I've mostly read classical poems from guys such as 李白 and 杜甫, very nice in their own way, but it made me wonder if there is some form of poetry with rhymes in Chinese.

It would probably be more difficult to write such poems, due to the lack of available syllables, but possible.

Does anyone know of rhyming Chinese poetry?

  • 3
    The rhythms may be better understood if the poems are read with a southern dialect, like Cantonese, which keeps some of the ancient pronunciations.
    – fefe
    Jan 2, 2012 at 13:47
  • @LarsAndren For classic Chinese poems, the pattern of them are defined, and many(not all) sententces inside them rhyme(according to their pattern). I don't understand how you define "rhyme". Do you mean all sentences rhyme? If so, I don't think there is a pattern of poems defined this way. The classic poems are very very rare nowadays, because people who only speak in Mandarin could not tell the pronunciations satisfying that pattern.
    – Huang
    Jan 2, 2012 at 15:51
  • @LarsAndren I edited my answer according to the comments, I didn't want to leave incorrect information even if we weren't all sure. Now I'm kind of sure of it, but I'd like to see other's commentary as well... Feel free to un-accept my answer of course. :) Anyway, I posted a new question about poems, "Different kinds of writing in Chinese".
    – Alenanno
    Jan 3, 2012 at 10:12
  • 3
    Most Chinese poems rhyme (in a way similar to Shakespeare's). We also have 平仄, which is (sort of) like the stressed and non-stressed syllables in traditional English poems.
    – gonnastop
    Apr 12, 2012 at 23:50
  • Do you mean metres of Chinese poetry?
    – user58955
    Nov 1, 2014 at 23:45

2 Answers 2


This question really surprises me. Since you mentioned 李白 and 杜甫, clearly you were talking about classical Chinese poetry. Classical Chinese poetry is so into rhymes and rhythms that it is almost unhealthy. There are volumes of books written on rhymes and rhythms of classical Chinese poetry. Asking 'Are there poems in Chinese that rhyme?' is like asking 'Does Facebook have users?' or 'Does Bill Gates have money?'

Many ancient poems do not rhyme today because Chinese pronunciation has undergone many changes over time. They did all rhyme at the time written.

Here is an example of a poem in which every sentence rhymes. This kind of poem has a special name called 柏梁体. This poem I'm quoting rhyme at the end of every sentence even today:



  • This part of Betty's answer was pretty much what I was looking for: "Many ancient poems do not rhyme today because Chinese pronunciation has undergone many changes over time. They did all rhyme at the time written." Thank you Betty. Apr 16, 2012 at 14:19
  • If you read it in Cantonese, they are perfectly rhyme. 凉(leung4)霜(sheung1)翔(cheung4)肠(cheung4)乡(heung1) // 方(fong1)房(fong4)忘(mong4)裳(sheung4) 商(sheung1)长(cheung4)床(cong4)央(yeung1)望(mong6)梁(leung4)
    – David Ng
    Nov 4, 2014 at 10:03

Note: The previous answer was replaced with this one, see the edit summary for the full explanation of why.

A great poet along with Li Bo (also known as Li Po or Li Bai), was 杜甫 (Dù Fǔ, also known as Tu⁴ Fu³ in Wade-Giles).

You can find works written by him in this page, "Chinese-poems.com"(you can find more authors in this site).

One is this one, for example:

对雪 (duì xuě) - Facing Snow

战哭多新鬼 zhàn kū duō xīn guǐ
愁吟独老翁 chóu yín dú lǎo wēng
乱云低薄暮 luàn yún dī bó mù
急雪舞回风 jí xuě wǔ huí fēng
瓢弃尊无绿 piáo qì zūn wú lǜ
炉存火似红 lú cún huǒ sì hóng
数州消息断 shù zhōu xiāo xī duàn
愁坐正书空 chóu zuò zhèng shū kōng

The scheme for this one is A B C B D E F E

Actually hóng and fēng were/are considered perfect rhymes in Chinese, so the pattern is ABCBDBEB. Especially that it is a lüshi poem, so all eight rhymes must match.

Not literal translation:

"After the battle, many new ghosts cry,
The solitary old man worries and grieves.
Ragged clouds are low amid the dusk,
Snow dances quickly in the whirling wind.
The ladle's cast aside, the cup not green,
The stove still looks as if a fiery red.
To many places, communications are broken,
I sit, but cannot read my books for grief."

  • 3
    Not everything has rhythms is poem in Chinese. The above three examples are never considered as poems by Chinese people. There is a writing style called 韵文, which has rhythms but not necessarily poem.
    – fefe
    Jan 2, 2012 at 13:42
  • I can't read Chinese, so I can't read that article. You state you are Chinese, so I need to give you some credit, but then let's distinguish between a poem and a classic text like those I linked. These ones have metrics, which is what distinguishes between prose and poetry, and rhymes. You can't find rhymes in a text written in prose, only in poetry, because they are easily individuable thanks to metrics. How do you distinguish these from poems then?
    – Alenanno
    Jan 2, 2012 at 13:54
  • 1
    @Alenanno Actually, we have a pattern of prose with rhymes, which is called 骈文(pián wén) and was popular in ancient times. In modern chinese, you won't see it, I think.
    – Huang
    Jan 2, 2012 at 16:29
  • I don't know much about poetry. "诗"(classic ones) mostly contains 5 or 7 character per phrase, 4 or 8 phrases in a complete piece. Another rhythm work("词"), is written according to fixed styles(may be melodies) called "词牌". Number of characters in each phrase and some of the tones are fixed for each 词牌. There are also other styles with rhythms that can be written more freely (e.g. "赋"). "现代诗"(modern poetry) sometime come with less rhythms. I always treated poem as "诗". However, I may have made a mistake. The term "poem" may have a wider extent. The examples are not any kind of "诗" in Chinese.
    – fefe
    Jan 2, 2012 at 16:50
  • For the time being I'd like to leave it and see what others think. But this made me wonder whether poem is not a univocal noun across the world...
    – Alenanno
    Jan 2, 2012 at 20:01

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