Broad Sea and Empty Sky

China’s Greatest Modern Poet, Xu Zhimo

translated by Dorothy Trench Bonett

Xu Zhimo (徐志摩, 1897-1931) was China’s first great modern poet, a major figure of the May Fourth intellectual revolution who remains supremely significant today. Educated in China (Peking University), America (Columbia and Clark), and England (Cambridge, where there is a monument in his honor), Xu was a pioneer who wrote in vernacular Chinese rather in the ancient classical language that had been used up until his time. A multiculturalist before this was fashionable, he fused elements of the English poetic tradition and that of East India with native Chinese traditions to create a body of work that spoke to his contemporaries at a critical time in their history and still speaks today. Rabindranath Tagore was a friend and mentor; he met and was influenced by Thomas Hardy and Katherine Mansfield and others such as Bertrand Russell and Goldsworthy Dickinson Lowes. Xu also was also in contact with every major Chinese literary figure of his day, becoming a huge influence on a younger generation inspired by his romantic embrace of the modern in both his work and his personal life.

This book contains the largest selection of Xu’s seminal poems ever translated into English, as well as a selection of some of his prose works. Essays by Bonett put the poet into context for English speaking readers and reveal links between his works and other modern poetry, both Chinese and non-Chinese.

Dorothy Trench Bonett is a poet and translator. She has published essays on Joseph Conrad and Alexander Pushkin, and previously translated Alexandre Dumas père (Noble Press, 1991). She has received Honorable Mention for the Der Hovanessian Prize for poetry translation, and has also won a prize for her original poetry. She studied Chinese at Yale, where Yu Ying-shih was her advisor and has taught Chinese at Hood College and Mount St. Mary’s University. Her translations of Xu Zhimo’s poetry have appeared in Delos and other magazines.

226 pp, 6 x 9, Soft
Chinese Poetry / World Literature
ISBN: 978-1-891640-98-8