Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
One Hundred Poems from the Chinese (New Directions Books) Paperback – January 17, 1971
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
From the Back Cover
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The present book is in two parts. First we are given Rexroth's readings of thirty-five poems by Tu Fu, based on the Chinese text. The second part consists of a selection of Sung Dynasty poetry, most of which had not been Englished prior to Rexroth.
Rexroth makes no great claims for these translations, some of which he admits are rather free. But he does express the hope that "in all cases they are true to the spirit of the originals, and valid English poems" (p.xi).
It has always seemed to me that Rexroth succeeded brilliantly. Here are a few lines chosen at random from Tu Fu's 'Loneliness' (with my obliques added to indicate line breaks) :
".... Where the dew sparkles in the grass, / The spider's web waits for its prey. / The processes of nature resemble the business of men. / I stand alone with ten thousand sorrows" (p.16).
Here are a few from Su Tung P'o :
".... As for literature, it is its own reward. / Fortunately fools pay little attention to it. / A chance for graft / Makes them blush with joy" (p.73).
These readings of Rexroth will delight all open-minded readers. Who cares if he wasn't a union-approved sinologist? Purists may sputter, but since his versions are 'true to the spirit, and valid as English poems,' could any sensible person reasonably ask for more ?
The book is in two parts. Part one consists of Rexroth's versions of 35 poems by Du Fu, whom he describes as "the greatest non-epic, non dramatic poet who has survived in any language". He clearly knows these poems well, and his translations are uniformly good.
Part two offers around 70 works by Sung dynasty poets; some are represented by only one piece, some by more extensive selections. These tend to be more free, more personal, and often strikingly modern works. In Rexroth's words again: "The whole spirit of this time in China is very congenial today"- a statement as true today as when it was written in 1971. Many of these poets are still not well translated in English, so Rexroth's translations are invaluable.
At the back of the book is a brief, but adequate, notes section with information on each poet and explanatory material.
Rexroth's concentration on the lesser-known Sung poets is paralleled by his choice of poems in the Du Fu section. He does not confine himself to the best known pieces found in other collections, striking a good balance between the familiar and the new.
An interesting example of Rexroth's approach to translation is:
White birds over the grey river./Scarlet flowers on the green hills./I watch the Spring go by and wonder/If I shall ever return home.Read more ›
Ancient Chinese poetry is as simple and direct as a drop of rain on your cheek, but don't be misled. It is that very simplicity and directness that gives it the power to cut you to the quick. Since I don't have the volume handy, I can't, unfortunately, cite any examples, but they're there in my heart and the influence my own writing every day. This is an exquisite little book. And don't miss Arthur Waley's "A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems" which Rexroth cites in this work.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If one doesn't know early Chinese poetry, this is where you start. I was entranced with this book. I had purchased his 100 Poems from the Japanese many many ears ago, set five... Read morePublished 1 month ago by David A. Sermersheim
In 1971 I attended a reading presented by Mr. Rexroth that had an immense impact on my life. I lost my original copy of this volume and was grateful to find it available used at... Read morePublished 7 months ago by QuartzGlen
Rexroth expresses the elegance and at the same time the power of Asia better than anyone elsePublished 11 months ago by thomas velk
When this book first came out it was probably essential for fans of Chinese poetry. Now there are many more translations available by people who frankly know more about the... Read morePublished on March 5, 2014 by Steven R. Severance
truly beautiful deep poetry...each one leaves you with a sense of fullness
it is one of my favorite books of poetry
I teach Chinese and I bought this book as a gift to my student. However I found the author only represent the beauty of each poems not really deliver the fascinating part of the... Read morePublished on May 13, 2013 by Haruhi77