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The Late Poems of Wang An-Shih

By Wang An-Shih
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Book Details
  • Author: Wang An-Shih
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
  • Published: 2015-03-17
  • Edition: 1
Wang An-shih (1021-1086 C.E.) was a remarkable figure—not only one of the great Sung Dynasty poets, but also the most influential and controversial statesman of his time. Although he had little interest in the grandeur of high office and political power, Wang rose to no less a position than Prime Minister. As Prime Minister, he instituted a controversial system of radically egalitarian social reforms in an effort to improve the lives of China's dispossessed peasants. Wang then left politics and followed his true interest retiring to a reclusive life of artistic and spiritual self-cultivation. It was after his retirement that Wang An-shih wrote the poems on which his reputation is based. Wang spent those later years practicing Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism and wandering the mountains around his home, and that Taoist/Ch'an cultivation of the rivers-and-mountains realm shapes his poems. These late poems are short and plain-spoken, but always with profound resonances. They won him wide acclaim across the centuries in China and beyond; and here he enters English for the first time, feeling like a major contemporary poet who is especially interesting for the deeply ecological approach of his poetic thinking.