Translation from Chinese of Poems 1–9 from 'Wandering Spirit and Metaphysical Thoughts' by Gao Xingjian


The 2000 Nobel Laureate for Literature, Gao Xingjian, suffered cardiac arrest while directing rehearsals for his mega-scale opera Snow in August that was due to premiere in late 2002 at the National Opera House, Taipei. He recovered, and the opera premiered as scheduled with the help of a co-director before he returned to Paris to direct the Comédie Français premiere of his Quatre quatuors pour un week-end. He underwent surgery in February and March of 2003, but was soon again back at work. The year 2003 had been designated “Gao Xingjian Year” by the City of Marseille, and he would direct his new play Le Quêteur de la Mort at Théâtre du Gymnase, and then his Snow in August at Opéra de Marseille. It was during rehearsals for the former that he collapsed again, and was hospitalized: the play was co-directed by Romain Bonnin, 23–26 September 2003. Large exhibitions of Gao’s artworks had been held earlier that year, but the performance of Snow in August was postponed. During his recuperation for most of 2004, he sometimes wrote poems, some of which he later polished or rewrote for his collection Wandering Spirit and Metaphysical Thoughts (2012).

These translations from the Chinese into English of the first 9 poems in Wandering Spirit and Metaphysical Thoughts (2012) are by acclaimed translator Mabel Lee.


Gao Xianjing; Mabel Lee; Nobel Prize for Literature; Wandering Spirit; Metaphysical Thoughts

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