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Recitation of Du Fu A Song of War-Chariots by Dr. Chiu Cheung Ki

招祥麒博士

Du Fu (712-770)
is one of the most celebrated poets of the Tang Dynasty. Along with Li Bai, he is frequently called the greatest of all Chinese poets.

This poem describes people’s hardships due to a prolonged war. It is an anti-war masterpiece.

Du Fu A Song of War-Chariots
Translated by Witter Bynner (1929).

The war-chariots rattle,
The war-horses whinny.
Each man of you has a bow and a quiver at his belt.
Father, mother, son, wife, stare at you going,
Till dust shall have buried the bridge beyond Changan.
They run with you, crying, they tug at your sleeves,
And the sound of their sorrow goes up to the clouds;
And every time a bystander asks you a question,
You can only say to him that you have to go.
…We remember others at fifteen sent north to guard the river
And at forty sent west to cultivate the campfarms.
The mayor wound their turbans for them when they started out.
With their turbaned hair white now, they are still at the border,
At the border where the blood of men spills like the sea —
And still the heart of Emperor Wu is beating for war.
…Do you know that, east of China’s mountains, in two hundred districts
And in thousands of villages, nothing grows but weeds,
And though strong women have bent to the ploughing,
East and west the furrows all are broken down?
…Men of China are able to face the stiffest battle,
But their officers drive them like chickens and dogs.
Whatever is asked of them,
Dare they complain?
For example, this winter
Held west of the gate,
Challenged for taxes,
How could they pay?
…We have learned that to have a son is bad luck-
It is very much better to have a daughter
Who can marry and live in the house of a neighbour,
While under the sod we bury our boys.
…Go to the Blue Sea, look along the shore
At all the old white bones forsaken —
New ghosts are wailing there now with the old,
Loudest in the dark sky of a stormy day.

 

Chanting of Li Bai’s Two Poems by Professor Chao Yuen Ren (Changzhou dialect)

趙元任教授

Li Bai (701–762) was one of the greatest poets of the Tang Dynasty. He was both a prolific and a profound poet. He was brilliant, romantic and uninhibited.

Li Bai Drinking Alone with the Moon
Translated by Witter Bynner (1929).

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 A Farewell to Secretary Shuyun at the Xietiao Villa in Xuanzhou
Translated by Witter Bynner (1929).

Since yesterday had to throw me and bolt,
Today has hurt my heart even more.
The autumn wildgeese have a long wind for escort
As I face them from this villa, drinking my wine.
The bones of great writers are your brushes, in the School of Heaven,
And I am a Lesser Xie growing up by your side.
We both are exalted to distant thought,
Aspiring to the sky and the bright moon.
But since water still flows, though we cut it with our swords,
And sorrows return, though we drown them with wine,
Since the world can in no way answer our craving,
I will loosen my hair tomorrow and take to a fishingboat.

Chao Yuen Ren (1892-1982)
Famous linguist, philosopher, composer, best known for his contributions to the modern study of Chinese phonology and grammar.

Private school tune chanting goes back 3,000 years. It has been passed down through private schools and family tutors from generation to generation. Similar to singing, there is a scale, but the scale is not pre-set.

Chanting of Bai Juyi’s A Song of Unending Sorrow by Dr. Yang Buwei (in Mandarin)

楊步偉醫生

Bai Juyi (772–846)
was a Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty. He is famous for his long narrative poems. He worked to develop a style that was simple and easy to understand.

A Song of Unending Sorrow translated by Witter Bynner 1920
retells the romantic story of imperial concubine Yang Guifei (719-756).

