Taken to Heart: 70 poems from the Chinese - translated by Gary Young and Yanwen Xu
$17.00, ISBN 978-1-945680-58-8
The seventy poems that comprise this collection constitute an anthology, Elementary School Chinese Textbook (Jiangsu Edition), given to Chinese school children as a text to aid their instruction in Mandarin, and to introduce them to China’s rich literary history. The poems are considered representative of China’s highest poetic achievements from the Han Dynasty to the Qing. The study of these poems is also meant to subtly guide students toward an appreciation of traditional Chinese virtues, culture, historical events, and social etiquette. The poems are memorized by every student, and by the end of their course of study, Chinese children will have absorbed a storehouse of Chinese characters, and been steeped in a cultural tradition that spans more than two thousand years. We have striven to mirror the emotional state and the musical values of the originals. We chose to translate line by line, and have eschewed jumbling lines within individual poems. Chinese is such an allusive language, we could never hope to achieve the same concision in English, but we have tried to ring the appropriate notes, and to privilege characters with the closest English equivalents. Our primary motive has been to create moving poems in American English that capture as much of the original Chinese in mood, texture, and spirit as possible.
"These seventy poems are masterpieces from over a thousand years of classical Chinese poetry. Beauty and simplicity meld to convey an astounding landscape with both enchanting details and breath-taking vastness. This book takes the reader on an inspiring journey of discovery and enrichment."
—Yun Wang - author of The Book of Mirrors
“Taken to Heart is a superb book. Based on a Chinese anthology, it is a wonderful survey of classical poems from the Han to the Qing dynasties. The co-translators began with the utmost fidelity to the originals—and they went on to make beautiful poems in English. This is a collection to return to year after year, to slowly enter the heart of seventy great works, and to treasure the power of timeless poetry.”
—Deng Ming-Dao, author of 365 Tao
Gary Young is the author of several collections of poetry. His most recent books are That’s What I Thought, winner of the Lexi Rudnitsky Editor’s Choice Award from Persea Books, and Precious Mirror, translations from the Japanese. His other books include Even So: New and Selected Poems; Pleasure; No Other Life, winner of the William Carlos Williams Award; Braver Deeds, winner of the Peregrine Smith Poetry Prize; Days; The Dream of a Moral Life, which won the James D. Phelan ward; and Hands. He has received a Pushcart Prize, and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, and the Vogelstein Foundation among others. In 2009 he received the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. He teaches creative writing and directs the Cowell Press at UC Santa Cruz.
Yanwen Xu was born in Xuzhou, China. He now studies Computer Science and writes at the University of California, Santa Cruz.