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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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About the Author
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Bill Porter was born in Los Angeles in 1943 and grew up in the Idaho panhandle. He served a tour of duty in the U.S. Army (1964-67), graduated from the University of California with a degree in anthropology in 1970, and attended graduate school at Columbia University. Uninspired by the prospect of an academic career, he dropped out of Columbia and moved in 1972 to a Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. After four years with the monks and nuns, he struck out on his own and eventually found work at English-language radio stations in Taiwan and Hong Kong, where he produced over one thousand programs about his travels in China. In 1993 he returned to America with his family and has lived ever since near Seattle, Washington.
Writing as Bill Porter, he is the author of several travelogues, including Road to Heaven, which focuses on his interactions with Taoist hermits in the mountains of China; Zen Baggage; and his Guggenheim project, Finding Them Gone: Visiting China's Poets of the Past.
Writing as Red Pine, he was the first translator to ever translate the entirety of Han-shan's oeurve into English, published as The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain. Red Pine was also the first to translate into English the entirely of The Poems of the Masters. He has also translated several of the major Buddhist sutras, including the Heart Sutra, Diamond Sutra, and Platform Sutra.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A pillar of Chinese poetry. the next best thing to Mao Zedong's poems. Good read.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Fantastic translations of the most beloved poems of China. Red Pine has a great feeling for the material and can put it into English in just the right words. Read morePublished 6 months ago by William C. Schulz
Mr. Porter's translation of the 千家詩 is an impressive achievement, and I was looking forward to comparing his versions of these celebrated poems with the Chinese originals. Read morePublished on January 8, 2013 by Michael Pratt
Twelve straight five star reviews says it all.
I might add to the review squad; I'd argue that poetry came of age with Rilke in Europe and Pound / Eliot in the states. Read more
Very nice to have a book written in both Chinese and English. Good selection of poems. I would recommend this for your library.Published on April 22, 2012 by J