You are here

The Residue of Dreams: Selected Poems of Jao Tsung-i

182 Residue of Dreams FrontCover
Nicholas Morrow Williams, ed.
Publication Year: 
Publication Number: 

About the Editor

Nicholas Morrow Williams is Assistant Professor in the School of Chinese of the University of Hong Kong. 

About the Book

The Residue of Dreams is the first English-language publication of the classical-style poems of Jao Tsung-i (b. 1917), a prominent artist-calligrapher, scholar-poet, and polymath living in Hong Kong. Jao’s poems in various traditional forms reflect the tumultuous history of twentieth-century China, but also demonstrate the enduring resonance of its classical culture. The Residue of Dreams contains a broad-ranging selection of Jao’s poems covering topics from the Second World War and his travels in Southeast Asia, to Nietzsche and the scribes of medieval Dunhuang. The poems give a vivid impression of one of the most erudite minds of our time, and show a new side of contemporary Chinese literature that has mostly been overlooked in English-language publications.

All poems are presented both in the original Chinese text and in English translation, accompanied by scholarly notes with identification of many of Jao’s allusions and cultural references. The Introduction places Jao’s poetry in the context of modern Chinese literary studies and elucidates its cultural background for general readers. | 272 pages


Prefatory Note xv

List of Illustrations xvii

Introduction 1

Biographical Sketch 2

Jao as Poet 5

Overview of Genres and Sources 9

Conventions of This Translation 13

I. Taking Refuge

To the Tune of "Gaoyang Terrace" 19

Various Poems on the Double-­Ninth Day 20

Ballad of Yaoshan 22

Mankind Day 24

Sent to My Elder Yu Ruizheng 25

The Winter Solstice 27

Essay on Horse Manure 28

Essay on White Clouds 31


II. Western Parallels

On the Ruins of the Colosseum in Rome 36

On First Entering the Mountains 38

Mont-­Blanc 40

Mont-­la-­ville 42

Two Poems about Auvergne 43

Lac de Guery 43

Lac Pavin 43

Reading Nietzsche’s Also Sprach Zarathustra 44

Reading the Poetry of Rimbaud 47

At the Tomb of Rainer Maria Rilke 49

Visiting Victor Hugo’s Former Residence in the Jardin des Feuillantines 50

Recalling Lake Léman 52

Queens Town 53

On the Grand Canyon 54

Cheung Chau Collection #44 56


III. Eastern Visions

On the Night-­Blooming Kadupul 58

Recalling Xuanzang at Kanchipuram 59

On the Inscriptions by Scribes at the End of Each Scroll from Dunhuang 60

On Lake Toba 61

Taj Mahal 62

Visiting Angkor Wat at Night 63

To the Tune of "Courtyard Full of Fragrances": Recollections at Angkor Wat 65

To the Tune of "Path through Terraces and Cities": When I Imagine the Palaces of Immortals … 66

Written to Express My Sorrow at Seeing Men Beg for Food As in Ancient Times at the Mouth of the River Ganges 68

Sequel to the Ballad of the Beauty 69

To the Tune of "Hundred-­Word Air" 70

To the Tune of "Charms of Niannu": On Mount Fuzhou 72

Inscribed on the Wall at Mogao Grotto 73

Dazaifu 74

Mourning the Dead at the Peace Park in Hiroshima 75


IV. Storms

Cheung Chau Collection #16 78

Ancient-­Style Verse in Pentasyllabic Meter for My Collection "Ice and Charcoal" 79

Sleepless Night after Night in Wind and Rain 80

To the Tune of "Sixth-­String Air" 81

To the Tune of "Gathering Mulberries": A Gardener in the Hills Gives Me a Narcissus Flower 82

To the Tune of "Rake’s Song": An Allegory 83


V. Two Rhyme-­Matching Sets

Matching the Rhymes of Du Fu’s "Autumn Meditations" 86

Latter Ten Poems on Drinking Wine, Written to Match Fang Mizhi’s Poems Matching the Rhymes of Lord Tao 95


