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Songs from the Chinese Poets: Set II

Word count: 413

Song Cycle by Granville Ransome Bantock, Sir (1868 - 1946)

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1. The tomb of Chao-Chün [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English after the Chinese (中文)

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Death would have ravished her some hapless day
Even among the palaces of Han,
But she was never born to taste
The bitterness of fate so far away --
This pearl of beauty for whose sake did haste
The camels' golden-gleaming caravan.
To-day but dust and bones remain
Of her whose ransom threaded the cold steppes in vain.

Night fell on chariots to the frontier ranged,
But horses champed, for none were fain to part.
Each cursed the lying hand, the traitor's heart.
The moon surprised us scattered round the tomb,
And all our tears were changed
To little piteous lights that ringed the gloom.


Note: Chao-Chün may also be transliterated as Zhaojun. Chinese characters: 昭君墓

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. A dream of spring [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English after the Chinese (中文)

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Last night within my chamber's gloom 
some vague light breath of Spring
Came wandering and whispering, 
and bade my soul take wing.

A hundred moonlit miles away 
the Chiang crept to sea;
O keeper of my heart, 
I came by Chiang's ford to thee.

It lingered but a moment's space, 
that dream of Spring, and died;
Yet as my head the pillows pressed, 
my soul had found thy side.

Oh! Chiang Nan's a hundred miles,
yet in a moment's space
I've flown away to Chiang Nan 
and touched a dreaming face.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. Desolation [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English after the Chinese (中文)

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There was a King of Liang -- a king of wondrous might --
Who kept an open palace, where music charmed the night --

Since he was Lord of Liang a thousand years have flown,
And of the towers he builded yon ruin stands alone.

There reigns a heavy silence; gaunt weeds through windows pry,
And down the streets of Liang old echoes, wailing, die.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. The Island of Pines [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English after the Chinese (中文)

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Across the willow-lake a temple shines,
Pale, through the lotus-girdled isle of pines,
And twilight listens to the drip of oars --
The coming of dark boats with scented stores
Of orange seed; the mist leans from the hill,
While palm leaves sway 'twixt wind and water chill,
And waves of smoke like phantoms rise and fade
Into a trembling tangle of green jade.
I dream strange dreams within my tower room,
Dreams from the glimmering realms of even gloom;
Until each princely guest doth, landing, raise
His eyes, upon the full-orbed moon to gaze --
The old moon-palace that in ocean stands
Mid clouds of thistle-down and jewelled strands.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. The pavilion of abounding joy [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English after the Chinese (中文)

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Red trees, green hills in the sunset, and steppes of boundless grass.
O little the pilgrim reckons of the Spring about to pass.
In front of the Joy Pavilion, in the drift of scented showers
To and fro I come and go on a carpet of fallen flowers.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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