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Cien poemas chinos / Hundred Chinese Poems

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Este libro está llamado a ser la antología canónica de la lírica chica, un libro de lectura inaplazable para todos los lectores de poesía. El libro está dividido en dos partes. La primera está compuesta por treintay cinco poemas de Tu Fu (713-770), uno de los mayores poetas de todos los tiempos, que comparte con Catulo y Baudelaire una sensibilidad y una agudeza increíble. Este libro está llamado a ser la antología canónica de la lírica chica, un libro de lectura inaplazable para todos los lectores de poesía. El libro está dividido en dos partes. La primera está compuesta por treintay cinco poemas de Tu Fu (713-770), uno de los mayores poetas de todos los tiempos, que comparte con Catulo y Baudelaire una sensibilidad y una agudeza increíble. La segunda parte es una selección de poemas de la dinastía Sung, entre los que destacan poetas como Mei Yao CHen (1002-1060), cortesano y funcionario que, junto a Ou Yang Hsiu (1007-1072) es uno de los fundadores del estilo Sung


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Este libro está llamado a ser la antología canónica de la lírica chica, un libro de lectura inaplazable para todos los lectores de poesía. El libro está dividido en dos partes. La primera está compuesta por treintay cinco poemas de Tu Fu (713-770), uno de los mayores poetas de todos los tiempos, que comparte con Catulo y Baudelaire una sensibilidad y una agudeza increíble. Este libro está llamado a ser la antología canónica de la lírica chica, un libro de lectura inaplazable para todos los lectores de poesía. El libro está dividido en dos partes. La primera está compuesta por treintay cinco poemas de Tu Fu (713-770), uno de los mayores poetas de todos los tiempos, que comparte con Catulo y Baudelaire una sensibilidad y una agudeza increíble. La segunda parte es una selección de poemas de la dinastía Sung, entre los que destacan poetas como Mei Yao CHen (1002-1060), cortesano y funcionario que, junto a Ou Yang Hsiu (1007-1072) es uno de los fundadores del estilo Sung

