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25. Come Away Home
- Standard tuning:2 5 6 1 2 3 5 6 played as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2
歸去來辭 1
Gui Qu Lai Ci
  Tao Returns Home (selection) 3        
The lyrics for this melody are a famous poem4 by Tao Qian (Tao Yuanming, 365-427). The home to which he has returned is in Chaisang (Mulberry Firewood), an old name for Jiujiang, on the south bank of the Yangzi river in Jiangxi province.5 A poem by Lu You (1125 - 1210) suggests the lyrics were sung in connection with qin at least as early as the 12th century, but the poem gives no description of (or tablature for) the melody itself. Meanwhile versions of the Gui Qu Lai Ci melody published here in 1511 are still popular today.

Although this 1511 setting, the earliest surviving occurrence in music form, is clearly identifiable with the most common modern version, there are quite a few differences. Versions survive in at least 38 handbooks to 1922, with most including, with slight variations, the same lyrics. Some do have different music,7 but these are almost never heard today, and it is also very rare to hear the lyrics actually sung.8

Tao Qian's poem has also been the inspiration for several famous paintings in addition to the one included here.9

Original preface 10

These lyrics were written by the Jin dynasty retired scholar Tao Qian. When Qian was magistrate of Pengze (30 miles from his home) a censor was sent to his district by the provincial government. He was a vain military official, (but Tao Qian) was required to greet him in appropriate garb. Qian said, "I cannot, for five pecks of rice, bow at the waist." The same day he returned his seal of office and returned home. Writing these lyrics and broadcasting them as a string-accompanied song caused people to be clear and stern. A thousand years later it can still arouse people's interest.

Music and lyrics (see 看五線譜 staff notation; 聽錄音 listen)
One Section (sectioning below follows the logic of the music)
A largely syllabic setting of the famous poem by Tao Yuanming (365-427). The poem can be translated as follows:11

Gui qu lai xi, tian yuan jiang wu, hu bu gui?
Come away home!
      My fields and garden will be full of weeds, how can I not go back?

Ji zi yi xin wei xing yi, xi chou chang er du bei.
It was myself who put my mind into bondage,
      so why go on being sad and lonely?

Wu yi wang zhi bu jian, zhi lai zhe zhi ke zhui.
I understand that what is already past cannot be rebuked,
      but know the future's possibilities.

Shi mi tu qi wei yuan, jue jin shi er zuo fei.
In fact this wrong road has not taken me so far,
      and what I now realize is correct, while yesterday I was wrong.

Zhou yao yao yi qing yang, feng piao piao er chui yi.
My boat wobbles about in the light breeze,
      the wind swirls as it blows my clothing.

(泛音起 harmonics begin)
Wen zheng fu yi qian lu, hen chen guang zhi xi wei.
I ask a traveler about the road ahead,
      and resent that the early morning light is still dim.

Nai zhan heng yu.
Then I see my family home!

Zai xin zai ben, tong pu huan ying.
Filled joy, filled with urgency, my servants welcome me;

Zhi zi hou men, san jing jiu huang.
My offspring at the gate; the
three paths are almost overgrown;

Song ju you cun, zui you ru shi, you jiu ying zun.
but the pines and chrysanthemums are still here; leading the youngsters, I enter the house;
      Where there's a wine-filled goblet.

Yin hu shang yi zi zhuo, mian ting ke yi yi yan.
I take up the bottle and cups to pour myself a drink,
      Gazing at the courtyard trees makes me flushed with pleasure

Yi nan chuang yi ji ao, shen rong xi zhi yi an.
I lean on the south window to savor my pride,
      And wonder how such cramped quarters can be so comfortable.

Yuan ri she yi cheng qu, men sui she er chang guan.
In the garden daily I stroll to become content;
      the gate although in good shape is always closed.

