Watson, Burton. The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry: From Early Times to the
Thirteenth Century. New York: Columbia University Press, 1984.
Burton Watson (1925-2017) played a crucial role in expanding the audience for
classical Chinese (and Japanese) literature in the United States. This 1984 volume
lays out a helpful road-map for beginners interested in exploring the Chinese poetic
tradition. Watson combined a scholar’s penetration with a fine ear and a gift for
precision, as can be seen in this translation from the Tang poet Wei Yingwu:
West Creek at Ch’u-Chou
These I love: hidden plants that grow by the river’s edge;
above, yellow warblers in the deep trees singing;
spring tides robed in rain, swifter by evening;
the ferry landing deserted where a boat swings by itself.