Selected Poems of Su Tung-P'o

Overview

Poetry. " A man from a family of modest means, west central China, upper reaches of the Yangtze, travels downriver at 18 and passes, first time he takes it, the most prestigious civil service examination in the empire. Same year he marries a 15-year-old bride, and goes out on his first government assignment. He serves as a major administrator, then falls into disfavor and serves time in jail and is exiled. He develops a hardscrabble farm in the south, studies with a Zen master, runs rivers and climbs peaks, ...

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Overview

Poetry. " A man from a family of modest means, west central China, upper reaches of the Yangtze, travels downriver at 18 and passes, first time he takes it, the most prestigious civil service examination in the empire. Same year he marries a 15-year-old bride, and goes out on his first government assignment. He serves as a major administrator, then falls into disfavor and serves time in jail and is exiled. He develops a hardscrabble farm in the south, studies with a Zen master, runs rivers and climbs peaks, writes hundreds of letters, drinks wine with friends, and through it all is always writing poems. Brought back, he serves again, and then is exiled to a remote tropical island. Two wives having died, he travels south with his lover. Back in favor once more, he dies before he can get settled in a new home. He was also a marvelous calligrapher, whose large firm free writing can be seen in the museum in Taipei. He is considered one of China's top poets. He lived in the 11th century A.D. , when China was in some ways more 'modern' artistically and intellectually than 20th century America. Burton Watson's splendid translation is a real gift. Su Tung-p'o's elegant, diverse poems are full of compassion, vision, the sense of the moment, the sweetness and hardness of life. What a joy to meet his bright, undefeated spirit" -Gary Snyder.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Chinese is a daunting language to translate, but this new selection of poems by the leading poet of the Sung dynasty (960-1279) is in safe hands: Watson ( From the Country of Eight Islands ), a prize-winning translator of numerous volumes of Chinese and Japanese poetry, has translated and compiled an extraordinary book of poems. Su Tung-p'o was a civil servant who traveled to numerous political posts throughout the state. Hence, much of his poetry is a catalogue of his travels--their diverse landscapes, inhabitants, songs and folklore. With his lyrical precision and astonishing eye for detail, Su Tung-p'o renders the Chinese countryside with a vivid particularity: ``Purple plums, yellow melons--the village roads smell sweet; / Black gauze cap, white hemp robe--traveling clothes are cool.'' Less aesthetically rigid than earlier Chinese poets, he sought inspiration both in issues of philosophical complexity and matters of everyday life. This expansiveness, combined with a sophisticated sense of image and metaphor, created a body of work that is strikingly modern. Or, in Su Tung-p'o's own words: ``We're like a rabbit darting from preying hawks . . . lightning glimpsed through a crack.'' (Apr.)
Booknews
Burton Watson is our greatest translator of classical Chinese poetry, and here he presents 115 poems by the greatest poet of the Sung dynasty, Su Shih, more commonly known by his literary name, Su Tung-p'o. Many of the poems originally appeared in Su Tung-p'o: Selections from a Sung Dynasty Poet Columbia U. Press, 1965. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR booknews.com
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556590641
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/1993
  • Pages: 80
  • Sales rank: 1,011,581
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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