Selected Lyrics of Tang and Five Dynasties Translated by Xu Yuanchong

(Ave of 1 Goodreads ratings)
Price: $22.66 $15.92 (Save $6.74)
Add to Wishlist

Ancient Chinese classic poems are exquisite works of art. As far as 2,000 years ago, Chinese poets composed the beautiful work Book of Poetry and Elegies of the South, Later, they created more splendid Tang poetry and Song lyrics. Such classic works as Thus Spoke the Master and Laws: Divine and Human were extremely significant in building and shaping the culture of the Chinese nation. These works are both a cultural bond linking the thoughts and affections of Chinese people and an important bridge for Chinese culture and the world. Mr. Xu Yuanchong has been engaged in translation for 70 years. In December 2010, he won the Lifetime Achievement Award in Translation conferred by the Translators Association of China (TAC). He is honored as the only expert who translates Chinese poems into both English and French. After his excellent interpretation, many Chinese classic poems have been further refined into perfect English and French rhymes. This collection of Classical Chinese Poetry and Prose gathers his most representative English translations. It includes the classic works Thus Spoke the Master, Laws: Divine and Human and dramas such as Romance of the Western Bower, Dream in Peony Pavilion, Love in Long-life Hall and Peach Blossom Painted with Blood. The largest part of the collection includes the translation of selected poems from different dynasties. The selection includes various types of poems, lyrics and Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasty songs. The selected works start from the pre-Qin era to the Qing Dynasty, covering almost the entire history of classic poems in China. Reading these works is like tasting "living water from the source" of Chinese culture. We hope this collection will help English readers "know, love and appreciate" Chinese classic poems, share the intelligence of Confucius and Lao Tzu, share the gracefulness of Tang Dynasty poems, Song lyrics and classic operas and songs and promote exchanges between Eastern and Western culture. This book is one of the 14 books of Classical Chinese Poetry and Prose, a translation of Confucian classics Thus Spoke the Master.
Sample Pages Preview
Sample pages of Selected Lyrics of Tang and Five Dynasties Translated by Xu Yuanchong (ISBN:9787508542072)
Sample pages of Selected Lyrics of Tang and Five Dynasties Translated by Xu Yuanchong (ISBN:9787508542072)
Sample pages of Selected Lyrics of Tang and Five Dynasties Translated by Xu Yuanchong (ISBN:9787508542072)


The word “lyric” used in this anthology refers to a poem composed to a certain tune. During the Tang Dynasty (618–907), the subject matter of a lyric often corresponded to the meaning of its tune title. For example, the Magpie on the Branch, a popular song selected here, deals with a magpie in the cage; the Dream of a Maid of Honour, the first literary lyric attributed to Li Bai, depicts the solitude of a young woman waking from the dream of her husband; Zhang Zhihe’s A Fisherman’s Song describes the happiness of a fisherman; Bai Juyi’s Everlasting Longing depicts the longing of a young wife for the return of her husband; Liu Yuxi’s Ripples Sifting Sand deals with the women washing gold from sand; Huangfu Song’s The South Recalled reveals the poet’s nostalgia for the Southern Country. Since the Late Tang, the subject of the lyric had gradually lost its thematic connection with the tune pattern.
In 1900, in a Buddhist monastery of Dunhuang were found the hand-copied manuscripts of over a thousand lyrics and songs which had been sealed and preserved there for almost a thousand years. Among the manuscripts we find a considerable number of popular songs that may be dated back to the Early Tang (c. 650) and that were sung during the Tang and Five Dynasties (907?960) period. Originally the lyric was considered a popular song form. The differences between a literary lyric and a popular song are as follows: (1) The former is characterized almost exclusively by the lyrical mode while the latter contains a variety of modes-narrative, dramatic and lyrical. For example, in the first popular song selected in this anthology, a dialogue is used to heighten the effect of dramatic action. (2) A popular song states feelings in a straightforward manner, simple and direct, while a literary lyric is subtle and refined. (3) The diction of the former is generally closer to the spoken, colloquial usage while that of the latter is literary.
Popular songs were composed by unknown poets or common people and sung by courtesans and musicians. The first literate who began to write lyrics was supposed to be Li Bai (701–762), whose two poems collected here deal with the sorrow of farewell and separation. Some scholars claimed that the Buddhist Dancers attributed to him was forgery for, in their view, that tune could not have been produced as early as the High Tang (c. 713–755). In fact, it was proved that in 742 a certain monk of Longxing Temple composed a song to the tune of Buddhist Dancers, which was found in the Thousand Buddha Caves at Dunhuang and is now preserved in the British Museum.
At first, the literary lyric was based on the poetics of the seven charactered quatrain, which could be set to music during the High Tang. The favorite tunes among the literati poets of the Middle Tang were those whose song words were written in exactly the same pattern as the seven-charactered quatrain, for example, Bai Juyi’s and Liu Yuxi’s Bamboo Branch Song and Willow Branch Song. Gradually some popular tunes changed into different metrical patterns, for instance, Liu Yuxi’s and Li Yu’s Ripples Sifting Sand. The contribution of literati poets to the lyric is that, while the persona in popular songs often starts by expressing a particular feeling explicitly and then dwells on it throughout the poem, the literati poets combine carefully the persona’s inner feeling and natural scenes to form a world of correspondence.
Selected Lyrics of Tang and Five Dynasties Translated by Xu Yuanchong