Ai Qing

▪ 1997

      (JIANG HAICHENG), Chinese poet (b. March 27, 1910, Jinhua, Zhejiang province, China—d. May 5, 1996, Beijing, China), created works that at their best were simple and powerful while at their worst were marred by propagandistic intent. The son of a wealthy landowner, Jiang lived the first five years of his life with an impoverished wet nurse. From 1928 to 1932 he studied in Paris, where he gained an appreciation for Western literature. Upon his return to China, he was imprisoned for his radical political associations, and while in jail he wrote a poem about his wet nurse that established his popularity. After his release some three years later, he joined Mao Zedong and dedicated his poetry to the communist cause. He published more than 30 volumes of chiefly nationalistic, folk-oriented verse and served in many cultural offices, but in 1957 he was officially censured. He remained silent for 21 years, interned in labour camps in Heilongjiang and Xinjiang provinces. Selected Poems of Ai Qing was published in 1982.

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▪ Chinese poet
Wade-Giles romanization  Ai Ch'ing , pseudonym of  Jiang Haicheng 
born March 27, 1910, Jinhua, Zhejiang province, China
died May 5, 1996, Beijing

      Chinese poet whose free verse was influential in the development of xinshi (“new poetry”).

      The son of a well-to-do landowner, Ai Qing was encouraged to learn Western languages. He studied painting in Paris from 1928 to 1932, and he developed an appreciation for Western literature. Imprisoned for his radical political activities, he began to write poetry under his pen name. His first collection of verse, Dayanhe (1936), reflects his concern for the common people of China; the title poem recalls the foster nurse (called Dayanhe in the poem) who reared him. He went to Yan'an in 1941 and eventually accepted the literary teachings of the Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong. Ai Qing published a number of additional volumes in the 1940s, such as Kuangye (1940; “Wildness”), Xiang taiyang (1940; “Toward the Sun”), and Beifang (1942; “North”). An advocate of free expression and the role of the writer as social critic, Ai Qing used simple language and a free style in creating his socially oriented poems.

      After 1949 Ai Qing served on various cultural committees, but in 1957 he was officially censured as a rightist for criticizing the communist regime. He remained silent for 21 years and was interned in labour camps in Heilongjiang and Xinjiang. He began writing again in 1978, publishing books such as Guilai de ge (1980; “Song of Returning”). Selected Poems of Ai Qing was published in 1982, and his entire oeuvre was published as Ai Qing quanji (“The Complete Works of Ai Qing”) in 1991.

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Universalium. 2010.

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