The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry

The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry: From Ancient to Contemporary, the Full 3,000-Year Tradition; Anchor Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, New York, 2005, and Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto; Edited by Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping, copyright 2005 by both, above.

From the Zhou Dynasty (1122-256BCE) to the present century, this work pulls together a good representation of the various styles that evolved over the years, and gives a good glimpse into the times, summing up in quick history the events and feelings of the times in which the poems were written. Some of my favorites from these selections include:

Meng Jiao (Male) (751-814), whose down-trodden style livens his work (unappreciated by some) in the works, “Complaints” and “Song of the Homebound Letter.”

Liu Yuxi (Male) (772-842): His outspoken political poetry caused his repeated exiles and demotions from posts he had attained. “Mooring at Niuzhu at Dusk”, “Black-Uniform Lane” and “Looking at Dongting Lake” are all nice.

Liu Zongyuan (Male) (773-819): Nice imagery drawn in his many styles, he is one of only two Tang Dynasty poets to have been included in “Eight Great Prose Masters of the Tang and Song (sic).”

Zhang Ji (Male) (c.776-c.829): Contemporary of Meng Jiao, who helped him obtain employment alongside himself. “Song of a Virtuous Woman” and “Arriving at a Fisherman’s House at Night” are both good.

Yuan Zhen (Male) (779-831): Appreciate a paragraph taken from “Missing Her After Separation.”

Li He (Male) (791-817): Led a very short life, and was mostly unappreciated during his days. I think he’s fantastic. “Twenty-Three Horse Poems” and “Shown to my Younger Brother” are both very nice.

Wei Zhuang (Male) (836-910): Very nice poetry. Beautiful wording, some as simple as simplicity — “To The Tune of Daoist Princess.”

Wang Anshi (Male) (1021-1086): Torturously pulled words beat into beautiful configurations — “Plum Blossoms” and “Late Spring, a Poem Improvised at Banshan” are particularly nice.

Su Shi (Su Dongpo) (Male) (1036-1101): “Boating at Night on West Lake” is nice. “Brushed on the Wall of Xilin Temple” is perhaps an allegory of how one cannot see one’s true self as one is, just as a mountain appears different from where one stands. In “To the Tune of ‘Prelude to the Water Song'”, he notes that the same moon can be shared by people who are even a thousand miles apart.

Other notable poets include:

Yang Shen (Male) (1488-1599): “On Spring.”

Feng Ban (Male) (1602-1671): “A Poem in Jest.”

Huang Zongxi (Male) (1610-1695): “A Stray Poem Written While Living in the Mountains.”

Jiang Shiquan (Male) (1725-1785): “A Comment on Wang Shigu’s Painting Portfolio.”

Zhao Yi (Male) (1727-1814): “In A Boat.”

Wen Yiduo (pen name of Wen Jiahua) (Male) (1899 – 1946): “Miracle” has nice phrasing. Parts of it I didn’t like, as he calls the miracles of nature ordinary, but it seems like he is saying that he can’t help but to cry at the birdsong of orioles. How beautiful.

Lin Huiyin (Female) (1904 – 1955): “Sitting in Quietude” has a dainty feel.


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