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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
Gui Qu Lai Ci
The melody of Gui Qu Lai Ci is still popular today. 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 no description is given of the melody. This, the earliest surviving occurrence in music form, is clearly identifiable with the modern version, though there are quite a few differences. Versions survive in at least 29 handbooks to 1961, with most including, with slight variations, the same lyrics.5 However, I don't know of any recordings in which the lyrics are actually sung.6
The poem has also been used as the inspiration for several famous paintings.7
Original preface 8(translation not finalized)
These lyrics were written by the Jin dynasty retired scholar Tao Qian. When Jian was magistrate of Pengce (30 miles from his home) a censor was sent to his district by the provincial government, and (Tao Qian) was required to meet him, a vain military official, in appropriate garb meet him. Jian 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 song causes people to be clear and stern. A thousand years later it can still arouse people's interest.
Music and lyrics: 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:9
Then I see my family home!
Filled joy, filled with urgency, my servants welcome me;
my offspring at the gate; the three paths are almost overgrown;
but the pines and chrysanthemums are still here; leading the youngsters, I enter the house;
where there's a wine-filled goblet.
I take up the bottle and cups to pour myself a drink,
gazing at the courtyard trees makes me flushed with pleasure
I lean on the south window to savor my pride,
and wonder how such cramped quarters can be so comfortable.
In the garden daily I stroll to become content;
the gate although in good shape is always closed.
I poke around with my old man's cane as I wander and relax,
sometimes lifting my head to gaze into the distance. (harmonics end)
The clouds randomly float up from the mountain tops,
and the birds, weary of flying, instinctively return home.
Shadows darken as the sun prepares to set;
caressing a solitary pine I tarry long.
(harmonics) Come away home!
Please end outside relationships and stop wandering.
Society and I are mutually opposed;
if again I made to leave what would I be seeking? (harmonics end)
I enjoy relatives' intimate conversation,
and am happy to have my qin and books to dispel melancholy.
Farmers tell me when spring's arrival
means there will be things to do in the eastern fields.
Perhaps I reserve a covered wagon,
or row a solitary boat.
I go to secluded places to seek out a ravine,
or to a rugged path for traversing a hill.
Trees are joyous as they become luxuriant,
and springs bubble up as they begin to flow forth.
A appreciate how all of creation follows the seasons,
and I am moved by my life's going its full cycle.
Having this human form within the universe: can we really ever return?
So why not let the heart allow itself to abandon restraint?
With all this bustling about, what is it we want?
For wealth I have no desire;
for the realm of the gods I have no expectations.
I cherish on lovely mornings being able to go on solitary walks;
perhaps I'll stick my staff in the ground in order to weed and hoe.
Climb the eastern plateaus where I can comfortably whistle,
or sit beside clear streams where I can compose poetry.
Thus I go along with my fate until I go back to the end of life.
I celebrate heaven's decrees: why keep doubting them?
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)
Gui Qu Lai Ci 歸去來辭
16714.30 Essay by Tao Jian. 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.
Taigu Yiyin does not directly indicate tuning or mode.
Text for Gui Qu Lai Ci
An annotated version of the Chinese text is in the Haixiao Chubanshiye edition of Wen Xuan.
Tracing Gui Qu Lai Ci
Zha Fuxi Guide 13/145/251 lists versions in 25 handbooks from 1425 to 1961 but does not include 1551, 1556 and at least two later ones. Most include, with slight variations, the same lyrics. The first seven are as follows:
Kumuchan Qinpu (1893) included a version of this melody but set it to Buddhist lyrics; it also changed the name to Lianshe Yin.
Recording of Gui Qu Lai Ci with lyrics
I have sung it in performance but as of 2009 did not have a usable recording.
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 and the Metropolitan Museum of New York has one of the same title by 錢選 Qian Xuan.
歸去來辭 太古遺音解題 (English)
The original Chinese is as follows:
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