30 review for Cien poemas chinos / Hundred Chinese Poems

  1. 5 out of 5

    Annet

    Spring sun... On the Day of Cold Food I go out to smell the perfume of the flowers, Along the bank of the river. Happy and at ease, I let the soft East wind bathe my face. Everwhere the Spring is blazing With ten thousand shades of blue and ten thousand colors of red. By: Chu Hsi And one afterthought more... For ten miles the mountains rise above the lake. The beauty of water and mountain is impossible to describe. In the glow of evening a traveler sits in front Of an inn, sipping wine. The moon shines above a Spring sun... On the Day of Cold Food I go out to smell the perfume of the flowers, Along the bank of the river. Happy and at ease, I let the soft East wind bathe my face. Everwhere the Spring is blazing With ten thousand shades of blue and ten thousand colors of red. By: Chu Hsi And one afterthought more... For ten miles the mountains rise above the lake. The beauty of water and mountain is impossible to describe. In the glow of evening a traveler sits in front Of an inn, sipping wine. The moon shines above a little bridge and a single fisherman. Around the farm a bamboo fence descends to the water. I chat with an old man about work and crops. Maybe, when the years have come... When I can lay aside my cap and robe of office, I can take a little boat And come back to this place.... Beautiful... beautiful...beautiful... While reading this wonderful poetry book, I posted some of the poems in this book.... and now it is finished and I'm sad... Fortunately today the One Hundred More Poems from the Japanese came by mail (here's my review of the prequel 100 Poems from the Japanese, wonderful book as well: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), so I have that to look forward to. I have to add, I'm not an experienced poetry reader, but I do want to read more and more poems because I'm growing to love this genre. This is a beautiful small volume of poems of various Chinese poets, male and female. Themes are nature, love, grief, death, growing old and such. Still and wonderful language, Kenneth Rexroth did a marvelous job translating into English. It has been a true 'haven of rest' and tranquility in my busy life. Every day I read a few poems, or one only. Truly beautiful, truly recommended!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    Although I like this book a great deal, I like it somewhat less than Rexroth’s earlier anthology One Hundred Poems from the Japanese, but this may reflect my greater sympathy with the classical Japanese tradition than the classical Chinese tradition. (I concede I speak presumptuously, out of great ignorance; I know these works only in translation.) Japanese poems are often short (haiku of course, but other forms as well) and yield much of their meaning either immediately or after brief contempla Although I like this book a great deal, I like it somewhat less than Rexroth’s earlier anthology One Hundred Poems from the Japanese, but this may reflect my greater sympathy with the classical Japanese tradition than the classical Chinese tradition. (I concede I speak presumptuously, out of great ignorance; I know these works only in translation.) Japanese poems are often short (haiku of course, but other forms as well) and yield much of their meaning either immediately or after brief contemplation. They have the effect either of a zen koan or of something similar but slow-cooked: either a sudden illumination or a gradual brightening. Chinese poetry, on the other hand, seems more magisterial, reserved, and allusive, its images often speak to me in a code I find hard to crack. I regret to say that some of the poems here have defeated me (or perhaps I have defeated myself through them. It is, after all, much the same thing.) Still, there is so much good, accessible stuff in this anthology. Rexroth translates using plain English words, organized with grace and charged with immediacy. He has a poet’s instinct how to end a line and where to place a word. He is particularly good at poems of loss. The “lament of the neglected mistress” genre comes first to mind, for there are many such poems here, but perhaps even more poignant are the poems about the loss of missing friends, of familiar deaths, and the great loss of old age. The best part of this anthology is the first third: thirty-five poems by Tu Fu, Rexroth’s favorite poet, one of the two greatest of all the poets of China. (The other—ten years his senior—was his friend and mentor Li Po.) Rexroth chose these thirty-five poems from the thousand and a half works of Tu Fu’s which are extant, and, and he tells us that the translation of these particular pieces took place over a period of many years. Rexroth identified strongly with this scholar poet who lived in a chaotic age, and describes him as “the creator of an elaborate poetic personality, a fictional character half-mask, half revelation.” Rexroth communicates his personal concerns through the mask of Tu Fu extremely effectively—perhaps more effectively—than in his own poetry. To give you an idea of the riches within, I will offer here three poems. One of the thirty five by Tu Fu, and the only one included by somebody named Hsu Chao. Both poems mention war, and I couldn’t help thinking that they both spoke with particular eloquence to the heart of the pacifist Rexroth, who published this poem in 1970, during the Vietnam War. The last poem is by the lady Li Ch’ing Chao, who adapts the old genre of “the courtesan’s lament” in order to mourn her dead husband. NIGHT IN THE HOUSE BY THE RIVER It is late in the year: Yin and Yang struggle In the brief sunlight. On the desert mountains Frost and snow Gleam in the freezing night. Past midnight, Drums and bugles ring out, Violent, cutting the heart. Over the Triple Gorge the Milky Way Pulsates between the stars. The bitter cries of thousands of households Can be heard above the noise of battle. Everywhere the workers sing wild songs. The great heroes and generals of old time Are yellow dust forever now. Such are the affairs of men. Poetry and letters Persist in silence and solitude. —TU FU THE LOCUST SWARM Locusts hid their eggs in the corpse Of a soldier. When the worms were mature, they took wing. Their drone Was ominous, their shells hard. Anyone could tell they had hatched From an unsatisfied anger. They flew swiftly towards the North. They hid the sky like a curtain. When the wife of the soldier Saw them, she turned pale. Her breath Failed her. She knew he was dead In battle, his corpse lost in The desert. That night she dreamed She rode a white horse, so swift It left no footprints, and came To where he lay in the sand. She looked at his face, eaten By the locusts, and tears of Blood filled her eyes. Ever after She would not let her children Injure any insect which Might have fed on the dead. She Would lift her face to the sky And say, “O locusts, if you Are seeking a place to winter You can find shelter in my heart. —HSU CHAO ALONE IN THE NIGHT The warm rain and pure wind Have just freed the willows from The ice. As I watch the peach trees, Spring rises from my heart and blooms on My cheeks. My mind is unsteady, As if I were drunk. I try To write a poem in which My tears will flow together With your tears. My rouge is stale. My hairpins are too heavy. I throw myself across my Gold Cushions, wrapped in my lonely Doubled quilt, and crush the phoenixes In my headdress. Alone, deep In bitter loneliness, without Even a good dream, I lie Trimming the lamp in the passing night. --LI CH’ING CHAO

