The Completion of a Poem

Lisa Lai-ming WONG
Year of Publication

The Completion of a Poem is the first book-length translation of Yang Mu’s poetics. In eighteen letters addressed to young poets, Yang Mu discusses essential questions regarding the definition of poetry, a poet’s growth, the importance of nature and friendship, the choice of subject, the process of creation and publication, and relationships between poet and society, identity and history, and poetry and truth.

Using a comparative approach, Yang Mu draws on literary resources from Chinese and Western traditions to expound his views, and this helps to nurture in young poets a vision of world poetry that connects different but equally inspiring expressions of humanity. In style and in theme, this book is a companion piece to Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet and Goethe’s Dichtung und Wahrheit.

“Yang Mu is not only one of the greatest living poets and essayists in the Chinese language, he is also an erudite scholar, deeply versed in both Chinese and Western poetic traditions from antiquity to our modern age. In his eighteen letters to young poets, which serve as his Ars Poetica, he emphasizes that the creation of true poetry requires that insight and knowledge are paired with personal integrity and high moral standing. Yang Mu’s letters are often illuminated by exquisite landscape essays of great lyrical intensity which show his facility to allow manifestations of the outer world to reveal inner states of mind.

This excellent translation by Lisa Wong deserves to be read by all who consider that poetry matters.”