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The Poetic Garden of Liu Zongyuan

The Poetic Garden of Liu Zongyuan

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By Liu Zongyuan

Translated by Nathaniel Dolton-Thornton & Yu Yuanyuan

Written in exile, Liu Zongyuan's remarkable poetry reflects the experience of banishment, flickering political ambition, and landscape, deeply imbued with the landscapes of South China.

Publication Date: April 18, 2023

Paperback: 9781646052172
eBook: 9781646052431


The Poetic Garden of Liu Zongyuan introduces poems by the Chinese writer, which he wrote while in exile on the Chinese empire’s southern margins. In these remarkable pieces, Liu intertwines South China’s landscapes and plants—such as scarlet canna, banyan, and white myoga ginger—with reflections on honor, duty, banishment, and belonging in ways unique in the history of Chinese poetry. The two translators, Dolton-Thornton and Yu Yuanyuan, one American and one Chinese, preserve the unique beauty of Liu's poetic garden and introduce it to the English-speaking world.

Biographical Note

Liu Zongyuan (773 – 28 November 819) was a Chinese philosopher, poet, and politician who lived during the Tang Dynasty. Liu was born in present-day Yongji, Shanxi. Along with Han Yu, he was a founder of the Classical Prose Movement.

Nathaniel Dolton-Thornton is a recent graduate of the University of Oxford, where he studied Chinese poetry and translation as a Marshall Scholar. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Tin House, Prelude, Poetry Salzburg Review, Griffith Review, Salamander, Sycamore Review, TAB, Tipton Poetry Journal, The Account, Raritan, and other publications.

Yu Yuanyuan is Associate Professor in the School of Foreign Studies at Anhui University, academic visitor in the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge (2018-2019), and translator. Her recent poetry translation appears in Poetry Hall, The World Poets Quarterly, etc. Her translations have appeared in Modern Poetry in Translation, “the only truly international journal in Britain” (James Kirkup), Poetry Hall, The World Poets Quarterly, and Translating China among other publications.