Posts Tagged ‘Jeanne Larsen’

I didn’t get through a novel this week, so revisited some poetry instead.  It’s a bit of a cheat really, because I tend to read a few that grab my attention rather than the whole book of poetry, but this one deserves a mention!

Book 36 – Willow, Wine, Mirror, Moon: Women’s poems from Tang China, translated by Jeanne Larsen. This is a book of poetry written 1000-1400 years ago, and is a treasure trove of beautiful imagery and culturally-specific references.  The book is split into sections based on the roles the women had in their society – Women of the Court, Women of the Household, Courtesans and Entertainers, and Women of Religion.  The poems themselves are a mixture but the one thing that binds them together is that they deal with real experiences.  They are a reflection of, and a response to, life as they lived it.

I referred to this book way back in 2012 and have mentioned Jeanne Larsen more than once – her book The Silk Road is one of my favourites – so obviously this isn’t a new discovery.  However, even as a re-read I am struck by the spare beauty of the work.  Simple images convey an enormity of emotions, but there is also a directness, a willingness to address life: loneliness, bitterness, hope, love – these women were constrained by their lives and found an outlet for those feelings in their writing.

This style of work really entices me in, and I have even written my own works influenced by the stylistic methods of these writers; it lives on because of its beauty and accessibility.

I love this poetry and I was glad to rediscover it after a few years, because it fills me with a desire to write.

Happy reading,



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