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China (Poetry of Place)

For two thousand years in China, the empires of politics and of the written word cohabited and depended on one another. The Chinese classics became the bedrock of political and cultural legitimacy, which was centred on the empire's great capital cities. One such classic was the Book of Poetry written perhaps three millennia ago. In the centuries that followed, poetry became China's highest art form. This collection gathers poems about four of these venerable cities - Chang'an (now Xi'an), Luoyang, Beijing and Hangzhou. To the Chinese, the city was a depiction of the Confucian ideal of social harmony. To leave the city was to exile oneself from high culture and high politics. This collection also chronicles that Taoist escape and exile: the poetry of personal loss and disappointment, the veiled political polemic and poetry extolling the natural world that lay beyond the Emperor's courts.

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