Yang Mu was born in 1940 in the small coastal city of Huilan in east Taiwan as Ching-hsien Wang. He received his BA in English from Tunghai University in Taiwan, his MFA from the University of Iowa, and his PhD in comparative literature from the University of California at Berkeley. He has taught at many universities in North America, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, but he spent most of his academic career at the University of Washington, Seattle. He has also served in important administrative positions, including the founding dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the National Dong Hwa University in his hometown of Hualian and the founding director of the Institute of Literature and Philosophy at Academia Sinica, the premiere national research institution in Taiwan. He currently holds an endowed chair at Dong Hwa.

Yang Mu has been writing poetry continuously for sixty years. The longevity of his career is matched by his extraordinary creativity, which has exerted a transformative influence on Taiwanese poetry in general from the 1950s to the present. His poetry assimilates the best that the Chinese and the Western traditions have to offer, deftly blending classicism and surrealism, romanticism and modernism. His poetry may be lyrical or dramatic, contemplative or defiant, elegiac or erotic. In an age when poetry is indisputably considered to be minority literature, Yang Mu enjoys enduring popularity among readers of several generations. His accomplishments beyond the realm of poetry are demonstrable in prose, literary criticism, scholarship on classical Chinese poetry, comparative literature, and editing, as well as the translation of poetry.

Yang Mu has been married to Ying-ying Hsia for thirty-five years; they have a son, Bruce.────Michelle Yeh



《長短歌行》(Songs Long and Short: A Collection of Poems)(台北:洪範,2013)

Four Poems by Yang Mu, translated into English by Göran Malmqvist (馬悅然英譯四首都出自「長短歌行(Ch’ang-duan ko-hsing)」)

FLOWING RHYTHM  (跌宕〉, pp.104-105)
The evening sun recklessly hits the snowline, in the empty forest 
a flock of crows beat their frozen wings and fly, stirring up confusion,
into the lost landscape; their dreary flitting to and fro
causes the light to be dismembered
like memories on a nightmare’s thin coating
showing themselves as fleeting images of uncertain forms; suppose
I were able to master my own self and know all that I know
the entire set−up would suddenly be transformed, I would turn to fix my eyes
on parts as yet unknown, and allow my senses
to stock up contrarieties in time and space, or abandon them in a sense of frustration,
unresistingly follow the rapid current
and with flowing rhythm enter into the floodtide of the sea.

AS YET UNATTAINED (未及〉, pp.106-107)
Waking up with a start: if there are old matters as yet unattained
in a remote region somehow
never properly investigated and now disappearing without trace, one after another…
Half are empty thoughts in this barely awake state,
the rest form hordes and surge forward, their backs against
the gigantic darkness, tearing it apart,
just as fireflies disintegrate in early autumn
to gather again around the pools or 
at the farthest side of an embankment where undercurrents are born.
Saffrons and the tastes of tropical fruits in brilliant profusion,
autumn ripeness so swelled that all senses tremble
─ judging from my oblivious spirit, one way or another ─
it’s only that this time waking up with a start makes me hesitate: stay put
or pursue the remains as yet unattained at the very moment it has been foretold?
Stopping short, I turn and see myself, exhausted, confined
to suspended speed and inert metre
and raise my hand to assign the sluggish light to a place out of reach
just as the autumn fireflies twinkle faintly in the distance.

ON MEETING  (有會而作〉, pp.58-59)
I wonder, that which left so quietly last night and was lost in the incomplete
parabel, if it were able to manage the twists and turns of the road
and return, I might not be able to recognize it –
Just as two stray stars, having by chance encountered each other
on the slanting plane of the universe, without finding time to light up,
turned pale with anxiety and decided to rush to
an even more distant as yet unknown – but perhaps
they might appear on the scene at this very moment, bearing witness
that they had agreed to meet but failed to keep that promise.

LECTURES (講學〉, pp.110-111)
Yes, it does seem that I have climbed innumerable levels of clouds
to land from a strange world and yet fearlessly walk along
the path of moist red tiles, seeking, to confirm
that on the road ahead a small two-storied library will float up
before my eyes in the moonlight; when the rain is over
the evening breeze will fan us where we sit cross-legged to listen to lectures
by the water’s edge, fanning away all our concerns and worries, cinnabar and
ferules and the discipline that might otherwise be forgotten
and the customs we have been forced to obey ─ under the old pine tree a volume
thread-bound in a yellow case that will never fade, its fragrance never evaporate.

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