Water-Colors: Four Chinese Tone Poems

Song Cycle by John Alden Carpenter (1876 - 1951)

Word count: 237

1. On a screen [sung text checked 1 time]

A tortoise I see 
  on a lotus-flower resting
A bird 'mid the reeds 
  and the rushes is nesting,
A light skiff, propelled 
  by some boatman's fair daughter,
Whose song dies away 
  o'er the fast flowing water.

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Confirmed with Chinese Poetry in English Verse by Herbert Giles, London: Bernard Quaritch; Shanghai: Kelly & Walsh, Ltd., 1898, p. 69.


Researcher for this text: Geoffrey Wieting

2. The odalisque [sung text checked 1 time]

A gaily dressed damsel steps forth from her bower,
  Bewailing the fate that forbids her to roam;
In the courtyard she counts [up]1 the buds on each flower,
  While a dragon-fly flutters and sits on her comb.

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1 omitted by Carpenter.

Researcher for this text: Geoffrey Wieting

3. Highwaymen [sung text checked 1 time]

The rainy mist sweeps gently o'er the village by the stream,
And from the leafy forest glades the brigand daggers gleam;
And yet, there is no need to fear, or step from out their way,
For more than half the world consists of bigger rogues than they!

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Researcher for this text: Geoffrey Wieting

4. To a young gentleman [sung text checked 1 time]

Don't come in, sir, please!
Don't break my willow-trees!
Not that that would very much grieve me;
But, alack-a-day! what would my parents say?
And love you as I may,
I cannot bear to think what that would be.

Don't cross my wall, sir, please!
Don't spoil my mulberry-trees!
Not that that would very much grieve me;
But, alack-a-day! what would my brothers say?
And love you as I may,
I cannot bear to think what that would be.

[Keep]1 outside, sir, please!
Don't spoil my sandal-trees!
Not that that would very much grieve me;
But, alack-a-day! what the world would say!
And love you as I may,
I cannot bear to think what that would be.

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1 Carpenter: "Then keep"

Researcher for this text: Geoffrey Wieting