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Su Tung-p'o

Su Tung-p'o (sō dōng-bô) [key], 1036–1101, Chinese poet. He was also called Su Shih. Born in present-day Sichuan prov., he was one of a literary family. Su occupied many official posts, rising to president of the board of rites (which regulated imperial ceremonies and worship). He designed the parks surrounding Lake Si in Hangzhou. His satiric verses and opposition to official policies frequently lost him his official status. Su's poetry and art were inspired by Taoism and Buddhism, although his political views were founded in Confucian philosophy. Su is generally considered the greatest poet of the Sung dynasty. His work frequently expresses regret for the evanescence of beauty and the limited span of life. Su is also noted for his fu, satiric poems which approach free verse, and for letters and essays.

See translations by B. Watson (1965); Y. Lin, The Gay Genius: The Life and Times of Su Tungpo (1947).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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