China’s Emperor, craving beauty that might shake an empire,
Was on the throne for many years, searching, never finding,
Till a little child of the Yang clan, hardly even grown,
Bred in an inner chamber, with no one knowing her,
But with graces granted by heaven and not to be concealed,
At last one day was chosen for the imperial household.
If she but turned her head and smiled, there were cast a hundred spells,
And the powder and paint of the Six Palaces faded into nothing.
…It was early spring. They bathed her in the FlowerPure Pool,
Which warmed and smoothed the creamy-tinted crystal of her skin,
And, because of her languor, a maid was lifting her
When first the Emperor noticed her and chose her for his bride.
The cloud of her hair, petal of her cheek, gold ripples of her crown when she moved,
Were sheltered on spring evenings by warm hibiscus curtains;
But nights of spring were short and the sun arose too soon,
And the Emperor, from that time forth, forsook his early hearings
And lavished all his time on her with feasts and revelry,
His mistress of the spring, his despot of the night.
There were other ladies in his court, three thousand of rare beauty,
But his favours to three thousand were concentered in one body.
By the time she was dressed in her Golden Chamber, it would be almost evening;
And when tables were cleared in the Tower of Jade, she would loiter, slow with wine.
Her sisters and her brothers all were given titles;
And, because she so illumined and glorified her clan,
She brought to every father, every mother through the empire,
Happiness when a girl was born rather than a boy.
…High rose Li Palace, entering blue clouds,
And far and wide the breezes carried magical notes
Of soft song and slow dance, of string and bamboo music.
The Emperor’s eyes could never gaze on her enough-
Till war-drums, booming from Yuyang, shocked the whole earth
And broke the tunes of The Rainbow Skirt and the Feathered Coat.
The Forbidden City, the nine-tiered palace, loomed in the dust
From thousands of horses and chariots headed southwest.
The imperial flag opened the way, now moving and now pausing- –
But thirty miles from the capital, beyond the western gate,
The men of the army stopped, not one of them would stir
Till under their horses’ hoofs they might trample those moth- eyebrows….
Flowery hairpins fell to the ground, no one picked them up,
And a green and white jade hair-tassel and a yellowgold hair- bird.
The Emperor could not save her, he could only cover his face.
And later when he turned to look, the place of blood and tears
Was hidden in a yellow dust blown by a cold wind.
… At the cleft of the Dagger-Tower Trail they crisscrossed through a cloud-line
Under Omei Mountain. The last few came.
Flags and banners lost their colour in the fading sunlight….
But as waters of Shu are always green and its mountains always blue,
So changeless was His Majesty’s love and deeper than the days.
He stared at the desolate moon from his temporary palace.
He heard bell-notes in the evening rain, cutting at his breast.
And when heaven and earth resumed their round and the dragon car faced home,
The Emperor clung to the spot and would not turn away
From the soil along the Mawei slope, under which was buried
That memory, that anguish. Where was her jade-white face?
Ruler and lords, when eyes would meet, wept upon their coats
As they rode, with loose rein, slowly eastward, back to the capital.
…The pools, the gardens, the palace, all were just as before,
The Lake Taiye hibiscus, the Weiyang Palace willows;
But a petal was like her face and a willow-leaf her eyebrow —
And what could he do but cry whenever he looked at them?
…Peach-trees and plum-trees blossomed, in the winds of spring;
Lakka-foliage fell to the ground, after autumn rains;
The Western and Southern Palaces were littered with late grasses,
And the steps were mounded with red leaves that no one swept away.
Her Pear-Garden Players became white-haired
And the eunuchs thin-eyebrowed in her Court of PepperTrees;
Over the throne flew fire-flies, while he brooded in the twilight.
He would lengthen the lamp-wick to its end and still could never sleep.
Bell and drum would slowly toll the dragging nighthours
And the River of Stars grow sharp in the sky, just before dawn,
And the porcelain mandarin-ducks on the roof grow thick with morning frost
And his covers of kingfisher-blue feel lonelier and colder
With the distance between life and death year after year;
And yet no beloved spirit ever visited his dreams.
…At Lingqiong lived a Taoist priest who was a guest of heaven,
Able to summon spirits by his concentrated mind.
And people were so moved by the Emperor’s constant brooding
That they besought the Taoist priest to see if he could find her.
He opened his way in space and clove the ether like lightning,
Up to heaven, under the earth, looking everywhere.
Above, he searched the Green Void, below, the Yellow Spring;
But he failed, in either place, to find the one he looked for.
And then he heard accounts of an enchanted isle at sea,
A part of the intangible and incorporeal world,
With pavilions and fine towers in the five-coloured air,
And of exquisite immortals moving to and fro,
And of one among them-whom they called The Ever True-
With a face of snow and flowers resembling hers he sought.
So he went to the West Hall’s gate of gold and knocked at the jasper door
And asked a girl, called Morsel-of-Jade, to tell The Doubly- Perfect.
And the lady, at news of an envoy from the Emperor of China,
Was startled out of dreams in her nine-flowered, canopy.
She pushed aside her pillow, dressed, shook away sleep,
And opened the pearly shade and then the silver screen.
Her cloudy hair-dress hung on one side because of her great haste,
And her flower-cap was loose when she came along the terrace,
While a light wind filled her cloak and fluttered with her motion
As though she danced The Rainbow Skirt and the Feathered Coat.
And the tear-drops drifting down her sad white face
Were like a rain in spring on the blossom of the pear.
But love glowed deep within her eyes when she bade him thank her liege,
Whose form and voice had been strange to her ever since their parting —
Since happiness had ended at the Court of the Bright Sun,
And moons and dawns had become long in Fairy-Mountain Palace.
But when she turned her face and looked down toward the earth
And tried to see the capital, there were only fog and dust.
So she took out, with emotion, the pledges he had given
And, through his envoy, sent him back a shell box and gold hairpin,
But kept one branch of the hairpin and one side of the box,
Breaking the gold of the hairpin, breaking the shell of the box;
“Our souls belong together,” she said, ” like this gold and this shell —
Somewhere, sometime, on earth or in heaven, we shall surely
And she sent him, by his messenger, a sentence reminding him
Of vows which had been known only to their two hearts:
“On the seventh day of the Seventh-month, in the Palace of Long Life,
We told each other secretly in the quiet midnight world
That we wished to fly in heaven, two birds with the wings of one,
And to grow together on the earth, two branches of one tree.”
Earth endures, heaven endures; some time both shall end,
While this unending sorrow goes on and on for ever.

