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Wang Wei CE Is Often Spoken Of, With His Contemporaries Li Po And Tu Fu, As One Of The Three Greatest Poets In China S , Year Poetic Tradition Of The Three, Wang Was The Consummate Master Of The Short Imagistic Landscape Poem That Came To Typify Classical Chinese Poetry He Developed A Nature Poetry Of Resounding Tranquility Wherein Deep Understanding Goes Far Beyond The Words On The Page A Poetics That Can Be Traced To His Assiduous Practice Of Ch An Zen Buddhism But In Spite Of This Philosophical Depth, Wang Is Not A Difficult Poet Indeed, He May Be The Most Immediately Appealing Of China S Great Poets, And In Hinton S Masterful Translations He Sounds Utterly Contemporary Many Of His Best Poems Are Incredibly Concise, Composed Of Only Twenty Words, And They Often Turn On The Tiniest Details A Bird S Cry, A Splinter Of Light On Moss, An Egret S Wingbeat Such Imagistic Clarity Is Not Surprising Since Wang Was Also One Of China S Greatest Landscape Painters This Is A Breathtaking Poetry, One That In True Zen Fashion Renders The Ten Thousand Things Of This World In Such A Way That They Empty The Self Even As They Shimmer With The Clarity Of Their Own Self Sufficient Identity


10 thoughts on “The Selected Poems of Wang Wei (New Directions Paperbook)

  1. says:

    In a past life I was mistakenly a poetIn a former existence I must have been a painterUnable to throw off my remnant habits I ve been reading a lot of Chinese poetry in translation lately I m in the early stages of researching my Master s dissertation I will be looking at how twentieth century western writers appropriated Chinese poetry and brought it into the modern world Wang Wei is one of the best poets I ve come across and he exemplifies the forms I will be discussing There s a certain simplicity in his words that is thoroughly deceptive Chinese poetry is bare and precise The language appears commonplace and ordinary It does not feel like an overflow of feelings or passion it is discreet Yet, for all that, it carries with it a certain persuasive power The poetry of Wang Wei is very much driven by descriptions of nature Regardless of what s happening in the world, whether it s war or a woeful departure, nature remains a beautiful inspiration Nothing can change that for him, as he marches on, as he plods through life, the splendour of nature remains Like so On Leaving the Wang River retreat At last I put my carriage in motionGo sadly out from these ivied pinesCan I bear to leave these blue hills And the green stream what of that It s deceptively simple These four lines carry so much meaning The narrator is leaving, but that doesn t matter The reasons for his departure aren t important The real world isn t important The issues are small and perhaps petty when faced with such glory His surroundings here mean to him, in this instance, than the whole of mankind combined Leaving the purity of the ivied pines behind is a lamentable loss Walking away from the blue hills, the hills of stability, of intelligence and of heaven itself is no easy departure They represent much It s all about the colours The sky and the sea are both blue, as are these symbolic hills And the stream, the green stream, that represents oneness with nature that is the hardest of all to walk away from The line at last I put my carriage in motion, says it all The reluctance is palpable Simple language is the key It would remiss though to dub Wang Wei a nature poet Such a thing ignores the mystical and spiritual elements to his writing Much of it was driven by love and loss, by the sorrows of human existence And he copes with such things rather well, as such there are echoes of Buddhist philosophy across his writing For example Suffering from the heat My thoughts went out to the worldTo somewhere utterly aloneFar winds came from a thousand milesRivers and seas washed impurities awayNow I realized the body is the afflictionAt last I knew, my mind has never awakenedHere is the way to Nirvana, the gateTo pass though the joy of purity.The words suggest a certain separation the physical world, to the world of possession and objects They recognise the impermanence of physical sensation, and that overcoming such an obstacle is the final hurdle on the road to enlightenment to nirvana Wang Wei is an excellent poet, and his words are moving They are driven by isolation, loneliness and will to reconcile with the natural order of things.


