Though relatively less known in the West than his contemporary, T'ao Yüan-ming, Hsieh Ling-yüna (385–433) was in his own generation and for some centuries thereafter the most popular poet of the age. Thirty-two of his shorter poems were included in the Wen-hsüan (compiled about 530), while T'ao is represented there by only eight pieces and Yen Yen-chihb, another contemporary whose name is often coupled with Hsieh's, by nineteen. His fame seems to have rested largely on his ability to depict the natural beauties of the Chekiang mountains which he loved, and to evoke in his readers the moods which they inspired in him. In fact he is counted by some to be the originator of the type of “landscape poetry” which was later so successfully exemplified by poets like Wang Wei (699–759) and Liu Tsung-yüan (773–819). There can be no doubt also that the art of landscape painting, which likewise reached its first flowering with Wang Wei, had its roots in the same soil that produced the landscape poetry of Hsieh Ling-yün.

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