Peach Blossom FishArtist Books
Peach Blossom Fish: Selected Poems Composed & Calligraphed by Chang Ch'ung-ho
Translated by Hans H. Frankel, Ian Boyden, and Edward Morris
Walla Walla, Washington: Crab Quill Press, 1999
Edition of 140
Peach Blossom Fish (桃花魚) represents the first published collection of poems and calligraphy by Chang Ch'ung-ho (Chinese, 1914–2015, 張充和). Chang Ch'ung-ho is celebrated by many Chinese scholars and calligraphers as one of China's greatest calligraphers of the last century and one of the last of the classically trained Chinese literati. For this volume, Chang Ch'ung-ho selected eighteen poems recording her profound response to the turmoil of the 20th century. Images of floating, dreams, and exile wend their way through each poem. The translations are the product of a rare and delightful collaboration. Not only was Chang Ch'ung-ho present to clarify the significance of each line and each poem, but the main translator, the late Hans H. Frankel, professor emeritus Yale University, was none other than the author's husband of fifty years. The English translations are paired with the poem calligraphed by the poet's own hand in the original Chinese. Working in collaboration with the book's designer, each poem was calligraphed specifically for this book, and each page provides its own unique and startling composition. The book is printed on Hahnemühle German Ingres. The covers are made variously of padauk, sapele, and Alaskan yellow cedar. Although bound as a traditional western codex, the sewn-board binding with a drop-away spine allows the book to open flat and function similarly to a collection of album leaves. Each book is presented in a silk-lined slip case.
Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 1 inches. 48 pages.
Here is a poem from Peach Blossom Fish:
QINGCHENG MOUNTAIN #4
Tune pattern: Que qiao xian
A little cold
After last night's pouring rain.
Alone I climb
A high peak and stand motionless.
Light clouds do not know
How to change into dragons or snakes,
But only to condense into pearls
That decorate my hair.
Myriad winding valleys,
The whole sky a distant blue.
In vain I look for a pair of wings.
The gnarled tree after a thousand years
Must understand the affairs
Of nature and of men.