Call for Joint Classical Chinese Poetry Composition


I have had a few subscribers asking whether I have written any Classical Chinese poetry (漢詩, 한시). The answer is I have composed a handful of poems, but I consider none of them that good (佳作, 가작). It took me a very long time for me to compose each of them, because I cannot recall most characters’ tones off the top of my head. Further, I do not know many of the minute details of the rules, and thus had to closely follow a book I have on composing Classical Chinese poetry, for which I wrote a review on the book on this blog. (I am aware that there are other Korean blogs whose authors occasionally post their own compositions. A search for “자작 한시” online will bring up plenty of such poems.)

More interestingly, a few of those who have asked have said they write Classical Chinese poems. This gave me an idea. I have been always curious at how back in the day poets would gather to compose poetry together (詩會, 시회). I propose that those that can compose partake in a joint composition, corresponding via email. We can pick a rime (韻, 운), type of poem (詩體, 시체), and theme. Each of us can then write one line, and have the others comment and suggest revisions. Afterward, I could post the finished product here on this blog. It should be an insightful and informative experience into the not too distant past. If you are interested in partaking in the joint Classical Chinese poetry composition, please email me at or leave a comment. If there is enough interest, perhaps we can make this happen.

  1. Jeff said:

    Great Idea!

  2. Sichen Liu said:

    I’d be glad to partake in this.



  3. Alice Cheang said:

    It would be wonderful if you could get a gathering of aficionados together to compose classical Chinese poetry on this blog. This reminds me that, in 2011, I was asked (along with several others) to translate some classical Chinese poems by Hong Kong poets, many of whom are still living, for a magazine of literary translation published by the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The particular issue containing the special section on Hong Kong classical poets is Perhaps you will enjoy looking at the efforts of other contemporary lovers of the ancient poetic forms! (If you have trouble accessing the translations, please let me know, and I could scan them to share with you.) Classical Chinese is indeed a lingua franca uniting readers and writers all over East Asia.

    • 歸源 said:

      Thank you for the link. I greatly appreciate it. I saw that two of the available (I presume the rest of it is behind a pay wall) translations had the original text.

      I should have also mentioned that there are Classical Chinese poetry composition competitions in Korea (漢詩白日場): . As you can see, most of the competitors are gray haired.

      As for here in state-side, do you know whether there are any Chinese-American (or other Asian-American) Classical Chinese poets of any repute? I have heard that some Chinese schools teach Classical Chinese.

  4. Alice Cheang said:

    That is, you might be interested in the Hong Kong classical poems themselves, if not the English translations. The magazine features both.

  5. Jeff said:

    So far we have four who are interested. Perhaps with this small number, we can swell the participation if someone would start first… Thus, I humbly start the first salvo.

    I had written one four-line poem and would like to see how it would morph into something else when others with a different mindset… 🙂

    So here’s the first line…


    Literal translation: The Wide Cold has no intent to shine on the fragrant flowers.

    “Wide Cold” is the name of the lunar palace where Chang O (嫦娥) lives. Thus the meaning of this line can be also be interpreted as , “The moon does not shine just because the flowers are fragrant” depending on the context of other lines.

    There are many other classical terms for the moon, each with its own nuance and subtlety due to allusions etc… The tone of the poem then takes shape.

    I hope with this, we will have a more lively discussion 🙂

    • 歸源 said:

      I appreciate the enthusiasm! And I was going to wait after the Super Bowl to send an email regarding this. My plan was that since there are four interested to write a 絶句, and have the theme be about the Lunar New Year that is in about 3 weeks.

  6. Jeff said:

    Great idea! I shall wait for the first line to come 🙂

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