D IDACTIC POETRY (shuolishi iJl3£ -ttl did not reach its fullest development in China until the Qing dynasty but is already found in the Classic

of Poetry, one poem of which advises its readers: "Do not follow behind the big chariot," probably a warning against being too close to people in authority. 1

One of the earliest examples of a relatively pure poetry of ideas in the shi form is the now neglected "Poetry of Mysterious Language" (xuanyanshi

~ i -tt,) cultivated by Sun Chuo ~ ~f-(314-71) and Xu Xun -tb~ (fourth century) during a period noted for the development of Buddhist and neoDaoist thought.2 Tao Qian was strongly influenced by such verse, and one of his most famous works is a conversation between Shadow, Substance, and Spirit ("Xing ying shen" -jfJ -ff};ff) discussing some of the major issues of human life. 3

Didactic poetry of the later Period of Division and the Tang dynasty was deeply influenced by Chinese translations of Sanskrit Buddhist siitras, especially the mostly didactic verse portions called gatha in Sanskrit or ji 110 in Chinese. Throughout this period of more than four centuries, most Buddhist didactic poems were written by Buddhist monks and recluses, the most famous of whom was Hanshan )\( J-J (probably seventh century.)4 However, quite a few literati poets such as Wang Wei and Bai Juyi created didactic verse that was either in the ji form or strongly influenced by it.5 Even the anti-Buddhist Han Yu shows the influence of Buddhist texts in his own didactic verse, which was so central to the development of the later poetry of ideas.6