shènɡ Tánɡ zhī yīn 盛唐之音
Poetry of the Prime Tang Dynasty
This term refers to the poetic creation and achievements during the Kaiyuan(713–742) and Tianbao (742–756) reign periods of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty, as compared with poetic writing in the early Tang, mid-Tang, and late Tang periods. This period, marked by good governance, prosperity, and stability, was a golden era for the great Tang empire before it was disrupted by the An Lushan and Shi Siming Rebellion. There was cultural infusion between the north and south, and travels to and from the outside world were frequent. All this made it possible for artistic creation to blossom. Of all the four periods of poetic creation, i.e., the early Tang, the prime Tang, the mid-Tang, and the late Tang, the prime Tang was the shortest, but its artistic attainment was most remarkable. This period produced legendary poet Li Bai and poetic genius Du Fu as well as a galaxy of outstanding poets such as Zhang Yue, Zhang Ruoxu, Zhang Jiuling, Meng Haoran, Wang Wei, Gao Shi, Cen Shen, Wang Changling, Wang Zhihuan, Cui Hao, Li Qi, and Wang Han. These poets extolled natural scenery, expressed noble aspirations, and depicted real life. Their writing style was both vigorous and unrestrained. They were broad in vision and were adept at using fresh, natural language, and their poems were full of power, vigor and an enterprising spirit. Their poems represented the highest attainment in classical Chinese poetry. This period also saw the thriving of the natural landscape school and the frontier school in poetry writing.
Works of many poets during the prime of the Tang Dynasty struck readers with their touching, powerful expression and simple yet dignified style, just like the calligraphy of Yan Zhenqing. (Yan Yu: Letter in Reply to Uncle Wu Jingxian in Lin’an)
Poetry in the prime of the Tang Dynasty is noted for being expressive, smooth and natural, creating a soaring and uplifting spirit. (Hu Yinglin: An In-depth Exploration of Poetry)