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.
edge of heaven. Marking the fifth watch, grieving drums and horns erupt. The Star River, shadows trembling, floats in Triple Gorge. Pastoral weeping, war’s sound now in how many homes, and tribal songs drifting from woodcutters and fishermen … Slumber-Dragon, Leap-Stallion: all brown earth in the end. And the story of our lives just opens away—vacant, silent. THATCH HOUSE Our thatch house perched where land ends, we leave the brushwood gate always open. Dragons and fish settle into
I get up in the night and sit intent, mind utterly forgotten. How else can I get past such isolate silence? Body visiting this world steadfast, mind abandoned to change limitless: it’s been like this four years now, one thousand three hundred nights. SETTING A MIGRANT GOOSE FREE Snows heavy at Nine-Rivers this tenth-year winter, riverwater spawns ice, tree branches break and fall, and hungry birds flock east and west by the hundred, a migrant goose crying starvation loudest among
green, valleys in cragged shadow, and cascades tumbling a hundred Ways in headlong flight, stitching forests and threading rock, seen and then unseen as they plunge toward valley headwaters, and wild streams growing calm where mountains open out and forests end. A small bridge and country inn nestled against mountains, travelers gradually work their way beyond towering trees, and a fishing boat drifts, lone leaf on a river swallowing sky. I can’t help asking where you found a painting
and it is a poetry that functions as a window onto the inner life of a person. DARK-ENIGMA BIRD Heaven bade Dark-Enigma bird descend and give birth to Shang, our people inhabiting lands boundless and beyond, then our Celestial Lord bade brave and forceful T’ang establish boundaries to the far corners of our lands, bade him then rule these lands, these nine regions in splendor. So T’ang, first emperor of Shang, received the Mandate. Ever safe, it has passed now to Wu Ting’s sons, to
quasi-historical dynasty that preceded the Shang. Mandate: The Mandate of Heaven, the right to rule, bestowed by Heaven and dependent upon the ruler’s wise and benevolent actions. See also chapter introduction, here. Wu Ting: Much celebrated later Shang ruler (regnant 1324–1265 B.C.E.). It is said that this poem was composed for a memorial ceremony several years after he died. It had clearly evolved considerably by the time it was collected in the Chou, as it speaks of Heaven and the Mandate,