Classical Chinese Poetry: An Anthology
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With this groundbreaking collection, translated and edited by the renowned poet and translator David Hinton, a new generation will be introduced to the work that riveted Ezra Pound and transformed modern poetry. The Chinese poetic tradition is the largest and longest continuous tradition in world literature, and this rich and far-reaching anthology of nearly five hundred poems provides a comprehensive account of its first three millennia (1500 BCE to 1200 CE), the period during which virtually all its landmark developments took place. Unlike earlier anthologies of Chinese poetry, Hinton's book focuses on a relatively small number of poets, providing selections that are large enough to re-create each as a fully realized and unique voice. New introductions to each poet's work provide a readable history, told for the first time as a series of poetic innovations forged by a series of master poeets. From the classic texts of Chinese philosophy to intensely personal lyrics, from love poems to startling and strange perspectives on nature, Hinton has collected an entire world of beauty and insight. And in his eye-opening translations, these ancient poems feel remarkably fresh and contemporary, presenting a literature both radically new and entirely resonant.
were lovely, scented flowers. The fisherman was amazed. Wanting to see how far the orchard went, he continued on. The trees ended at the foot of a mountain, where a spring fed the stream from a small cave. It seemed as if there might be a light inside, so the fisherman left his boat and stepped in. At first, the cave was so narrow he could barely squeeze through. But he kept going and, after a few dozen feet, it opened out into broad daylight. There, on a plain stretching away, austere houses
I’ve trusted you to rinse a thousand times away, until now, the dust fouling my brush-tip leaves no trace? LI SHANG-YIN (c. 813 to 858) LI SHANG-YIN IS traditionally described as the last great poet of the T’ang Dynasty, and his work represents a departure in Chinese poetry for two primary reasons. First is his interest in romance, a subject that had rarely appeared in Chinese poetry, except in the yüeh-fu tradition of stock female figures. Romance had begun to appear in the work of Tu Mu and
movement of such poems. As with Po Chii-i, this strategy integrates the movements of thought into the movements of tzu-jan. Profoundly influenced by their Ch’an practice, Sung poets had seen through the need to assert a powerful individuality by shaping a singular vision of the world, for such an assertion isolates the individual outside natural process. So Sung poetry traded the singular poetries typical of the T’ang Dynasty for a plainspoken, uncrafted simplicity. This approach is of course
shrine lamps, but even under quilts aplenty, we’re soon cold as iron. It’s nothing like home, though I can’t afford blankets, and soon awake, we wait out dawn, pillowed on arms as our legs turn numb with cold, muscles cramped tight. Finally clappers ring out: wooden fish marking dawn. And rising, we watch the Pleiades and Hyades arc west as the wind’s howl dies away and the east brightens. Our doubtful servants pack, and we’re about to set out, when an old monk comes carrying ink-stone
thoughts, wind my song—so much wonder, and now it’s all old, gone away, nothing finished. Who cares anymore about this withered scatter of haggard grief ? I’m way past flirting at the Lantern Festival: I’m not even tempted by a walk in the snow. LU YU (1125 to 1210) THE SEMINAL MOMENT of Lu Yu’s life and poetic career came only a few months after his birth, when invaders captured China’s northern heartland and forced the Sung government into the south, thereby ending what came to be known