The Great T'ang Poets


Fr. Jim at Dappled Things references a couple of epitaphs by Pound at the Widening Gyre. These epitaphs are for the great Chinese poets of the T'ang Dynasty Li Po and Tu Fu. (Yes, I use the Wade-Giles transliteration system rather than the abominable, unpronounceable, and often incomprehensible PinYin system, which, I swear, must have been developed with Irish orthography [explain to me sometime how Siobhan eventually becomes something vaguely like Jah-vahn]).

The post put me in mind of the fact that we have not much talked about the Chinese, Korean, and Japanese poets, and that is a shame. In future times I will post here not merely Tu Fu, Li Po, Wang-an Shih, Ou-yang Shih, Su-T'ung Po, but Saigyo, Basho, and others. The poetry (particularly of Li Po and Tu Fu) can be extraordinarily beautiful, but it is very strange to western ears and does take a certain amount of adjustment to read and appreciate. However, that said, even in translation, these poems can be quite lovely. And some of the Japanese Court poetry experiments lend themselves to a rather interesting possibility of internet collaborative poetry. One poet introduces a haiku (poem of 5/7/5 syllables or various other possibilities in English), the second "finishes" the Haiku into a Tanka by adding two seven syllable lines, and then adds an additional haiku that elaborates on the theme or diverts the theme into a new channel. I have done this numerous times and ended up with gigantic wandering poems, which, while not tremendous literature, were extraordinary fun to compose.

Anyway, more on oriental poets at a later date. Thanks Fr. Jim for the goad.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 6, 2002 8:31 AM.

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