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Plastic Flute Poems

"Song was Sung" means the Chinese Song dynasty was known as the Sung Dynasty earlier, through the Wade-Giles way of writing out Chinese letters in English. Thus, Song poetry refers to the poetry typical of the Song dynasty of China (960-1279).

Many of the best known Classical Chinese poems, popular also in translation, are by Song dynasty poets, such as Su Shi (Dongpo), Ouyang Xiu, Lu You and Yang Wanli. (Wikipedia, "Song poetry")

Here are some novel adaptations.


I could have stopped in Varanasi
Much would have changed.
I awake and sigh -
Keen and cold the north wind blows.

A maker of songs is a poet,
He hardly knew it was that bad.

The best thinker has a heart of his own.
He chooses his themes
Or they come to him.

Of the best of British composers the people hardly know they exist
The next best they love and praise.

A deep-going patron of literature and fun said,
"Short is the time we are here!
Poetry we like, keeps us still open.
What the world needs now
Probably stems from utter pondering."

By the harmony of sweet lines traditions are handed down,
And wisdom and inspiration.

Ancient Chinese poets interpreted themselves.
We can do the same if we like.

Medium minds and great minds too
Could have some cues
Out of great lack in delicate culture.

Some poets sit for hours before they hatch anything.
And surfaces crack open, harps come,
And unseen, felt winds inside.

Mountains, rivers: the weather was lovely;
poetry, the images in my mind, the spirit was flourishing.
Nourish the unkempt and wild.

More days are worth cherishing - can I refuse them?
I long for rest and sleep.

Feelings and matters of the heart -
to whom may they be told but the bold?
Listening to others at length is at any rate quite unbearable
like tuning a single string of the guitar for weeks.

Good time with a fair person - impossible to repeat.
I give a long sigh.

A faraway person's dreams on the bed may not come true.
Or could they?

The idiot said no more
He left for good, changing his name and surname;
and roamed along silvery shores.
Enduring insults, he got books on sale, declining credit.

A brother fell to his ruin at night
he was hardly my kind at all.

Many months ago we heard thunder
Some birds put their suspicions aside.

Song fragments, Song poems, Chinese poetry fragments, Literature  

Allen, Clement Francis Romilly, tr. The Book of Chinese Poetry, Being the Collection of Ballads, Sagas, Hymns, and Other Pieces Known as the Shih Ching or Classic of Poetry. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co., 1891.

Giles, Herbert A. tr. Chinese Poetry in English Verse. London: Bernard Quaritch, 1898.

Owen, Stephen. The Making of Early Chinese Classical Poetry. London: Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2006. ⍽▢⍽ Professor Owen has a reputation for being an erudite and prolific scholar and translator of Chinese poetry and poetics. A reviewer, David McCraw, admits formerly mistaken notions: "Some of the oldest verses turn out to be the youngest." Dr Owen shows how fragments from poetry that was composed between the end of the first century BCE and the third century CE was reshaped in later generations to suit the conventional tastes then - how early poetry comes to us through reproduction reproduction by those who knew the poem and transmitted it, by musicians who performed it, and by scribes and anthologists all of whom changed texts to suit their needs, as it is pointed out.

Sargent, Stuart H. The Poetry of He Zhu (1052-1125): Genres, Contexts, and Creativity. Leiden: Brill, 2007. ⍽▢⍽ The Northern Song poet He Zhu wrote lyrical poetry (ci) and shi poetry of subtlety, wit, and feeling. Sargent compares his poetry with that of Du Fu (Tu Fu) and other important writers. Dr Sargent's work "opens up a world of interpretive territory heretofore seldom explored."

Waley, Arthur, tr. A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems and More Translations from the Chinese. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1919.

Waley, Arthur, tr. More Translations from the Chinese. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1919.

Wang, Jiaosheng, tr. The Complete Ci-Poems of Li Qingzhao: A New English Translation. Philadelphia, PA: Sino-Platonic Papers No. 13, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilization, University of Pennsylvania, 1989. ⍽▢⍽ The Ci is a poetic form, a kind or lyric poetry, and Li Qingzhao excelled in it.

Yu, Pauline, ed. Voices of the Song Lyric in China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

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