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The Selected Poems of Wang Wei

Wang Wei

Translated by David Hinton

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Series: Poetica
Imprint: Anvil Press Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (144 pages)
(Pub. Jun 2009)
£10.95 £9.85
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    Azure Creek

    To reach Yellow-Bloom River, they say,
    you’d best follow Azure Creek through

    these mountains, its hundred-mile way
    taking ten thousand twists and turns,

    first rock-strewn, kicking up a racket,
    then its color serene deep among pines,

    rapids tumbling water-chestnuts here,
    crystalline purity lighting reeds there.

    My mind’s perennial form is idleness,
    and the same calm fills a river’s clarity,

    so I’ll just linger here on this flat stone,
    dangle my fishing line – and stay, stay.
    Translated by David Hinton

    Wang Wei (701–761 AD) 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 history. He was the consummate master of the short imagistic landscape poem that came to typify classical Chinese poetry, with poems of resounding tranquillity whose style and substance can be traced to his practice of Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism. But in spite of this philosophical depth, Wang is not a difficult poet. He may in fact be the most immediately appealing of China’s great poets, and in Hinton’s masterful translations he sounds utterly contemporary.

    Wang Wei
    Wang Wei (699–759) took first place in the civil service examinations in 721. His many gifts included calligraphy, music and painting: some of his paintings have survived in copies. His wife died when he was 30 and he divided his time between his Ch’ang-an estate and government service. After his mother’s ... read more
    David Hinton
    David Hinton studied Chinese at Cornell University. His many translations of ancient Chinese poetry have earned wide acclaim for creating compelling English poetry that conveys the texture and density of the originals. He has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as numerous fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts ... read more
    Awards won by Wang Wei Winner, 2007 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation (The Selected Poems of Wang Wei)
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