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In Such Hard Times: The Poetry of Wei Ying-Wu Paperback – May 2009


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In Such Hard Times: The Poetry of Wei Ying-Wu + Lao-Tzu's Taoteching: With Selected Commentaries from the Past 2,000 Years + The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain
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Product details

  • Paperback: 365 pages
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press (May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556592795
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556592799
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 701,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M Jenkins on 15 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Wei Ying-wu (737-791) is considered one of the great poets of the T'ang Dynasty [618-907], ranked alongside such poets as Tu Fu, Li Bai, and Wang Wei. Strangely, though, only a handful of Wei Ying-wu's poems have ever been translated into English. Born into an aristocratic family in decline, Wei served in several government posts without distinction. He disdained the literary establishment of his day and fashioned a poetic style counter to the mainstream: one of profound simplicity centered in the natural world.

Award winning translator, Red Pine, is one of the world's leading translators of Chinese literary and religious texts. Red Pine translates 175 of Wei's poems and demonstrates why he is "one of the world's great poets." Presented in a bilingual Chinese-English format, with extensive notes and an informative introduction, In Such Hard Times is a long-overdue world premiere.

'[Translator] Red Pine's out-of-the-mainstream work is uncanny and clearheaded.'--Kyoto Journal

'Red Pine's succinct and informative notes for each poem are core samples of the cultural, political, and literary history of China.'--Asian Reporter" -Edited product description from Amazon.com

Having long been a fan of Red Pine's work, I was delighted to receive this volume (for which Red Pine won the Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize 2010). Once again Red Pine has done great service in providing, in English, a fine translation of a wonderful poet almost unknown in the West. Thank you Red Pine.
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By Jumanji99 on 6 Nov. 2014
Format: Paperback
nice translation
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Red Pine is Back! 29 Jun. 2009
By innerpattern - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Red Pine offers another treasure of innumerable value. I reverently place this alongside his Cold Mountain. But don't go thinking Wei Ying-wu reads the same as Hanshan! Wei is quite sentimental and devoted to his friends, his family, his old memories, and his home. He is constantly torn between government service and escaping the world to cultivate the Tao. Wei comes from a fallen noble house and his sense of duty never leaves him. When he drifts into the Tao his words become delicate brilliance. But Wei's ability to finely contrast (as opposed to sharply - Hanshan!) between these worlds is how Wei really makes his remarkable presence felt. Wei is a regular sort of man, struggling extraordinarily to take stock of his life and everything around him in the purest light, not a gatha slinging hero. He embraced all aspects of life, making good where he could. Not an easy thing to do in such hard times. As you will read about in the book, many things went wrong.

Red Pine provides illuminating notes to every poem. Many notes provide very specific context that significantly enhance the concise lines of Wei's (usually) 5 syllable structure. This being the first dedicated translation of Wei Ying-wu into English I'm guessing most people won't be familiar with specific events surrounding his life. Red Pine thankfully constructs a full, healthy picture of the man and his life.

I hope to never again find myself without the words of Wei Ying-wu!
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Returning a lost poet to sight 11 May 2011
By Glenn J. Shea - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Red Pine's most recently published book (June 2009) is IN SUCH HARD TIMES: The Poetry of Wei Ying-Wu (Copper Canyon). In it, Pine does what most translators dream of: he restores to sight an indisputably first-rank poet who has somehow fallen through the historic cracks. The combat zone in Wei's poetry is at once thoroughly Chinese and universal: the Confucian impulse to public service versus the Taoist/Buddhist impulse to introspection: the office versus the retreat, sociability versus solitude. Wei lived through one of the tumultuous events of Chinese history, the An Lu-shan Rebellion, and his life as a minor official was in a time of disorder and upheaval. The call to conscientious public service must have been overwhelming, but this was also a glory period in the long Chinese tradition of monastic reclusion, and the tension between the two is the great source of Wei's poetry. Wei's poems are to cousins and friends who are off in the distance of postings, promotions, exile or military service, or to the monks and priests he admired and befriended, out of sight in their mountain huts. These themes, so large a part of Chinese poetry, might threaten to seem conventional, and the simplicity and quietude of Wei's style allowed his work to fall out of favor. But Wei's poems are full of conviction and emotion, of moods superbly conveyed, and, in Pine's renderings, very live indeed. It's a beautiful and civilized book.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
not such hard times for good poetry 9 Mar. 2010
By Erik C. Pihl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The man who calls himself "Red Pine" has done the world a great service by providing it with these excellent translations. From the introduction it is apparent that these poems are but a small selection of the total work. Perhaps we will be lucky enough to have more in the future. I feel that the fact this book is presented in a bilingual format with copious notes only adds to the quality of what is already an excellent book.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Excellent presentation of a little-known master 2 Feb. 2010
By Alfredo Pizzirani - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book. Red Pine's translations are printed opposite the original text (Traditional characters). Each poem has an extensive introduction detailing the circumstances in which it was writing, and elucidating allusions in the text. You can learn a lot about the history and society of the mid-Tang by reading these notes. Overall, a very solid work, offering many hours of enjoyment.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Excellent 9 Feb. 2013
By Rain Tent - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As the other reviewers have said, this is just a lovely book. I'm thankful for the exemplary presentation of the poems (with the original Chinese along with explanatory notes, detailed and illuminating, on the left, and the English translations on the right), the great introduction, and even a reproduction of Yingwu's epitaph to his wife. Having read Poems of the Masters and The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain previously, I also think that, in my humble opinion, Red Pine's skill as a translator has also deepened. The translations are still crystal clear and unpunctuated (with minimal messing around with the original text), but the language is deeper, more beautiful as poetry, I think. Anyway, this is just a great book, a wonderful introduction to a great but somehow somewhat neglected poet (though being a great Tang poet, he's much less neglected than any of us can hope to be!), as Red Pine says.

Just one minor complaint - I wish that this book had a table of contents (with poem titles)! I was curious to look up a few specific poems when I first got it, and while seeing them in context made it all worth it, it still took more rummaging around than I would've liked. Then, when you want to go back and look at a certain poem, that too is a rather laborious process. Maybe I'll post a table of contents online, that people can print out and interleave with the book. But, anyway, what a great collection. And I, too, am looking forward to more from this person (Bill Porter) who calls himself "Red Pine"!
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