Of plagiarizing poets

During the Tianxi reign period (1017-21) of Song Zhenzong 宋真宗 (r. 997-1022), Yang Danian, Qian Wenxi, Yan Yuanxian and Liu Ziyi all won a place at court by virtue of their literary achievements.  Their poetry belonged to the school of Li Shangyin 李商隐 (813-58) and their later poems stole lines from his poetry. 

Quotation: Zhongshan Shihua 中山詩話, by Liu Bin 劉斌

At a palace banquet, a jester played the part of the plagiarized poet, wearing shabby torn clothes and accusing his imitators, `I’ve been pulled to pieces like this by all these officials of the Assembled Noble Minds Academy’.  Everybody who heard had a good laugh.

 

祥符、天禧中,楊大年、錢文僖、晏元獻、劉子儀以文章立朝,為詩皆宗尚李義山,號「西昆體」,後進多竊義山語句。賜宴,優人有為義山者,衣服敗敝,告人曰:「我為諸館職撏扯至此。」聞者歡笑。

Source: Zhongshan Shihua 中山詩話, by Liu Bin 劉斌 (1022-88), in Siku Quanshu 四庫全書 (Shanghai: Guji Chubanshe, 1987), vol. 1478, pp. 268b-269a.

Image credit: Portrait of Li Shangyin

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