Chinese poetry  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Ernest Francisco Fenollosa (February 18, 1853 – September 21, 1908) was a Catalan American professor of philosophy and political economy at Tokyo Imperial University. An important educator during the modernization of the Meiji Era, Fenollosa was an enthusiastic orientalist who did much to preserve traditional Japanese art.

After his death, Fenollosa's unpublished notes on Chinese poetry and Japanese Noh drama were confided by his widow to noted poet Ezra Pound who, with William Butler Yeats, used them to solidify the growing interest in Far Eastern literature among modernist writers. Pound subsequently finished Fenollosa's work with the aid of Arthur Waley, the noted British sinologist.

In 1913, Pound was contacted by the widow of the recently deceased Orientalist Ernest Fenollosa, who while in Japan had collected word-by-word translations and notes for 150 classical Chinese poems that fit in closely with this program. The grammar of Chinese offers different expressive possibilities than English, a point that Pound subsequently made much of. For example, in Chinese, the first line of Li Po's (called "Rihaku" by Fenollosa's Japanese informants) poem The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter is a spare, direct juxtaposition of 5 characters that appear in Fenollosa's notes as
mistress       hair       first       cover       brow
In his resulting 1915 Cathay, Pound rendered this in simple English as
While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Chinese poetry" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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