In 1081 when Su Shi was 42 years old, he was arrested for writing controversial poetry which was said to criticize government reforms. He would have been sentenced to death but for Emperor Shenzong who instead exiled him to a remote area, Huangzhou. The land was dry and suffering from drought, and he was forced to work the parched earth or starve. As a result, he wrote the poetry of East Slope.
Translated by Jeffrey Yang, Su Shi’s poetry is simple – almost stark – but beautiful. He speaks of the labor of beginning with only an empty field and no food or home. As he toils over the land, his poetry expresses a contrast of having nothing yet being rich in the surroundings of nature.
Any nature lover, gardener, or farmer can easily relate to the ancient poetry of Su Shi, as can anyone who has ever lost it all, yet found the beauty in beginning again.
Published by Ugly Duckling Presse, this unique collection is printed in the same simple yet elegant manner of the poet’s words. Bound in a folder, tied with string, each poem contains both the original Chinese characters and the English translation; each poem written on a subtle pictorial background. East Slope is a must-own piece for any lover of ancient Chinese literature; this handful of precious poems will be returned to again and again.