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Rosmarie Waldrop on Translations by David Hinton

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Rosmarie Waldrop
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Year

2004
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David Hinton was the winner of the 1997 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award for his three books published in 1996: The Selected Poems of Lí Po and Bei Dao's Landscape Over Zero (both published by New Directions), and The Late Poems of Meng Chiao (Princeton). The judge for the award was Rosmarie Waldrop, who wrote the following citation.


It is a pleasure to select David Hinton as the recipient of the 1997 Landon Translation Award, for the following books:

  • The Selected Poems of Lí Po, New Directions
  • The Late Poems of Meng Chiao, Princeton University Press
  • Landscape Over Zero by Bei Dao, New Directions (with Yanbing Chen)

These three volumes of translations, all published last year, continue David Hinton's longstanding commitment to writing Chinese poetry into English. He had already given us selections of the poetry of Tu Fu, T'ao Ch'ien, Chuang Tzu and an eminent contemporary, Bei Dao. He has now added another volume by Bei Dao and two more T'ang dynasty poets.

Hinton's music is subtle, modulated, and does not slacken with either contemporary or classic. He has listened to the individual tone of each poet, and his craft is equal to his perception. After the verve of the "Banished Immortal," Lí Po, the intense, dark, disenchanted introspection of Meng Chiao comes almost as a shock. Again unmistakably different, Bei Dao's broken rhythms and sense of space.

Hinton has taken up Pound's challenge as well as Zukofsky's. He continues to enlarge our literary horizon. And the "range of pleasure" his translations afford "as sight, sound, and intellection," proves them true poems. Poems that breathe another culture into our English. We are richer for them.