Cicada in Chinese Poetry
The first one to use ‘cicada’ as a motif for poetry creation in China's Tang dynasty, often considered as the Golden Age of Chinese poetry, isYu Shinan (558–638), a Chinese official, litterateur, Confucian scholar and calligrapher who rose to prominence during the reign of Emperor Taizong, who once mentioned that Yu was "a man of
nd five absolute merits". The creature’s underground struggle to sing in the broad daylight of summer comes in handy for downcast Chinese poets to motivate themselves in down-and-out times, as fully reflected by one of the poems by Luo Binwang (619–684?), one of the ‘Four Paragons of the Early Tang’ and among the most outstanding poets of his time. In 678, Luo Binwang was dismissed and imprisoned for criticising Wu Zetian (Empress Dowager Wu), and he wrote a particularly sharp-worded declaration against her. Languishing in jail, the man heard the cicadas sing outside. Overcome by feelings of sorrow, he wrote a poem entitled Cicada. Among the ‘cicada’-themed Tang poems, the one by Li Shangyin (c. 813–858), "rediscovered" in the 20th century by young Chinese writers for the imagist qualities of his tantalizing ‘no title’ poems. In 1968, Roger Waters of the rock band Pink Floyd borrowed lines from his poetry to create the lyrics for the song "Set the Controls for the Hear t of the Sun" from the band's second album A Saucerful of Secrets.The metaphorical subtlety in Li’s ‘Cicada’ was regarded by Qing scholar Zhu Yizun (1629-1709) and Chinese literary master Qian Zhongshu (19101998) as “superb”.