Obituary Note: Yu Guangzhong

Yu Guangzhong, "a prominent poet, essayist and translator whose best-known work, 'Nostalgia,' came to symbolize the aching separation, displacement and longing for cultural unity felt by many in mainland China and in the Chinese diaspora," died on December 14, the New York Times reported. He was 89. Yu was a college student in mainland China when his family fled to Taiwan in 1949. "He flourished in his new home, finding success as a poet and a scholar," the Times noted. "But like many exiled Chinese who had left behind relatives, friends and homes, he could never quite shake his yearning for the 'motherland.' "

"The Yellow River flows torrential in my veins/ China is me I am China," he wrote in "Percussion," a poem that has been included in the standard literature curriculum in China and Taiwan. Yu's first collection, Elegy of a Boatman, was published in 1952. His passion for Western literature inspired him to publish, in 1957, Chinese translations of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea and Irving Stone's Lust for Life. A prolific poet, he ultimately published more than 50 books of poetry, prose, criticism and translations over seven decades.

"He was one of the most accomplished writers not only in Taiwan but in modern Chinese literature," said Sung-Sheng Yvonne Chang, a professor of Chinese language and culture at the University of Texas at Austin. "He could combine images from Tang dynasty poetry with this kind of daring, Western modernist aesthetic."

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