  3. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Ma Yuan (1160/5 – 1225): Walking on a Mountain Path In Spring Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982), outstanding American poet, literary critic and essayist, was also an accomplished translator of classical Chinese and Japanese poetry (and nearly a dozen other languages). Not unexpectedly, his interest in such poetry influenced his own poems, and, necessarily, his own poetics strongly influenced his translations. An notable side note in this connection is that he “translated” a book of poems, The Love Poem Ma Yuan (1160/5 – 1225): Walking on a Mountain Path In Spring Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982), outstanding American poet, literary critic and essayist, was also an accomplished translator of classical Chinese and Japanese poetry (and nearly a dozen other languages). Not unexpectedly, his interest in such poetry influenced his own poems, and, necessarily, his own poetics strongly influenced his translations. An notable side note in this connection is that he “translated” a book of poems, The Love Poems of Marichiko, by “a young Japanese woman”, which convincingly reflected the feelings of a then contemporary Japanese woman. It was later revealed that Rexroth was the author. He was also the first to translate into English numerous Chinese and Japanese female poets, who were largely ignored by translators in the last century. In addition to the women appearing in general collections like the one under review, he also published two books dedicated solely to the work of poetesses, one of translations from the Chinese and the other from Japanese. One Hundred Poems from the Chinese was the third volume of East Asian translations from Rexroth I read. The first two were quite successful translations of classical Japanese poetry: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... In this book Rexroth offers 35 poems from Tu Fu (or Du Fu : 712-770) and a larger selection of various poets from the Sung (or Song) dynasty (960-1278). Translations are problematic in general, and translations of classical Chinese poetry are particularly difficult (I discuss some of the reasons for this in my review of a book of translations of some of Wang Wei’s poems: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... But I also explain there why I feel it is still worthwhile to read such translations.) In his introduction to this collection Rexroth admits that many of his translations are quite free, and I want to say a little about this below. Rexroth opens with Du Fu, one of the most highly regarded poets in the Chinese canon and Rexroth’s favorite poet, presenting 35 of the extant 1,400 poems. It is sometimes useful to think of Chinese high culture as a time-varying mix of Taoist/Buddhist and Confucian influences, and in Du Fu the Confucian/moralist side prevails. His poetry is mostly outward-looking, engaged in society, events, politics, but without excluding inward glances and the bewailing of personal blows delivered by a hard life. Whenever one translates literature from another culture and time, one of the many decisions one must make is just how far to bring the work into the current time and local culture. It is a difficult decision, and each reader will doubtless have his own idea about what is appropriate. Here is Rexroth’s version of Du Fu’s “Winter Dawn”: The men and beasts of the zodiac Have marched over us once more. Green wine bottles and red lobster shells, Both emptied, litter the table. “Should auld acquaintance be forgot?” Each Sits listening to his own thoughts, And the sound of cars starting outside. The birds in the eaves are restless, Because of the noise and light. Soon now In the winter dawn I will face My fortieth year. Borne headlong Towards the long shadows of sunset By the headstrong, stubborn moments, Life whirls past like drunken wildfire. This is a successful poem, as such, but for my tastes Rexroth has brought it way too far out of its context with the quote from a well known holiday song and the cars starting outside. One doesn’t need to know much about T’ang China to know those lines were not in the original, but I am sure there are readers who appreciate these homey touches, even though they were not Du Fu’s. I personally think that there are enough unavoidable distortions involved in translating classical Chinese poetry into contemporary English without tacking on avoidable ones. However, Rexroth uses this extreme setting on the time machine only occasionally. Indeed, this rendering of another Du Fu poem – which probably refers to the strife of the An Lu-shan Rebellion, when the Emperor went into exile for a few years as the rebels sacked the capital, Chang’an, and both sides executed anybody they considered a possible danger – returns the reader to what I consider to be Du’s characteristic doubly-distilled precise concision: Tumult, weeping, many new ghosts. Heartbroken, aging, alone, I sing To myself. Ragged mist settles In the spreading dusk. Snow scurries In the coiling wind. The wineglass Is spilled. The bottle is empty. The fire has gone out in the stove. Everywhere men speak in whispers. I brood on the uselessness of letters. In the remainder of the book Rexroth brings between 1 and 25 poems from each of 9 Song dynasty poets, including Su Tung P’o (1037-1101) and Lu Yu (1125-1210). Their range is too wide to make a useful generalization. Most of those poems I read with pleasure. So I will just quote one further poem, by Li Ch’ing Chao (Li Qingzhao, 1084-1155) – one of seven in this collection – whom Rexroth calls China’s greatest poetess. The perfume of the red water lilies Dies away. The Autumn air Penetrates the pearl jade curtain. Torches gleam on the orchid boats. Who has sent me a message Of love from the clouds? It is The time when the wild swans Return. The moonlight floods the women’s Quarters. Flowers, after their Nature, whirl away in the wind. Spilt water, after its nature, Flows together at the lowest point. Those who are of one being Can never stop thinking of each other. But, ah, my dear, we are apart, And I have become used to sorrow. This love – nothing can ever Make it fade or disappear. For a moment it was on my eyebrows, Now it is heavy in my heart. By the way, towards the end of his life Rexroth published Li’s Complete Poems in translation.

