Because when is it not a good time for a Wang Wei reflection on age and pursuits. Asian poetry, especially the sparse verse often found in Japan and China, appeals to me more as I grow older. They are reflections based on experience; often, they are resignations to the greater entity or a sweet surrender to nature. They are observations based on lifetimes of passions and pursuits. They really are profound, but often they are tossed aside for their simplicity. That is really their greatest strength, though; they are adages boiled to their core. They are Truth.

Answering Vice-Prefect Zhang

Old now, I prefer stillness to sound:

The world’s noise no longer has my ear.

Without great plans, I attend simply to Self;

Empty of knowledge, I return to familiar woods.

A pine-wind unsashes my robe;

In mountain moonlight, I play my lute.

You ask me the cause of birth and death:

A fisherman’s song that sinks into coves.

trans., Stanton Hager

By Michael Gallagher

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

2 thoughts on “Wang Wei and stillness”
  1. I am flattered that Mr. Gallagher copied my translation of Wang Wei, which I left at, to his blog. But I wished he had noted my name as translator: not just as a courtesy to me but because, in the history of translations of Chinese T’ang poems into English, the translators who have signed on to illuminate the great poems of Wang Wei, Li Po, Tu Fu, et alii, have immensely failed to do the job (exceptions include Ezra Pound and Kenneth Rexroth). It is the grievous case that translations by Sino-academic poetasters, such as Burton Watson and David Hinton, abound, while poetic translations by accomplished poets are almost non-existent. Thus, it becomes as important for interested readers to know the names of those who translate Wang Wei as it is to know the name Wang Wei itself–so that one can seek out (online or in print) other T’ang poem translations by a translator whom one believes to have “delivered the goods.” At this point, my one published book–HUANGSHAN: POEMS FROM THE T’ANG DYNASTY (21st Editions, 2010)–was an $8,500-per-copy collaboration with photographer Michael Kenna in a signed and very limited edition available only in rare book rooms. However, I am dedicated to publishing a widely-available trade editon in the next two or three years, which I hope will be widely-bought and read, NOT because there’s the least chance I would become rich or famous from the enterprise but because the greatness of classic Chinese poetry, made luminously evident by Ezra Pound in 1915, has for 95 years been hijacked by countless translator hacks.

    1. Hello there Stanton Hager. Terribly sorry for this oversight and many thanks for bringing it to my attention as well as providing additional context here. I was not familiar with this background, so let me thank you for offering it as it does add to the experience of the poem itself. In fact, I will edit the post to include your name as translator.

      Please do let me know when you publish a trade edition as you mentioned as I would be happy to post that as well. All my best to you!

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