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Poems of the Masters: China's Classic Anthology of T'ang and Sung Dynasty Verse (Mandarin Chinese and English Edition) (Mandarin Chinese) Paperback – September 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press; 1st edition (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese, English
  • ISBN-10: 1556591950
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556591952
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Red Pine (aka Bill Porter) is one of the world's leading translators of Chinese literary and religious texts. After dropping out of a Columbia University Ph.D. program, Red Pine moved to a Buddhist monastery in Taiwan; he eventually became a popular radio journalist in Hong Kong, famous for his descriptions of traveling around mainland China.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 13 customer reviews
In fact, I can't wait for more Red Pine translations.
Alfredo Pizzirani
This book would be an excellent text for those who wish to learn to read T'ang and Sung poetry, and classical literary Chinese in general.
James Ward
Notes about the poets, poems and their historical context are excellent.
Mai

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 67 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
Red Pine's translation of the Ch'ienchiashih is quite impressive. I've found too many translations from Chinese that are overdone, full of themselves; here is a volume of clear, elegant poetry. Even a beginning Chinese language student can follow along and understand the original text, his translation is so well constructed. And yet these 224 poems lose nothing of their poetic quality.
The poems are presented with the Chinese facing the English, with biographical and relevant explanatory notes accompanying each. Includes preface (definitely worth reading), map (very helpful for following some of the more prolific poets), and Tang/Song timeline. This has very quickly become my favourite book of translations.
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54 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Beaulac on July 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
Another gift from Red Pine (Bill Porter) whose love for Chinese verse and the Dharma have shaped him into one of the foremost translators of the old poets. This Chinese classic has been around for eight centuries, but is here finally available in English! The volume offers 123 poets, 224 poems. Adjacent Chinese text and critical notes are provided for each poem. Included at the end are a timeline of the Dynasties from c. 2200 BCE to 1368, a complete index of the poets, and a complete index of the titles. This is a monumental work and an extraordinary gift from the translator. A typical verse from this collection, called In Reply, by a poet called The Ancient Recluse:

Somehow I ended up beneath pines

sleeping in comfort on boulders

there aren't any calendars in the mountains

winter ends but who counts the years

A sincere thank you to Red Pine and Copper Canyon Press for providing these treasures.
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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By James Ward on October 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
Red Pine (Bill Porter) has beautifully translated this important collection of Chinese verse. His commentaries, too, are well worth reading.

This book would be an excellent text for those who wish to learn to read T'ang and Sung poetry, and classical literary Chinese in general. The Chinese and English poems are presented on facing pages. Each poem is sufficiently brief to allow students the opportunity to (begin to) learn a complete work of literature without the intimidation that can accompany larger texts -- and there are 224 such poems in this translation, which gives ample scope for learning in nice, easy steps. (Of course this will have to be done using a dictionary like Mathews', and the student will need some familiarity with looking characters up by radical -- this is not a teaching text with a glossary and explanatory notes about language usage.)

Even if one does not desire to use this collection to learn Chinese, the English translations are certainly beautiful poems in their own right, and are worth spending time with. And meanwhile, the Chinese texts are always there, extending a gentle invitation to the curious.

Surely every lover of Chinese (and English!) poetry will treasure this book.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Susan C. Tait on February 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
Previous reviewers have already summarized the more obvious qualities of this book; I agree with their comments. I found that for the student of Chinese culture, Chinese education, or Chinese thought, the book is a stunning introduction to a way of expressing observations and meaning in compact forms. In particular, the poetry seems both denser and more graceful than similar forms in English poetry, and more complex than the haiku forms descended from it. Chinese speakers I know vouched for the sensitive transliteration.

Basho advised a haiku student to "read Chinese poetry" to write better haiku. I came to this work after struggling with haiku for a long time. I found Basho's advice to be good and this book to be a remarkable way to begin. The historical text snippets offered with the poems make further reflection easy without attempting to "define" all that the poem means.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Alfredo Pizzirani on December 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
I found the notes to the poems particularly valuable - thanks to them, the collection becomes a window into Chinese history and society.
I really miss an index by author, and, as usual, I am ill-at-ease with Red Pine's system of transliteration. It may seem superior to pinyin to the author, but it makes really hard to connect the places and people mentioned in this book to what one already knows to about Chinese history. It may be another case of the inferior system becoming the standard, but pinyin is the standard at this point, and fighting it is a bit quixotic at this point.
These are the things one notices when a book is good enough to read and spend time with, so do not let this put this off. In fact, I can't wait for more Red Pine translations.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By arpard fazakas on October 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
Poetry, it is claimed in the Introduction to this excellent anthology, is China's greatest art form. The poems included in this collection provide strong support for this statement. They date from the Tang and Sung dynasties, from the 600's to the 1200's, and include some of the most famous of all Chinese poems, by some of the most revered poets. Each poem is presented in the original Chinese and then with a facing English translation by Red Pine, the pen name of the American Bill Porter.

If you know how to use a Chinese dictionary (on-line dictionaries are available which are more likely to have some of the older characters no longer included in modern dictionaries), you can try your hand at translating these poems yourself. They are all fairly short, so you can look up the characters in about an hour or two. This is an interesting and enlightening exercise, and is guaranteed to increase your respect for professional translators, especially of these sometimes enigmatically short and terse verses.

My favorite concerns a rural village celebrating a traditional holiday, no doubt a welcome pause from what must have been a difficult life of almost non-stop, back-breaking physical labor. The women are shepherding their drunken husbands home at the end of the day. Coming to us across the many centuries from a mysterious foreign land, this poem is so ..... human!
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