Selected Poems of Po Chu-I

ISBN-10: 0811214125
ISBN-13: 9780811214124
Edition: 1999
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Book details

List price: $17.95
Copyright year: 1999
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 6/17/1999
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 192
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.25" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.748
Language: English

Po Chu-i has been beloved for centuries as the "people's poet" because his words are simple and direct and many of his ballads touch on the plight of common people in an age of warfare and social exploitation. It is said that, whenever he wrote a verse, he would read it aloud for an old granny to listen to, and, if she couldn't understand it, he would revise it until she could. Though no doubt apocryphal, the story illustrates the poet's humility of spirit and desire to speak for those who would otherwise not be heard. Chu-I was not above an occasional boast, however, and noted with obvious pride while traveling that he had seen his lyrics copied on the walls of inns and monasteries and had heard them sung by "higher priced" singing girls in the entertainment quarters. Perhaps it was that instinct for self-promotion, coupled with the seriousness he attached to poetry, which also made him take a different attitude from his contemporaries toward his literary work. Most literary men wrote mainly for others in their immediate social circle, perhaps with a secret hope that someday their works would be collected and passed down. Po-Chu-i took destiny in hand by editing, classifying, and making copies of his own voluminous works, and carefully depositing them in several different places. Thanks to his prodigious efforts, we still have more than 2,800 of his poems to enjoy today. Probably the most famous poem of all is his long narrative ballad titled Lament Everlasting, which achieved great popularity even in Japan and Korea and has been translated into English many times. It immortalizes the love affair between the Shining Emperor Hsuan-tsung and his concubine Yang Kuei-fei on the eve of the barbarian general An Lu-shan's rebellion in 756, which left the central plains in ruins and tens of thousands dead. Despite Yang Kuei-fei's involvement in the disaster, the poet treats her sympathetically, especially her death by strangulation during the emperor's flight from the capital on the difficult mountain road to Szechuan. Although the poem is not particularly innovative technically or imagistically, it tells a gripping story and for that reason is a great rarity in Chinese poetry, which is dominated so much more by lyricism than by narrative plot. One senses the debt in this and Po Chu-I's several other long narratives to a popular oral tradition. Po Chu-i also tried a conscious innovation with his New Ballads, a group of 50 satiric poems sharply critical of government policies and social practices. Unfortunately, these didactic pieces did not enjoy the great success that he had hoped they would and didn't quite live up to his ambitious goal to save the world.

David Hinton's many translations of classical Chinese poetry and philosophy have earned wide acclaim for creating compelling contemporary texts that convey the actual 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 and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 1997, he received the Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets. He lives in East Calais, Vermont.

