Calm Your Soul with Illuminating Poetry; Circling the Square by Michael Hamburger. Anvil. Pounds 7.95. about the Size of It by Tom Disch. Anvil. Pounds 9.95. the Dark Age by James Harpur. Anvil. Pounds 7.95). Mountain Home: The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China Translated by David Hinton. Anvil. Pounds 12.95. New Directions Anthology of Classical Chinese Poetry. Anvil. Pounds 12.95. Reviewed by RICHARD EDMONDS

The Birmingham Post (England), March 22, 2008 | Go to article overview

Calm Your Soul with Illuminating Poetry; Circling the Square by Michael Hamburger. Anvil. Pounds 7.95. about the Size of It by Tom Disch. Anvil. Pounds 9.95. the Dark Age by James Harpur. Anvil. Pounds 7.95). Mountain Home: The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China Translated by David Hinton. Anvil. Pounds 12.95. New Directions Anthology of Classical Chinese Poetry. Anvil. Pounds 12.95. Reviewed by RICHARD EDMONDS


Byline: by RICHARD EDMONDS

Anvil Press, once again, leads the field with a selection of recent poetry that is stimulating, beautiful and full of illuminating philosophies and lyrical thought.

Here and there are a quartet of lines which suddenly take your eye - it's a small amount in comparison to much larger poems, but it is remarkable how so much is said with such admirable brevity.

In David Hinton's Chinese selection, the poem Watching A White Falcon Set Loose says it all with touching brevity:

High in September's frontier winds,/white brocade feathers/the Mongol falcon flies alone,/a flake of snow,/a hundred miles, some fleeting spec of autumn in its eyes.

Lytton Strachey, that highly articulate member of the Bloomsbury Group once said: "Chinese poems are like odours. Whatever their subject, they remain ethereal - perhaps the western writer they suggest most constantly is Paul Verlaine."

Ezra Pound, the American poet, fell hopelessly in love with Chinese poetry.

The first line of translation from the Chinese, in one of his notebooks, is for a poem that he would later call The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter.

And the line in the notebook looked like this:

sho/mistress; hatsu/hair; Sho/first; fuku/cover; gaku/brow

And here is the poet Li Po, translated by Pound in The Anthology Of Classical Chinese Poetry:

Desolate castle, the sky, the wide desert./There is no wall left to this village./Bones white with a thousand frosts/High heaps, covered with trees and grass;/Who brought this to pass?

There is more throughout this lovely collection, all of it gorgeous, haunting and deeply moving.

After all, poets tell all, show all in a kind of cerebral strip-act, where the props are selfderision and a bleeding inner life. …

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Calm Your Soul with Illuminating Poetry; Circling the Square by Michael Hamburger. Anvil. Pounds 7.95. about the Size of It by Tom Disch. Anvil. Pounds 9.95. the Dark Age by James Harpur. Anvil. Pounds 7.95). Mountain Home: The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China Translated by David Hinton. Anvil. Pounds 12.95. New Directions Anthology of Classical Chinese Poetry. Anvil. Pounds 12.95. Reviewed by RICHARD EDMONDS
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