VI. Alone

Cheung Chau Collection #80 108

To the Tune of "Frosty Leaves Fluttering": On Willows 109

To the Tune of "Little Hills Doubled": On Plum Blossoms 111

Seeing the Moon in the Hills 112

To the Tune of "Wu men": Matching the Rhymes of Wang Yisun’s "Sense of Snow" 113

To the Tune of "Silk Fishing Line" 114

Late Stirrings for Hsüan-­t’ang 115


VII. On Painting

To the Tune of "Sparse Shadows": On a Painting of Plums for Li Fengbo 119

Quatrains Inscribed on Paintings 120

More Quatrains Inscribed on Paintings 128

Inscribed on My Own Landscape Paintings 132

Inscribed on a Painting of Orchids by Ma Shouzhen: Variation on a Line of Rongfu’s 133

Essay on Cloudgazing 134

To the Tune of "Recalling the Sound of Panpipes on the Phoenix Terrace": On the Withering of the Azalea 136

To the Tune of "Spring Comes from Heaven Above": For Painting Master Tang Yun 137

To the Tune of "Lips Dotted with Rouge": Inscribed on Tang Yun’s Painting of Flight to Yaoshan 138

To the Tune of "Bodhisattva Barbarian" 139

To the Tune of "Charms of Niannu": For a Collection of My Calligraphy and Painting 140

To the Tune of "Music for Welcoming Spring": On a Polychrome Brick Mural of Human Figures in the Collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts 142


VIII. The Sound of the Qin

To the Tune of "Eight Voices in Ganzhou" 145

To the Tune of "Evening Moon in Spring on the Xiang River" 146

To the Tune of "Severe Cold Syncopation" 147

To the Tune of "Prelude to a Water Melody" 149


IX. On Poetry

Cheung Chau Collection #18 152

Cheung Chau Collection #62 153

Cheung Chau Collection #82 154

To the Tune of "Butterflies Admiring Blossoms": Playfully Composed on an Offering of Paper Flowers 155

To the Tune of "Bodhisattva Barbarian": Crooked Cap Songs 156

To the Tune of "Whole River Red": On Reading the Poetry of Li He 157

The Poetic Mind 159

To the Tune of "Regret in the Damask Court" 161

To the Tune of "Passing the Towers of Qin" 163

X. On Scholarship 

To the Tune of "Lips Dotted with Rouge": For My Chuci Bibliography 166

To the Tune of "Butterflies in Love with Flowers": For My Painting on the Translation of Dream of a Red Chamber by David Hawkes 167

Essay on Crabs 168

Encomium for the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript of the Book of Changes 171


XI. Dreams

To the Tune of "Fragrant Grass Waves": Recording a Dream 177

To the Tune of "Washing Creek Sands" 178

To the Tune of "Bitter Longing" 179

To the Tune of "Jade Mansion Spring" 180

Playful Rhymes on Traveling to the Moon 181

Dreaming of Return 182

To the Tune of "The Beauty Yu": On Not Seeing the Moon at Mid-­Autumn 1955 183

Waking Up from Sleep 184

Dreaming of Heaven 185

To the Tune of "Fragrance of Angelica and Orchid Prelude": On Shadow 187

To the Tune of "Spring Resentment in the Boudoir" 188

To the Tune of "Flower-­Strewn Path": On Red Tea 190

To the Tune of "Six Scoundrels": On Sleep 192

To the Tune of "Flower-­Strewn Path": On the Self 193

To the Tune of "Jade Candles Renewed": On Spirit 194

Bibliography 197

Selected Publications by Jao Tsung-­i 197

Selected Studies of Jao’s Life and Poetry 197

Other Works Cited in Notes 198




ISBN (hardcover): 
Price (hardcover): 
Price (paperback):