  4. 5 out of 5

    saïd

    This review is of Kenneth Rexroth's translation, not the original poems. This book is divided into two parts: first, 35 translations of poems by Du Fu, whom Rexroth calls "the greatest non-epic, non dramatic poet who has survived in any language"; second, around 70 translations by various Song dynasty poets—some of whom have only one poem included (Xu Chao), some of whom have many (Mei Yaochen). The table of contents lists the poets' names as such: Mei Yao Ch'en Ou Yang Hsiu Su Tung P'o The poetes This review is of Kenneth Rexroth's translation, not the original poems. This book is divided into two parts: first, 35 translations of poems by Du Fu, whom Rexroth calls "the greatest non-epic, non dramatic poet who has survived in any language"; second, around 70 translations by various Song dynasty poets—some of whom have only one poem included (Xu Chao), some of whom have many (Mei Yaochen). The table of contents lists the poets' names as such: Mei Yao Ch'en Ou Yang Hsiu Su Tung P'o The poetess Li Ch'ing Chao Lu Yu Chu Hsi Hsu Chao The poetess Chu Shu Chen Right away I found the decision to mention only the female poets' gender off-putting.[1] And again we encounter the dreaded Wade-Giles romanisation! (I will be using pinyin throughout whenever applicable.) Many of these poets' work, particularly that of the Song dynasty poets, has yet to be translated[2] into English; in this aspect Rexroth's translations are culturally important. I will take that into account when evaluating his translations as a whole, because some of them are... well, a bit off. In general Rexroth's translations are good at adhering to the overall meaning and purpose of the poem in question; he is a poet primarily and only secondarily a translator. Some have argued that poets make the best translators, being able to produce a more appealing translation in the target language; others maintain that scholars of translation studies and linguistics ought to be given precedence. Ideally I would prefer someone with experience in both fields—a poet's interpretation of one poem may be radically different from a linguist's interpretation of the same—but here, for better or for worse, we have Kenneth Rexroth. Structurally I found Rexroth's placement of line breaks to be baffling, even distracting at times. In his translation of Du Fu's poem 對雪[3] ("Snow Storm," as Rexroth says), Rexroth gives us this:Tumult, weeping, many new ghosts. Heartbroken, aging, alone, I sing To myself. Ragged mist settles In the spreading dusk. Snow skurries In the coiling wind. The wineglass Is spilled. The bottle is empty. The fire has gone out in the stove. Everywhere men speak in whispers. I brood on the uselessness of letters.This is, in my opinion, a very modern and Western format into which to shape this poem. The line breaks—pardon me—break with the original, cutting up the orderly lines of the original. The translation itself is also quite peculiar. Here is the original, in Traditional Chinese characters[4]:戰哭多新鬼 愁吟獨老翁 亂雲低薄暮 急雪舞回風 瓢棄尊無綠 爐存火似紅 數州消息斷 愁坐正書空This particular poem dates from late 756, after an unsuccessful attempt by the government to recapture Chang'an from rebels. Rexroth's translation strips any and all context from the setting of the poem and provides us with a rather watered-down version, only mentioning "tumult, weeping, many new ghosts."[5] Apart from the removal of context, the translation itself is not quite right, with the second and final lines being (in my opinion) the worst. Here's a character-by-character version (translation mine):fight / weep / many / new / ghost worry / groan / alone / old / old man unrest / cloud / low / weak / dusk swift / snow / dance / return / wind ladle / abandon / zun[6] / no / green furnace / retain / fire / like / red many / state / dispel / news / snap worry / sit / upright / book / in vainI am by no means as accomplished a scholar or translator as Rexroth was, but here's my (very rough!) attempt at a translation:After the battle many new ghosts weep Lonely old men worry and grieve Chaotic clouds hang down at the dusk Swift snow dances in turning wind Ladles are discarded and bottles are empty[7] But the stove still looks fiery red To many places the news is sent I[8] sit upright, trying to read my books in vain.If this is how much Rexroth's version differs from the original when it comes to a relatively popular[9] poem by a well-known poet, it doesn't exactly instil confidence in me as to the quality of the translations of the lesser-known poets. There are many other minor errors that add up to be a disappointing whole, such as when Rexroth translates 碧 as grey. That particular character usually refers to a blue-green colour, but can also refer independently to blue (sky, water) or green (forest, mountain, jade). The poem is by Du Fu:江碧鳥愈白 山青花欲然 今春看又過 何日是帰年Rexroth's translation:White birds over the grey river. Scarlet flowers on the green hills. I watch the Spring go by and wonder If I shall ever return home.Again, the overall result isn't terrible, certainly not the worst I've ever read. The colour-swapping is mostly an issue in that it removes the contrasting imagery in the first line, the white birds flying over the blue-green river. He also translates 燃 (burn) as "scarlet," which is probably close enough in meaning to let slide. This particular mishap was dissected wonderfully here:According to the Introduction, the translation was done by some knowledgeable people and checked repeatedly by the Chinese "friends." Oh. We should be concerned.In conclusion, my opinion of Rexroth's work has not changed; the work he did in translating lesser-known poets from Chinese to English was valuable, as well as was his pioneering work in translating numerous Chinese and Japanese women poets who had been previously ignored by translators,[10] and I appreciate him for that, but the overall quality of his translation is strongly lacking in accuracy or understanding of context. Much of this can be attributed to the shortcomings and limitations of the time period, but in any case I believe it's high time for a newer, and hopefully better, translation. I don't usually believe that an author's or translator's life necessarily factors into the work they produce, but I would like to note that there's one anecdote about Rexroth's life that could be either amusing or disturbing: in 1978 he "translated" a collection of poems allegedly penned by a "young Japanese woman," which he entitled "The Love Poems of Marichiko." It was later discovered that Rexroth himself had written them, pretending to be a Japanese woman. (The poems themselves are quite good, even excellent—my favourite lines are these: "Making love with you / Is like drinking sea water. / The more I drink / The thirstier I become.") Personally I think this is mildly hilarious, and also a shame that he didn't just write erotic fiction from the perspective a young Japanese couple as he clearly wished to (he certainly wrote enough erotic poetry!); however, the fact that a white American man pretended, at least to some extent, to be a Japanese woman in order to write erotic poetry is a bit sketch to say the least. [1] Admittedly, this anthology was originally published in 1956; this edition is from 1971. [2] Well. [3] Lit. "against snow." [4] I had to dig to find this version, because I only—barely—read Simplified Chinese. [5] Here the original gives us 战哭多新鬼 ("after the battle, many ghosts are weeping"). [6] 尊 a type of vessel for alcoholic drinks, [7] "Not green," that is, not new, i.e., old/empty. [8] Again this poem has no direct pronouns; it can only be inferred that this final line is the poet himself speaking, although it could be also interpreted as, "We sit upright, trying in vain to read our books." [9] In translation, in this case. [10] I actually respect him a hell of a lot for his life-long effort in translating women poets into English, and doing a generally pretty decent job at it from what I can tell.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Akemi G

