Liu Yuxi

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Liu Yuxi from the Wan Xiao Tang, published in 1743
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Liu.

Liu Yuxi (Wade-Giles: Liu Yü-hsi; simplified Chinese: 刘禹锡; traditional Chinese: 劉禹錫; pinyin: Liú Yǔxī) (772–842) was a Chinese poet, philosopher, and essayist, active during the Tang Dynasty.[1]

Family background and education[edit]

His ancestors were Xiongnu nomadic people. The putative ‘seventh generation’ family head, Liu Liang, was an official of the Northern Wei (386-534), who followed the Emperor Xiaowen (471-499) when he established the capital at Luoyang in 494. Following the government sinification policy, he became Han and register his surname as Liu. From then on the family was based in Luoyang.

Liu Yuxi’s father, Li Xu, was forced to leave Luoyang to avoid the An Lushan rebellion (755-763) and went to Jiaxing (in the north of present day Zhejiang Province). Liu Yuxi was born and grew up in the south. In his youth he studied with two renowned poets in Kuaiji (now Shaoxing), the Chan (Zen) monks Lingche (靈澈, 746-816) and Jiaoran (皎然, 730-799).[2]


Just over 700 of his poems still exist, notable for their simple, 'folk' style. He was a friend of the great poet Bai Juyi, born in the same year as Liu Yuxi, who referred to "Liu and Po, those two mad old men" in at least one poem dedicated to Liu.[3] Four of his poems are included in the classic Qing Dynasty anthology Three Hundred Tang Poems, which was first published in the 18th-century.

Chinese: 刘禹锡
Pinyin: Liú Yǔxī
Wade-Giles: Liu Yü-hsi
Japanese: りゅう うしゃく Ryū Ushaku
Zì (字): Mèng dé (梦得; Meng-te in Wade-Giles)
Hào (號): Shī háo (詩豪; Shih-hao in Wade-Giles)

Lou Shi Ming[edit]

One of his most famous poems is 'Lou Shi Ming' 陋室銘, "The Scholar's Humble Dwelling", describing living in a simple dwelling, following a life that is refined in culture and learning:

山不在高, Who heeds the hill's bare height until
有仙則名; Some legend grows around the hill?
水不在深, Who cares how deep the stream before
有龍則靈。 Its fame is writ in country lore?
斯是陋室, And so this humble hut of mine
惟吾德馨。 May shelter virtues half divine.
苔痕上階綠, The moss may climb its ruined stair,
草色入簾青。 And grassy stains the curtain wear,
談笑有鴻儒, But scholars at their ease within,
往來無白丁。 For all but Ignorance enters in,
可以調素琴, With simple lute the time beguile,
閱金經。 Or "Golden Classic's" page a while.
無絲竹之亂耳, No discords here their ears assail,
無案牘之勞形。 Nor cares of business to bewail.
南陽諸葛廬, This is the life the Sages led.
孔子云:「何陋之有?」 "How were they poor?" Confucius said.

(Translated by James Black.)[4]



  1. ^ Liu Yuxi short biography at
  2. ^ 刘禹锡集 (Liu Yuxi Selected Works) 吴在庆 (Edited by Wu Zaiqing) Nanjing:凤凰出版社,2014 ISBN 978-7-5506-2009-4
  3. ^ To Liu Yu-hsi (AD 838) from More Translations from the Chinese, by Arthur Waley, 1919, at
  4. ^ "The Scholar's Humble Dwelling (Poem). Liu Yu Hsi. Translated by James Black.," The Open Court: Vol. 1911: Iss. 3, Article 7, available at: Open SIUC


  • Lim, Chooi Kua [Lin Shui-kao]: A biography of Liu Yuxi, Chinese Culture, 36.2, 37.1 (1994, 1996), 115-50, 111-141
  • Fang Li-Tian: Liu Zongyuan and Liu Yuxi. Theories of Heaven and Man in Yijie Tang, Zhen Li, George F. McLean, Man and Nature: The Chinese Tradition and the Future, CRVP, 1989, pp. 25–32, ISBN 978-0-8191-7412-3
  • Red Pine (translator) (2003): Poems of the Masters: China's Classic Anthology of T'ang and Sung Dynasty Verse, Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press
  • Richardson, Tori Cliffon Anthony. Liu Pin-k'o chia-hua lu ('A Record of Adviser to the Hier Apparent Liu (Yü-hsi's) Fine Discourses'): A Study and Translation. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 1994
  • Sping, Madeline K (1989): Equine Allegory in the Writings of Liu Yü-hsi, in Ti-i chieh Kuo-chi T'ang-tai wen-hsüeh hui-i Lun-wen chi 第一结国际唐代文学会议论文集, Taipei Student Book Company, pp 1–35

External links[edit]