Chinese poetry is an important piece of Chinese culture. Modern Chinese dramas and movies use poetry to show character growth and foreshadow.
Even Korean dramas, like “Squid Game,” sometimes refer to Chinese poets.
So, let’s see some examples of Chinese poetry you may run into in modern media!
Chinese Game Shows
A popular game show in China, “Chinese Poetry Conference” (中国诗词大会), tests competitors’ memories on reciting classical Chinese poetry.
You may be awestruck by their memory. It is quite an impressive feat!
Additionally, the game show has a round that is time constricted. This makes it super stressful for the contestants.
During this round the contestants are given a Chinese character and must recite poetry that has that character in it. This portion of the show makes it wildly popular because of its difficulty.
Contestants are chosen based on a written test before the first episode. So if you feel like you have a chance at winning, get out your Chinese poetry collections and start memorizing!
Poetry is one of the centerpieces of Chinese culture, so it is not at all shocking to see poetry in Chinese dramas. Characters usually recite poetry when there is a turning point in the series or during major character development.
The well known drama “Meteor Garden” (流星花园, Liúxīng Huāyuán) showcases many classics during the main character’s journey to become a superstar chef. These poems are read out by her mentor while she learns the ways of a master chef.
The poems describe the main character’s progress.
Rú qiè rú cuō rú zuó rú mó
Like a gem cut and filed, carved and polished
Rú lín shēnyuān, rú lǚ bó bīng
As though on the brink of an abyss, as though treading on thin ice
These first two poems are pretty simple to understand in the context of character development, but the third requires a little more prior knowledge.
Táo zhī yāoyāo, zhuózhuó qí huá
The peach tree is slender and sturdy.
The last poem is from the ancient collection “Classic of Poetry” or “Shijing” (诗经) and is a metaphor about female fertility. Classic Chinese culture, though thousands of years old, is still influential in modern China.
So next time you watch a drama, make sure you have your Chinese poetry collections out and ready!
Other Media: Squid Game and Du Fu (杜甫)
The new popular K-drama “Squid Game” is also influenced by Chinese poetry. In the last episode, Du Fu’s “Welcome Rain on a Spring Night” (春夜喜雨, Chūn yè xǐyǔ) is briefly mentioned.
Of course (SPOILER ALERT) this poem alludes to the end of the squid game. The poem follows:
Hǎo yǔ zhī shí jié
Good rain knows when to fall
Chinese poetry has been influential for millenia, and we can expect to see even more in the future!
Know any other TV shows that use Chinese poetry? Leave it down in the comments!