Washing Silk: The Life and Selected Poetry of Wei Chuang

Overview

Wei Chuang was a prolific Tang dynasty poet. He not only wrote in the shih form (poems in the old and new styles, the latter having strict rules of meter, rhyme, and euphony), but also was one of two literati founders of the tz'u (lyric) tradition, based on a popular song form. This tripartite study provides a thoroughgoing picture of his life and work.

The book begins with the first detailed biography of Wei Chuang in a Western language, drawn both from historical sources and ...

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Overview

Wei Chuang was a prolific Tang dynasty poet. He not only wrote in the shih form (poems in the old and new styles, the latter having strict rules of meter, rhyme, and euphony), but also was one of two literati founders of the tz'u (lyric) tradition, based on a popular song form. This tripartite study provides a thoroughgoing picture of his life and work.

The book begins with the first detailed biography of Wei Chuang in a Western language, drawn both from historical sources and Wei's poetry. The shih poems are intensely autobiographical and provide insight into Wei's own experience and into the situation in China at the end of the ninth century. A second section analyzes the poetry, demonstrating that Wei's tz'u cannot be understood without reference to his shih compositions, a new approach to the totality of Wei's work. Finally, this volume presents translations, briefly annotated, of 110 shih poems, including his major narrative poem, The Lament of the Lady of Chin, and almost all the tz'u attributed to him, constituting more than a third of Wei Chuang's extant poetry. The translations, while hewing close in meaning to their Chinese originals, have considerable value as poems in English.

This work offers information that is useful to those interested in the literature, history, and general culture of medieval China. The translations bring to modern readers of English poetry the pleasures of becoming acquainted with a complex and innovative voice from the Chinese past.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Robin D. S. Yates is Assistant Professor of Chinese History, Harvard University.
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Table of Contents

Part One: The Life snd Times of Wei Chuang

  • Historical Background
  • Wei Chuang’s Early Life
  • The Huang Ch’ao Rebellion
  • Wei Chuang’s First Exile from Ch’ang-an
  • Wei Chuang’s Second Exile from Ch’ang-an
  • Travels through the South (889-892)
  • Wei Chuang’s Return to Ch’ang-an, Examination Success,
    and the Beginning of his Political Career
  • Wei Chuang’s Move to Szechuan and Support of Wang Chien
  • The Final Collapse of the Tang Dynasty and Wei Chuang’s Death


Part Two: The Poetry of Wei Chuang
  • Notes to Parts One and Two


Part Three: Selected Translations
  • A Note on the Editions
  • Poems (Shih)
  • Lyrics (Tz’u)


Appendix
Finding List
Bibliography
Glossary
Index
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