  2. says:

    Wang Wei 699 701 761 is often held up as a model for Chinese scholar artists He was an office holder in the T ang dynasty administration, a poet, musician, calligrapher and painter He is considered to be the father of the Southern School of Chinese landscape painting unfortunately, it appears that none of his paintings have survived, though some later paraphrases of his painting still exist some experts believe that the painting of which only a detail is shown above is by Wang Wei Some 400 of his poems have survived, thanks to his brother, who was the prime minister at Wei s death and ordered that his poems be collected and preserved It appears, however, that many of his poems had already been lost in the preceding turmoil during the rebellion of An Lu shan G.W Robinson translates around one fourth of the surviving poems in this book and provides an interesting introduction and explanatory notes And these are entirely necessary, not only for establishing social, historical and artistic context, but also because Chinese writers allude so often to previous works in the tradition With a single phrase an entire work and its history of commentary is summoned to the mind of the connoisseur, and this is part of the intended effect of the poem Clearly, most of this escapes a modern reader not immersed in the history of Chinese literature, though Robinson s notes lets one get a fleeting taste of this effect But also most of the music of the poetry is lost in English translation True, rhyme and rhythm could, in principle, conceivably be approximated, but then there is the additional poetry inherent in a tonal language In Chinese and Vietnamese and Thai the tone in which the syllable is pronounced carries meaning the same syllable said in different tones means completely different things And, needless to say, great poets draw upon all of the resources of their languages to enhance their poetry So, just as rhyme and rhythm schemes adorn poetry familiar in Western poetry , also tone schemes play an important role in some genres of Chinese poetry Wang Wei wrote primarily in one of these schemes In light of all this, one can well decide as I have seen some mention here in GR that there is little point in reading this and other poetry in translation Not me For, as distant an approximation any modern English translation of classic Chinese poetry must be, one can still perceive something unmistakably unique the connection may be full of static and most of the frequency range may be cut off, but meaning still comes through from a mind distant both in time and in culture I ll tell you flatly I love that And it doesn t hurt at all that I happen to vibrate in a sympathetic manner to many of the characteristic elements of classic Chinese poetry It also doesn t hurt that Wang Wei was a practicing Buddhist his Buddhist quietism clearly informs his poetry, distinguishing his work at once from that of his famous contemporaries Li Po Li Bai and Tu Fu Du Fu Although both the translator and some reviews here at GR use the words nature poetry in connection with Wang s poetry, it does not aspire to the awe full power of, say, Hsieh Ling y n Much than Hsieh, Wang was torn between his Buddhist desire to withdraw from the world and his attraction to social status and life at the T ang court This conflict is sometimes addressed in his poems But he never did give up the world of the court, rising to his highest position shortly before his death I find Wang s poetry or at least this distantly refracted version of it to be beautiful and moving, full of the joys and sorrows of life Here is one from the end of his life I sit alone sad at my whitening hairWaiting for ten o clock in my empty houseIn the rain the hill fruits fallUnder my lamp grasshoppers soundWhite hairs will never be transformedThat elixir is beyond creationTo eliminate decrepitudeStudy the absolute And, finally, one of his most distilled poems It was near Kuangwu City I met the end of springA traveller returning from Wenyang handkerchief wet with tearsSilent silent falling flowers birds crying in the hillsGreen green the willows at our crossing place Once again, GR s text defaults forbid correctly reproducing the text s line breaks.


  3. says:

    It feels weird to try to rate a collection of ancient Chinese poetry from the 700s c.e on the internet in the year 2017, so all I m really gonna say is this these poems are beautiful They conjure up such vivid imagery of mountains, rivers, and bamboo forests, of wild places and solitude There s an overwhelming feeling of peace to the writing, a simplicity and emotional depth that made me want to drop everything and spend the rest of the day painting landscapes I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed these, and by how much power these words still hold even 1300 years after they were written It made me feel very small in a really lovely way, if that makes any sense this little book is a reminder of how far reaching and meaningful art can be, even across centuries and continents.


