A Gold Orchid: The Love Poems of Tzu Yeh by William McNaughton, Lenore Mayhew

By William McNaughton, Lenore Mayhew

Those attractive and unique poems are made on hand to Western readers in a translation that fuses the imagery of age-old China with a supple, full of life sleek idiom. This translation (with explanatory notes) permits Western readers to understand the sensitivity, grace, and poetic ability that make the Tzu Yeh poems some of the most vital creative contributions in their time.

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Additional resources for A Gold Orchid: The Love Poems of Tzu Yeh

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What is the nature of the distinction between mortals and immortals? As Greek tragedy thematizes this distinction,19 it is an inviolable separation: crossing over to immortality is an act of hubris that implies violating, jettisoning, our mortal life. To trespass into the domain of immortals is impossible; any attempt to do so is punishable. Immortal “lifetime,” aioˉn, exceeds and is opposed to the mortal aioˉn. Ultimately, the real distinction between mortals and immortals is a matter of exceeding the mortal life-span, not of eternity versus singularity.

With the waning of thumos as the psychological description of a living being, human self-understanding of mortality and finitude is also lost, stripping the world not merely of death, but also of temporality. 26 Parmenides, Plato, and Mortal Philosophy I want to stress the ephemeral nature of thumos. Gomperz himself does not relate the thumos to a philosophy of mortality, but he provides useful etymological, anthropological and textual support for it. ” Cultural anthropological research, he explains, especially into the beliefs of the “oriental people,” reveals the widespread conception that “the steam ascending from freshly-shed blood” is indeed a kind of soul.

Though it shields our eyes from the abyss of time, this practice of glossing over devalues our temporal existence. The converse is also true. When we stress the historically contingent aspects of our existence, we become desensitized to the abyss of time, in that we identify with our historical and cultural identities while evading our inevitable death. The aporia of time occurs in two loci: phusis and the soul. Both cosmology and psychology address the paradox of time. Cosmology is not enough.

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