Early Poems: 794-815 (C.E.)
Hsiang-yang Travels, Thinking of Meng Hao-jan
Peony Blossoms: Sent to the Sage Monk Cheng I
Late Autumn, Dwelling in Idleness
After the Rebellion, at Liu-kou Monastery
Autumn Thoughts, Sent Far Away
Hard Times
Written in Spring on a Wall at Flowering-Brightness Monastery
At Western-Clarity Monastery in the Season of Blooming
At Flowering-Brightness Monastery in Yung-ch'ung District
Wandering at Cloud-Dwelling Monastery
Cold Night in the Courtyard
The Sound of Pines
Farewell to the Recluse Wang
New Yueh-fu
The Old Man from Hsin-feng With a Broken Arm
Hundred-Fire Mirror
Twin Vermillion Gates
Crimson-Weave Carpet
An Old Man of Tu-ling
An Old Charcoal Seller
A Dragon in the Dark Lake
On My Daughter's First Birthday
Night in the Palace with Ch'ien Hui
Songs of Ch'in-chou
Light and Sleek
Buying Flowers
Early Morning, Combing My Hair Out
Mourning Peach Blossoms in the Palace Gardens
In Sickness, Mourning Golden-Bells
Ch'in Song in Clear Night
Wine Stops by for the Night
Village Snow, Sitting at Night
The Grain Tax
Climbing Among Ancient Tombs East of the Village
Foxglove Farmers
Village Night 41
Eyes Going Dark
Sitting at Night
Winter Night
Written on a Wall at Jade-Spring Monastery
Dreaming of Long Ago
Yen-tzu Tower
Exile: 815-820
Reading Chuang Tzu
On the Boat, Reading Yuan Chen's Poems
Setting a Migrant Goose Free
Visiting the Recluse Cheng
On West Tower
Year's End, Facing Wine at South Creek, a Farewell to Wang
Overnight at East-Forest Monastery
Early Spring
Bamboo Mountain's Eastern Pond
My Thatch Hut Newly Built Below Incense Burner Peak
My Thatched Mountain Hut Just Finished, Ch'i-Sited
Another Poem for the Wall of my Thatch Hut
Idle Song
After Lunch
All the Mountain Guests Started Up Incense-Burner Peak
Reply to Yuan Chen
Early Cicadas
A Late-Night Farewell to Meng Kung-ts'ao
In the Mountains, Asking the Moon
Inviting Liu Shih-chiu
Evening Rain
Still Sick, I Get Up
Written on a Pine Beside the Stream at Yi-ai Monastery
Suffering Heat, Enjoying Cold
Early Cicadas
A Ch'in at Night
East Tower Bamboo
Early Autumn
Winter Sun on my Back
The Pa River
Night of the Cold Food Festival
Planting East Slope
Reply in the Same Rhyme to a Quatrain Sent by Ch'ien Hui
Middle Poems: 820-829
Traveling Moon
My Old Home
Enjoying Pine and Bamboo
A Guest Doesn't Come
Boundless and Free
On Shang Mountain Road
Figures for a Monk
Autumn Butterflies
Overnight at Bamboo Pavilion
Flower No Flower
For the Beach Gulls
A Sigh for Myself
Up Early
Overnight at Bamboo Tower
Farewell to my Day Lilies and Cassia
Li the Mountain Recluse Stays the Night on Our Boat
Rising Late
Beside the Pond, Under Bamboo
Night in the City, Listening to Li the Mountain Recluse ...
First Month, Third Day: An Idle Stroll
A Sigh for Myself
Two Stones
Sixth Month, Third Day: Listening to Cicadas at Night
Overnight in the Upper Courtyard of Ling-yen Monastery
Overnight at Jung-yang
Idle Song
Living Idly in the Hsin-ch'ang District, I Invite ...
On Ling-ying Tower, Looking North
Sitting Idle at the North Window
Quiet Dwelling During the Seclusion Fast
Blossoms for a Monk's Courtyard
Facing Wine
Late Poems: 829-846
Autumn Pool
Lu-tao District, Dwelling in Spring
Meeting an Old Friend
Long Lines Sent to Ling Hu-ch'u Before He Comes
Idle Song
New Year's Eve
Off-Hand Chant
The West Wind
Rising Late
The Pond West of My Office
Home Ground
Mourning A-Ts'ui
Pond, Window
Thinking of Ts'ui Hsuan-liang
Idle Night
A Servant Girl Is Missing
My First Visit to Incense-Mountain Monastery, Facing the Moon
In Reply to Autumn Night, No Sleep, Which Yu-hsi Sent
At the Pond, A Farewell
Asking the Rock that Holds Up My Ch'in
In Answer to a Letter Sent by Liu Yu-hsi on an Autumn Day
Early Morning, Taking Cloud-Mother Powder
At the Pond, an Idle Chant
Overnight with Ch'an Master Shen Chao
After Quiet Joys at South Garden, Which P'ei Tu Sent
Reading Ch'an Sutras
Nightfall at South Pond
Sitting Alone in My Little Thatched Pavilion
On Climbing the Tower at T'ien-kuan Monastery
Waves Sifting Sand
Written on Sung Mountain's Eastern Cliffs in Early Spring
Old, and a Fever
Autumn Rain, a Night of Sleep
Grown-Old Song, Sent to Liu Yu-hsi
Cool Autumn, Idle Dozing
Facing Wine on a Winter's Night, Sent to Huang-fu Shih
An Old Su-chou Prefect
Poems in Sickness
Wind Sickness Strikes
Lying in Bed
Quatrains in Sickness
Farewell to a Sung Mountain Traveler
Sick and Old, Same as Ever: A Poem to Figure It All Out
In the Mountains
At Home Giving Up Home
Dwelling in Idleness
Cold Night
Facing Rocks I Placed in Yi-chu Stream to Break Up the Current ...
Cold Pavilion: An Invitation
The North Window: Bamboo and Rock
Climbing Mountains in Dream
To Get Over a Spring Heartfelt and Long ...
Wondering About Mind: Presented to Friends Who've Grown Old
Off-Hand Poem Written During the Seclusion Fast
Finding List
Further Reading

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