The Selected Poems of Tu Fu: Expanded and Newly Translated
A newly translated and substantially expanded version of Hinton’s landmark translation of Tu Fu, published on the thirtieth anniversary of that original edition.
TU FU (712-770 C.E.) has for a millennium been widely considered the greatest poet in the Chinese tradition, and Hinton’s original translation played a key role in extending that reputation to America. Most of Tu Fu’s best poems were written in the last decade of his life, during which he lived as an impoverished refugee fleeing the devastation of civil war. In the midst of this challenging life, Tu’s always personal poems managed to combine a remarkable range of possibilities: elegant simplicity and great complexity, everyday life and grand historical drama, private philosophical depth and social engagement in a world consumed by war. Through it all, his was a wisdom that can only be called elemental, and his poems sound remarkably contemporary:
Leaving the City
It's frost-bitter cold, and late, and falling
frost traces my gaze all bottomless skies.
Smoke trails out over distant salt mines.
Snow-covered peaks slant shadows east.
Armies haunt my homeland still, and war
drums throb in this far-off place. A guest
overnight here in this river city, I return
again to shrieking crows, my old friends.
This volume is published simultaneously with a book of Hinton’s essays that discuss the deep philosophical framework and untranslatable dimensions of Tu Fu’s poems: Awakened Cosmos: The Mind of Classical Chinese Poetry (Shambhala).
— from the book jacket
Praise for The Selected Poems of Tu Fu:
Hinton’s austerely beautiful translations . . . have always gone against the grain. He has been building, translation by translation, an English language for the Chinese conceptual world. . . In the twentieth century, Chinese poetry was translated into the American idiom by modernists like Ezra Pound and later poets including Kenneth Rexroth and Gary Snyder with a lightness of touch, a beguiling simplicity. Hinton is after the opposite: depth and boundlessness.
(The New York Review of Books: Madeleine Thien)
Tu Fu's richly layered work is well-represented in these crisp translations. One of the world's finest poets is made available here.