One Hundred More Poems from the Chinese: Love and the Turning Year

One Hundred More Poems from the Chinese: Love and the Turning Year

One Hundred More Poems from the Chinese: Love and the Turning Year

One Hundred More Poems from the Chinese: Love and the Turning Year

Synopsis

This is a collection of translations from Chinese done down the years solely to please myself. It is offered with no pretense to scholarship or to mastery of that complex subject, Sinology.

Kenneth Rexroth's translations of Chinese verse include "poems of love, reverie and meditation in the midst of nature." As in his earlier One Hundred Poems from the Chinese, he adds even a few more "for good measure and good luck." Love and the Turning Year includes a selection from the Yueh Fu––folk songs from the Six Dynasties Period (fourth-fifth centuries A.D.). Most of the songs are simple, erotic lyrics. Some are attributed to legendary courtesans, while others may have been sung at harvest festivals or marriage celebrations. In addition to the folk songs, Rexroth offers a wide sampling of Chinese verse: works by 60 different poets, from the third century to our own time. Rexroth always translated Chinese poetry––as he said––"solely to please myself." And he created, with remarkable success, English versions which stand as poems in their own right.

Excerpt

This is a collection of translations from the Chinese done down the years solely to please myself. It is offered with no pretense to scholarship or to mastery of that complex subject, Sinology. I have translated the pieces I enjoyed reading and I have enjoyed translating them, so I hope readers will find them enjoyable.

We are often told that the Chinese seldom write love poems. This is not true. From the beginning in The Book of Odes, the Shi Ching, there is a great deal of Chinese love poetry. True, the Confucian scholar gentry were given to the amusing and ingenuous habit of interpreting these poems as political allegories, but they obviously are not. Even the English tide of the collection is misleading. It should be The Folk Song Classic. Each dynasty has made collections of folk songs, most of them love songs, and the literary poets have written imitations of them. a large proportion of the poems in this book of mine are song poems and many of them are love poems.

Now that I have put them all together and read them over I realize that they need no explanatory introduction and only biographical notes. I have avoided poems with references to Chinese historical and literary figures or to Chinese customs and beliefs unknown in the West. I have tried to keep the transliteration of Chinese names simple and uniform, using the modified Wade system commonly used in America. This is not Chinese, of any period, but it will do. Vowels are pronounced as in Italian: ai is English "i", ei is "a", ou is "ow". Ch' t', k', ts', p', tz' may be pronounced as spelled, but rather sharp-

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