Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute Song 15 Cai Yan
- Poetry of Cai Wenji


- Last updated: 2024-06-18 17:16:41

Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute Song 15 Cai Yan by Cai Wenji






English Translation

In my fifteenth song the tempo of the melody quickens,

The spirit which rises in my breast, who understands its song?

I lived in a yurt with the nomads, their customs so different and strange,

I longed to return to my home, and Heaven granted my wish,

My return to China should be enough to gladden my heart.

But my heart is full of memories that feed my ever-deepening sorrow,

The sun and moon are impartial, yet they fail to shine on me.

The thoughts of children and mother separated are hard to bear;

Though the same sky is our canopy, we are like distant constellations,

Not knowing if one or another lives or dies, or where we might find each other.

The famous guqin piece Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute is traditionally attributed to her, although the authorship is a perennial issue for scholarly debate.

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Why Chinese poems is so special?
The most distinctive features of Chinese poetry are: concision- many poems are only four lines, and few are much longer than eight; ambiguity- number, tense and parts of speech are often undetermined, creating particularly rich interpretative possibilities; and structure- most poems follow quite strict formal patterns which have beauty in themselves as well as highlighting meaningful contrasts.
How to read a Chinese poem?
Like an English poem, but more so. Everything is there for a reason, so try to find that reason. Think about all the possible connotations, and be aware of the different possibilities of number and tense. Look for contrasts: within lines, between the lines of each couplet and between successive couplets. Above all, don't worry about what the poet meant- find your meaning.

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