I’m a new subscriber and I’ve been loving reading these poems, but I don’t know the history well and I’m wondering if you have a post somewhere about the tang dynasty and why you are focusing on the poems from that time period? I’d love to understand the setting these poets were writing from and why they are of particular influence!

Thank you so much for your incredible work, and for including both the English and Chinese translations, in verse too! I love it!

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Hi, Elle. I really liked your post on the state of publishing.

I don't know that I ever have done a post like that, that's worth thinking about. Briefly, the Tang Dynasty (618-907) is China's "golden age" (historical mythmaking is as dodgy in China as it is everywhere else, but that's certainly how the myth goes). There was an outpouring of cultural production, and a surprisingly large amount has survived.

Within China, Tang poetry remains a very important cultural resource. These poems are taught throughout the school years, and they contain lots of coinages and images that are still widely used. They basically play the same role in Chinese as Shakespeare does in English.

But the English translations of Tang poetry have tended to be quite drab. In fact, because of a certain combination of historical factors, the *poetic* features of the poetry - the rhyme and meter - have been completely ignored. I wanted to do some translations that try to represent in English they way they feel in Chinese.

I'll think about how to explain this more clearly, and maybe write some posts in future. Thanks for asking the question!

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Oh I didn’t realize that about the Tang! So the time period was kind of a cultural Renaissance in that way? I’ve been studying Tao Yuanming’s poetry which I guess is pre-Tang. But it is leading me to explore others as well (which led me to your Substack). I can appreciate what you’re saying about how difficult it is to translate. Every line is four characters in my text but sentence length in English! Anyway thank you for what you’re doing!

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