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One Hundred Poems from the Chinese

4.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  396 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
The lyric poetry of Tu Fu ranks with the greatest in all world literature. Across the centuries—Tu Fu lived in the T'ang Dynasty (731-770)—his poems come through to us with an immediacy that is breathtaking in Kenneth Rexroth's English versions. They are as simple as they are profound, as delicate as they are beautiful.

Thirty-five poems by Tu Fu make up the first part of t
Paperback, 145 pages
Published January 17th 1971 by New Directions (first published 1956)
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Nov 12, 2015 Steve added it
Shelves: chinese, poetry
Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982), American poet, literary critic and essayist, was also an interesting translator of classical Chinese and Japanese poetry. Not unexpectedly, his interest in such poetry influenced his own poems, and, necessarily, his own poetics strongly influenced his translations. An interesting side note in this connection is that he "translated" a book of poems, The Love Poems of Marichiko , by "a young Japanese woman", which convincingly reflected the feelings of a then contempo ...more
Aug 24, 2014 Eric rated it really liked it
Rexroth has here rendered, not C, but CXIV poems from the Chinese, into an English at home with Pound in his block of Chinese cantos--flanked, those, by the fifth decad and dambed Adams ones, and thereby excepting in relation to the present volume, of course, any political or economical affinities; which is to say, this too of course, that Rexroth's isn't the stuff of Kung transposed to verse. ... The points being: (i) isolation, and (ii) elegant compression, but which latter this reader must qu ...more
I took an Asian Poetry course during my undergrad years (in my university's East Asian Studies department). As our initiation into Chinese verse, our class was asked to read a Penguin Classics translation of Li Po and Tu Fu. From this assignment, I took away the impression that classic Chinese poetry does not suit my taste well: I found it orderly to a fault, weighed down with end-stopped ideas, rather static nature imagery, Confucian doctrinairism, irritating sentimentality about the hearth of ...more
May 24, 2013 e rated it really liked it

I raise the curtains and go out
To watch the moon. Leaning on the
Balcony, I breathe the evening
Wind from the west, heavy with the
Odors of decaying Autumn.
The rose jade of the river
Blends with the green jade of the void.
Hidden in the grass a cricket chirps.
Hidden in the sky storks cry out.
I turn over and over in
My heart the memories of
Other days. Tonight as always
There is no one to share my thoughts.

—Chu Shu Chen
Alice Urchin
Jun 03, 2013 Alice Urchin rated it it was amazing
Did not expect to love this as much as I do. I have a Chu Shu Chen addiction now.
Jan 24, 2011 James rated it it was amazing
Rexroth held court at the University of California in Santa Barbara for some time, so his influence spread not only among an entire generation of poets (and photographers and sculptors and potters and songwriters and so on), but also among many of my closest friends in the religious studies department. Because most of us had little or no background in Mandarin at that time, these translations were important to us for giving artistic expression to the blend of Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist sens ...more
Jul 21, 2013 Cornerofmadness rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
For me reviewing poetry is a difficult thing. I’ve had this book for years and finally pulled it down off the shelf. I didn’t even realize that all the poems here are so very old. Thirty-one of the hundred are from the poet Tu Fu who lived in the T’ang dynasty back in the 700s. And yet, he could have been writing today in so many of them. In all of the poems, Tu Fu’s and others, the seasons, love and loss pay a huge roll. There as several from the Sung dynasty (the remaining poems from the 10th- ...more
Rkb 2015
Sep 23, 2015 Rkb 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: lovers of poetry
Recommended to Rkb by: Amy

