After years of passionate labor, Sam Hamill has translated both familiar and little-known Chinese poems from three millennia (330 BC to the 16th century) to compile the most comprehensive collection of its kind. Crossing the Yellow River:Three Hundred Poems from the Chinese represents a "lifetime's devotion to the classic originals," in the words of W. S. Merwin, begun when Hamill was introduced to classical Chinese by Kenneth Rexroth and the Beat poets of the late 1950s.
Unlike earlier translators of Chinese and Japanese poetry, Hamill attempts to bring the poems into English with their directness and simplicity intact, at the same time attempting to remain true to the poet's orginal message. Hamill includes the rarely-translated social poems of Tu Fu, the poems and songs of Tzu Yeh and Li Ch'ing-Chao, and lyrical selections from Li Po, Shih Ching, Wang Wei, Su Tung-p'o and others. Hamill's introduction provides the most definitive overview to date of aesthetic impulses propelling Chinese poetry and reveals his own reasons for his "lifetime's devotion." "I sit at the feet of the great old masters of my tradition not only to be in a position to pass on their many wonderful gifts," Hamill says, "but to pay homage while in the very act of nourishing, sustaining and enhancing my own life."
Sam Hamill's celebrated translations include The Art of Writing: Lu Chi's Wen Fu; The Essential Chuang Tza; The Essential Basho; The Spring of My Life & Selected Haiku by Kobayashii Issa and Only Companion: Japanese Poems of Love & Longing. He is the author of a dozen volumes of original poety and three collections of essays. He is Founding Editor of Copper Canyon Press, director of the Port Townsend Writers' Conference and contributing editor at The American Poetry Review. He lives in Port Townsend, Washington.