Saturday, September 20, 2008

Luo Binwang

Luo Binwang , courtesy name Guanguang , was a of the Tang Dynasty. His family was from modern , but he was raised in Shandong. Luo is grouped with Wang Bo, Yang Jiong and Lu Zhaolin as one of the Four Greats of the Early Tang as the most outstanding writers of their time.

Early career

It was said that Luo Binwang could recite poetry when he was six years old. In adulthood, after a period serving on the staff of Li Yuanqing Prince of Dao, an uncle of then-ruling , Luo worked in the central government in Chang'an from 665. In 670, he was exiled to Xinjiang, after which he travelled to Yunnan with the army. He later served on staff of the prominent general Pei Xingjian while Pei was serving as the commandant at Tao Prefecture , and was in charge of the military correspondences, but he did not have a good relationship with Pei, who also disapproved of the other three greater writers grouped with Luo — Wang, Yang, and Lu, instead favoring the talents of Wang Bo's brother Wang Ju and Su Weidao. Eventually, Luo became a secretary at the county government of Chang'an County — one of the two counties making up the capital Chang'an — a low position that was however considered fairly prestigious due to its location at the capital.

Participation in Li Jingye's rebellion

In 678, Luo Binwang was dismissed and imprisoned for criticising Wu Zetian, but was released the following year. After Emperor Gaozong's death and the subsequent takeover of Emperor Gaozong's wife as regent over initially their son , whom she quickly deposed, and then , Luo made a number of suggestions to her, which she did not accept, and he was in turn demoted to the post of secretary general of Linhai County in 684. He and a number of similarly demoted officials met at Yang Prefecture , and they, supporting Li Jingye the Duke of Ying as their leader, rose against Empress Dowager Wu at Yang Prefecture, claiming as their goal Emperor Zhongzong's restoration. Luo was in charge of the resistance forces' correspondences, and he wrote a particularly sharp-worded declaration against Empress Dowager Wu:

It was said that when Empress Dowager Wu read the declaration, she smiled and laughed at what he wrote. However, when she reached the portion that read, "The soil on the new imperial tomb is not yet dry, and to whom can the two-meter-tall orphan be entrusted?" she turned solemn, and she commented, "It is the fault of the s that we lost this man's service." After Li Jingye's defeat later that year, Luo was also killed, and Empress Dowager Wu, impressed with his writing, sent people to gather them and publish them.


In prose, he was a master of the ornate ''bianwen'' style. His poetry is often similarly complex. Among his works is a long, autobiographical narrative, but he is best known for his poem "Ode to the Goose", said to have been written when he was seven years old. His "Ode to the Cicada" is also of great renown and influence.

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