Selected Poems of Su Tung-pʻo
Poetry. " A man from a family of modest means, west central China, upper reaches of the Yangtze, travels downriver at 18 and passes, first time he takes it, the most prestigious civil service examination in the empire. Same year he marries a 15-year-old bride, and goes out on his first government assignment. He serves as a major administrator, then falls into disfavor and serves time in jail and is exiled. He develops a hardscrabble farm in the south, studies with a Zen master, runs rivers and climbs peaks, writes hundreds of letters, drinks wine with friends, and through it all is always writing poems. Brought back, he serves again, and then is exiled to a remote tropical island. Two wives having died, he travels south with his lover. Back in favor once more, he dies before he can get settled in a new home. He was also a marvelous calligrapher, whose large firm free writing can be seen in the museum in Taipei. He is considered one of China's top poets. He lived in the 11th century A.D., when China was in some ways more 'modern' artistically and intellectually than 20th century America. Burton Watson's splendid translation is a real gift. Su Tung-p'o's elegant, diverse poems are full of compassion, vision, the sense of the moment, the sweetness and hardness of life. What a joy to meet his bright, undefeated spirit" -Gary Snyder.
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