The Mountain Poems of Meng Hao-Jan

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The first full flowering of Chinese poetry occurred in the illustrious T’ang Dynasty, and at the beginning of this renaissance stands Meng Hao-jan (689-740 c.e.), esteemed elder to a long line of China’s greatest poets. Deeply influenced by Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism, Meng was the first to make poetry from the Ch’an insight that deep understanding lies beyond words. The result was a strikingly distilled language that opened new inner depths, non-verbal insights, and outright enigma. This made Meng Hao-jan China’s first...
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The Mountain Poems of Meng Hao-Jan

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The first full flowering of Chinese poetry occurred in the illustrious T’ang Dynasty, and at the beginning of this renaissance stands Meng Hao-jan (689-740 c.e.), esteemed elder to a long line of China’s greatest poets. Deeply influenced by Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism, Meng was the first to make poetry from the Ch’an insight that deep understanding lies beyond words. The result was a strikingly distilled language that opened new inner depths, non-verbal insights, and outright enigma. This made Meng Hao-jan China’s first master of the short imagistic landscape poem that came to typify ancient Chinese poetry. And as a lifelong intimacy with mountains dominates Meng’s work, such innovative poetics made him a preeminent figure in the wilderness (literally rivers-and-mountains) tradition, and that tradition is the very heart of Chinese poetry.
This is the first English translation devoted to the work of Meng Hao-jan. Meng’s poetic descendents revered the wisdom he cultivated as a mountain recluse, and now we too can witness the sagacity they considered almost indistinguishable from that of rivers and mountains themselves.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Hinton’s music is subtle, modulated, and does not slacken with either contemporary or classic. He has listened to the individual tone of each poet, and his craft is equal to his perception. . . . He continues to enlarge our literary horizon. And the ‘range of pleasure’ his translations afford ‘as sight, sound, and intellection,’ proves them true poems. Poems that breathe another culture into our English. —The Academy of American Poets

These are poems of great serenity, great satisfaction, great joy. The Mountain Poems of Meng Hao-Jan can be read in an evening, revisited for a lifetime. Find time for it. —Kansas City Star

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780972869232
  • Publisher: Steerforth Press
  • Publication date: 1/5/2004
  • Pages: 81
  • Sales rank: 1,045,602
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Meng Hao-jan (689-740 C.E.) is generally considered to be one of China’s most important poets, but before now, there has never been an edition of his work in English. Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism was coming to maturity and becoming widely practiced among the intelligentsia of China. Ch’an not only clarified the spiritual ecology of early Taoist thought, it also emphasized the old Taoist idea that deep understanding lies beyond words. In poetry, this gave rise to a much more distilled language, especially in its concise imagism, which opened new inner depths, non-verbal insights, and outright enigma. It was in the work of Meng Hao-jan that this poetic revolution began, a revolution that marked the beginning of Chinese poetry’s first great flowering. He opened the poetic ground that would be cultivated so productively by the great poets that followed, and he was revered by those poets as their esteemed elder, first master of the short imagistic landscape poem.
Translator: David Hinton’s many translations of ancient Chinese poetry have earned wide acclaim for creating compelling contemporary poetry. He is also the first translator in more than a century to translate the four original masterworks of Chinese philosophy: Tao Te Ching, Chuang Tzu, Analects, Mencius. He has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as numerous fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 1997 he received the Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets.
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Read an Excerpt

Autumn Begins

Autumn begins unnoticed. Nights slowly lengthen,
and little by little, clear winds turn colder and colder,

summer’s blaze giving way. My thatch hut grows still.
At the bottom stair, in bunchgrass, lit dew shimmers.

Gathering Firewood

Gathering firewood I enter mountain depths,
mountain depths rising creek beyond creek

choked with the timbers of bridges in ruins.
Vines tumble low, tangled over cragged paths,

and at dusk, scarce people grow scarcer still.
Mountain wind sweeping through simple robes,

my chant steady, I shoulder a light bundle,
watch smoke drift across open country home.

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Table of Contents

Autumn Begins 3
Gathering Firewood 4
Listening to Cheng Yin Play His Ch'in 5
Adrift on North Creek 6
Climbing Long-View Mountain's Highest Peak 7
Looking for the Recluse Chang Tzu-jung at White-Crane Cliff 8
Adrift on a Summer's Day, I Visit the Hermitage of Recluse T'eng 9
Inscribed on a Wall at Li's Farm, for Ch'i-wu Ch'ien 10
On Reaching the Ju River Dikes, Sent to My Friend Lu 11
On Reaching the Han River 12
Roaming up to Master Jung's Hermitage... 13
Visiting the Hermitage of Ch'an Monk Jung 14
Returning to My Garden at Night after Looking for Chang Wu 15
On the Tower at Uphold All-Gathering Monastery 16
In Lo-yang, Stopping by to Visit Yuan Kuan without Finding Him 17
Looking for T'eng's Old Recluse Home 18
Traveling to Yueh, I Linger Out Farewell with Chang and Shen 19
7/7 in a Strange Village 20
Anchoring Overnight at Ox Island... 21
Down the Kan River Rapids 22
9/9 at Dragon-Sands, Sent to Liu 23
Stopping Overnight at Date-Brights Inn 24
Autumn Night, Setting Moon 25
Looking for Mei, Sage Master of Way 26
Early Plums 27
At Lumen-Empty Monastery, Visiting Dharma-Guile... 28
Encountering Snow on the Road to Ch'ang-an 29
Overnight at Kingfisher-Hue Monastery... 30
Outside the Capital, Farewell to Acrid-Expanse 31
Lingering Out Farewell with Wang Wei 32
Year's End, On Returning to Southern Mountains 33
Sent to Ch'ao, the Palace Reviser 34
A Farewell for Tu Huang 35
Spending the Night at Abbot Yeh's Mountain Home... 36
At Lumen-Empty Monastery, Visiting the Hermitage of... 37
After Chang Yuan's Clear Mirror Lament 38
At the Pavilion on Grand-View Mountain 39
Adrift at Wu-ling 40
Anchored off Hsun-yang in Evening Light... 41
Anchored Overnight on Thatch-Hut River... 42
Waiting Out Rain at East Slope... 43
Courtyard Oranges 44
Overnight at Cypress-Peak Monastery... 45
Adrift on What-If River 46
The Ch'an Depths of a Monk at Royal-Patriarch Monastery 47
Heading West up the Che River... 48
Overnight on Abiding-Integrity River 49
Up Early at Fish-Creek Lake 50
New Year's Eve at Chang Tzu-jung's House in Lo-ch'eng 51
Anchored Overnight near the City Wall at Hsuan-ch'eng 52
Upriver to Wu-ch'ang 53
Below South Mountain, Inviting a Sage Gardener to Plant Melons 54
Climbing Deer-Gate Mountain, Thoughts of Ancient Times 55
Returning Home to Deer-Gate Mountain at Night 56
After Visiting Thought-Essence Monastery, I Return... 57
Looking for the Master at Chrysanthemum Pond... 58
Climbing Grand-View Mountain with Friends 59
On Peak-Light Tower with Prime Minister Chang Chiu-ling 60
Out on the Road, Skies Clearing 61
At Tung-t'ing Lake, Sent to Yen Fang 62
On Returning to My Mountains, for the Ch'an Abbot Clarity-Deep 63
On a Journey to Thought-Essence Monastery... 65
Wandering the West Ridge at Phoenix-Grove Monastery 66
Searching Incense Mountain for the Monk Clarity-Deep 67
Spring Dawn 68
Notes 71
Finding List 78
Further Reading 81
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2014


    Or green...which ever you choose...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2014


    "Okay...." Sts

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