  4. says:

    Huatzu Hill Flying birds away into endless spaces Ranged hills all autumn colours again I go up Huatzu Hill and come down Will my sadness never come to its end Willow Waves The two rows of perfect trees Fall reflected in the clear ripples And do not copy those by the palace moat Where the spring wind sharpens the good bye Fireflies pass across jewelled windows Voices have ceased in the golden palace One stays up through the autumn night, gauze curtained And a solitary light gleams on You ve just come from my village You must have news of my village That winter plum outside her curtained window Tell me, had it flowered when you left Light cloud, on the pavilion a small rain Remote cloister, at noon still shut Sit and regard the colour of the green moss That seems it will merge up into one s clothes A spider hangs in the empty window Crickets sing on the front steps The cold wind of the year s evening is here How are things with you now, my friend Inscription for a friend s mica screen This screen of yours unfolded Against that wild courtyard Can show you hills and springs Uncontrived with paint Human feelings turn over and over like the waves of the sea Light lines on a flat rock Dear flat rock facing the stream Where the willows are sweeping over my wine cup again If you say that the spring wind has no understanding Why should it come blowing me these falling flowers Lamenting white hairs Once a child s face now an old man s White hairs soon replace the infant s down How much can hurt the heart in one life s span We must turn to the gate to Nirvana where else can we end our pain We ve not seen We ve not seen each other now For a long time Each day at the head of the stream I remember us there arm in arm Arm in arm, at one we were And memory renews The pain of the sudden good bye If today s memory is thus How deep was feeling then


  5. says:

    WANG WEIThe Selected Poems After so many years, I m suddenly old,And each day my hair turns whiter stillBut wandering here, a glance betweenAll heaven and earth, who stays long In these twilight years, I love tranquillityAlone Mind free of all ten thousand affairs,Self regard free of all those grand schemes,I return to my old forest, knowing empty.No one s ever changed white hair back Might as well try conjuring yellow gold.A lone old man bone tired and dragon slow,I reach this temple of ch an stillness askingThe meaning of minds meaning but soonFar off, know emptiness is an empty disease.If you want to elude the old age disease,There is only one way study unborn life.I cared enough for Way in middle age,So now I m settled beside South Mountain.That healthy glow of youth fades into the dusk of old age, A child s dangling tufts transformed in a trice to white hair.A single lifetime, and so many things to wound this heart If you don t enter the empty gate where will you get free I assembled these lines in freestyle from the last page reading back towards the front, It is easy since every two lines are poetry on its own.I identify myself with the old poet.Everything fits, body and soul.


  6. says:

    I usually do not read poetry in translation, unless a it s a narrative poem or b it s translated by a poet who has essentially recreated the poem, rather than faithfully translating word by word In my opinion, poetry owes its beauty to the cadence of the language, a kind of rhythmic beat as the words trip over one another, which is well nigh impossible to achieve in translation However, I bought this book against my better judgement because it was going dirt cheap at a garage sale, and I felt the need to expand my reading horizon to ancient China.Well, I should have listened to my judgement, as the poems fell flat with me Wang Wei seems to be a nature poet, and all his poems are full of descriptions of the landscape No doubt they would be beautiful in the original Chinese, but in English they seemed repetitive and uninteresting.My review is not a judgement on the book, author or translator it is just my reading experience based on my personal preferences I am not rating the book, as I do not feel qualified to do so.


  7. says:

