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Li Shangyin

Li Shangyin

by Li Shangyin, edited and newly translated from the Chinese by Chloe Garcia Roberts, with additional translations by A.C. Graham and Lucas Klein

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Li Shangyin is one of the foremost poets of the late Tang, but until now he has rarely been translated into English, perhaps because the esotericism and sensuality of his work set him apart from the austere masters of the Chinese literary canon. Li favored allusiveness over directness, and his poems unfurl through mysterious images before coalescing into an emotional whole. Combining hedonistic aestheticism with stark fatalism, Li’s poetry is an intoxicating mixture of pleasure and grief, desire and loss, everywhere imbued with a singular nostalgia for the present moment.

This pioneering, bilingual edition presents Chloe Garcia Roberts’s translations of a wide selection of Li’s verse in the company of other versions by the prominent sinologist A. C. Graham and the scholar-poet Lucas Klein.

Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Poets
ISBN: 9781681372242
Pages: 176
Publication Date:


Garcia Roberts's translation represents an original approach to one of the most distinctive and challenging voices of the classical Chinese canon…Li’s startling images and aural complexity gain new life in Garcia Roberts’s hands.
—Theophilus Kwek, Asymptote

Li Shangyin’s poetry embodies passion, commitment, and conflict....He extended the scope of Chinese poetry by exploring spheres of experience previously untouched by poets.
—James J. Y. Liu

His use of allusion is the subtlest in Tang poetry – abrupt transitions in which an allusion provides the unmentioned bridge, delicate variations on commonplace references, oblique glimpses of historical events, direct presentation of a scene before his eyes in which one senses elusive parallels with a scene in history or poetry.
—A. C. Graham

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