A. Critical and Comparative Studies

29. Rexroth, Kenneth. ‘The Poetry of the Far East in a General Education’. In Approaches to the Oriental Classics, edited by Wm. Theodore de Bary. Proceedings of the Conference on Oriental Classics in General Education. New York: Columbia UP, 1959.

Rexroth notes that translation of Japanese and Chinese poetry, if done badly, ‘degenerates into the most mawkish sentimentality’, and so Western poets translating from those traditions have had to ‘pay attention always to [the] spiritual bookkeeping’ of the original works. The results, he argues, have exercised a considerable influence on English-language poetry. Translation from Japanese and Chinese verse ‘purges . . . many of the vices of Occidental poetry’ and ‘accomplishes in one blow the various programs of the twentieth-century revolutions in poetry’, for to translate East Asian poetry ‘all the manifestos of the imagists and objectivists . . . have to be fulfilled’. The Japanese and Chinese translations of Pound (see especially BK15 and 24), Lowell (BI10), and Bynner (see the BE introduction), Rexroth argues, ‘are incomparably the best work of those poets’, and ‘amongst the best American poems of the twentieth century’. For notes about Rexroth’s own incorporation of Japanese materials see CA13 and 14d.





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