    WHAT EVERY EDUCATED CITIZEN OF THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW IN THE 21ST CENTURY INTRODUCTION TO THE IMMORTAL TANG DYNASTY POETS OF CHINA LI BAI LI PO , DU FU TU FU , WANG WEI AND BAI JUYI THE MEETING OF THE BUDDHIST, TAOIST AND CONFUCIAN WORLDS FROM THE WORLD LITERATURE FORUM RECOMMENDED CLASSICS AND MASTERPIECES SERIES VIA GOODREADS ROBERT SHEPPARD, EDITOR IN CHIEFThe Tang Dynasty 618 907 AD is considered the Golden Age of Chinese poetry and a time of cultural ascendency when China was considered the pre eminent civilization in the world At its commencement Chang an modern Xian its capital with over one million inhabitants was the largest city on the face of the Earth and a vibrant cosmopolitan cultural center at the Eastern end of the Eurasian Silk Road when Europe had declined into the fragmented Dark Ages of the post Roman Empire feudal era and the Islamic Golden Age of the Abbasid Caliphate was just beginning to rise to rival it with the construction of its new and flourishing capital at Baghdad China itself had suffered a similar fragmentation and decline with the fall of the Han Dynasty, equal in scope and splendor to the contemporaneous Roman Empire, but with the comparative difference that Tang China had acheived reunification while Europe remained disunited and had lost much of its Classical Greek and Roman heritage, only to be recovered with the Renaissance Tang Dynasty China by contrast was in a condition of dynamic cultural growth and innovation, having both retained its Classical heritage of Confucianism and Taoism but also assimilated the new spiritual energy of the rise of Buddhism, at the same time the European world assimilated the spiritual influence of Christianity and the Muslim world that of Islam Into this context were born four men of poetic genius who in the Oriental world would come to occupy a place in World Literature comparable to the great names of Dante and Shakespeare Li Bai Li Po , Du Fu Tu Fu , Wang Wei and Bai Juyi All of these geniuses were influenced by the three great cultural heritages of China Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, just as Western writers such as Dante and Shakespeare were influenced by the three dominant Western Heritages of Greek Socratic rationalism, Roman law and social duty and Christian spirituality and moral cultivation It was during the Tang Dynasty that Chinese culture became fully Buddhist, especially with the translations of Buddhist Scripture brough back from India by Xuanzong, the famous monk traveller celebrated in the Journey to the West Each poet was influenced by all three heritages, but with perhaps one heritage on the ascendant in each man in accordance with his temperament and worldview, with Du Fu emphasizing the social conscience and duty of Confucianism in his poetry, Li Bai the free spirit and dynamic natural balances of Taoism, and Wang Wei and Bai Juyi emphasizing the Buddhist ethos of detachment from this world and overcoming desire in quest of spiritual enlightenment THE GLORIOUS TANG DYNASTY HIGH POINT OF CHINESE CIVILIZATIONThe Tang Dynasty, with its capital at Chang an, then the most populous city in the world, is generally regarded as a high point in Chinese civilization equal to, or surpassing that of, the earlier Han Dynasty a Second Golden Age of cosmopolitan culture Its territory, acquired through the military campaigns of its early rulers, rivaled that of the Han Dynasty In censuses of the 7th and 8th centuries, the Tang records estimated the population at about 50 million people, rising by the 9th century to perhaps about 80 million people, though considerably reduced by the convulsions of the An Lu Shan Rebellion, making it the largest political entity in the world at the time, surpassing the earlier Han Dynasty s probable 60 million and the contemporaneous Abbasid Caliphate s probable 50 milliion and even rivaling the Roman Empire at its height, which at the time of Trajan in 117 AD was estimated at 88 million Such massive populations, economic and cultural resources would not be matched until the rise of the nations and empires of the modern era With its large population and economic base, the dynasty was able to support a large proportion of its population devoted to cultural accompishments as well as a government, Civil Service administration, scholarly schools and examinations, and raise professional and conscripted armies of hundreds of thousands of troops to contend with nomadic powers in dominating Inner Asia and the lucrative trade routes along the Silk Road Various kingdoms and states paid tribute to the Tang court, and were indirectly controlled through a protectorate system Besides political hegemony, the Tang also exerted a powerful cultural influence