Spoor of Desire: Selected Poems
is available for $16.00 from FootHills Publishing, P.O. Box 68, Kanona NY 14856 or see www.foothillspublishing.com.

Tourist Snapshots is available for $8.95 from Randy Fingland, CC Marimbo, P.O. Box 933, Berkeley CA 94701 or see www.ccmarimbo.com.

Dada Poetry: An Introduction was published by Nirala Publications. It may be ordered on Amazon.com for $25 plus shipping. American buyers may order a copy from me for $23 including shipping.

The other books are also available from the author William Seaton. Write seaton@frontiernet.net.

A categorized index of all work that has appeared on this site is available by looking under the current month in the Blog Archive section and selecting Index.

This site is listed in BlogCatalog and
Literature Blogs
Literature blog

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Four Quatrains by Wang Wei

Though I studied Chinese formally for only a year, I enjoyed working my way through these brief lyrics with the aid of a foot-high stack of reference books. Apart from my rudimentary knowledge of the language, Chinese poetry is so highly intertextual that I cannot pretend to any authority in these versions. The beauty and profundity of Wang’s work is perhaps not altogether lost.
Apart from the poems’ formal elegance, sensitive depiction of nature, and the implied Buddhist insights, I am struck by the Tang poets’ emphasis on friendship, a value often muted in the modern American world where romantic heterosexual love tends to displace other emotions.

In spite of the emphasis on the natural world in his poetry and paintings where people are either absent or diminutive and unlike some of his fellow Buddhists, Wang Wei took an active role in government administration. His poems have been consistently celebrated. For the imagist movement in modern English poetry, the use of his work by Fenollosa and Pound was most influential.


With mountains all around I see you off.
I shut my brushwood door at the day’s end.
Next spring the grass will once more come up green –
will you return again as well, fine friend?


My worthy friend just come from my birthplace,
I know you’ll tell me all the home town news.
The day you left, did you see blossoms on
the plum tree next to my silk window screens?

Chi Lake

With song of flute I cross to that far beach.
The sun now sets, my worthy friend has left.
Just by the lake I turn my head back once.
Above grey mountains curls the whitest cloud.

Luan Rapids

With sough of wind and fall of autumn rain,
shallow, shallow, water slips down rock.
All by themselves the waves collide and splash.
The snow white egret’s startled and descends.

No comments:

Post a Comment