    I've been checking English translations of Japanese and Chinese poems. (I don't speak Chinese; however, because Chinese characters have meanings, I can "read" them to some extent.) This is one of the books I found at the library. Let's take a well-known poem by Du Fu (Tu Fu). The original is: 江碧鳥愈白 山青花欲然 今春看又過 何日是帰年 The translation in this book: *Another Spring* White birds over the grey river. Scarlet flowers on the green hills. I watch the Spring go by and wonder If I shall ever return home. There I've been checking English translations of Japanese and Chinese poems. (I don't speak Chinese; however, because Chinese characters have meanings, I can "read" them to some extent.) This is one of the books I found at the library. Let's take a well-known poem by Du Fu (Tu Fu). The original is: 江碧鳥愈白 山青花欲然 今春看又過 何日是帰年 The translation in this book: *Another Spring* White birds over the grey river. Scarlet flowers on the green hills. I watch the Spring go by and wonder If I shall ever return home. There are a few issues, but let's focus on the character 碧 (second character in the first line), which is translated grey. Really? I looked it up to make sure. It says blue green. Like this. The color of a certain jasper. And this makes sense. The poem contrasts the white bird flying over the deep blue green river; the bird looks even whiter against the background. The first two lines praise the beauty of spring! And how sad, in contrast, the poet is in the following two lines. The color grey just doesn't work. According to the Introduction, the translation was done by some knowledgeable people and checked repeatedly by the Chinese "friends." Oh. We should be concerned. Nothing personal against Mr. Rexroth, who took the trouble of compiling this anthology--I know it's a lot of work. I'm just concerned over the general level of translation. It's not just this book; I've been finding similar issues in almost every book I check. (Too many to review on GR.) Hopefully, there'll be better translation works in the near future, and English-speaking people will enjoy Asian poetry more.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    I took an Asian Poetry course during my undergrad years (in my university's East Asian Studies department). As our initiation into Chinese verse, our class was asked to read a Penguin Classics translation of Li Po and Tu Fu. From this assignment, I took away the impression that classic Chinese poetry does not suit my taste well: I found it orderly to a fault, weighed down with end-stopped ideas, rather static nature imagery, Confucian doctrinairism, irritating sentimentality about the hearth of I took an Asian Poetry course during my undergrad years (in my university's East Asian Studies department). As our initiation into Chinese verse, our class was asked to read a Penguin Classics translation of Li Po and Tu Fu. From this assignment, I took away the impression that classic Chinese poetry does not suit my taste well: I found it orderly to a fault, weighed down with end-stopped ideas, rather static nature imagery, Confucian doctrinairism, irritating sentimentality about the hearth of home, etc. I'm aware that this verdict probably reflects my own character flaws at that time, rather than any quality inherent in Li Po or Tu Fu. Re-attempting to tackle the poetry of Tu Fu and his countrymen 4 years later, this time in Rexroth's translation, I appreciate it somewhat more than before. Rexroth renders these poems in a modernity-friendly free-verse style, with frequent enjambments. I found his endnotes helpful in providing biographical and historical context, filtered through his lively opinions. However, I still can't honestly say that classic Chinese poetic conventions and set-pieces are my cup of tea. (In particular, the self-pitying passivity of the female speakers in Li Ch'ing Chao's and Chu Shu Chen's verse struck me as ever-so-slightly pathetic/annoying.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Aoi

