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 32 Wang Anshi



Tchun of TANG a.d. 805 Ngan’s Reforms

Nineteenth Dynasty SUNG 960

 Ezra Pound The Cantos New York: New Directions, 1998. 255


Through the first third of canto 55 things go on in much the same way for another century and a half, as in a repeating pattern, in the fabric of time, until the rise of the Sung dynasty under whom China enjoyed both a renaissance and a fatal loss of will. […] then in the eleventh century came Ngan [Wang Anshi], the next great reformer after Confucius. He re-established the regulation of markets, that the right price of things be set daily, that a market tax should go to the emperor and the poor be thus relieved of charges, and that commerce be enlivened ‘by making to circulate the whole realm’s abundance’. […] 

Ngan’s thoroughly Confucian reforms worked for twenty years, yet they were not only complained about by the mandarins and rich merchants whose greed they were designed to constrain, but were argued against as too radical and impractical by a fellow minister, Ssé-ma Kouang [Sima Guang], who had them rescinded. Yet Ssé-ma Kouang was the great Confucian scholar who put together the Comprehensive Mirror for the Aid of Government. When he died, ‘merchants in Caïfong put up their shutters in mourning’; but Ngan’s fate was to be driven from office, vilified by conservative Confucians as guilty of Taoist and Buddhist errors. 

David Moody, Ezra Pound: Poet II: 279


A Draft of XXX Cantos

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Eleven New Cantos

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