The Selected Poems of Tu Fu

by Tu Fu, trans. David Hinton


Curator Reviews

The Selected Poems of Tu Fu

From Ezra Pound to Tracy K. Smith most recently, there exists a long tradition of western poets who translate Chinese poetry relying on their own internal poetic compass rather than knowing the source language. Translator David Hinton stands fundamentally opposed to that practice. His career has been slavishly devoted to Chinese classical poetry (which reads to modern Chinese readers as Middle English poetry does to us), not only translating it for grammatical and syntactical precision, but also with an eye for recreating in English the coherent worldview of that era and dynasty. (The book, in fact, was published alongside a separate and equally fascinating volume exploring the untranslatable aspects of Chinese cosmology and philosophy, Awakened Cosmos: The Mind of Classical Chinese Poetry) With the structure of his selection of Tu Fu’s works, Hinton also illuminates, perhaps for the first time for English readers, the biographical sweep of the poet’s writing—namely his constant dodging of civil war—and reveals the beloved nature poet as a chronicler of the refugee experience.