Song of Shadows


Song of Shadows


by Xiao Hai

Bilingual Mandarin-English Edition

Translated from the Chinese by Zhu Yu

"Shadow is the pure form of our existence. It may well surpass the direct perception and the rational will of the subject.”

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About the Book

With delicacy and precision, the major Chinese poet Xiao Hai conjures shadows to explore philosophical questions of illusion and reality, history and time, art and language. Composed of several hundred interconnected poems, Xiao’s collection is, in his words, “a dynamic, creative, and open system of experience.” Deftly translated by Zhu Yu, Song of Shadows brings Wordsworth and Whitman into artful conversation with classical Chinese culture.

Available as a bilingual eBook with text in Mandarin and English, this edition is a must-read for lovers of international literature, Chinese speakers learning English, and English speakers learning Mandarin.



“Xiao Hai’s courage lies in the fact that he has been sticking to his belief: poetry should return to the origin of life and feelings. His imagination is pristine, original and creative, which is quite different from those involved in various ‘poetry movements’...The beauty of Xiao Hai’s poetry is self-evident.”

—Wu Chenjun, novelist and poet

“In Song of Shadows, Xiao Hai expresses abstract ideas through concrete and tangible everyday experience, a perfect unity of philosophical thinking and common life by means of simple language.”

—Wu Jun, Nanjing University


About the Author

Xiao Hai (1965-) was born in Hai'an, in China's Jiangsu Province. At the prestigious Nanjing University, he co-founded and edited with other young poets the poetry magazine They, a publication that has fostered a number of important figures in contemporary Chinese literature such as Han Dong, Yu Jian, and Su Tong. He has authored over a dozen works of Chinese history and poetry collections, including Bending to Weed until Afternoon (2003), Villages and Fields (2006), Bei Ling River (2010), The Great Kingdom of Qin (2010), and Song of Shadows (2013). He has published widely in such influential poetry magazines as Shi KanXing XingQing ChunHua ChengZhong ShanZuo Jia, and Jintian (edited by Bei Dao). Known as a humble poet of discrete sensibilities, he has earned widespread recognition in his home country. His prizes include the Writer's Poetry Award and two Zi Jin Mountain Literature Awards, and he was the Tian Wen Poet of 2012. Beijing Literature included his poetry on their list of the best contemporary Chinese writing in 1998. His poetry has been translated into English, French, Japanese, Spanish, and Romanian. He lives in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province.


About the Translator

Zhu Yu is a lecturer in the English department at Capital Normal University, Beijing. She received her PhD in English literature from Peking University in 2010 and was a Fulbright visiting student in the English department of Yale University from 2007 to 2008. Her research interest includes British Romanticism and contemporary poetry. She has published essays on William Wordsworth and Seamus Heaney in many academic journals. She has translated into Chinese selected poems from Seamus Heaney's Human Chain (2013) and Seamus Heaney 2001-2010 (forthcoming).