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Poetry Guide: Yue fu

Yue fu (Chinese 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. Each poem follows one of a series of patterns defined by the song title. The term covers original folk songs, court imitations and versions by known poets (the best known of the latter being those of Li Bai).