Thursday, March 15, 2012

Chinese Music & Tang Poetry


Down the blue mountain in the evening, 

Moonlight was my homeward escort. 
Looking back, I saw my path 
Lie in levels of deep shadow.... 
I was passing the farm-house of a friend, 
When his children called from a gate of thorn 
And led me twining through jade bamboos 
Where green vines caught and held my clothes. 
And I was glad of a chance to rest 
And glad of a chance to drink with my friend.... 
We sang to the tune of the wind in the pines; 
And we finished our songs as the stars went down, 
When, I being drunk and my friend more than happy, 
Between us we forgot the world. 

~ Li Bai


From a pot of wine among the flowers 

I drank alone. There was no one with me -- 
Till, raising my cup, I asked the bright moon 
To bring me my shadow and make us three. 
Alas, the moon was unable to drink 
And my shadow tagged me vacantly; 
But still for a while I had these friends 
To cheer me through the end of spring.... 
I sang. The moon encouraged me. 
I danced. My shadow tumbled after. 
As long as I knew, we were boon companions. 
And then I was drunk, and we lost one another. 
...Shall goodwill ever be secure? 
I watch the long road of the River of Stars. 

~ Li Bai


It is almost as hard for friends to meet 
As for the morning and evening stars. 
Tonight then is a rare event, 
Joining, in the candlelight, 
Two men who were young not long ago 
But now are turning grey at the temples. 
...To find that half our friends are dead 
Shocks us, burns our hearts with grief. 
We little guessed it would be twenty years 
Before I could visit you again. 
When I went away, you were still unmarried; 
But now these boys and girls in a row 
Are very kind to their father's old friend. 
They ask me where I have been on my journey; 
And then, when we have talked awhile, 
They bring and show me wines and dishes, 
Spring chives cut in the night-rain 
And brown rice cooked freshly a special way. 
...My host proclaims it a festival, 
He urges me to drink ten cups -- 
But what ten cups could make me as drunk 
As I always am with your love in my heart? 
...Tomorrow the mountains will separate us; 
After tomorrow-who can say?

~ Du Fu


I dismount from my horse and I offer you wine, 
And I ask you where you are going and why. 
And you answer: "I am discontent 
And would rest at the foot of the southern mountain. 
So give me leave and ask me no questions. 
White clouds pass there without end."

~ Wang Wei


Now that the sun has set beyond the western range, 
Valley after valley is shadowy and dim.... 
And now through pine-trees come the moon and the chill of evening, 
And my ears feel pure with the sound of wind and water 
Nearly all the woodsmen have reached home, 
Birds have settled on their perches in the quiet mist.... 
And still -- because you promised -- I am waiting for you, waiting, 
Playing lute under a wayside vine.

~ Meng Haoran


In Chinese literature, the Tang period (618-907) is considered the golden age of Chinese poetry. Tang Shi San Bai Shou [300 Tang Poems] is a compilation of poems from this period made around 1763 by Heng-tang-tui-shi [Sun Zhu] of the Qing dynasty.

English Translation : Witter Bynner



1 comment:

  1. The soothing chinese music and the beautifully moving lyrics of the poems set the mood for a quiet evening where one is almost engulfed by wistful serenity. The imagery brought out by the lyrics of all the poems particularly the last one which brings tears to the eyes, manage to transport you to the wayside vine where actually you could hear the waiting lute playing the tune of the heart.. Where no word needs to be expressed..

    Written by different poets yet expressing the similar sentiment the lines like "But what ten cups could make me as drunk,
    As I always am with your love in my heart?"
    "Between us we forgot the world" bring out the beauty of the sentiment which every heart experiences at least once in the lifetime. The poem and the music evoke a feeling of being together with the beloved in a strange way..

    The blogger always has a knack of choosing photographs which are lyrical in itself and this particular photograph of the cowherd under the waiting amber sky is no different. It only adds to the mood of the blog and succeeds in transporting us to a far away world of the Beloved..