over neighboring states such Korea, Japan, and Vietnam, with much of Japanese culture, government, literature and religion finding its model and origin in Tang Dynasty China In this global Medieval Era we can say with fairness that while Europe went into fragmentation and decline until the Renaissance the two pre eminent centers of world civilization were Chang an of the Tang Empire and Baghdad of the Abbasid Caliphate and the Islamic Golden Age Two incidents characterize the interaction of these two Medieval Superpowers, and also affected literary production of the age The Battle of Talas and the An Lu Shan Rebellion The Battle of Talas of 751 AD was the collision of the two expanding superpowers, the Tang and the Abbasid Muslims, which in the defeat of the Tang Empire s armies resulted first in the halt of its expansion along the Silk Road towards the Middle East, and secondly, in the important transfer of Chinese paper making technology through captured artisans from China to the Arabs, an important factor fueling the Islamic Golden Age and its literature The An Lu Shan Rebellion, arising out of the doomed love affair of the Tang Emperor Xuanzong and the Imperial Concubine Yang Gui Fei disrupted all of China, perhaps causing the deaths of 20 30 million people, and affecting the personal lives and writings of all the poets including Li Bai, Wang Wei and Du Fu It also was the occasion of the Abbasid Caliph sending 4000 cavalry troops to help the Tang Emperor suppress the rebellion, a force that permanently settled in China and became a catalyst for growth of the Muslim population in China and Muslim Tang cultural interpenetration along the Silk Road It also became the subject of the Tang poet Bai Juyi s immortal epic of the Emperor, the Rebellion and the tragic death of the beautiful Imperial Concubine, Yang Gui Fei in The Song of Everlasting Sorrow THE COALESCING OF THE CONFUCIAN, TAOIST AND BUDDHIST WORLDS THE PARABLE OF THE THREE VINEGAR TASTERSThe Parable of The Three Vinegar Tasters is a traditional subject in Chinese religious painting and poetry The allegorical composition depicts the three founders of China s major religious and philosophical traditions Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism The theme in the painting has been variously interpreted as affirming the harmony and unity of the three faiths and traditions of China or as favoring Taoism relative to the others.The three sages of the tale are dipping their fingers in a vat of vinegar and tasting it one man reacts with a sour expression, one reacts with a bitter expression, and one reacts with a sweet expression The three men are Confucius, Buddha, and Lao Zi, respectively Each man s expression represents the predominant attitude of his religion and ethos Confucianism saw life as sour, in need of rules, ritual and restraint to correct the degeneration of the people Buddhism saw life as bitter, dominated by pain and suffering, slavery to desire and the false illusion of Maya and Taoism saw life as fundamentally good in its natural state Another interpretation of the painting is that, since the three men are gathered around one vat of vinegar, the three teachings are one.CONFUCIANISMConfucianism saw life as sour, in need of rules, social discipline and restraint to correct the degeneration of people the present was out of step with a golden past and that the government had no understanding of the way of the universe the right response was to worship the ancestors, purify and support tradition, instil ethical understanding, and strengthen social and family bonds Confucianism, being concerned with the outside world, thus viewed the vinegar of life as adulterated wine needing social cleansing.BUDDHISMBuddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, who first pursued then rejected philosophy and asceticism before discovering enlightenment through meditation He concluded that we are bound to the cycles of life and death because of tanha desire, thirst, craving During Buddha s first sermon he preached, neither the extreme of indulgence nor the extremes of asceticism was acceptable as a way of life and that one should avoid extremes and seek to live in the Middle Way Thus the goal of basic Buddhist practice is not the immediate achievement of a state of Nirvana or bliss in some heaven but the extinguishing of tanha, or desire leading to fatal illusion When tanha is extinguished, one is released from the cycle of life birth, suffering, death, and rebirth only then can one achieve Nirvana.One interpretation is that Buddhism, being concerned with the self, viewed the vinegar as a polluter of the taster s body due to its extreme flavor Another interpretation for the image is that Buddhism reports the facts are as they