Ai Qing

Ai Qing

1929, Ai Qing in Paris, France
Born Jiang Zhenghan (蔣正涵)
(1910-03-27)March 27, 1910
Fantianjiang village, Jinhua county, Zhejiang province, China
Died May 5, 1996(1996-05-05) (aged 86)
Beijing, China
Pen name Ejia (莪加)
Ke'a (克阿)
Linbi (林壁)
Occupation poet
Language Chinese
Nationality Chinese
Citizenship Chinese
Alma mater Hangzhou Xihu Art School
Period 1936–1986
Children Ai Xuan, Ai Weiwei
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Ai.

Aì Qīng (Chinese: 艾青; pinyin: Aì Qīng; Wade–Giles: Ai Ch'ing; born Jiǎng Zhènghán (Chinese: 蒋正涵; pinyin: Jiǎng Zhènghán) and styled Jiǎng Hǎichéng (Chinese: 蒋海澄; pinyin: Jiǎng Hǎichéng); March 27, 1910 – May 5, 1996), is regarded as one of the finest modern Chinese poets. He was known under his pen names Línbì (Chinese: 林壁; pinyin: Línbì), Kè'ā (Chinese: 克阿; pinyin: Kè'ā) and Éjiā (Chinese: 莪伽; pinyin: Éjiā).


He was born in Fantianjiang village (贩田蒋), Jinhua county, in eastern China's Zhejiang province. After entering Hangzhou Xihu Art School in 1928, under 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 Nurse (大堰河—我的保姆), "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 "Snowfall on the 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] was accused of "rightism", and in 1958 exiled to farms in northeast China, and then in 1959 transferred to Xinjiang 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 famed Chinese artist and architect Ai Weiwei, who participated in designing the Beijing National Stadium, and artist 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 Da'an River — My Wet-nurse, 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". 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.


Works in French

Works in English



  1. 1 2 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". Retrieved 2012-08-05.
  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". Retrieved 2012-08-06.
  5. Obrist, Hans Ulrich (2011). Ai Weiwei Speaks. London: Penguin. pp. 73–4. ISBN 978-0-241-95754-7.
  6. "Ouvrages de référence et étude thématique" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-09-20.

Further reading


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