Xu Zhimo is arguably China's most famous romantic poet of the twentieth century so it is fitting that the city of Cambridge in England that first lit his poetic spark should honour him by setting one of his poems in a white marble stone at his old university King's College. After studying at Peking University he left at the age of 20 to continue his studies and broaden his world view in the U.S. at Clark University and Columbia University. His stay in the U.S. was brief, it was almost as if he was searching for something and he just instinctively knew he could not find it there, so he left to continue his studies across the pond at Kings College Cambridge in England. It was here that Xu Zhimo fell in love and immersed himself in the rhyme and verse of the English romantic poets that influenced his thinking about Chinese poetry. He saw the gap between western arts and poetry to Chinese as a chasm and he wanted to bridge that gap to encourage his fellow countrymen into the art of poetry. He set about to translate many of his favourite works into Chinese and he also founded in 1923 The Crescent Moon Society which was a Chinese literary society that attracted like minded literary minds such as Chen Mengjia, Liang Shih-chiu and, Pan Guangdan, Rao Mengkan, Shen Congwen and Wen Yiduo. The name of the society was inspired by a book of the same name by the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore for whom Xu Zhimo translated his works when he visited China. Tragically Xu Zhimo's life was cut short in a 1931 airplane crash although his passion for poetry has survived with his poetic work now being part of the present day syllabus in Chinese schools. It is this which has turned the white marble stone in the gardens of Kings College Cambridge into a tourist attraction for thousands of visiting Chinese who stop to have their photos taken with the first 2 lines and last 2 lines of the Xu Zhimo famous poem 'Saying Good-bye to Cambridge Again'. Amidst all the inspiring poetry there is a great story to be told about a Chinese influencer whose love for poetry has had a lasting effect on the most populous nation of the world, so as is customary with all my short bio's here is my compilation of ten of the best Xu Zhimo quotes.
- Mini Bio
- Name: Zhimo Xu
- Born: 15th January 1897, Haining, Zhejiang province, China
- Died: 19th November 1931, Tai'an City, Shandong province, China
- Alma mater: Peking University and King's College, Cambridge
- Occupation: Poet and literary translator
- Famous for: His 1928 poem 'Saying Goodbye to Cambridge Again' that is now set in stone and a tourist attraction near the bridge over the River Cam in Kings College Cambridge
- Controversy: Xu Zhimo was not just a romantic poet but he was also a lover extraordinaire who charmed his way through 1920's social circles with some observers noting a fascinating resemblance to the antics of the English romantic poet and womaniser Percy Bysshe Shelley
- Influenced by: Thomas Hardy, John Keats, Rabindranath Tagore and Percy Bysshe Shelley
- Trivia: His poetry is now part of mainland China's school curriculum
"The search for religion is the starting point of thought"
"If the materialistic west is a civilisation without a heart, as we are accustomed to regard it nowadays, ours, on the other hand is one without a soul"
"Music is a paradise lost to us long long ago, perhaps never to be regained"
"And then there are those ninth grade followers of European methods, who are as puerile in technique as they are void in imagination"
"Drama as an art is quite unspeakable, although some old plays are admirable as a form of vulgar amusement"
"When we come to poetry, we can't fancy a more poverty stricken predicament"
"With all our virtues and qualities, we Chinese as a race have never realised and expressed ourselves completely, as the Greek and the Romans did, through the medium of art"
"Our sages are preoccupied ... with the not very easy task of equilibrating and harmonising the obvious impulses that men share with their fellow beings, such as food and sex"
"Love, is transcendental and transfiguring, and being transfigured through that mysterious force, one's mortal eyes"
"My personal experience has only discovered two classes of people in China; Cynics who despise love and cowards who are afraid of it"