are, that vinegar is vinegar and isn t naturally sweet on the tongue Trying to make it sweet is ignoring what it is, pretending it is sweet living for illusion or Maya is denying what it is, while the equally harmful opposite is being overly disturbed by the sourness Detachment, reason and moderation are thus required.TAOISMTaoism saw life as fundamentally good in its natural state.From the Taoist point of view, sourness and bitterness come from the interfering and unappreciative mind Life itself, when understood and utilized for what it is, is sweet, despite its occasional sourness and bitterness In The Vinegar Tasters Lao Zi s Lao Tzu expression is sweet because of how the religious teachings of Taoism view the world Every natural thing is intrinsically good as long as it remains true to its nature This perspective allows Lao Zi to experience the taste of vinegar without judging it, knowing that nature will restore its own balance transcending any extreme, via Yin and Yang and The Dao, the underlying Supreme Creative Dialectic driving all things and human experiences LI BAI LI PO , SUPREME TANG DYNASTY LYRICIST AND TAOIST ADEPTLi Bai 701 762 came from an obscure, possibly Turkish background and unlike other Tang poets did not attempt to take the Imperial Examination to become a scholar official He was infamous for his exuberant drunkenness, hard partying and bad boy romantic lifestyle In his writing he chose freer forms closer to the folk songs and natural voice, though laced with playful fancy, as in the famous example of his lyric conversations with the moon He frequented Taoist temples and echoed the Taoist embrace of the natural human emotions and feelings that connection got him an appointment to the Imperial Court, but his misbehaviour soon ended in his dismissal Nonetheless, he became famous and invited into the best circles to recite his works He emphasized spontanaeity and freedom of expression in his works, yet created works of extraordinary depth of feeling Drinking Alone With the MoonA pot of wine amoung the flowers.I drink alone, no friend with me.I raise my cup to invite the moon.He and my shadow and I make three.The moon does not know how to drink My shadow mimes my capering But I ll make merry with them both And soon enough it will be Spring I sing the moon moves to and fro I dance my shadow leaps and sways.Still sober, we exchange our joys.Drunk and we ll go our separate ways.Let s pledge beyond human ties to be friends,And meet where the Silver River ends Popular legend has it that Li Bai died in such a drunken fit, carousing alone on a boat on a like, when he, drunk, leaned overboard to embrace the reflecion of the moon in the waters, and drowned.DU FU SUPREME POET OF SOCIAL CONSCIENCE AND ENLIGHTENED CONFUCIAN SPIRITDu Fu 712 770 was the grandson of a famous court poet, and took the Imperial Examination twice, but faied both times His talent for poetry became known to the emperor, however, who arranged a special examination to allow his admittance as a court scholar official His outspoken social conscience, denunciation of injustice and insistence on following the pure ideals of Confucianism however, alienated higher officials and his career was confined to minor posts in remote provinces, and his travels and observations were often the occasion of his poetry He acutely rendered human suffering, particularly of the common people, and his stylistic complexity and excellence made him the poet s poet as well as the people s poet for centures, as exemplified in his famous Ballad of the Army Carts Ballad of the Army Carts Carts rattle and squeak, Horses snort and neigh Bows and arrows at their waists, the conscripts march away.Fathers, mothers, children, wives run to say good bye.The Xianyang Bridge in clouds of dust is hidden from the eye.They tug at them and stamp their feet, weep, and obstruct their way The weeping rises to the sky Along the road a passer by Questions the conscripts They reply They mobilize us constantly Sent northwards at fifteenTo guard the River, we were forced once to volunteer,Though we are forty now, to man the western front this year.The headman tied our headcloths for us when we first left here.We came back white haired to be sent again to the frontier.Those frontier posts could fill the sea with the blood of those who ve died.In county after county to the east, Sir, don t you know,In villiage after villiage only thorns and brambles grow.Even if there s a sturdy wife to wield the plough and hoe,The borders of the fields have merged, you can t tell east from west.It s worse still for the men from Qin, as fighters they re the best And so, like chickens or like dogs they re driven to and fro.Though you are kind enough to ask,Dare we complain about our task