Wang Wei


The poetry of Wang Wei (699-761 AD) is somewhat plain and austere but is filled with visual and spiritual insights. He is a Chinese poet of the Tang period, which is surely the most highly regarded.
He was born into a prosperous family, his father being a local official and his mother coming from a family with literary pedigree. In his mid teens, Wang Wei went to the capital and soon gained favour on account of his exceptional talent. But he found himself removed to the provinces again and bought himself his famous country estate on the Wang River, where he cultivated his love of simplicity and nature. 

Principally, he was a devout Buddhist. Not only did he flourish as a poet, but he was also valued as a painter. Despite the fact that none of his originals survive, there is a whole school of Chinese painting descended from his work. He was an accomplished musician. His ‘Three Variations on the Yang Pass’, a setting of a poem about exile, is still played. Wang Wei worked all his life in administrative posts and cunningly survived being forced to work in a rebel government. He became a widower in his early thirties, was childless, and never remarried.

from Julian Farmer's introduction in MPT 3/12 Freed Speech

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