Yang Wan-Li (1127–1206) is one of China’s “four masters of Southern Sung poetry.” These poems were written at what could be seen as a low point in Sung history: an invasion by the Jurchens had forced the Sung to flee to the southern city of Hangchow. But they created at Hangchow a refuge of elegant solitude from which they gazed longingly toward the north, and in this quiet setting, they were able to enjoy the beauties of nature. Many of the poems are perfect verbalizations of the magnificent landscape paintings of the Sung painters: misty, ethereal and luminous. The poetry, however, also holds the annoyances of overwork, aching feet, creaking bones and the pleasures of wine, filling it with humanity and a zest for living.
About the Author
Yang Wan-Li (1127-1206) is one of China's "four masters of Southern Sung poetry." Jonathan Chaves is professor of Chinese language and literature at George Washington University. His books of translation include Old Taoist: The Life, Art, and Poetry of Kod'jin; The Columbia Book of Later Chinese Peotry: Yuan, Ming, and Ch'ing Dynasties; and Pilgrim of the Clouds; Poems and Essays from Ming China by Yuan Hung-tao and His Brothers.