    Beautiful <3 A major, major chunk of credit goes to Tu Fu, for these timeless gems We still love each other as We did when we were schoolboys. Tomorrow morning mountain peaks Will come between us, and with them The endless, oblivious Business of the world. XX Midnight, we cross an old battlefield. The moonlight shines cold on white bones. XX In the winter dawn I will face My fortieth year. Borne headlong Towards the long shadows of sunset By the headstrong, stubborn moments, Life whirls past like drunken wi Beautiful <3 A major, major chunk of credit goes to Tu Fu, for these timeless gems We still love each other as We did when we were schoolboys. Tomorrow morning mountain peaks Will come between us, and with them The endless, oblivious Business of the world. XX Midnight, we cross an old battlefield. The moonlight shines cold on white bones. XX In the winter dawn I will face My fortieth year. Borne headlong Towards the long shadows of sunset By the headstrong, stubborn moments, Life whirls past like drunken wildfire. XX The great heroes and generals of old time Are yellow dust forever now. Such are the affairs of men. Poetry and letters Persist in silence and solitude.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    Rexroth has here rendered, not C, but CXIV poems from the Chinese, into an English at home with Pound in his block of Chinese cantos--flanked, those, by the fifth decad and dambed Adams ones, and thereby excepting in relation to the present volume, of course, any political or economical affinities; which is to say, this too of course, that Rexroth's isn't the stuff of Kung transposed to verse. ... The points being: (i) isolation, and (ii) elegant compression, but which latter this reader must qu Rexroth has here rendered, not C, but CXIV poems from the Chinese, into an English at home with Pound in his block of Chinese cantos--flanked, those, by the fifth decad and dambed Adams ones, and thereby excepting in relation to the present volume, of course, any political or economical affinities; which is to say, this too of course, that Rexroth's isn't the stuff of Kung transposed to verse. ... The points being: (i) isolation, and (ii) elegant compression, but which latter this reader must qualify as 'effortless'--'compression' seeming to suggest the labored stuffing of things into a space the dimensions of which hadn't been drawn to accommodate much stuff. Nay; for Tu Fu, Mei Yao Ch'en, Su Tung P'o, Lu Yu, Chu Hsi, Hsu Chao, Li Ch'ing Chao and Chu Shu Chen share this EFFORTLESS quality of quantity--the encapsulation of mere moment--of the ineffable to be found in the everyday--of spring; the south wind; a full moon--another spring; an evening walk by the river. Here is the Wild-Flower Man and the rain on the river. What wonders!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lucas Miller

    I bought a used copy of this book after reading An American Gospel by Erik Reece. I was familiar, somewhat, with Rexroth from a recording of "Thou Shalt Not Kill" stumbled across during my introduction to Beat writers. The idea of reading ancient-ish Chinese poetry in translation didn't appeal to me, but this book has been an unqualified delight. Read slowly over months, the clearness, stillness, and directness of these poems is moving. So many of them traverse the same ground, the seasons, rhyt I bought a used copy of this book after reading An American Gospel by Erik Reece. I was familiar, somewhat, with Rexroth from a recording of "Thou Shalt Not Kill" stumbled across during my introduction to Beat writers. The idea of reading ancient-ish Chinese poetry in translation didn't appeal to me, but this book has been an unqualified delight. Read slowly over months, the clearness, stillness, and directness of these poems is moving. So many of them traverse the same ground, the seasons, rhythms of work, and the joys and disappointments of family life. Beginning with 35 poems of Tu Fu, an eighth century poet Rexroth calls the best non-epic, non-dramatic poet preserved in any language, and then jumping to the 11th and 12th century for a review of several Sung Dynasty poets, this collection offers the quotidian and the ancient filtered, often times through European languages and finally into English, into poems exotic and relatable and ultimately intimate and personal while talking about near universal experiences. I will return to this again and again. Highest of recommendations.

  10. 5 out of 5

    CXIV Alone I raise the curtains and go out To watch the moon. Leaning on the Balcony, I breathe the evening Wind from the west, heavy with the Odors of decaying Autumn. The rose jade of the river Blends with the green jade of the void. Hidden in the grass a cricket chirps. Hidden in the sky storks cry out. I turn over and over in My heart the memories of Other days. Tonight as always There is no one to share my thoughts. —Chu Shu Chen

  11. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    Better than the Japanese collection of the same name. A bit more complex but not by very much. There was one poem called "The Locust Swarm" that stood out above the rest by a very large margin. It was the only poem from that author they had in this collection, as opposed to other authors who they have a lot of poems by. I've given it 4 stars for that poem, otherwise it'd have been 3 stars. I find that in these collections you have to sift through tons of duds to find maybe 5 to 10 great ones. St Better than the Japanese collection of the same name. A bit more complex but not by very much. There was one poem called "The Locust Swarm" that stood out above the rest by a very large margin. It was the only poem from that author they had in this collection, as opposed to other authors who they have a lot of poems by. I've given it 4 stars for that poem, otherwise it'd have been 3 stars. I find that in these collections you have to sift through tons of duds to find maybe 5 to 10 great ones. Still worth it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    I don't think one ever really finishes reading a good book of poetry and this one is very good indeed. A serendipitous used bookstore find, I know that I will pick up this book many times over the years, open a page at random and be transported. I don't think one ever really finishes reading a good book of poetry and this one is very good indeed. A serendipitous used bookstore find, I know that I will pick up this book many times over the years, open a page at random and be transported.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Edgar Trevizo

    What a magnificent, wonderful book. One of the best anthologies of Chinese poetry I’ve ever read. I adore Kenneth Rexroth. How he loved this poetry. All that love shows in his translations and notes. Beautiful experience.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    Not sure how anyone could not like this 5 stars worth. Not only very decent poetry, but a mini history lesson as well!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alice Urchin

