Hsieh Ling-Yün

Hsieh Ling-Yün

The great ancient Chinese poet Hsieh Ling-yün (385-433 C.E.) initiated the tradition of “rivers-and-mountains” poetry which is in many ways a written version of China’s grand landscape paintings. Born into one of the most illustrious aristocratic families in his day, he chose to live as a recluse, though in a highly cultivated way –– in the secluded mountains of southeast China, with family and visiting friends. He was a celebrated calligrapher and the most renowned poet of the age. However, he was eventually executed because of his antagonism toward the government in power, and his general insubordination.

The Mountain Poems Of Hsieh Ling-Yün

by Hsieh Ling-Yün

Translated from the Classical Chinese by David Hinton

During the last decade of his life, living as a recluse high in the mountains of southeast China, Hsieh Ling-yün (385-433 C.E.) initiated a tradition of “rivers-and-mountains” (shan-shui) poetry that stretches across millennia in China and beyond, a tradition that represents the earliest and most extensive literary engagement with wilderness in human history. Hsieh’s work, all but unknown in the West, chronicles nothing less than the aesthetic and spiritual discovery of wilderness, reading like dispatches reporting back to the human world.…
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