Yue Fu - Chinese Poems Composed in a Folk Song Style
Yue fu (乐府) are Chinese poems composed in a folk song style. The term literally means "music bureau", a reference to the government organisation originally charged with collecting or writing the lyrics.
The lines are of uneven length, though five characters is the most common. The term covers original folk songs, court imitations and versions by known poets (the best known of the latter being those of Li Bai).
1. Origin: The word Yuefu came first into being in Qin Dynasty (221 BC – 206 BC). Yue(乐) means music, Fu（府）means bureau, put together Yuefu means music bureau. It laid its foundation in the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), and became a royal government music management for collecting, writing or performing folk songs and ballads in 112 BC. After then people called poems which were composed in this folk song style Yuefu.
2. Achievement of yuefu in Han dynasty: Yufu of Han Dynasty is a great effort in the History of Chinese Poetry. It inherited the realism traditions of Shi Jing (The Book of Odes), "feeling of funeral music, causes behind the affairs". Folk Songs in Musical Department in Han Dynasty created all kinds of characters to mirror every part in the society at that time vividly and visually. The predominant characteristics among are the series of callipygas all with the character traits of beauties, diligence, kindness, adamancies while no effeminacies at all. However, they also have the lively thumbprints besides those common traits.
3. Development in Tang Dynasty: Tang Dynasty is an important era in the Literary History of China. The poets in Tang Dynasty wrote a series of new poems in great variety and profoundness with the old titles of Yuefu of Han Dynasty. Many famous poets (Li Bai, Du Fu, Baiju Yi etc.) participated in the creation. Different from poems with five characters per line or the seven-character per line poems, the pattern of Yuefu is quite free though the topics are fixed.
4. Main Compositions:
In Han Dynasty: Mulberry By Road (陌上桑)， Armed Escort(羽林郎), White Hair Intonation(白头吟), Thinking is Being(有所思), The Old Soldier's Return(十五从军征), The Peacocks Fly to the South and the East (孔雀东南飞),
In Tang Dynasty: The moon at the fortified pass(关山月)， Songs of Fort（塞上曲）