The Silk Dragon II

Arthur Sze

In The Silk Dragon II, National Book Award–winning poet Arthur Sze presents a sophisticated vision of the vitality, diversity, and power of the Chinese poetic tradition. Traveling over one and a half millennia, Sze guides readers through a luminous history of verse—from the contemplative insights of fifth-century poet Tao Qian, through Tang-dynasty poets such as Wang Wei and Du Fu, and into subsequent centuries in which lived such innovative artists as Li Qingzhao and Bada Shanren, among many others.

ISBN: 9781556597077

Format: Paperback

Deer Park

The mountain is empty, no man can be seen;
but the echo of human sounds is heard.
Returning sunlight, entering the deep forest,
shines again on green moss, above.

About the Author

Arthur Sze has published eleven books of poetry, including Sight Lines (2019), which won the National Book Award, and The Glass Constellation: New and Collected Poems (2021). His other books include Compass Rose (2014), a Pulitzer Prize finalist; The Ginkgo Light (2009), selected for the PEN Southwest Book Award and the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association Book Award; Quipu (2005); The Redshifting Web: Poems 1970–1998, selected for the Balcones Poetry Prize and the Asian American Literary Award; and Archipelago …

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“This is a vital introduction to Chinese poetry.” —Publishers Weekly

The Silk Dragon II represents a lifetime of thought and reflection; it is a masterpiece of connections drawn between eras, cultures, and languages—not only in translation to English, but through the “expanding web” of poetry in China, as poets learned from and rebelled against their predecessors. In bringing these works to English, Sze offers a monumental contribution to this legacy.” — Bella Creel, Action Books

“Exhilarating . . . less sequel than elaboration, a widening of its predecessor’s lens.”—David Ulin, Alta

“A great collection to pick up as a first exploration of Chinese poetry. . . . Allows the reader to glimpse how many changes in Chinese poetry have occurred over time. You can also see the motifs and references that repeat. And [Arthur Sze] has these wonderful introductory essays and notes that are really great for giving you context on these selections and why these poems are important to him.”—Anne Ling Kaye, CBC Radio

“Sze, in his clearwater and efficient translations, in his supple introductions and notes, is a brilliant guide to one of the world’s greatest poetry traditions. A tradition of clarity and nuance and moonlight.”—Jesse Nathan, Poetry Society of America

“In these lucid translations, Sze offers pleasures for all types of readers, those who want another taste of ancient favorites like Du Fu (“The nation is broken, but hills and rivers remain”) and Li He (“I will cut off the dragon’s feet / and chew the dragon’s flesh”), those new to Chinese poetry (his candid account of one poem’s tortuous process remains the best introduction to the art of Chinese translation that I know of), and those who admire Sze’s own work for its telling specificities, as in Wen Yiduo (“I feed the fire cobwebs, rat droppings, and also the scaly skins of spotted snakes”), and its prismatic finesse, as in Xi Chuan (“The figures acquire the mountains / and waters, just as the mountains acquire the emerald and lapis”).”—David Woo, Literary Hub

“Arthur Sze’s concise anthology of translated and edited Chinese poetry The Silk Dragon II, which is to be released next month with Copper Canyon Press, is a welcome volume to enter our own republic of letters at a fraught time of acerbic mutual misunderstanding in the political realm. Alexis de Tocqueville taught us about democracy. Perhaps the Tang Dynasty can teach us manners within the body politic, if only by instructing us in the art of reflection.  This book is a balm to apply to the suppurating wound, self-inflicted and visited on others alike, of permanent discord, as we strive (some of us), impossibly it seems, for comity.”—Johnny Payne, Merion West