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In traditional Chinese culture, the written word, along with the appreciation of it, was prized with an almost religious reverence. Within this world, poetry held a special place that was unrivaled by any other single art, ability, or practical accomplishment and poetic talent was a source of prestige and affluence and even of political power.
In this rich, comprehensive collection of Chinese poetry, J. P. Seaton, the preeminent American translator and scholar of Chinese literature, introduces the reader to the main styles of Chinese poetry and the major poets, from the classic Shih Ching (The Book of Songs), which dates from 1766 B.C.E. all the way through to the twentieth century. Seaton has a poet's ear, his translations here are fresh and vivid, and his commentaries on the poems illuminate their historical and stylistic significance.