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Leopard

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Taiga?s True Views: The Language of Landscape Painting in Eighteenth-Century Japan by Melinda Takeuchi (1994-06-01)
Melinda Takeuchi
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David Hume
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Marcus Tullius Cicero, Raphael Woolf, Julia Annas
Das Goldene Vlies: Dramatisches Gedicht in Drei Abteilungen
Franz Grillparzer
Euripides IV: Rhesus / The Suppliant Women / Orestes / Iphigenia in Aulis
Charles R. Walker, Frank William Jones, William Arrowsmith, David Grene, Euripides, Richmond Lattimore
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Poems of Wang Wei - Wang Wei, G. W. Robinson Wang Wei (699/701 - 761) is often held up as a model for Chinese scholar-artists. He was an office holder in the T'ang dynasty administration, a poet, musician, calligrapher and painter. He is considered to be the father of the Southern School of Chinese landscape painting (unfortunately, it appears that none of his paintings have survived, though some later paraphrases of his painting still exist; some experts believe that the painting of which only a detail is shown above is by Wang Wei). Some 400 of his poems have survived, thanks to his brother, who was the prime minister at Wei's death and ordered that his poems be collected and preserved. It appears, however, that many of his poems had already been lost in the preceding turmoil during the rebellion of An Lu-shan. G.W. Robinson translates around one fourth of the surviving poems in this book and provides an interesting introduction and explanatory notes. And these are entirely necessary, not only for establishing social, historical and artistic context, but also because Chinese writers allude so often to previous works in the tradition. With a single phrase an entire work (and its history of commentary) is summoned to the mind of the connoisseur, and this is part of the intended effect of the poem. Clearly, most of this escapes a modern reader not immersed in the history of Chinese literature, though Robinson's notes lets one get a fleeting taste of this effect. But also most of the music of the poetry is lost in English translation. True, rhyme and rhythm could, in principle, conceivably be approximated, but then there is the additional poetry inherent in a tonal language. In Chinese (and Vietnamese and Thai) the "tone" in which the syllable is pronounced carries meaning - the same syllable said in different tones means completely different things. And, needless to say, great poets draw upon all of the resources of their languages to enhance their poetry. So, just as rhyme and rhythm schemes adorn poetry (familiar in Western poetry), also tone schemes play an important role in some genres of Chinese poetry. Wang Wei wrote primarily in one of these schemes... In light of all this, one can well decide (as I have seen some mention here in GR) that there is little point in reading (this and other) poetry in translation. Not me. For, as distant an approximation any modern English translation of classic Chinese poetry must be, one can still perceive something unmistakably unique; the connection may be full of static and most of the frequency range may be cut off, but meaning still comes through from a mind distant both in time and in culture. I'll tell you flatly: I love that. And it doesn't hurt at all that I happen to vibrate in a sympathetic manner to many of the characteristic elements of classic Chinese poetry. It also doesn't hurt that Wang Wei was a practicing Buddhist; his Buddhist quietism clearly informs his poetry, distinguishing his work at once from that of his famous contemporaries Li Po (Li Bai) and Tu Fu (Du Fu). Although both the translator and some reviews here at GR use the words "nature poetry" in connection with Wang's poetry, it does not aspire to the awe-full power of, say, Hsieh Ling-yün :http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/669899916 Much more than Hsieh, Wang was torn between his Buddhist desire to "withdraw from the world" and his attraction to social status and life at the T'ang court. This conflict is sometimes addressed in his poems. But he never did give up the world of the court, rising to his highest position shortly before his death. I find Wang's poetry (or at least this distantly refracted version of it) to be beautiful and moving, full of the joys and sorrows of life. Here is one from the end of his life:I sit alone sad at my whitening hairWaiting for ten o'clock in my empty houseIn the rain the hill fruits fallUnder my lamp grasshoppers soundWhite hairs will never be transformedThat elixir is beyond creationTo eliminate decrepitudeStudy the absolute.And, finally, one of his most distilled poems:It was near Kuangwu City I met the end of springA traveller returning from Wenyang handkerchief wet with tearsSilent silent falling flowers birds crying in the hillsGreen green the willows at our crossing place. (Once again, GR's text defaults forbid correctly reproducing the text's line breaks.)