Wei Yingwu (traditional Chinese: 韋應物; simplified Chinese: 韦应物; pinyin: Wéi Yìngwù; Wade–Giles: Wei Ying-wu; c. 737?– circa 792), courtesy name Yibo(義博), art name Xizhai(西齋) was a Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty. Twelve of Wei's poems were included in the influential Three Hundred Tang Poems anthology. He was also known by his honorific name Wei Suzhou(韋蘇州); his service as the governor of Suzhou earned him the name.


Wei Yingwu was born around 737[1] in Chang'an. His family was one of the prestigious Chinese noble clans of Tang dynasty;Wei clan of Jingzhao. He belongs to the Xiaoyaogong branch of the Wei clan. His great grandfather Wei Daijia was a chancellor during the reign of Wu Zetian.

Yingwu became an imperial bodyguard of emperor Xuanzong of Tang when he was fifteen years old,[2] as a noble, he was not required to pass the imperial examination.[3]

After the death of emperor Xuanzong, he served as the magistrate of Hu county and Yueyang. He was also the governor of Chuzhou(784), Jiangzhou(785), and Suzhou(787-792). He died in Suzhou in 792.[2][4]

According to John C. H. Wu, the turbulence and lack of strong central leadership of China during Wei Yingwu's poetry-writing years was a major influencing factor upon his work. One example of such sociopolitical turmoil is the An Shi Rebellion of 755-763. Wu suggests that images such as the boat moving without a person steering in "At Chuzhou on the Western Stream" is a reference to the ship of state without a person at the helm.[5]


Wei Yingwu was strongly influenced by the 5th century poet Tao Yuanming. His poems reflect his indifference to the world. Editors of Siku Quanshu commented that his poems are "Simple but not vulgar, rich but not pedantic". Wei's most praised works often take the form of five characters(五言), His main focus of work was on the depiction of nature such as mountains, rivers and other natural landscape.[6] According to Bai Juyi, Wei's poems are inspired by the feelings which natural scenery stirs. "Elegant and idle", Bai Juyi praised Wei Yingwu with these two words.[7] Wei Yingwu was often paired with Liu Zongyuan by later generations of literary critics.

In his work Qizhui Ji(七綴集), Qian Zhongshu draws a parallel between Wang Wei and Wei Yingwu. He cited the theories of Italian literary critic Benedetto Croce when commenting the two, naming Wei "un grande-piccolo poeta" or "大的小詩人”(A minor poet among great poets) in contrast to Wang Wei who was "Un piccolo-grande poeta" or "小的大詩人”(A great poet among minor poets).[8]

Wei Yingwu poems collected in Three Hundred Tang Poems were translated by Witter Bynner as:

  • "Entertaining Literary Men in my Official Residence on a Rainy Day"
  • "Setting Sail on the Yangzi to Secretary Yuan"
  • "A Poem to a Taoist Hermit Chuanjiao Mountain"
  • "On Meeting my Friend Feng Zhu in the Capital"
  • "Mooring at Twilight in Yuyi District"
  • "East of the Town"
  • "To my Daughter on Her Marriage Into the Yang Family"
  • "A Greeting on the Huai River to my Old Friends from Liangchuan"
  • "A Farewell in the Evening Rain to Li Cao"
  • "To my Friends Li Dan and Yuanxi"
  • "An Autumn Night Message to Qiu"
  • "At Chuzhou on the Western Stream"


Wei Yingwu was translated by Red Pine (Bill Porter) as In Such Hard Times: The Poetry of Wei Ying-wu (Copper Canyon Press, 2009), for which he won the Best Translated Book Award, from the book translation press of the University of Rochester; and the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA)'s inaugural Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize in 2010.


  1. ^ Ueki et al. 1999, p. 106.
  2. ^ a b "韦应物". Souyun (in Chinese). Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  3. ^ Lai, Ruihe (2005). 唐代基層文官. 聯經出版事業公司. p. 39. ISBN 9789570827798.
  4. ^ Li, You (2017). 唐詩選箋: 中唐-晚唐. Showwe Information Co Ltd. p. 63. ISBN 9789869499859.
  5. ^ Wu, 162
  6. ^ Wei, Li (2006). 鲁迅古籍藏書漫谈, Part 1. Fuzhou: 福建教育出版社. p. 475. ISBN 9787533445423.
  7. ^ Bai Juyi, Letter to Yuanjiu: 如近歲韋蘇州歌行,才麗之外,頗近興諷,其五言詩又高雅閑澹,自成一家之體
  8. ^ Qian, Zhongshu (2016). Qizhui Ji(七綴集). Beijing: Joint Publishing. p. 22. ISBN 9787108016775.

Works citedEdit

  • Wu, John C. H. (1972). The Four Seasons of Tang Poetry. Rutland, Vermont: Charles E.Tuttle. ISBN 978-0-8048-0197-3

External linksEdit

Book 191, Book 192, Book 193, Book 194, Book 195