- Series: Unesco Collection of Representative Works :, Chinese Series
- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics (December 8, 1977)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140441573
- ISBN-13: 978-0140441574
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,766,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Poems of the Late T'ang (Unesco Collection of Representative Works :, Chinese Series) Paperback – December 8, 1977
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“You never forget the moment you first encounter a book that turns out to be a treasure for life. Especially works that open up new worlds. I still remember buying Penguin's wonderful Late Tang Poetry at school…” –Michael Wood, The Independent [UK]
“The publication of Dr. Graham’s Poems of the Late T’ang…is a welcome sign of the growing interest in Chinese poetry on the part of English-speaking readers and of the growing sophistication on the part of English-speaking readers and of the growing sophistication on the part of translators of Chinese poetry.” –Journal of the American Oriental Society
“Angus Graham…was the West’s chief authority on ancient Chinese philosophy and grammar. He was the sinologue’s sinologue in the sense that he understood the classical texts better than anyone else, but he was also a sensitive interpreter of poetry and philosophy for a general audience…His translations of poetry seem to have been written for pure pleasure, but include some of the most difficult as well as the most beautiful Chinese poems.” –The Guardian [UK]
“Angus Graham was widely recognized as the world’s premier authority on classical philosophy and linguistics, as well as a gifted translator of philosophy and poetry and a prominent exponent of the ancient Chinese view of life to the Western world.” –The Times [UK]
A "pioneering introduction.” –The Irish Times
“Isn't A. C. Graham's Poems of the Late T'ang...a perfect book?” –The Times [UK] --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Text: English, Chinese (translation)
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Top customer reviews
I guess my first thought is, if the translations are poor, the translator is a brilliant poet - so no big loss anyway. These poems were some of the most beautiful things I have ever read in my life, and were completely inspiring. This was one of the few times I felt the need to actually go through an entire book and study every word, circling and underlining things. The book without a doubt helped me create my own art, and rightly deserves its place on my tiny NYC apartment bookshelf (as in, there's no way I could put all of my books there so I have to be selective).
One of my favorites:
A Withered Tree
by Han Yu
Not a twig or a leaf on the old tree,
Wind and frost harm it no more.
A man could pass through the hole in its belly,
Ants crawl searching under its peeling bark.
Its only lodger, the toadstool which dies in a morning,
The birds no longer visit in the twilight.
But its wood can still spark tinder.
It does not care yet to be only the void at its heart.
If you enjoy poetry, buy this book! You will not regret it.
A. C. Graham was a noted sinologist and a very skilful translator. The first 37 pages are Dr. Graham's discusson on Chinese Poetry, how it is set up, the difficulties and pleasures of translation, and (enjoyably for me) an example of how three translators (Amy Lowell, William Hung and the author) handled the translation of the same poem. He also gives illustrations of his attempts to translate, showing what choices he made to best convey the poetry.
Does all this sound dry? Perhaps - I enjoy understaning how people's minds work.
The meat of this book, however, is the poetry. Graham has footnotes (under the poems) that are interesting and not intrusive. There's a reason I wore my copy of this book out. I'm glad to have a new one.
Translators of Chinese poetry tend to be of various kinds. On the one hand we have important poets such as Ezra Pound, Gary Snyder and Kenneth Rexroth, men who though perhaps not expert in Chinese were certainly conversant with it in various degrees and who have given us some truly striking and memorable translations.
There are also brilliant scholar-translators such as Arthur Waley, Burton Watson, and the author of the present book, A. C. Graham, men both expert in Chinese and artists in words whose versions can be equally impressive.
A. C. Graham, author of the present book and of such major works of scholarship as 'Chuang-Tzu : The Inner Chapters' (1981) and 'Disputers of the Tao' (1989) is generally reckoned, not without justice, to be one of the modern West's three greatest translators of Chinese poetry.
His book, after an extremely interesting 23-page essay on 'The Translation of Chinese Poetry,' offers us selections from seven major poets : Tu Fu, Meng Chiao, Han Yu, Lu T'ung, Li Ho, Tu Mu, and Li Shang-yin. Each of the poets is given a brief introduction, and the book ends with a useful list of references to the pages on which the original texts of the poems will be found in the 'Ch'uan T'ang shih' [Complete T'ang Poems] Peking, 1960.
'Poems of the Late T'ang' is one of my favorite books and I've often returned to it. All of Graham's versions read and work like original poems - their lines remain in the mind and become part of you - lines such as Meng Chiao's :
"Who will say that the inch of grass in his heart / Is gratitude enough for all the sunshine of spring ? " (p.63)
Personally I think that A. C. Graham deserves considerably more than an 'inch of grass in our hearts' for having instilled new life into the words of these ancient poets and given us such a superb book, a book that is deservedly considered a modern classic and one that belongs in the collection of anyone who is at all interested in Chinese poetry.