Po-Chu-i (772-846 CE) was a great realistic poet in the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE), and he wrote more than 2,800 poems through his career. Po’s poems have prolific topics, various forms, and language easy to understand. Most of his poems reflected the suffering of people. Po was one of the poets who presented their political ideology and social inequality in poetry. Moreover, many poets wrote in order to call attention to poverty in poem. “The Flower Market” is one of his best known poems and a typical one that illustrates class division, poverty and responsibility.
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In “The Flower Market”, Po presents serious class division during the Tang dynasty. In ancient China, society was divided clearly into nobles and farmers. Nobles had a lot of activities as amusement during festival time, but farmers could not amuse themselves the same as nobles did. For example, according to the poem, Po writes “In the Royal City spring is almost over……And follow with the crowed that goes to the Flower Market.” He hints that farm laborers are busy farming because the season is spring, but wealthy people start to enjoy the prosperous season by buying peonies. Also, he exposes that farmers oppressed. They have to do much tough work and pay much more taxes than wealthy people was opposite. They were living in extravagance, and there were not any worries in daily life.
In addition, Po expresses how poor the bottom of society was at that time. For instance, according “The Flower Market”, Po writes “Above is spread and awning to protect them; Around is woven a wattle-fence to screen them.” He reveals at the sellers’ great cost to keep flowers beautiful; therefore, flowers are expensive. Moreover, Po writes “A cluster of deep-red flowers would pay the taxes of ten poor houses.” These two quotes make obvious contrast, and it is clear that the gap between rich and poor is large. It was not fair to the poor at that time, so the poor were getting poorer and the rich were getting richer. Po-Chu-i exposes that these ‘noble’ buyers, food and clothing, are derived from the working people who extract the ‘tax’. Thus, poor people are bullied by dissipated ruler in the Tang dynasty.
On the other hand, Po also implied what responsibilities people should take. Moreover, Po writes “Each household thoughtlessly follows the custom, Man by man, no one realizing.” He wants to express nobles and civilians were not related to each other. Since nobles did not try to do right things, they just followed the custom to spend a significant part of their money on something that did not benefit themselves, society or country. Wealthy people did not give assistance to the poor, they did not think of anything about helping the poor. If a person who had adequate ability did not take responsibilities for others, his country cannot be strong. Therefore, as nobles, they should bear national affairs in order to avoid national decline.
In conclusion, the poetry revealed some essential aspects of social contradictions and demonstrated the theme of profound social significance. People should interact with others whoever they are nobles or poorness; Their country is able to develop strong or continue the prosperity. Unfair society had knocked up the once flourishing the Tang dynasty, so it is important to focus on society stability.