楊步偉(1889—1981)
醫生、菜譜作者。廿二歲擔任中國第一所崇實女子中學校長。卅歲獲東京帝國大學醫科博士學位,在北京創建森仁醫院。卅二歲與著名語言學家趙元任教授結為伉儷。

Private school tune chanting goes back 3,000 years. It has been passed down through private schools and family tutors from generation to generation. Similar to singing, there is a scale, but the scale is not pre-set.

蘇軾 江城子 乙卯正月二十日夜記夢 蕭善薌老師吟誦 (江蘇話)

蕭善薌老師

蘇軾 (1037-1101)
字子瞻,號東坡居士。精於詩、詞、賦、散文,善書法和繪畫,罕見的全才。唐宋八大家之一,與其父洵、弟轍,合稱三蘇。

江城子:  詞牌名。

詞作背景
蘇軾懷念死別十年的妻子王弗。

蘇軾 江城子 乙卯正月二十日夜記夢
十年生死兩茫茫。不思量,自難忘。千里孤墳,無處話凄涼。縱使相逢應不識,塵滿面,鬢如霜。
夜來幽夢忽還鄉。小軒窗,正梳妝。相顧無言,惟有淚千行。料得年年腸斷處,明月夜,短松岡。

蕭善薌老師
中華吟誦學會專家委員會委員、上海師範大學附屬中學退休教師。承國學大師唐文治校長的親授吟誦,被譽為「唐調傳人」。

私塾調之吟誦
通過私塾或家教,代代相傳之吟誦,有三千多年歷史。雖無固定之音階,但像唱歌地誦讀。

李密 陳情表 何叔惠老師吟誦

何叔惠老師

李密(224-287)
字令伯,西晉人,早有孝名。

背景
父早亡母改嫁,祖母撫養成人。晉帝下詔徵密,密欲終養祖母,上表陳情。其辭懇切,感人至深,流傳後世。南宋安子順評: 讀陳情表,不哭者不孝。

李密 陳情表
臣密言:臣以險釁,夙遭閔凶。生孩六月,慈父見背;行年四歲,舅奪母志。祖母劉,愍臣孤弱,躬親撫養。臣少多疾病,九歲不行;零丁孤苦,至於成立。既無叔伯,終鮮兄弟。門衰祚薄,晚有兒息。外無期功強近之親,內無應門五尺之僮。煢煢孑立,形影相弔。而劉夙嬰疾病,常在床蓐。臣侍湯藥,未曾廢離。

逮奉聖朝,沐浴清化。前太守臣逵,察臣孝廉;後刺史臣榮,舉臣秀才。臣以供養無主,辭不赴會。詔書特下,拜臣郎中;尋蒙國恩,除臣洗馬。猥以微賤,當侍東宮,非臣隕首,所能上報。臣具以表聞,辭不就職。詔書切峻,責臣逋慢;郡縣逼迫,催臣上道;州司臨門,急於星火。臣欲奉詔奔馳,則以劉病日篤; 欲茍順私情,則告訴不許。臣之進退,實為狼狽。

