Compiled by a leading scholar of Chinese poetry, Clouds
Thick, Whereabouts Unknown is the first collection of Chan
(Zen) poems to be situated within Chan thought and practice.
Combined with exquisite paintings by Charles Chu, the anthology
compellingly captures the ideological and literary nuances of works
that were composed, paradoxically, to "say more by saying less,"
and creates an unparalleled experience for readers of all
Clouds Thick, Whereabouts Unknown includes verse
composed by monk-poets of the eighth to the seventeenth centuries.
Their style ranges from the direct vernacular to the evocative and
imagistic. Egan's faithful and elegant translations of poems by Han
Shan, Guanxiu, and Qiji, among many others, do justice to their
perceptions and insights, and his detailed notes and analyses
unravel centuries of Chan metaphor and allusion. In these gems,
monk-poets join mainstream ideas on poetic function to religious
reflection and proselytizing, carving out a distinct genre that
came to influence generations of poets, critics, and writers.
The simplicity of Chan poetry belies its complex ideology and
sophisticated language, elements Egan vividly explicates in his
religious and literary critique. His interpretive strategies enable
a richer understanding of Mahayana Buddhism, Chan philosophy, and
the principles of Chinese poetry.
Subjects: Language & Literature, Religion, Philosophy
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