Yang Wan-li (trans. Jonathan Chaves):
I don’t feel like reading another book, and I’m tired of poetry—that’s not what I want to do. But my mind is restless, unsettled— I’ll try counting raindrop stains on the oilcloth window.
HSIN CH’I-CHI (1140–1207) Military general, provincial governor, and “pacification commissioner,” friend of Lu Yu, he wrote 1,626 surviving tz’u, set to 110 different melodies, as well as 120 other poems.
CHIANG CHIEH (1245–c. 1310) A minor functionary who, after the fall of the Sung, refused to serve the conquering Mongols and became a hermit. Only a hundred of his poems survive because, in the 19th century, a group of young poets who were ardent fans destroyed all the poems they considered inferior.
ON CHINESE POETRY
LU CHI [Achilles Fang was born to a Chinese family in Japanese-occupied Korea in 1910. He went to China as a student and remained until after the Second World War, collecting books, teaching German, Latin, and Greek, and editing the journal Monumenta Serica. In 1947, he moved to the U.S. to work on a Chinese-English dictionary project at Harvard, but was fired for embedding too many quotations from Finnegans Wake in the entries. He earned a Ph.D. there, writing an 865-page dissertation on the sources of the Cantos, which he refused to publish, and stayed on to teach until his retirement. During the St. Elizabeths years, Fang was Pound’s main interlocutor on things Chinese. His personal library was legendary and it was said that he knew everything, but he published little: some arcane and idiosyncratic scholarly articles; an introduction to Pound’s Confucian Odes; two volumes of a heavily annotated, unfinished translation of The Chronicle of Three Kingdoms; and a few miscellaneous translations. He died in 1995.]
Fang: “Lu Chi was China’s first articulate literary critic, and one of its greatest. He was born in 261 in the kingdom of Wu, where the Lu clan enjoyed the confidence of the Royal House. After the kingdom was conquered by the Chin, Lu Chi and his brother Lu Yün crossed the Yangtze to try their fortune in the northern capital. He was too scintillating for the comfort of his jealous contemporaries; in 303 he, along with his two brothers and two sons, was put to death on a false charge of high treason. A powerful