伏惟聖朝,以孝治天下,凡在故老 ,猶蒙矜育;況臣孤苦,特為尤甚。且臣少事偽朝,歷職郎署,本圖宦達,不矜名節。今臣亡國賤俘,至微至陋,過蒙拔擢,豈敢盤桓,有所希冀?但以劉日薄西山,氣息奄奄,人命危淺,朝不慮夕。臣無祖母,無以至今日;祖母無臣,無以終餘年。母孫二人,更相為命。是以區區,不能廢遠。臣密今年四十有四,祖母劉今年九十有六。是臣盡節於陛下之日長,報劉之日短也。烏鳥私情,願乞終養。臣之辛苦,非獨蜀之人士及二州牧伯所見明知,皇天后土,實所共鑒。

願陛下矜愍愚誠,聽臣微志。庶劉僥倖,卒保餘年。臣生當隕首,死當結草。臣不勝犬馬怖懼之情,謹拜表以聞。

何叔惠(1919-2012)
號薇盦,廣東順德人。著名詩人及書法家。創設鳳山藝文院,著有薇盦存稿。

私塾調之吟誦
通過私塾或家教,代代相傳之吟誦,有三千多年歷史。雖無固定之音階,但像唱歌地誦讀。

Chanting of Li Bai A Song of Changgan by Professor Florence Chia-ying Yeh (in Mandarin)

葉嘉瑩教授

Foreword
Private school tune chanting goes back 3,000 years. It has been passed down through private schools and family tutors from generation to generation. Similar to singing, there is a scale, but the scale is not pre-set.

Li Bai A Song of Changgan
Translated by Witter Bynner.

My hair had hardly covered my forehead.
I was picking flowers, paying by my door,
When you, my lover, on a bamboo horse,
Came trotting in circles and throwing green plums.
We lived near together on a lane in Ch’ang-kan,
Both of us young and happy-hearted.
…At fourteen I became your wife,
So bashful that I dared not smile,
And I lowered my head toward a dark corner
And would not turn to your thousand calls;
But at fifteen I straightened my brows and laughed,
Learning that no dust could ever seal our love,
That even unto death I would await you by my post
And would never lose heart in the tower of silent watching.
…Then when I was sixteen, you left on a long journey
Through the Gorges of Ch’u-t’ang, of rock and whirling water.
And then came the Fifth-month, more than I could bear,
And I tried to hear the monkeys in your lofty far-off sky.
Your footprints by our door, where I had watched you go,
Were hidden, every one of them, under green moss,
Hidden under moss too deep to sweep away.
And the first autumn wind added fallen leaves.
And now, in the Eighth-month, yellowing butterflies
Hover, two by two, in our west-garden grasses
And, because of all this, my heart is breaking
And I fear for my bright cheeks, lest they fade.
…Oh, at last, when you return through the three Pa districts,
Send me a message home ahead!
And I will come and meet you and will never mind the distance,
All the way to Chang-feng Sha.

李白 長干行
妾髮初覆額,折花門前劇。郎騎竹馬來,遶床弄青梅。同居長干里,兩小無嫌猜。

十四為君婦,羞顏未嘗開。低頭向暗壁,千喚不一回。十五始展眉,願同塵與灰。
常存抱柱信,豈上望夫臺。十六君遠行,瞿塘灩澦堆。五月不可觸,猿聲天上哀。

門前遲行跡,一一生綠苔。苔深不能掃,落葉秋風早。八月蝴蝶黃,雙飛西園草。

感此傷妾心,坐愁紅顏老。早晚下三巴,預將書報家。相迎不道遠,直至長風沙。

李白(701-762)
字太白,號青蓮居士。與杜甫齊名,世稱為詩仙。其才華橫溢,浪漫不羈,曠世難求。

葉嘉瑩教授
南開大學中華古典文化研究所所長,加拿大皇家學會院士。

私塾調之吟誦
通過私塾或家教,代代相傳之吟誦,有三千多年歷史。雖無固定之音階,但像唱歌地誦讀。