    Did not expect to love this as much as I do. I have a Chu Shu Chen addiction now.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    I know this is classic poetry and considered in some circles more exalting than Whitman, but by the end it seemed monotonous. The river, the mountains, the seasons, oh my.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Irene M

    So, I gave this book 2 stars, but this is probably a case of "it's not you, it's me." Seeing as I know very little about Chinese poetry, culture, or history it might not be a good idea to give much weight to my opinion on this book. Having said that, I did enjoy quite a few of the poems by Tu Fu and I was touched by the fact that some painful experiences (ie loss of spouse or child) are universally devastating wherever and whenever you live. So, I gave this book 2 stars, but this is probably a case of "it's not you, it's me." Seeing as I know very little about Chinese poetry, culture, or history it might not be a good idea to give much weight to my opinion on this book. Having said that, I did enjoy quite a few of the poems by Tu Fu and I was touched by the fact that some painful experiences (ie loss of spouse or child) are universally devastating wherever and whenever you live.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ben Smitthimedhin

    "...Ragged mist settles In the spreading dusk. Snow skurries In the coiling wind. The wineglass Is spilled. The bottle is empty..." - Tu Fu Rexroth does a good job at translating the poets' attentive eye towards nature. The emotions that the poets can arouse by describing their static surroundings is characteristic of East Asian poetry in general. A couple good poems here and there here, especially with Tu Fu and Lu Yu, but overall not memorable to me personally. "...Ragged mist settles In the spreading dusk. Snow skurries In the coiling wind. The wineglass Is spilled. The bottle is empty..." - Tu Fu Rexroth does a good job at translating the poets' attentive eye towards nature. The emotions that the poets can arouse by describing their static surroundings is characteristic of East Asian poetry in general. A couple good poems here and there here, especially with Tu Fu and Lu Yu, but overall not memorable to me personally.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Wyatt Reu

    Dazzles me just as much as it did when I read a Rexroth Tu Fu poem in my first poetry class. Sensitive and sensual, these are elegant and limpid translations. To first fall in love with Chinese poetry I would recommend Rexroth’s translations though the tradition is vast and he (and the poets he translates) is by no means its definitive voice.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ben Palpant

    My unfamiliarity with oriental poetry leaves me ill equipped to appreciate this book fully. Certain lines jumped out and like other oriental poetry I’ve read, this poetry is simple and concrete: “I have run off, like a horse whose rider has lost the bit.”

  21. 4 out of 5

    April Dickinson

    3.5 stars / I asked my dad what got him interested in studying Classical Chinese and he gave me this book and its follow up. I really enjoyed the descriptions of nature and the overflowing of emotion, especially love.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    I'm not always a fan of Rexroth's translations but he really outdid himself here. I'm not always a fan of Rexroth's translations but he really outdid himself here.

  23. 4 out of 5

    James

    Rexroth held court at the University of California in Santa Barbara for some time, so his influence spread not only among an entire generation of poets (and photographers and sculptors and potters and songwriters and so on), but also among many of my closest friends in the religious studies department. Because most of us had little or no background in Mandarin at that time, these translations were important to us for giving artistic expression to the blend of Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist sens Rexroth held court at the University of California in Santa Barbara for some time, so his influence spread not only among an entire generation of poets (and photographers and sculptors and potters and songwriters and so on), but also among many of my closest friends in the religious studies department. Because most of us had little or no background in Mandarin at that time, these translations were important to us for giving artistic expression to the blend of Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist sensibilities that we were approaching from other angles. Isolate and full, the moon Floats over the house by the river. Into the night the cold water rushes away below the gate. The bright gold spilled on the river is never still. The brilliance of my quilt is greater than precious silk. The circle without blemish. The empty mountains without sound. The moon hangs in the vacant, wide constellations. Pine cones drop in the old garden. The senna trees bloom. The same clear glory extends for ten thousand miles. TU FU

  24. 4 out of 5

    Marcus

    This is one of my favorite books to give away, so I'm usually looking for a copy. I give it away because I like it so much, and know that anyone who enjoys poetry will enjoy the book. Rexroth's choice of poems is, of course, a difficult one. The Chinese did not invent poetry, but their best poets write as if they had, and Rexroth gets it. Being a poet himself, his translations grasp at once what makes a poem shine upon dull paper. Rexroth describes the hundred or so poems as "...mostly poems of This is one of my favorite books to give away, so I'm usually looking for a copy. I give it away because I like it so much, and know that anyone who enjoys poetry will enjoy the book. Rexroth's choice of poems is, of course, a difficult one. The Chinese did not invent poetry, but their best poets write as if they had, and Rexroth gets it. Being a poet himself, his translations grasp at once what makes a poem shine upon dull paper. Rexroth describes the hundred or so poems as "...mostly poems of love, reverie, and meditation in the midst of nature." A Mountain Spring ...it shines on the Earth like a piece of the sky... My Lover Will Soon Be Here ...I can hear my heart beat like a sword on a shield... The Morning Sun Shines ...A wind full of light blows open her thin gauze robe... It would be difficult, counterproductive to speed read the poems. They are meant to be placed into the brain which will gladly open, and surround them.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cornerofmadness

