In Such Hard Times: The Poetry of Wei Ying-wu

In Such Hard Times: The Poetry of Wei Ying-wu

by Wei Ying-wu
     
 

"Wei Ying-Wu was undoubtedly one of the great T'ang poets, yet his work is much less well known in the West than that of Li Po, Tu Fu, and Po Chu-i. Now Red Pine (the lovely pen name that the American poet and Chinese scholar Bill Porter assumes for his translation work) celebrates Wei's life and achievement in a big new anthology, In Such Hard

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Overview

"Wei Ying-Wu was undoubtedly one of the great T'ang poets, yet his work is much less well known in the West than that of Li Po, Tu Fu, and Po Chu-i. Now Red Pine (the lovely pen name that the American poet and Chinese scholar Bill Porter assumes for his translation work) celebrates Wei's life and achievement in a big new anthology, In Such Hard Times...Reading him is like listening to Mozart, there's something healing about the calm profundity with which he spins pain and disaster."—Los Angeles Times

“[Translator] Red Pine’s out-of-the-mainstream work is uncanny and clearheaded.”—Kyoto Journal

“Red Pine’s succinct and informative notes for each poem are core samples of the cultural, political, and literary history of China.”—Asian Reporter

Wei Ying-wu (737–791) is considered one of the great poets of the T’ang Dynasty, ranked alongside such poets as Tu Fu, Li Pai, and Wang Wei. Strangely, though, only a handful of Wei Ying-wu’s poems have ever been translated into English.

True to his reputation as one of the world’s leading translators of Chinese, Red Pine (a.k.a. Bill Porter) translates 175 of Wei’s poems and demonstrates why he is “one of the world’s great poets.” Presented in a bilingual Chinese-English format, with extensive notes and an informative introduction, In Such Hard Times is a long-overdue world premiere.

A courtyard of bamboo in the snow at midnight
a lone lantern a book on my table
if I hadn’t encountered the teachings of inaction
how else could I have gained this life of leisure

Wei Ying-wu (737-791) is considered one of the great poets of the T’ang Dynasty. Born into an aristocratic family in decline, Wei served in several government posts without distinction. He disdained the literary establishment of his day and fashioned a poetic style counter to the mainstream: one of profound simplicity centered in the natural world.

Red Pine (a.k.a. Bill Porter) is one of the world’s leading translators of Chinese literary and religious texts.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Chinese experts rate Wei among the greatest poets of China's classic era, right alongside Tu Fu and Li Po; severe, self-critical, openly political and prone at times to self-pity, Wei remains obscure in the West and shouldn't be. The prolific translator Red Pine has made a striking selection, 170 poems in a facing-page edition with storylike notes on each. Born to privilege in the last flowering of the T'ang dynasty, Wei (c. 737-791) entered the civil service in his youth and became a provincial official in a time of civil war, enforcing harsh laws he disliked, missing his literary friends and welcoming time alone. Some of Wei's poems are pellucid, brief impressions: "the sound of mallets at the foot of leafless hills." Others give moral advice, or show introspection: "Governing a prefecture takes no special skill/ what bothers me is eating for free." Wei's poetry reflects a sensibility and history that only Chinese traditions could produce. Some of its powers come from Wei's whole life, others inhere in single vivid moments: "when will I hold someone's hand again/ the flowers overhead look like sleet." (Sept.)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781556592799
Publisher:
Copper Canyon Press
Publication date:
07/01/2009
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)

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Meet the Author


Wei Ying-wu (737-791) is now considered one of the great poets of the T'ang Dynasty. Born into an artistocratic family on the decline, Wei served in several government posts without distinction. He also disdained the literary establishment of his day, so he fashioned a poetic style counter to the mainstream: one of profound simplicity. Red Pine (aka Bill Porter) is one of the world's leading translators of Chinese literary and religious texts. After dropping out of a Columbia University Ph.D. program, Red Pine moved to a Buddhist monastery in Taiwan; he eventually became a popular radio journalist in Hong Kong, famous for his descriptions of traveling around mainland China.

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