Does anyone know the significance of the number 10,000 in Chinese poetry?
Amy "the book-bat"
This collection of Chinese poetry really appealed to my senses. The imagery was beautiful and I could almost hear the chirping birds and flowing water and smell the blossoming flowers. My favorite grouping was the poems of Tu Fu. These poems were written back in the 700's and still feel fresh today. Most of the other poems in the book were written between 1000-1150 and are well worth the read. Some of the poems had a darkness to them. They oozed melancholy and made it beautiful. I am really glad ...more
Matt Morris
Read my review of this & other books at
Mohammed AlDhafeeri
Jan 17, 2015 Mohammed AlDhafeeri rated it it was amazing
I wouldn't say more than what the others have said.. Tremendous feeling when reading those poems..
Kenneth Rexroth did great job on those translations.
Dec 24, 2014 Micki rated it really liked it
Eloquent, simple, moving. These poems show shared emotions from a very different culture.
Frederick Gault
May 15, 2016 Frederick Gault rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I found some of the translations less elegant than the same poems elsewhere.
R.K. Cowles
May 29, 2016 R.K. Cowles rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars
Jul 17, 2012 Avi rated it really liked it
I will just give it stars for the poets and poems I enjoyed. I didn't like much of Tu Fu (except Jade Flower Palace and To Wei Pa, a Retired Scholar). I liked Mei Yao Ch'en, Ou Yang Hsiu, Su Tung P'o (mostly his moments of melancholy or humor). I liked Lu Yu's I Get Up at Dawn. Hsu Chao's The Locust Swarm was delightfully creepy, google for it immediately. I'm somewhat frustrated that I can't find more poems by that author or information about him or her. Yet. I enjoyed Chu Shu Chen too.
Feb 12, 2008 Andrew rated it really liked it
Still in the Tu Fu poems, which are beautiful and manage to catch the incised quality of Tang poetry without stiltifying it. But, I only wish Rexroth and New Directions had included facing originals and used Pinyin instead of the defunct and misleading old Wade Giles system of transliteration. Particularly in regard to lexicography, a universal system, like Pinyin, is indispensible to Western acolytes of the Chinese language.
Nov 15, 2009 Daniel rated it liked it
This is full of lovely imagery, ideal for for cold rainy days. I don't understand a lot of the poems that Rexroth claims to be sublime, but maybe when I'm older I'll understand. I find some of the lines with explicit philosophical recommendations or theses to be overbearing, but they are balanced by the powerful descriptive lines that are offered neutrally and win you over immediately.
Jan 19, 2008 jeremy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, translation
xiv loneliness

a hawk hovers in air.
two white gulls float on the stream.
soaring with the wind, it is easy
to drop and seize
birds who foolishly drift with the current.
where the dew sparkles in the grass,
the spider's web waits for its prey.
the processes of nature resemble the business of men.
i stand alone with ten thousand sorrows.

~tu fu
Sep 08, 2013 Krista rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I know this is classic poetry and considered in some circles more exalting than Whitman, but by the end it seemed monotonous. The river, the mountains, the seasons, oh my.
Jun 17, 2013 Aran rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Organization was somewhat clunky--notes at the end were quite illuminating. Would've been more useful to see them on same page as poem.
Jan 27, 2011 Clif rated it it was amazing
This is a must-read book. The Chinese poems are warm, human, and indelible. Rexroth's translations are limpid and economical.
Sep 08, 2009 Tyler rated it really liked it
My first fully translated collection. Nice straight forward poems. Repetitive topics, but touching nonetheless.
D. Smith
Apr 09, 2010 D. Smith rated it really liked it
It's always good to revisit this classic in Am. Lit. and see again how much it influenced a generation of poets.
Mar 26, 2010 Greg rated it it was amazing
Not sure how anyone could not like this 5 stars worth. Not only very decent poetry, but a mini history lesson as well!
Aug 03, 2012 Bpaul rated it it was amazing
This book rocked my world when I was young and working hard on my poetry.
Ojo Taylor
Used this for text settings of a song cycle. Beautiful.
Jana Denardo
Jul 21, 2013 Jana Denardo rated it liked it
Shelves: poerty
Lovely book of poetry from the T'ang and Sung dynasties
May 05, 2008 Doggy marked it as to-read
I'm curious about the translation.
Michael Hinsley
Apr 18, 2010 Michael Hinsley rated it it was amazing
A gifted translator.
Ryan Reeves
Ryan Reeves rated it really liked it
Jun 19, 2016
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Kenneth Rexroth was an American poet, translator and critical essayist. He was among the first poets in the United States to explore traditional Japanese poetic forms such as haiku. He is regarded as a chief figure in the San Francisco Renaissance.
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