Ce fu lao yi liu qi, shi jiao shou er xia guan.
I poke around with my old man's cane as I wander and relax,
      sometimes lifting my head to gaze into the distance.
(泛音止 harmonics end)

Yun wu xin yi chu xiu, niao juan fei er zhi huan.
The clouds randomly float up from the mountain tops,
      and the birds, weary of flying, instinctively return home.

Jing yi yi yi jiang ru, fu gu song er pan huan.
Shadows darken as the sun prepares to set;
      caressing a solitary pine I tarry long.

(泛音起 harmonics begin)
Gui qu lai xi! Qing xi jiao yi jue you.
Come away home!
      Please end outside relationships and stop wandering.

Shi yu wo er xiang wei, fu jia yan xi yan qiu?
Society and I are mutually opposed;
      if again I made to leave what would I be seeking?
(泛音止 harmonics end)

Yue qin qi zhi qing hua, le qin shu yi xiao you.
I enjoy relatives' intimate conversation,
      and am happy to have my qin and books to dispel melancholy.

Nong ren gao yu yi chun ji, jiang you shi yu xi chou.
Farmers tell me when spring's arrival
      means there will be things to do in the eastern fields.

Huo ming jin che, huo zhao gu zhou.
Perhaps I reserve a covered wagon, or row a solitary boat.

Ji yao yao yi xun huo, yi qi qu er jing qiu.
I go to secluded places to seek out a ravine,
      or to a rugged path for traversing a hill.

Mu xin xin yi xiang rong, quan juan juan er shi liu.
Trees are joyous as they become luxuriant,
      and springs bubble up as they begin to flow forth.

Shan wan wu zhi de shi, gan wu sheng zhi xing xiu.
A appreciate how all of creation follows the seasons,
      and I am moved by my life's going its full cycle.

Yi yi hu!
That's enough!

Yu xing yu nei, (neng) fu ji shi? He bu wei xin ren qu liu?
Having this human form within the universe: can we really ever return?
      So why not let the heart allow itself to abandon restraint?

Hu wei hu? Huang huang yu he zhi?
      What is all this bustling about? Whatever is it we want?

Fu gui fei wu yuan, di xiang bu ke ji.
For wealth I have no desire;
      for the realm of the gods I have no expectation.

Huai liang chen yi gu wang, huo zhi zhang er yun zi.
I cherish lovely mornings for solitary walks;
      perhaps sticking a staff in the ground to weed and hoe.

Deng dong gao yi shu xiao, lin qing liu er fu shi.
Climbing the east ridge where I can comfortably whistle,
      or sit beside clear streams where I can compose poetry.

Liao cheng hua yi gui jin. Le fu tian ming, fu xi yi?
Thus I go along with my fate until I return to its completion.
      I celebrate heaven's decree: how could there be more?

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a
separate page)

1. Gui Qu Lai Ci 歸去來辭
16714.30 Essay by 陶潛 Tao Qian. There are many translations, but in spite of its popularity as a qin melody it does not appear in any of the common transcription books, either as a pure qin melody or qin song.

2. Mode
Taigu Yiyin does not directly indicate tuning or mode.

3. Image: Gui Qu Lai Ci, 倣錢選 in style of Qian Xuan (1235-1305)
The original is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (details).

4. Text for Gui Qu Lai Ci
An annotated version of the Chinese text is in the Haixiao Chubanshiye edition of Wen Xuan.

5. Chaisang (Mulberry Firewood)
柴桑 Chaisang is in 潯陽 Xunyang, an area near 九江 Jiujiang, on the south bank of the Yangzi river in Jiangxi province. I have not read of any tourist sites here but near Nanping in Anhui province there is a memorial park commemorating a place claimed as an ancestral home of Tao Qian's descendants. See, e.g., mafengwo.cn.

7. Tracing Gui Qu Lai Ci (tracing chart)
Zha Fuxi Guide 13/145/251 lists versions in 25 handbooks from 1425 to 1961 but does not include 1551, 1556 and quite a few later ones. From the tracing chart you can see that a new setting by Yin Ertao (here called Yin Zhixian) first published in 1647 also had a degree of popularity, later appearing in at least 7 of the handbooks.

