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The Selected Poems of Wang Wei by Wang Wei
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The Selected Poems of Wang Wei

by Wang Wei

Other authors: David Hinton (Translator)

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The breeze in-between thoughts. ( )
  Michael.Xolotl | Nov 11, 2015 |
The Selected Poems of Wang Wei, translated by David Hinton

The translations of these short poems are swift and simple. They mostly make good poems in English, though sometimes they are a little prosy. The poems themselves are straightforward and descriptive. Mr. Hinton's notes find much symbolism in them however. Some of the figures recur so often that they clearly have deep meanings as the annotator suggests, and his interpretation makes a lot of sense. This is about as much as I can say, not being a scholar of Chinese.

On an immediate level, I liked these poems a lot and think I will be coming back to them often. The poems describe landscape and natural phenomena, and extol the life of seclusion of a Taoist or Zen hermit. The range of subject matter and expression is limited, but visionary insight is not. The poems make a lot of sense to me and echo some of my experiences of the natural world. They also evoke the (perhaps romantic) vision of China presented by classic Chinese landscape painting, of which also Wang Wei was a master. ( )
1 vote anthonywillard | Jan 4, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wang Weiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hinton, DavidTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Each year on this auspicious day, alone and foreign
here in a foreign place, my thoughts of you sharpen:

far away, I can almost see you reaching the summit,
dogwood berries woven into sashes, short one person.
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This is the David Hinton-edited Selected Poems, originally published in 2006 by New Directions.

Please do not combine with other, similarly named but different, collections.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0811216187, Paperback)

David Hinton, whose much-acclaimed translations of Li Po and Tu Fu have become classics, now completes the triumvirate of China's greatest poets with The Selected Poems of Wang Wei.

Wang Wei (701-761 C.E.) is often spoken of, with his contemporaries Li Po and Tu Fu, as one of the three greatest poets in China's 3,000-year poetic tradition. Of the three, Wang was the consummate master of the short imagistic landscape poem that came to typify classical Chinese poetry. He developed a nature poetry of resounding tranquility wherein deep understanding goes far beyond the words on the page—a poetics that can be traced to his assiduous practice of Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism. But in spite of this philosophical depth, Wang is not a difficult poet. Indeed, he may be the most immediately appealing of China's great poets, and in Hinton's masterful translations he sounds utterly contemporary. Many of his best poems are incredibly concise, composed of only twenty words, and they often turn on the tiniest details: a bird's cry, a splinter of light on moss, an egret's wingbeat. Such imagistic clarity is not surprising since Wang was also one of China's greatest landscape painters. This is a breathtaking poetry, one that in true Zen fashion renders the ten thousand things of this world in such a way that they empty the self even as they shimmer with the clarity of their own self-sufficient identity.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:59 -0400)

Award-winning poet-translator David Hinton continues his series of selections from the great Chinese poets with Wang Wei (706-761 AD). Wang Wei was a master of the short, imagistic landscape poem that came to typify classical Chinese poetry.

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