The Maine Woods, describes a moment on Mount Ktaadin when all explanations and assumptions fell away for him and he was confronted with the wonderful, inexplicable thusness of things. David Hinton takes that moment as the starting point for his account of a rewilding of consciousness in the West: a dawning awareness of our essential oneness with the world around us. Because there was no Western vocabulary for this perception, it fell to poets to make the first efforts at articulation, and those efforts were largely driven by Taoist and Ch’an (Zen) Buddhist ideas imported from ancient China. Hinton chronicles this rewilding through the lineage of avant-garde poetry in twentieth-century America—from Ezra Pound and Robinson Jeffers to Gary Snyder, W. S. Merwin, and beyond—including generous selections of poems that together form a compelling anthology of ecopoetry. In his much-admired translations, Hinton has recreated ancient Chinese rivers-and-mountains poetry as modern American poetry; here, he reenvisions modern American poetry as an extension of that ancient Chinese tradition: an ecopoetry that weaves consciousness into the Cosmos in radical and fundamental ways.
Henry David Thoreau, in
"Hinton is the best English-language translator of Chinese classic poetry we have and have had for decades. . . . The translations read in English as though they were written in it originally. A magician’s grace glows through all the poems, a grace and ease uncommonly found, uncommonly masterful." —from the citation for his American Academy of Letters Lifetime Achievement Award
"[Hinton is a rare example of a literary sinologist—that is, a classical scholar thoroughly conversant with, and connected to, contemporary poetry in English." —Eliot Weinberger, New York Review of Books
"Hinton's achievement is a gift to our language." —W. S. Merwin