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The first anthology of Sung dynasty tzu poems in English, Beyond Spring includes one hundred and fifty translations from the golden age of tzu in the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries. Tzu poetry is one of the two most important lyric forms in the Chinese literary tradition. First composed and performed by prostitutes in the singing houses, tzu became the favorite of emperors and high-ranking ministers who transformed it from a genre of bawdy songs to one of the lyric that could "stay the moving clouds." A mixture of confession and elegy, these songs remain fresh despite their thousand-year history. The genre-written in meter to the original tunes from the brothels-flourished well into the twentieth century. Beyond Spring includes best-known tzu poems by fifteen of the most celebrated poets of the period, including a king who lost his country, an emperor who lost his empire, and a woman who lost everything. Keeping true to the original music, Landau's translations capture the phrasing and rhythms crucial to tzu. Remarkably sure in her sense of what each poem is about, Landau imparts this confidence to her readers. A helpful introduction to symbols and allusions retells famous traditional stories; it equips the reader to recognize references and themes in the poems. Brief biographies of the poets, a glossary, and a historical chart of Chinese poetic genres place the poems in historical perspective. Paintings and calligraphy by the poets and their contemporaries accompany these superb translations.
Publication Date: 
February 21, 1997