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DHC Lecture with Chung Ling (University of Macau)

Hermitage in Chinese Landscape Painting as a Converging Space between Nature and Civilization in Twentieth Century American Poetry

In the 20th century, American poets, including Kenneth Rexroth, Gary Snyder, Robert Bly, Mike O’Connor, and Jane Hirshfield, developed a love for Chinese civilization, in particular, for Chinese poetry and landscape painting.When they integrated elements taken from the Chinese hermit’s space, they also instilled in the poems their own world view, predicament and idealism such as Snyder’s grand piece Endless Mountains and Streams, Ch’i Shan Wu Chin. On the other hand, they all had gone beyond the threshold and explored the "Other" in a profound and artistic way. When they wrote a shorter piece concentrating on Chinese landscape consciousness, an innovative mixture of the Chinese mode and English verse was created, such as Snyder’s August on Sourdough, a Visit from Dick Brewer, and Pine Tree Top; Rexroth’s Star and Crescent; and Bly’s Solitude Late at Night in the Woods. In these poems American poets’ precise and unique perception of the Chinese hermit’s landscape consciousness and aesthetics is integrated into contemporary American poetry. A new hybrid of landscape consciousness and a new aesthetic mode is born.

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