Silk Dragon

Silk Dragon

Translations from the Chinese

Kage-an Books

Edited by Arthur Sze

Published by: Copper Canyon Press

Imprint: Copper Canyon Press

156 Pages, 5.50 x 9.00 x 0.30 in

  • Paperback
  • 9781556591532
  • Published: June 2001


Arthur Sze has rare qualifications when it comes to translating Chinese: he is an award-winning poet who was raised in both languages. A second-generation Chinese-American, Sze has gathered over 70 poems by poets who have had a profound effect on Chinese culture, American poetics and Sze's own maturation as an artist. Also included is an informative insightful essay on the methods and processes involved in translating ideogrammic poetry.


by Tu Fu

can only look out alone at the moon.
From Ch'ang-an I pity my children
who cannot yet remember or understand.

Her hair is damp in the fragrant mist.
Her arms are cold in the clear light.
When will we lean beside the window
and the moon shine on our dried tears?

Sze's anthology features poets who have become literary icons to generations of Chinese readers and scholars. Included are the poems of the great, rarely translated female poet Li Ching Chao alongside the remorseful exile poems of Su Tung-p'o. This book will prove a necessary and insightful addition to the library of any reader of poetry in translation.

The poets include:
T'ao Ch'ien
Wang Han
Wang Wei
Li Po
Tu Fu
Po Chü-yi
Tu Mu
Li Shang-yin
Su Tung-p'o
Li Ch'ing-chao
Shen Chou
Chu Ta
Wen I-to
Yen Chen

Arthur Sze is the author of six previous books of poetry, including The Redshifting Web and Archipelago. He has received the Asian American Literary Award for his poetry and translation, a prestigious Lannan Literary Award, and was recently a finalist for the Leonore Marshall Poetry Prize. He teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

from A Painting of a Cat

Nan Ch'uan wanted to be reborn as a water buffalo,
but who did the body of the malicious cat become?
Black clouds and covering snow are alike.
It took thirty years for clouds to disperse, snow to melt.

-Pa-ta-shan-jen (1626-1705)

The Last Day

Water sobs and sobs in the bamboo pipe gutter.
Green tongues of banana leaves lick at the windowpanes.
The four sur