Wed, May 14, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Friends, followers lay Chou Meng-tieh to rest

Staff writer, with CNA

Mollie Used Books executive director Fu Yueh-an, center, carries a portrait of poet Chou Meng-tieh at Chou’s funeral in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Pan Shao-tang, Taipei Times

Prominent cultural figures and friends gathered yesterday for the funeral of poet Chou Meng-tieh (周夢蝶) in Taipei, where they recalled the life of the meditative poet and celebrated the man and his beautiful creations.

Chou died on May 1 at age 92 due to complications from pneumonia.

Those who came to pay their respects placed a flower inside the poet’s casket. Admirers and people close to him spoke about Chou’s contributions to literature.

Poet Hsiang Ming (向明) dedicated a poem to his longtime friend, recalling Chou’s bright eyes that “never lost focus” despite the passage of time.

“He chose to be a poet after having been through war. He not only wrote poetry — his life was a poem itself,” writer Chang Show-foong (張曉風) said.

Also in attendance was Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai (龍應台), who praised the late poet for his personality as well as his works.

“His poetry, character and perseverance are like a national flag for Taiwan — a flag that represents beauty and pureness, and depth of heart,” Lung said.

Presidential Office Secretary-General Timothy Yang (楊進添) presented a posthumous presidential citation for Chou to the late poet’s friend Tseng Chin-feng (曾進豐).

The citation called Chou an “undying legend” of Taiwan’s cultural history, praising his works for capturing the essence of Zen Buddhism and enriching contemporary Chinese poetry.

Chou was born Chou Chi-shu (周起述) in China’s Henan Province in 1921.

He joined the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) China Youth Corps during the Chinese Civil War and came to Taiwan in 1948 with the party, leaving behind his wife, children and mother.

He began selling poetry and books in Taipei in 1959, the same year he published his first collection of poems, Gu Du Guo (“Lonely Land”), which became one of his most important works.

In 1997 he was named the first literature laureate of the National Culture and Arts Foundation.

His poems are deeply influenced by Buddhist thought and have a meditative quality. They often touch on subjects of time, life and death.

Chou wrote more than 400 poems, which have been published in Taiwan and overseas, including in China, the US, France and South Korea.

He was known for living a simple and low-key life. He never remarried and had no relatives in Taiwan.

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