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The Selected Poems of Po Chü-i


Po Chü-i (772-846 C.E.) is the quintessential Chinese poet. For although clear thought and depth of wisdom deeply informs the work of all major ancient poets (as opposed to the complexity and virtuosity often valued in the West), Po makes clarity itself his particular vision.


Po Chü-i rose from humble beginnings to high government office, but he was always a recluse at heart and spent many years in relative seclusion. Although some of Po Chü-i's most famous poems are poems of social protest, many of his finest poems are private and meditative. Living at the very center of his life, he could invest the most commonplace experience with remarkable depths— depths which can only be called spiritual, for they reflect Po's deep interest in Taoist philosophy and his life-long devotion to Ch'an (Zen) Buddhist practice.


Throughout the twelve centuries since his death, Po has been generally acclaimed as one of China's very greatest poets. But in spite of his preeminent stature, this is the first edition of his poems to appear in the West.


                       — from the book jacket



New Directions

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