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34. Song of Correct Attitude
- Standard tuning:2 5 6 1 2 3 5 6 played as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2
Zheng Qi Ge
There are several translations available the original essay, including an old one by Herbert Giles.4
The only other version of this title is the identical one in Fengxuan Xuanpin.5
Further commentary not yet prepared.
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)
正氣歌 Zheng Qi Ge
Tuning and mode
Although Taigu Yiyin does not group pieces by tuning or mode, Fengxuan Xuanpin (II/157) it has been placed with melodies in shang mode. Shang mode uses the first string as do (gong, 1), has do as its primary tonal center, with shang alongside so as a secondary tonal center.
Translations of 正氣歌 Zheng Qi Ge
The Giles translation was published in Gems of Chinese Literature (1923). However, it seems to be incomplete, so for my transcription I have used one that I found on several official Chinese websites. It does not identify the translator, saying only that the origin is 中國華文教育網 Overseas Chinese Language and Culture Online.
The qin tablature of 1511 has no punctuation or subdividing, and the original text of the poem seems to be have been arranged simply as 30 lines, not divided into sections. Here, though, they are arranged as seven sections, following Giles. And as the first translation below also omits some details within a few lines, one should compare it line by line with the Giles translation given after it.
This is revealed in the records of Qi, the writings of Dong Hu of Jin.
Zhang Liang’s service to Qin and Su Wu’s moral courage in the Han Dynasty.
It was General Yan’s head, Ji Kang’s blood,
Zhang Suiyang’s teeth and Yan Changshan’s tongue.
It was the Liaodong hat that could withstand ice and snow.
It was Zhuge Liang’s memorial which was so heroic that it moved the immortals.
It was the river-crossing oar that wiped out the nomad invaders.
It was the Mongolian scepter that crushed treacherous vassals’ heads.
Integrity is so majestic that it will never die out.
It shoots up to the sun and the moon, and life and death are of no importance before it.
It supports both the earth and the sky.
Our lives hinge on our cardinal guides and our foundation rests on our morality.
But now everything is upside down.
Divested of his headgear this prisoner is kept behind prison bars in the north.
He would be only glad to be burned in the barbarians’ crucible.
Ghost flame rages in the room and the courtyard is wrapped in darkness.
Oxen and steeds live in the same fold and chickens and phoenixes share the same food.
The earth is shrouded in mist and fog.
If things go on like this, miseries and disasters will spread.
I am sad that this swamp used to be my paradise-like homeland.
Fallacies cannot become truth nor can Yin and Yang be confused.
So I am worried and look up at the white clouds floating in the sky.
My heart is full of sorrow and I wonder where the sky will end.
The ancient sages are far away, my execution is nearing.
I open a book to read, and there is sunshine on the ancient words.
Giles translation of 正氣歌 Zheng Qi Ge
Giles calls it Divinae Particulam Aurae. Most of his translation can be downloaded from a page on the Project Gutenberg website, where it is included in an essay by Giles. Here it is sectioned as in Giles, but has been re-formatted to follow the 5+5 x 30 line structure of the original. Some details missing from the translation can be found above.
- Were there not the fearless and truthful annalists of old? (translation seems different from original here)
Was there not the disinterested chivalry of Chang Liang? the unswerving devotion of Su Wu?
Did not Yen Yen say they had headless generals in his district, but none who surrendered their allegiance?
Was not an emperor's robe splashed with blood that might not be washed away?
And the teeth of Chang Hsün? - the tongue of Yen Hsi?
- the guileless honesty of Kuan Ning, pure as the clearest ice?
- the martial genius of K'ung Ming, the admiration of Gods and men?
- the oath of Tsu T'i - the tablet dashed in the rebel's face?
"Such is this grand and glorious spirit which endureth for all generations;
and which, linked with the sun and moon, knows neither beginning nor end.
The foundation of all that is great and good in heaven and earth,
it is itself born from the everlasting obligations which are due by man to man.
"Alas! the fates were against me; I was without resource.
Bound with fetters, hurried away toward the north,
death would have been sweet indeed; but that boon was refused.
"My dungeon is lighted by the will-o'-the-wisp alone: no breath of spring cheers the murky solitude in which I dwell.
The ox and the barb herd together in one stall: the rooster and the phoenix feed together from one dish.
Exposed to mist and dew, I had many times thought to die;
and yet, through the seasons of two revolving years, disease hovered around me in vain.
The dark, unhealthy soil to me became Paradise itself.
For there was that within me which misfortune could not steal away.
And so I remained firm, gazing at the white clouds floating over my head,
and bearing in my heart a sorrow boundless as the sky.
The sun of those dead heroes has long since set, but their record is before me still.
And, while the wind whistles under the eaves, I open my books and read; and lo! in their presence my heart glows with a borrowed fire."
Tracing Zheng Qi Ge
Zha Guide 14/152/282 lists only these two versions.
Because these two are identical there is no separate tracing chart here.
The original Chinese preface begins:
The rest is not yet online.
The original Chinese poem used here as lyrics is as follows (see Giles' translation):
牛驥同一皂，雞棲鳳凰食。 (驥 "barb" means "thoroughbred horse")
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