Kumuchan Qinpu (1893) included a version of this melody but set it to Buddhist lyrics; it also changed the name to Lianshe Yin   (further comment).

There is no connection to the melody called Gui Lai Yue introduced in Taiyin Xisheng (1625).

8. Recordings of Gui Qu Lai Ci with lyrics
There are a few on YouTube. And I have sung it in performance, but as of 2009 did not have a usable recording.

9. Paintings on this theme
For example, the Honolulu Academy of Arts has a 歸去來辭圖 painting called Gui Qu Lai Ci by 陳洪綬 Chen Hongshou. The one shown here, from the Metropolitan Museum of New York, is said to have been done in imitation of one by 錢選 Qian Xuan.

10. Original preface 歸去來辭 太古遺音解題
The original preface is as follows:


English translation not finalized.

11. Glossary for original lyrics
The original Chinese lyrics are included above along with the translation.


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Appendix: Chart Tracing 歸去來辭 Gui Qu Lai Ci
Further comment
above; based mainly on Zha Fuxi's Guide 13/145/251.

    (year; QQJC Vol/page)
Further information
(QQJC = 琴曲集成 Qinqu Jicheng; QF = 琴府 Qin Fu)
  1. 謝琳太古遺音
      (1511; I/301)
1L; no mode indicated;
Music begins, "大九厂七、6,散勾四,大九跳六吟...."
  2. 發明琴譜
      (1530; I/350)
5L; Gui Qu Ci; shang yin; same lyrics, similar music;
Under the title is the comment "晉陶淵明作 by Tao Yuanming"
  3. 風宣玄品
      (1539; II/188)
5L; shang mode; same lyrics similar music
  4. 梧岡琴譜
      (1546; I/421)
6L; 商曲 shang melody; same lyrics but melody seems completely different;
Music begins in harmonics: "泛音,無名九跳四,勾一,食七勾二,無名九跳四...."
  5. 步虛僊琴譜
      (1556; #14)
5; shang; almost same as 1511 but no lyrics
  6. 太音傳習
      (1552; IV/93)
5; shang; music like 1511 but no lyrics
  7. 太音補遺
      (1557; III/338)
6; music as 1546 but no lyrics; comment under title: "居(? 据?)考無吟以俟後之君子
It seems the original had no music - this awaited a later gentleman." (?)
  8. 琴譜正傳
      (1561; II/427)
6L; shang melody, identical to 1546
  9. 新刊正文對音捷要
      (1573; #16)
Gui Qu Ci; same as 1585?
10. 五音琴譜
      (1579; IV/220)
4; shang like 1511 but no lyrics
11. 重修真傳琴譜
      (1585; IV/367)
6TL; Gui Qu Ci; quite similar to 1511;
12. 真傳正宗琴譜
      (1589; VII/78)
6TL; shang yin; similar to 1511; adds 撞猱 ornament on first note
(taken to Japan?)
    . 真傳正宗琴譜
      (1609; Fac/)
Presumably same as 1589
13. 文會堂琴譜
      (1596; VI/208)
5; lyrics and music like 1511
14. 陽春堂琴譜
      (1611; VII/455)
6TL; lyrics and music like 1511
15. 理性元雅
      (1618; VIII/222)
6L; shang; same lyrics but another new melody
Begins, "散跳四,散勾二,散跳六,大九勾三...."
16. 樂仙琴譜
      (1623; VIII/429)
6L; shang; lyrics and music like 1511
17. 徽言秘旨
      (1647; X/260)
4 sections; gong yin; same lyrics but written at end of each section; new melody;
Music begins in harmonics: "泛音,中十勾一,無名十勾二,勾四,大九跳六...."
    . 徽言秘旨訂
      (1692; fac/)
Same as 1647; so why do some later handbooks with tablature
