Yuánhé tǐ 元和体
The Yuanhe Style of Poetry
This term refers to the poetic style most popular during the rule of Emperor Xianzong (806-820) of the Tang Dynasty under the reign title of Yuanhe. It can be understood either broadly or narrowly. In a broad sense, the Yuanhe style of poetry refers to all new forms of verse prevalent from the Yuanhe era onward, created by famed Yuanhe-era writers such as Han Yu (768-824), Yuan Zhen (779-831), Bai Juyi (772-846), and Zhang Ji (767?-830?). In a narrow sense, it refers to lengthy regulated verse and shorter poems of mixed metrical schemes in poetic composition of the works of Yuan Zhen and Bai Juyi. Both poets paid careful attention to the narrative function of poetry. For example, “A Song of the Lianchang Palace,” “A Song of Unending Sorrow,” and “A Song of the Pipa Player” are all representative of lengthy narrative poetry. They also pursued a more popular style of poetry, using vernacular language which was intelligible and easy to remember for ordinary readers. Moreover, they tried to combine poetry and music, making their works rhythmically beautiful and harmonious, thus suitable for chanting or singing.
Since the Yuanhe era, essay writers have come to imitate Han Yu’s oddity and Fan Zongshi’s opaqueness; writers of long poetic songs have taken fancy to Zhang Ji’s bold, uninhibited ways; and poets embraced Meng Jiao’s strangeness and extremity, Bai Juyi’s intelligibility and aptness, and Yuan Zhen’s pomposity and flamboyance. All this constitutes what is known as the “Yuanhe style.” (Li Zhao: A Supplement to Liu Su’s Dynastic History)
Yuan Zhen was unusually talented and achieved renown at a very young age. He and Bai Juyi, a native of Taiyuan were good friends. Both of them were remarkable at writing poetry, depicting and extolling things in all colors and forms. All lovers of poetry at the time would mention Yuan Zhen and Bai Juyi together. Everybody, whether they were scholar-officials, students or ordinary people, was found chanting their poetry, calling it “Yuanhe-style poetry.” (The Old Tang History)