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Date 2021-02-26


Names Deeply Chiseled: Greco-Roman Motifs in Yang Mu's Poetry


Michelle Yeh

Distinguished Professor, Chinese, Affiliated Faculty of Comparative Literature, University of California, Davis


Thus far, the study of Yang Mu has paid much attention to the relations between his work and Chinese classics on the one hand, and English Romanticism on the other. However, ancient Greek and Romanliterature is relatively understudied. This paper examines the significance of Greco-Roman materials in the poetry and poetics of Yang Mu. Following an overview of Yang's scholarship related to the Western classical tradition, the article focuses on five representative poems in chronological order: “To Athena,” “Virgil,” “Pindar's Ode,” “Greece,” and “Reading Dante at Year's End.” Yang's creative appropriations of Greco-Roman materials fall into two categories: 1. rewriting characters that are traditionally marginalized or stereotyped, which constitutes a form of Modernist critique and deconstruction; and 2. skillful integration of Chinese literature and culture into Greco-Roman materials, which is a kind of cross-cultural intertextuality. As a scholar and poet well versed in Chinese and Western literary traditions, Yang Mu displays a contemporaneity that evokes the Modernist sense of history that T.S. Eliot theorized.

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Bulletin of Taiwanese Literature