Biography Yuan Mei

Yuan Mei

photo of Yuan Mei
  • Time Period1716 - 1798
  • Place
  • CountryChina

Poet Biography

Mei was not only the most popular poet of the Ch'ing Dynasty (eighteenth century) but the most popular poet in the 2500-year history of classical Chinese poetry. Not only did he dare to promote poetry by women at a time when it was suppressed, he also wrote on forbidden subjects, such as homosexuality and the treatment of the poor. He "retired" from office while in his midthirties, and enjoyed a successful career writing for the newly-formed urban class. Although deeply influenced by ch'an (Zen) Buddhist philosophy and Taoist philosophy, he refuses to "bow to Buddhas." This ch'an perspective combined with his self-effacing good humor make him unique in the annals of Chinese poetry.