Tsao Chih

Ts’ao Chih


(also Prince Ssu of Chen, Ch’en Ssu Wang). Born 192 in P’eikuo Region (present-day Anhwei Province); died 232. Chinese poet.

Ts’ao Chih, the son of Ts’ao Ts’ao, was persecuted by his brother Ts’ao P’ei and spent many years in exile. In his lyrical poetry, which is free of court pomposity, Ts’ao glorified military prowess, the immortality of human deeds, love, and friendship. He advocated humane government. Ts’ao made wide use of folk motifs and wrote all his works, even those on epic themes, in a lyrical tone. Many of his yüeh-fu describe the misfortunes caused by war and dwell on the fleeting nature of life. His verses about travels to those dwelling in heaven are linked with the general enthusiasm of the time for Taoist magic and meditation. This intentional dismissal of the worldly embodied Ts’ao’s protest against injustice. Outstanding among Ts’ao’s fu is the lyric poem The Lo River Fairy, in which he expressed his ideal of a human woman as a fantastic being. Portraying the love between a human and an immortal spirit, the poet advocated emotional freedom.

Exceptionally versatile, Ts’ao wrote odes, verses (primarily the five-word line), hymns, imitations of folk songs, eulogies, epitaphs, and discourses.


Ts’ao Chih: Worlds of Dust and Jade. New York, 1969.
In Russian translation:
Sem’pechalei: Stikhotvoreniia. Moscow, 1962.


Cherkasskii, L. E. Poeziia Chao Chzhi. Moscow, 1963.
Cherkasskii, L. E. “Rimskii izgnannik i skitalets iz tsarstva Vei: Publii Ovidii Nazon i Tsao Chzhi.” In Istoriko-filologicheskie issledovaniia. Moscow, 1967.
Dunn, H. Ts’ao Chih: The Life of a Princely Chinese Poet. New York, 1970.