related to 1511 say they are by or the tablature of Yin Zhixian?
18. 和文注音琴譜
      (<1676; XII/178)
6LT; lyrics and music seem copied from 1589: 1st note adds 立(撞) ornament & see corrections in margin;
One of the few pieces in a Japanese handbook with a melody also in Chinese handbooks
19. 東皋琴譜
      (1709; XII/274)
Seems identical to 1676
20. 一峰園琴譜
      (1709; XIII/499)
6L; missing section 1 and title line of 2;
Seems same as 1589 but with section comments instead of titles
21. 春草堂琴譜
      (1744; XVIII/245)
4; gong yin; same lyrics; music as 1647;
"尹芝僊新譜 new tablature of Yin Zhixian"
22. 酣古齋琴譜
      (n.d.; XVIII/413)
6L; shangyin; lyrics same as 1511; lyrics related
23. 自遠堂琴譜
      (1802; XVII/527)
6L; zhiyin; same as 1589
24. 太和正音琴譜
      (1812; XIX/29)
1; zhi; same lyrics but seems to be another new melody;
Begins, "散勾二、三,勾剔四,跳五、四,無名十勾二,散跳四...."
25. 裛露軒琴譜
      (>1802; XIX/143)
6L; shangyin; "Taigu Yi Yin" (1589); lyrics;
26. 琴學軔端
      (1828; XX/434)
4; gong yin; seems to come from 1647
27. 張鞠田琴譜
      (1844; XXIII/262)
4; Gui Qu Lai; gong diao gong yin;
Seems to come from 1647
28. 師白山房琴譜
      (n.d.; XXIV/14)
6TL; same lyrics; another new musical setting;
Begins, "散跳五、四,無名十勾二,散跳四...."
29. 琴學入門
      (1864; XXIV/328)
ZLJGY; lyrics same; music setting from 1647
Afterword says "尹芝僊新譜 new tablature of Yin Zhixian"
30. 希韶閣琴譜
      (1878; XXVI/333)
4; gongyin; related to 1511; lyrics at the end of each section
31. 枕經葄史山房雜抄
      (>1881; XXVII/119)
4; gongyin; related to 1647
Afterword says new tablature of Yin Zhixian
32. 養性堂琴譜
      (n.d.; XXVII/363)
6L; gongyin; music like 1511, lyrics same
33. 綠綺清韻
      (1884; XXVII/396)
4; gongyin; from 1647;
"尹芝僊新譜 new tablature of Yin Zhixian"
34. 希韶閣琴瑟合譜
      (1890; XXVI/433)
1; related to 1511; tablature "獅山女史琴譜" (?)
Has se tablature together with the lyrics and qin tablature
35. 枯木禪琴譜
      (1893; XXVIII/)
6; zhi yin; 蓮社引 Lianshe Yin;
Music related to 1511 but has Buddhist lyrics!; further details
    . 琴學初津
      (1894; XXVIII/349)
3; 樂天操 Le Tian Cao; 1961 has this as an alternate title for Gui Qu Lai Ci;
But melody is unrelated and no lyrics; no other occurrences of this title found
36. 琴學叢書
      (1910; XXX/210)
6; New melody: lowered 3rd string tuning?
Begins, "散勾四,勾五,跳七,大九勾四...."
37. 琴學管見
      (n.d.; XXIX/256)
6; shang yin; standard lyrics, music seems to be from 1589
38. 山西育才館雅樂講義
6; 慢宮調宮音; says non-standard tuning but actually comes from 1802;
(Info from Zha Guide: not indexed and not in QQJC)
39. 研易習琴齋琴譜
      (1961; I#3)
6L; ZLJZY; still same lyrics; "also called 樂天操 Le Tian Cao"; "as 尹芝僊 Yin Zhixian (see 1647) revised from 1511"
The Le Tian Cao in 1894 is unrelated
40. 愔愔室琴譜
      (2000; p.49)
6L; "standard tuning"; "尹芝僊作 by Yin Zhixian" (i.e., from 1647);
Attribution is confusing; music is similar to previous, but Yin Zhixian is connected to 1589

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