Cloud Gate Song

The Verse of Tang Poet Zhang Ji

translated by Jonathan Chaves

Zhang Ji (c.766–c.830) was a major poet of the Tang dynasty, and friend and poetic correspondent of such giants as Bai Juyi and Han Yu. In this first book of his work in any Western language, 300 poems are rendered in accurate, readable translation, demonstrating the remarkable range of Zhang’s stylistic choices: from atmospheric landscape quatrains, evoking vast scenes with just a few brilliantly chosen words, to folk-style "Music Bureau" poems, conjuring up the impact on ordinary people of great historical events, such as the Tibetan invasions of China that took place during Zhang's lifetime.

Particularly unusual is that for the first time, the works of a major Chinese poet are rendered in rhymed, or half-rhymed translations, tracking the original rhyme-schemes that play such an important role in Chinese poetics. An in-depth introduction by Professor Chaves analyzes the two reasons—linguistic and stylistic—previous translators have tended to avoid rhyme in their English versions, and shows why both barriers can and should be overcome. He further places his translations in the context of the important Neo-formalist movement in contemporary American poetry.

Jonathan Chaves is professor of Chinese in the Department of East Asian Languages & Literatures at The George Washington University. A renowned translator and scholar of Chinese poetry, his work has won the Japan-United States Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature (Chinese-language poetry in Japan), and been nominated for the National Book Award in the translation category. He is also a published original poet.

176 pp, 5.25 x 8.5, Soft
12 line drawings and woodblock-print illustrations
Literature / Chinese poetry
ISBN: 978-1-891640-44-5