Freshly translated poems reveal the complexity, self-realization, and spiritual freedom of three classical Daoist women poets.
Yin Mountainpresents a fascinating window onto the lives of three Tang Dynasty Daoist women poets. Li Ye (c. 734–784), Xue Tao (c. 768–832), and Yu Xuanji (843–868) lived and wrote during the period when Chinese poetry reached its greatest height. Yet while the names of the male poets of this era, such as Tu Fu, Li Bo, and Wang Wei, are all easily recognized, the names of its accomplished women poets are hardly known at all.
Through the lenses of mysticism, naturalism, and ordinary life, the five dozen poems collected here express these women’s profound devotion to Daoist spiritual practice. Their interweaving of plain but poignant and revealing speech with a compelling and inventive use of imagery expresses their creative relationship to the myths, legends, and traditions of Daoist Goddess culture. Also woven throughout the rich tapestry of their writing are their sensuality and their hard-wrought, candid emotions about their personal loves and losses. Despite that these poets’ extraordinary skills were recognized during their lifetimes, as women they struggled relentlessly for artistic, emotional, and financial independence befitting their talent. The poems exude the charged charisma of their refusal to hold back within a culture, much like our own, that was cosmopolitan yet still restrictive of women’s freedom.
Skillfully introduced and translated by acclaimed translators Peter Levitt and Rebecca Nie, these wonderful poems will resonate with the lives of spiritual practitioners today, especially women.
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