Funny Thing about Chinese Poetry

The funny thing about reading modern Chinese poetry:

The more learned, erudite and recondite the language gets, the easier it is for me to understand and to appreciate. The layer of cultural resonance that draws on classical references, on phrases drawn from or patterned off of medieval poetry, on images reaching back hundreds of years for their associations: this is all easily assimilable to me and really, really enjoyable. Whereas the more colloquial, and plainspoken the poet gets, the more impenetrable I find it. Poems that imitate conversational style just wind up as lexicographical exercise, where I try to determine subtext in a language which I have no experience with, no emotional resonance with, and only read by accident.

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