Something I really appreciated while reading Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay was how he conveyed the importance of poetry in politics and discourse. All students preparing to take the civics exams studied poetry. Educated men were expected to be able to come up with verses on command and use them to communicate their agendas in subtle ways.
I’m revising The Dragon and the Pearl (please, oh please don’t change the name…oh Harlequin marketing gods!). The first pass is concentrating on the hero. My Little Sis sent me a Tang Dynasty poem she came across after critiquing the rough draft. She said it struck her as being “Li Tao-ish” — her words.
I pulled it up to get some inspiration. It’s quite lovely, don’t you think?
Poem of Farewell
A great passion
In front of the mute cup
no smile comes to one’s lips.
It’s the candle that burns
with the pangs of farewell:
Right up to dawn, on our behalf,
it sheds tears.
-Du Mu, Tang Dynasty poet 803-852