Take, Sir, this winter In GuanxiThe troops have not yet been set free.The district officers come to pressThe land tax from us nonetheless.But, Sir, how can we possibly pay Having a son s a curse today.Far better to have daughters, get them married A son will lie lost in the grass, unburied.Why, Sir, on distant Qinghai shoreThe bleached ungathered bones lie year on year.New ghosts complain, and those who died beforeWeep in the wet gray sky and haunt the ear WANG WEI SCHOLAR OFFICIAL, RENAISSANCE MAN AND BUDDHIST POETWang Wei was one of the most prominent poets of the Tang Dynasty, but also a famous painter, calligrapher and musician He hailed from a distinguished scholar family, passed the highest Imperial Examination with honors and worked his way up the bureaucratic heirarchy, often assuming posts in far away provinces His poems displayed the high court poetic style witty, urbane and impersonal, reinforced by the Buddhist detachment and equanimity of his religious beliefs He became influential at the royal court until being captured in the An Lu Shan Rebellion, he was forced to work for the usurping Emperor, then punished by the reinstated Emperor In accordance with Chan Zen Buddhism his work reflects the detached and melancholy view of transitory life seen as illusion His official travels involving years of absence or threatened death far from home were often the occasion of many of of his poems Farewell to Yuan the Second on His Mission to AnxiIn Wei City mornibng rain dampens the light dust.By the travelers lodge, green upon green the willows color is new.I urge you to drink up yet another glass of wine Going west from Yang Pass, there are no old friends.BAI JUYI BO JUYI , AUTHOR OF THE SONG OF EVERLASTING SORROW, TALE OF THE DOOMED LOVE OF THE EMPEROR XUANZONG AND THE BEAUTIFUL IMPERIAL CONCUBINE YANG GUI FEIBai Juyi 772 846 of a later generation from the other three poets, passed the Imperial Examination with honors and served in a variety of posts He, like Du Fu, took seriously the Confucian mandate to employ poetry as vehicle for social and political protest against injustice He also, like Bai Juyi, tried to simplify and make natural and accessible his poetic voice, drawing closer to the people His most immortal classic is the Song of Everlasting Sorrow which presents in verse the epic tragic tale of the great love affair between Emperor Xuanzong and his Imperial Concubine, Yang Gui Fei, reminiscent of the tragedy of Romeo an Juliet, which ended during the An Lu Shan Rebellion as the army accused her of distracting the Emperor from his duties and corruption and demanded her death The poem relates how the Emperor sent a Taoist priest to find his dead lover in heaven and convey his devotion to her and her answer Our souls belong together, she said, like this gold and this shell Somewhere, sometime, on earth or in heaven, we shall surely meet And she sent him, by his messenger, a sentence reminding himOf vows which had been known only to their two hearts On the seventh day of the Seventh month, in the Palace of Long Life,We told each other secretly in the quiet midnight worldThat we wished to fly in heaven, two birds with the wings of one,And to grow together on the earth, two branches of one tree Earth endures, heaven endures sometime both shall end,While this unending sorrow goes on and on forever.SPIRITUS MUNDI AND CHINESE LITERATUREMy own work, Spiritus Mundi, the contemporary epic of social idealism featuring the struggle of global idealists to establish a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly for global democracy and to head off a threatened WWIII in the Middle East also reflects the theme of the Confucian ethic that literature should contribute to social justice and public morality Like Du Fu it abhors the waste, suffering, social irresponsibility and stupidity of war Like Li Bai it celebrates the life of nature and human emotions, including sexuality About a quarter of the novel is set in China, and one of its principal themes is a renewal of spirituality across the globe World Literature Forum invites you to check out the great Chinese Tang Dynasty poetic masterpieces of World Literature, and also the contemporary epic novel Spiritus Mundi, by Robert Sheppard For a fuller discussion of the concept of World Literature you are invited to look into the extended discussion in the new book Spiritus Mundi, by Robert Sheppard, one of the principal themes of which is the emergence and evolution of World Literature For Discussions on World Literature and n Literary Criticism in Spiritus Mundi SheppardEditor in ChiefWorld Literature ForumAuthor, Spiritus Mundi NovelAuthor s Blog Mundi on Goodreads Mundi on , Book I Mundi, Book II The Romance Robert Sheppard 2013 All Rights Reserve