    For me reviewing poetry is a difficult thing. I’ve had this book for years and finally pulled it down off the shelf. I didn’t even realize that all the poems here are so very old. Thirty-one of the hundred are from the poet Tu Fu who lived in the T’ang dynasty back in the 700s. And yet, he could have been writing today in so many of them. In all of the poems, Tu Fu’s and others, the seasons, love and loss pay a huge roll. There as several from the Sung dynasty (the remaining poems from the 10th- For me reviewing poetry is a difficult thing. I’ve had this book for years and finally pulled it down off the shelf. I didn’t even realize that all the poems here are so very old. Thirty-one of the hundred are from the poet Tu Fu who lived in the T’ang dynasty back in the 700s. And yet, he could have been writing today in so many of them. In all of the poems, Tu Fu’s and others, the seasons, love and loss pay a huge roll. There as several from the Sung dynasty (the remaining poems from the 10th-12th centuries) dealing with the loss of a child. Many of the poems are very beautiful and the pain in so many of them still rings out today more than a millennium later. Most, I think, are by men and I’ll admit, I’m not sure if both sexes wore robes and rogue at that time so there are at least few women represented. It’s a very nice book of poems.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Amy the book-bat

    This collection of Chinese poetry really appealed to my senses. The imagery was beautiful and I could almost hear the chirping birds and flowing water and smell the blossoming flowers. My favorite grouping was the poems of Tu Fu. These poems were written back in the 700's and still feel fresh today. Most of the other poems in the book were written between 1000-1150 and are well worth the read. Some of the poems had a darkness to them. They oozed melancholy and made it beautiful. I am really glad This collection of Chinese poetry really appealed to my senses. The imagery was beautiful and I could almost hear the chirping birds and flowing water and smell the blossoming flowers. My favorite grouping was the poems of Tu Fu. These poems were written back in the 700's and still feel fresh today. Most of the other poems in the book were written between 1000-1150 and are well worth the read. Some of the poems had a darkness to them. They oozed melancholy and made it beautiful. I am really glad I picked up this gem and discovered the beauty of the Chinese poets. I would give this collection 4.5 stars.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Avi

    I will just give it stars for the poets and poems I enjoyed. I didn't like much of Tu Fu (except Jade Flower Palace and To Wei Pa, a Retired Scholar). I liked Mei Yao Ch'en, Ou Yang Hsiu, Su Tung P'o (mostly his moments of melancholy or humor). I liked Lu Yu's I Get Up at Dawn. Hsu Chao's The Locust Swarm was delightfully creepy, google for it immediately. I'm somewhat frustrated that I can't find more poems by that author or information about him or her. Yet. I enjoyed Chu Shu Chen too. I will just give it stars for the poets and poems I enjoyed. I didn't like much of Tu Fu (except Jade Flower Palace and To Wei Pa, a Retired Scholar). I liked Mei Yao Ch'en, Ou Yang Hsiu, Su Tung P'o (mostly his moments of melancholy or humor). I liked Lu Yu's I Get Up at Dawn. Hsu Chao's The Locust Swarm was delightfully creepy, google for it immediately. I'm somewhat frustrated that I can't find more poems by that author or information about him or her. Yet. I enjoyed Chu Shu Chen too.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Still in the Tu Fu poems, which are beautiful and manage to catch the incised quality of Tang poetry without stiltifying it. But, I only wish Rexroth and New Directions had included facing originals and used Pinyin instead of the defunct and misleading old Wade Giles system of transliteration. Particularly in regard to lexicography, a universal system, like Pinyin, is indispensible to Western acolytes of the Chinese language.

  29. 5 out of 5

    jeremy

    xiv loneliness a hawk hovers in air. two white gulls float on the stream. soaring with the wind, it is easy to drop and seize birds who foolishly drift with the current. where the dew sparkles in the grass, the spider's web waits for its prey. the processes of nature resemble the business of men. i stand alone with ten thousand sorrows. ~tu fu xiv loneliness a hawk hovers in air. two white gulls float on the stream. soaring with the wind, it is easy to drop and seize birds who foolishly drift with the current. where the dew sparkles in the grass, the spider's web waits for its prey. the processes of nature resemble the business of men. i stand alone with ten thousand sorrows. ~tu fu

  30. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    This is full of lovely imagery, ideal for for cold rainy days. I don't understand a lot of the poems that Rexroth claims to be sublime, but maybe when I'm older I'll understand. I find some of the lines with explicit philosophical recommendations or theses to be overbearing, but they are balanced by the powerful descriptive lines that are offered neutrally and win you over immediately. This is full of lovely imagery, ideal for for cold rainy days. I don't understand a lot of the poems that Rexroth claims to be sublime, but maybe when I'm older I'll understand. I find some of the lines with explicit philosophical recommendations or theses to be overbearing, but they are balanced by the powerful descriptive lines that are offered neutrally and win you over immediately.

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