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Ai Qing

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Ai Qing
Ai Qing in Paris, France, 1929
Ai Qing in Paris, France, 1929
Native name
BornJiang Zhenghan
(1910-03-27)March 27, 1910
Fantianjiang village, Jinhua county, Zhejiang province, China
DiedMay 5, 1996(1996-05-05) (aged 86)
Beijing, China
Pen nameEjia (莪加)
Ke'a (克阿)
Linbi (林壁)
Alma materChina Academy of Art
SpouseGao Ying
ChildrenAi Xuan, Ai Weiwei

Ai Qing (Chinese: 艾青; pinyin: Ài Qīng; Wade–Giles: Ai Ch'ing, March 27, 1910 – May 5, 1996), born Jiang Zhenghan (Chinese: 蒋正涵; pinyin: Jiǎng Zhènghán) and styled Jiang Haicheng (Chinese: 蒋海澄; pinyin: Jiǎng Hǎichéng), was a 20th-century Chinese poet. He was known under his pen names Linbi (Chinese: 林壁; pinyin: Línbì), Ke'a (Chinese: 克阿; pinyin: Kè'ā) and Ejia (Chinese: 莪伽; pinyin: Éjiā).



Ai Qing was born in Fantianjiang village (贩田蒋), Jinhua county, in eastern China's Zhejiang province. After entering Hangzhou Xihu Art School in 1928, on the advice of principal Lin Fengmian, he went abroad and studied in Paris the following spring. From 1929 to 1932 while studying in France, besides learning art of Renoir and Van Gogh, the philosophy of Kant and Hegel, he also studied modern poets such as Mayakovsky and was especially influenced by Belgian poet Verhaeren.

After returning to Shanghai, China in May 1932, he joined China Left Wing Artist Association, and was arrested in July for opposing the Kuomintang. During his imprisonment, Ai Qing translated Verhaeren's poems and wrote his first book Dayanhe—My Nanny (大堰保姆), "Reed Flute" (芦笛), and "Paris" (巴黎). He was finally released in October 1935.

After the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, Ai Qing wrote "Snow falls on China's Land" (雪落在中国的土地上) after arriving at Wuhan to support the war effort. In 1938, he moved to Guilin to become the editor of Guixi Daily newspaper. In 1940, he became the dean of the Chinese department at Chongqing YuCai University.

In 1941, he moved to Yan'an,[1] and joined the Chinese Communist Party in the subsequent year. Beginning in 1949, he was on cultural committees.[2] He was editor of Poetry Magazine, and associate editor of People's Literature.[3]

However, in 1957, during the Anti-Rightist Movement, he defended Ding Ling[4] and was accused of "rightism". He was exiled to farms in northeast China in 1958 and was transferred to Xinjiang in 1959 by the Communist authorities. During the period of the Cultural Revolution he was forced to work daily cleaning the communal toilets for his village of about 200 people, a physically demanding job he was required to carry out for five years, then aged in his 60s. According to an account by his son Ai Weiwei, he lost vision in one of his eyes due to lack of nutrition.[5] He was not allowed to publish his works Return Song (《归来的歌》) and Ode to Light (《光的赞歌》) until he was reinstated in 1979. In 1979, he was vice-chairman of the Chinese Writers Association.

He made a second journey to France in 1980, and in 1985 French president François Mitterrand awarded him the title of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters.



He is the father of the prominent Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, who participated in designing the Beijing National Stadium, and the painter Ai Xuan. He had two daughters with his second wife.[1]

Pen name


In 1933, while being tortured and imprisoned by the Kuomintang and writing his book Dayan River — My Nanny, he went to write his surname (Jiang, ), but stopped at the first component "艹" due to his bitterness towards KMT leader Chiang Kai-shek. He resented sharing the same surname (Jiang/Chiang) and simply crossed out the rest of the character with an "X".[6] This happens to be the Chinese character ài (), and since the rest of his name, Hǎi Chéng meant the limpidity of the sea, it implied the color of limpid water qīng (, turquoise, blue, or green), so he adopted the pen name Ai Qing.


  • Kuangye (1940; “Wildness”)
  • Xiang taiyang (1940 “Toward the Sun”)
  • Beifang (1942; “North”)
  • Guilai de ge (1980; “Song of Returning”)
  • Ai Qing quanji (“The Complete Works of Ai Qing”) in 1991.

Works in French

  • Le chant de la lumière «Guang de zange » 光 的 赞 歌, éditor, translator Ng Yok-Soon. Ed. les Cent fleurs, 1989
  • De la poésie ; Du poète / Ai Qing « Shilun » 诗 论, translator Chantal Chen-Andro, Wang Zaiyuan, Ballouhey, Centre de recherche de l’Université de Paris VIII, 1982
  • ''Poèmes / Ai Ts’ing, éditor, translator Catherine Vignal. Publications orientalistes de France, 1979.
  • Le récif : poèmes et fables / Ai Qing, éditor, translator Ng Yok-Soon. Ed. les Cent fleurs, 1987[7]

Works in German

  • Manfred und Shuxin Reinhardt (ed. and transl.): Auf der Waage der Zeit. Gedichte. Volk und Welt, Berlin 1988 (in Nachdichtungen von Annemarie Bostroem)
  • Susanne Hornfeck (ed. and transl.): Schnee fällt auf Chinas Erde. Gedichte. Penguin Verlag, München 2021

Works in English

  • Eugene Chen Eoyang (ed), Selected Poems of Ai Qing, Indiana University Press, 1982


  • Edward Morin, Fang Dai, ed. (1990). The Red azalea: Chinese poetry since the Cultural Revolution. Translated by Edward Morin; Fang Dai; Dennis Ding. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-1320-8.
  • Joseph S. M. Lau; Howard Goldblatt, eds. (2007). The Columbia anthology of modern Chinese literature. Columbia University Press. p. 516. ISBN 978-0-231-13841-3.
  • Huang, Yunte. (2016). The Big Red Book of Modern Chinese Literature. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 290. ISBN 978-0393239485.

See also



  1. ^ a b Lee Khoon Choy (2005). Pioneers of modern China: understanding the inscrutable Chinese. World Scientific. ISBN 978-981-256-618-8.
  2. ^ "Ai Qing (Chinese poet) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved August 5, 2012.
  3. ^ Tony Barnstone; Chou Ping, eds. (2010). The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry. Random House Digital, Inc. ISBN 978-0-307-48147-4.
  4. ^ "Ai Qing, Chinese poet". FileRoom.org. Archived from the original on May 30, 2004. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
  5. ^ Obrist, Hans Ulrich (2011). Ai Weiwei Speaks. London: Penguin. pp. 73–4. ISBN 978-0-241-95754-7.
  6. ^ Gong Mu [in Chinese] (1991). 新詩鑑賞辭典 [Lexicography of appreciation of Modern Poetry] (in Chinese). Shanghai: Shanghai Lexicographical Publishing House. p. 366. ISBN 7-5326-0115-3. 为了躲过敌人的注意,我就根据本名蒋海澄的谐音第一次用了"艾青"这个笔名 [To escape the notice of enemies, I derived the nom de plume "Ai Qing" from my birth name]
  7. ^ "Ouvrages de référence et étude thématique" (PDF). Retrieved September 20, 2012.

Further reading