  8. says:

    Midst the self detachment experienced in reading the poems of Wang Wei 699 761 surely an attainment of the state hoped for by the poet in the reader, as attained by the poet himself or rather, not himself, but at one with his most involved moments with the subjects of his own immersion is there an experience of the glimmer of the soul emerging forward from its suspended state.Through solitude comes quietude, from quietude, peace.So it is, when reading the best of these poems, along with a wandering of the spirit which we reflect on later as imagination, yet it is a sloughing of the self, and the entering of some other realm some sort of suspension from the present reality into a wistfulness of being other, elsewhere, not presently conscious of being here and now.Perhaps the most redolent of this magical state is the poem Song Of The Peach Tree Spring which is accompanied and illuminated by a prose version of the story recounted from T ao Ch ien which on its own made me love Wang Wei s poetry above that of Li Po or Tu Fu while reading the little classic compilation of their poetry If there were ever an evocation of the attainment of a state of paradise, lost in the harkening of the call of one s own country, impossible again to regain, this echoes so familiarly Apart from having multi layered meaning and symbolism the poet s attempts, success, and then impossibility of again attaining perfection in his art the sense of achieving this otherworldliness in meditative contemplation Zen Buddhism , and then seeing it carried off in the wind as one returns back to earth is the exact same sense of oneness of which Chuang Tzu s dream evokes, a little before Wang Wei s time Zhuang Zhou, 369 286 BC Once Chuang Tzu dreamt that he was a butterfly He did not know that he had ever been anything but a butterfly and was content to hover from flower to flower Suddenly he awoke and found to his astonishment that he was Chuang Tzu But it was hard to be sure whether he really was Tzu and had only dreamt that he was a butterfly, or was really a butterfly, and was only dreaming that he was Tzu On Love And Barley Haiku of Matsuo Bash , Penguin Classics 1985, p90.The entire transport of the poem Song Of The Peach Tree Spring evokes this sense of loss of self in some mystical paradise, and although the sense of loss is triggered in ourselves, the reader, it is not evident in the tone of the poem s ending, which rather expresses an acceptance of its not being found again, in the surety that one day it will This inner sureness is gently comforting within a sentiment so deeply familiar to we who know of the pain of loss in our lives, yet is of such reassuring sustenance So, in this sweep of feelings and gentleness of acceptance, Wang Wei s poems teach us both of the meaningfulness of Zen, and the comfort of the artist s genius a kind of comfort of quietude, in this sureness of attainment Further, it profoundly dissolves the separation of quotidian reality and the mystical call of the next life.I find the power in this expression phenomenal, transforming I feel intrinsically a part of the world this poet paints, for it speaks of a communing of the soul of a man a thousand years ago as if I were experiencing it with him this morning, a oneness where time is experienced as the same pool then and now.The most evocative and affecting of this collection 98 poems in all, plus the two prose stories are those which capture you in total immersion during which your time is suspended and you live present in that of Wang Wei s reverie This is an entirely new experience each time because of the impression of the poem in its place, its subject and its emotional landscape, but it is the same sense in the way that your own life is momentarily suspended in a magic of the time past, thus linking you to a form of wondrous solitude unlike your own reveries, your sense a wash of the poet s evocation of perfection.Of these moments, I have chosen my 10 favourite poems which lift you above all the others in some idyll of heaven or vivid emotional suspense The Wang River Sequence Song Of The Peach Tree Spring Passing the mountain cloister of the holy man, T an hsing, at Kanhua Temple Living in the hills Seeing off Chang the Fifth back to the hills Seeing off Ch en Tzu Fu to the east of the Yangtze In answer to Assistant Magistrate Chang Four poems on the pleasures of the country Watching a farewell Lines 2 Each of these poems has its individual colour , depending upon its principal sentiment loneliness, fondness, tranquility, the perception of the surrounding nature, the season or the weather and often all of these elements but they all carry one common quality the sense of solitude, of loneliness even, yet they bring with these usual sadnesses the balance of a calm, quiet acceptance of oneness with this wash of emotion And each one of these superb pieces captivates you in their world for a moment where your own dissolves completely.If poetry were painting, this is painting in dimensions.


  9. says:

    vague sound of birds in the valley I spent a long time over this little book, trying to contemplate the spaces the small poems leave G W Robinson s notes are pleasantly confrontational while also providing a strong intertextual and contextual background to the writing Really quite a wonderful book.


  10. says:

    The breeze in between thoughts.