MADRID, March 28 (Xinhua) -- Spanish poet Manuel Moya has found an inexhaustible treasure and source of inspiration in the works of some ancient Chinese poets who lived between 1,250 and 1,650 years ago.
"I believe I live a life similar to that of Tao (Tao Yuanming, 352/365-427) in China's Jin dynasty," he has recently told Xinhua.
The grey-bearded 57-year-old never tried to hide his strong love for the famous ancient Chinese recluse and the other poets Wang Wei, Li Bai and Du Fu, and openly emulates their styles, in both his works and life.
In fact, readers can easily recognize the Chinese philosophy of life and literary images in the more than 40 poems that make up Moya's collection "Impedimenta." The poems are in deliberate imitation of the Chinese poets.
He said in one poem emulating Tao's that even living away from the company of others, the clatter of carriages still comes to his hut.
"A home set in vanity fair turns out/ My shelter from carriage noises without/ You ask me how it can happen this way/ It proves remote when your mind is far away," Tao thus wrote in his famous poem.
In "Recalling a Poem by Wang Wei (699/701-761)," Moya transplanted his hometown's natural views verse by verse to where the Chinese poet put the sunset and birds over autumn mountains.
Such 21st-century Spanish versions of ancient Chinese pastoral poems helped win him a local poetry prize. It added to the many honors, some of them national, granted to him in a span of 34 years, during which he published more than 20 poetry anthologies and 10 storybooks and novels.
Moya gave himself the pen name Xi Shaoquan when he wrote "Impedimenta," which was published in 2011. To entertain Xinhua visitors to his house in the mountainous Fuenteheridos near Seville known as the "town of poets" in Spain, Moya recited Tao's works from a collection of translated ancient Chinese poems.
Moya blushed after confessing that the collection of Tao's works was brand new and that he had just bought it for the occasion, because the old copy he used to read over the past 16 years is worn out.
"The book produced great changes in me, it let me know about the world's oldest poems. I like them very much, and am totally lost in them," he said.
He noted that the experience marked an important turning point in his literary career.
Moya started to imitate these ancient poems, thanks in large part to the efforts of Joaquin Chen, 79, who had translated those Chinese poems into Spanish.
In fact, Moya regarded Chen as his "tutor." "Mr. Chen led me into a new poetry wonderland," he said.
When told that Chen had last year published an unabridged version of a popular anthology of the best poems of China's Tang Dynasty, Moya immediately said: "I will buy one copy of that anthology tomorrow."
Moya is one of the many Spanish literary greats whom Chen's work has converted to the beauty of ancient Chinese poetry. These greats include translator Valentin Garcia Yebra and critic Luis Maria Anson, both members of the Royal Spanish Academy, and each has written a preface for Chen's other translations.
The introduction of ancient Chinese poetry to Hispanic literary circles dates back to the early 20th century. Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario (1867-1916) is believed to have been the first in that regard. He penned the well-known verse in English "Please love me with the melody like Li Bai's."
"I'm very grateful to the many people like Mr. Chen. I learned how to write from them," said Moya. "The seed Mr. Chen sowed in me has grown into blossoms."
In his opinion, Spanish and Chinese poetry share an inner depth, among many things.
"Poets of both countries care much about the miseries of human life, and express their thoughts in languages and melodies as beautiful as possible," he said.
Living and writing in the calmness of the countryside lit up each year by a sea of chestnut blossoms in one of Europe's biggest chestnut plantations, Moya has a vegetable garden to look after all year round in his own yard, where a couple of pear trees are now resplendent in the March sunlight.
In his eyes, his birthplace Fuenteheridos, which dates back to the 13th century, is like the idyllic retreat from the world that Tao had once described.
The son of a local farmer has long had a dream of traveling to China to come close to the nature that still lives on in Tao's poems.
"I long to see the mountains and trees that had bred the spirit of Tao," Moya said.
He surely has a better chance of visiting China than the Spanish literary master Miguel de Cervantes. According to the prelude of the second half of "Don Quixote," Cervantes had received an offer from the Chinese emperor of the time to head a Spanish school, but he died before being able to make use of the offer.