One Hundred Poems from the Chinese

One Hundred Poems from the Chinese

One Hundred Poems from the Chinese

One Hundred Poems from the Chinese

Excerpt

This book is in two parts. First there are thirty-five poems by Tu Fu. They are based on the text in the Harvard Yenching Concordance to Tu Fu, of which one volume gives the poems themselves. I have taken note of William Hung's prose translations, of Florence Ayscough's literal renderings, and of the German of Erwin von Zach. Over the years I have had many discussions of the poems and my translations with Chinese friends, none of them specialists, notably my friend, C. H. Kwock. However, these translations are my own. In some cases they are very free, in others as exact as possible, depending on how I felt in relation to the particular poem at the time. The freer ones are usually those done long ago. I have had the work of Tu Fu by me since adolescence and over the years have come to know these poems better than most of my own.

The second part is a selection of poetry of the Sung Dynasty, most of it never in English before. Here, where I did not have a Chinese text at hand in the first place, for about half the poems, I usually translated from other Western languages, mostly the French of Soulié de Morant and G. Margouliès. Both of these translations have considerable merit as poetry in their own right. Later I took my translations to the originals and changed them around to suit myself. Again, what has resulted is my own responsibility, sometimes more literal, more often freer, than the Tu Fu renderings. I hope in all cases they are true to the spirit of the originals, and valid English poems.

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