The Complete Poems of Li Ch'ing-chao (1084-c. 1151) brings together for the first time in English translation all the surviving verse of China's greatest woman poet. Written during the final years of the Sung Dynasty, with its political intrigues and collapse in the face of Tatar invasions, her poems reveal an imaginative freshness, sensuous imagery, and satirical spirit often at odds with the decadent Confucian code of the day. Her life was colorful and the very picture of renaissance versatility, while her early marriage to Chao Ming-ch'en has been celebrated as an ideal one for a thousand years. Besides being a poet, Li Ch'ing-chao was a scholar of history and the classics, a literary critic and an art collector specializing in bronze and stone inscriptions, not to mention painter, calligrapher, and political commentator. She is considered the finest writer of tz'u poetry, lyric verse set to tunes of the Sung Dynasty, while her few extant poems in the more regular shih form show a mastery widely admired by her contemporaries.
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