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Paperback Poems of the Late T'Ang Book

ISBN: 0140441573

ISBN13: 9780140441574

Poems of the Late T'Ang

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Classical Chinese poetry reached its pinnacle during the T'ang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.), and the poets of the late T'ang-a period of growing political turmoil and violence-are especially notable for... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

3 ratings

autumn hills and spring rain

Reading poetry in translation is always a dubious activity, but what recourse do we have since obviously we can't learn every language ? When two languages as unlike as Chinese and English are concerned, there's a very real question. Are you reading the translator's poetry or the original poet's ? Back in the 1960s, when I bought this book as a graduate student, A.C. Graham did an excellent job explaining just what translating centuries-old Chinese poetry involved. For anyone interested in the translation process, the first part of this book would be well-worth reading. As for the translated material, no doubt the Chinese poetry of the eighth and ninth centuries A.D. is one of Mankind's great treasures. Readers cannot fail to be struck at the common emotions we have, shared with people of such distant time and place. How you finally estimate the book depends on whether you like the translations, for such efforts produce widely varied results. After reading this book, you might try some of Arthur Waley's work. You'll definitely feel a difference. It seemed to me that Graham tries to be more faithful to the original; Waley tries to make you feel the "poetry" of the poems. Both are successful in their own way. The nature of China dominates the imagery---mountains, rivers, clouds, seasons; human emotion sways in time to nature's beat. What will modern Chinese poetry look like amongst the forests of skyscrapers, the industries, the superhighways ? I think it must become more personal. I have no idea if it has.


Paul Twitchell says, "Thinking power must be identical in kind with Divine [Spirit]." He points out that at times we "are using [our] power invertedly. One usually takes the starting point of thought from external facts and consequently creates a repetition of facts of a similar nature." But this will have us "repeating the old circle of limitation." (Paul Twitchell. The Flute of God.) In this book by Graham, we find fresh language that gets us out of the old round of thought, the "external facts." Every line is charged language: "Keep away from sharp swords...." Sometehing about it! Graham is astute, fascinating on the lives of the poets, and his translations feel natural--somehow. Highly recommended for poets and lovers of wonderful wordstrings!

A superb anthology by a brilliant translator.

POEMS OF THE LATE T'ANG : Translated with an Introduction by A. C. Graham. 176 pp. (Penguin Classics). Harmondsworth : Penguin, 1970 (1965) and Reissued.Translators of Chinese poetry tend to be of various kinds. On the one hand we have important poets such as Ezra Pound, Gary Snyder and Kenneth Rexroth, men who though perhaps not expert in Chinese were certainly conversant with it in various degrees and who have given us some truly striking and memorable translations. There are also brilliant scholar-translators such as Arthur Waley, Burton Watson, and the author of the present book, A. C. Graham, men both expert in Chinese and artists in words whose versions can be equally impressive. A. C. Graham, author of the present book and of such major works of scholarship as 'Chuang-Tzu : The Inner Chapters' (1981) and 'Disputers of the Tao' (1989) is generally reckoned, not without justice, to be one of the modern West's three greatest translators of Chinese poetry.His book, after an extremely interesting 23-page essay on 'The Translation of Chinese Poetry,' offers us selections from seven major poets : Tu Fu, Meng Chiao, Han Yu, Lu T'ung, Li Ho, Tu Mu, and Li Shang-yin. Each of the poets is given a brief introduction, and the book ends with a useful list of references to the pages on which the original texts of the poems will be found in the 'Ch'uan T'ang shih' [Complete T'ang Poems] Peking, 1960. 'Poems of the Late T'ang' is one of my favorite books and I've often returned to it. All of Graham's versions read and work like original poems - their lines remain in the mind and become part of you - lines such as Meng Chiao's :"Who will say that the inch of grass in his heart / Is gratitude enough for all the sunshine of spring ? " (p.63)Personally I think that A. C. Graham deserves considerably more than an 'inch of grass in our hearts' for having instilled new life into the words of these ancient poets and given us such a superb book, a book that is deservedly considered a modern classic and one that belongs in the collection of anyone who is at all interested in Chinese poetry.
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