Nonagenarian devotes life to teaching classical Chinese poetry

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail CGTN, May 25, 2023
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Considered one of the most influential literature scholars of recent times, 98-year-old Yeh Chia-Ying is committed to ongoing classical Chinese poetry research and teaching in China and beyond.

Born to a literary family in Beijing in 1924, Yeh Chia-Ying began to recite ancient poems at the age of three. Poetry has since then become an inseparable part of her rather turbulent life. In 1976, her eldest daughter died in a car accident. Yeh healed her pain with poetry. She coined the phrase "beauty of passive virtue" to illustrate her life philosophy. She said: "Passive virtue does not mean that you are always weak. The power to endure weakness and persist in it is passive virtue."

Yeh Chia-Ying graduated from Fu Jen Catholic University in 1945. She was a visiting professor at Harvard and Columbia universities, as well as a lifetime professor of the University of British Columbia. She is also the only fellow of Chinese classical literature at the Royal Society of Canada. During her years abroad, Yeh Chia-Ying longed to return to her homeland. In 1974, she finally managed to fly back to Beijing.

In 2015, Nankai University set up an academy called "Jialing School," named after Yeh. This year, she officially ended her decades of living abroad and settled in Nankai. From 2018 to 2019, Yeh donated a total of 35.68 million yuan from her savings and properties to establish the "Jialing Fund" to support the study of traditional Chinese culture. The annual Jialing Cup Poetry Analysis Competition was launched in 2019 to encourage the reading and studying of classical poetry.

Yeh is a recipient of the You Bring Charm to the World Award, Award for Outstanding Contributions to China Studies, and Touching China's 2020 Person of the Year. Fame and fortune have not altered her true heart. "I don't know how many more years I will live. Death could be imminent. I teach people to recite poetry because I think it should be passed down. I'm devoting the rest of my life to poetry," Yeh Chia-Ying shared.

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