Xie Lingyun (Traditional Chinese: 謝靈運; Simplified Chinese: 谢灵运; Hanyu Pinyin: Xiè Língyùn; Wade-Giles: Hsieh Lingyün, 385–433), also called Hsieh Ling-yün or Hsieh K'ang-lo, Pinyin Xie Lingyun, or Xie Kanglo , also known as the Duke of Kangle (康樂公), was one of the foremost Chinese poets of the Southern and Northern Dynasties. A member of an aristocratic family associated with the displaced southern court, Hsieh served as an official under the Eastern Chin and Liu-Sung dynasties, but incurred the enmity of certain political factions when he supported Liu I-chen, also known as Prince of Lu-ling, in his efforts to become emperor. He was demoted to a magistrate and exiled to remote Yung-chia (in present-day Chekiang), where he wrote his best nature poetry. For the next ten years he alternated between intervals of seclusion on his estate and periods of discontented service as an official. He was accused of rebellion and executed in 433.
Xie Lingyun was one of China's first nature poets, known for his poems describing "mountain and streams" (山水) landscapes. His poems, composed in the fu style of rhyme-prose, describe the beautiful mountains, lakes and rivers of southern China, often expressing a sense of being lost in the landscape. One of his most famous poems is Shanju Fu (Fu on Dwelling in the Mountains). His evocative, descriptive poetry set the fashion for his age. In the Wen Hsüan (“Literary Anthology”), the sixth-century canon that defined medieval Chinese literary tastes, Xie had more poems than any other Six Dynasties poet. Nearly 100 of his poems have survived.
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Xie Lingyun was born in 385 in Shangyu, Zhejiang, though his ancestry was from Taikang, Henan. He belonged to one of the most illustrious families who moved to South China with the Chin court when North China was invaded by barbarian tribes from across the Chinese border. Several members of the Xie clan achieved distinction as poets in the fourth and fifth centuries. When his father died, he inherited the title of Duke of K'ang-lo, which should have ensured him a prestigious career. However, due to his lavish tastes and his aristocratic arrogance, his fortunes were always uncertain.
When the Eastern Chin collapsed in 419, he served the Liu-Sung dynasty but was demoted to Marquis of K'ang-lo. In 422, he supported his friend, Liu I-chen, also known as Prince of Lu-ling, in his efforts to become emperor. His enemies, jealous of his friendship with the heir to the throne, murdered the prince and the prince of Lu-ling, exiled Xie as a magistrate in remote Yung-chia (in present-day Chekiang). It is from this period that Xie Lingyün matured as a poet. As prefect of Yung-chia, he recorded the scenic attractions around it with a fresh, observant eye; at the same time, suffering had deepened his outlook so that a philosophic vein now ran through his descriptive verse. He remained there for about a year before retiring to his family estate in Zhejiang Province, where he devoted himself to landscape gardening. For the next ten years he alternated between intervals of seclusion on his estate and periods of discontented service as an official. Finally, he contracted the enmity of a powerful clique at court, was exiled to southern China in 431.  There, he led an uprising and was almost executed. He was exiled again to Canton. Because of his defiant attitude, and because he resisted when arrested, he was accused of rebellion and executed in 433.
Brought up as a Taoist, Xie became a devout Buddhist who supported the Mount Lu monastery in modern Kinagsi province, and translated sutras and wrote religious essays. He is best known for his poetry; he was considered a nature or landscape poet, focusing on the "mountain and streams" (山水) instead of "field and garden" (田園) landscapes favored by his contemporary, T’ao Ch’ien. He is regarded by many critics as the first Chinese nature poet.
During his year in exile as a magistrate in Yung-chia, he wrote some of his best poetry, expressing his feelings about the injustices in the government. He became interested in the Taoist tradition which emphasized harmony with nature and freedom from worldly concerns. His poems, composed in the fu style of rhyme-prose, describe the beautiful mountains, lakes and rivers of southern China, often expressing a sense of being lost in the landscape. One of his most famous poems is Shanju Fu (Fu on Dwelling in the Mountains).
His poetry is allusive and complex. His evocative, descriptive poetry set the fashion for his age. He wrote mainly in the five-word style, using an erudite vocabulary that was popular at that time. In the Wen Hsüan (“Literary Anthology”), the sixth-century canon that defined medieval Chinese literary tastes, Xie had more poems than any other Six Dynasties poet . Nearly 100 of his poems have survived. In addition to poetry, he was skilled at calligraphy and painting. .
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