willed men, as in Wandering While Young ,while others like TheSong of the Mysterious Goddess express a prostitute's longing forfreedom and true love. The third type are lyrics which sigh over thepoet's own frustrations in life, like Bells Ringing in Rain, Eight Beats ofGanzhou Song and Midnight joy. "I sigh over my rovings year after year./ Why should I hopelessly linger here?" (Eight Beats of Ganzhou Song),and "Where shall I be found at daybreak from wine awake? / Moored bya riverbank with willow trees beneath the waning moon and in themorning breeze" (Bells Ringing in Rain), are lines which speak of thepoet's nostalgia and his sorrow at a life of vagrancy. "I'll go my way, far,far away on miles and miles of misty waves where sail the ships. / Eveningclouds hang low in boundless Southern skies" (Bells Ringing in Rain),and "Everywhere the red and the green wither away. / There's no moresplendor of a sunny day" (Eight Beats of Ganzhou Song, are linesrevealing the poet's dejection by describing the dreariness of lateAutumn.Liu Yong's long lyrics greatly enriched the Song lyrics, providing anew form of lyric aside from the short lyrics. Liu Yong excelled atdeveloping his subject matter, expressing his feelings by way of narration,and utilizing much spoken language.

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