15 January 1897|
|Died||19 November 1931
Cause of death
|Relatives||Jin Yong (cousin)|
Xu Zhimo (Chinese: 徐志摩; pinyin: Xú Zhìmó; Wade–Giles: Hsü Chih-mo, January 15, 1897 – November 19, 1931) was an early 20th-century Chinese poet. He was given the name of Zhangxu (章垿) and the courtesy name of Yousen (槱森). He later changed his courtesy name to Zhimo (志摩).
To commemorate Xu Zhimo, in July 2008, a stone of white Beijing marble was installed at the Backs of King's College, Cambridge (near the bridge over the River Cam); on it are inscribed the first two and last two lines from Xu's best-known poem (simplified Chinese: 再别康桥; traditional Chinese: 再別康橋; pinyin: Zài Bié Kāngqiáo; literally: "again (or "once more") leave Cambridge", variously translated as "On Leaving Cambridge", "Saying Goodbye to Cambridge Again", "Goodbye Again, Cambridge", "Leaving the Revisited Cambridge" etc.). A collection of Xu's poetry with English translations was published by Oleander Press Cambridge in 2012.
Xu was born in Haining, Zhejiang and graduated from the famous Hangzhou High School. In 1915, he married Zhang Youyi and next year he went to Peiyang University (now Tianjin University) to study Law. In 1917, he transferred to Peking University (PKU) due to the law department of Peiyang University merging into PKU. In 1918, he traveled to the United States to study history in Massachusetts at Clark University. Shortly afterwards, he transferred to Columbia University in New York to study economics and politics in 1919. Finding the States "intolerable", he left in 1921 to study at King's College, Cambridge in England, where he fell in love with English romantic poetry like that of Keats and Shelley, and was also influenced by the French romantic and symbolist poets, some of whose works he translated into Chinese. In 1922 he returned to China and became a leader of the modern poetry movement. In 1923, he founded the Crescent Moon Society. When the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore visited China, Xu Zhimo played the part of oral interpreter. Xu was also renowned for his use of vernacular Chinese. He was one of the first Chinese writers to successfully naturalize Western romantic forms into modern Chinese poetry. He worked as an editor and professor at several schools before dying in a plane crash on November 19, 1931 near Tai'an, Shandong while flying on a Stinson Detroiter from Nanjing to Beijing. He left behind four collections of verse and several volumes of translations from various languages.
Xu Zhimo's various love affairs with Zhang Youyi, Lin Huiyin, and Lu Xiaoman are well known in China. Xu married Zhang Youyi, (the sister of the politician Zhang Junmai) on October 10, 1915. This was an arranged marriage that went against Xu’s belief in free and simple love. Although Zhang gave birth to two sons, Xu still couldn’t accept her. While in London in 1921, Xu met and fell in love with Lin Huiyin (the daughter of Lin Changmin). He divorced Zhang in March 1922. Inspired by this newly found love, Xu wrote a large number of poems during this time. Lin and Xu became close friends. However, she was already betrothed to Liang Sicheng by his father. Xu's last lover was Lu Xiaoman, who was married to Wang Geng, a friend of Xu. The marriage had been arranged by her parents and she felt trapped in this loveless marriage. When Xu and Lu met, they quickly bonded over the similarity of their respective experiences with arranged marriages. When it came to be known that they were in love, both were scorned by their parents and friends. Lu divorced her husband in 1925 and married Xu the next year. Their honeymoon period did not last long however and Lu gradually became more and more depressed. Because Lu was wasteful and Xu’s parents refused to lend them money, Xu had to take several jobs in different cities to keep up with the lifestyle Lu desired. She was widowed when Xu died in an airplane crash.
On November 19, 1931, Xu Zhimo prepared to leave Nanking to attend a lecture given by Lin Huiyin at a university in Peking. He boarded a China Airways Federal Stinson Detroiter, an aircraft contracted by Chunghwa Post to deliver airmail on the Nanjing-Beijing route. However, the flight encountered severe weather, and the plane crashed into the mountains near Tai'an City, in Shandong province, where he died.
English versions have been published under various titles; the one used here (by permission) was translated by Guohua Chen and published in the University of Cambridge's 800th anniversary book.
Taking Leave of Cambridge Again
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Xu Zhimo.|
- "Lu Xiaoman and Xu Zhimo". Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- Xu, Zhimo, "Selected Poems", Oleander Press, 2012. ISBN 9780900891694. This is a collection of uncredited English translations of Xu's most famous poems, plus Xu's Chinese translations of his favourite English poetry.
- Study at King's: Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
- "Xu Zhimo." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2011. Web. 06 Nov. 2011.
- Reminiscences of Xu Zhimo
- Conn, Peter (1996). Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Biography. Cambridge University Press. pp. 103, 397. ISBN 0-521-63989-1.
- Andy Cartwright and others (30 June 2012). "Saying Goodbye Again and Again". Between the Ears. BBC Radio 3. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01k9s9g. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
- Peter Pagnamenta (ed.) The University of Cambridge: an 800th Anniversary Portrait, London: Third Millenium Publishing, 2008, page 29. Guohua Chen retained the right to republish, and contributed the translation to Wikipedia.