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23. Thrice (Parting for) Yangguan
- Qiliang mode,2 raise 2nd and 5th strings: 2 4 5 6 1 2 3
 
陽關三疊 1
Yangguan Sandie
The parting: see larger image3  
This version of Yangguan Sandie is much shorter than the earliest surviving version of this melody, published sometime before 1491 in Zheyin Shizi Qinpu. Instead, this 1530 version is much more closely related to the version commonly played today.4 Nevertheless, the theme of all of them is the same: parting from a friend about to leave the Tang capital Chang'an (now a southern suburb of Xi'an) on a trip west through Yangguan (Yang Gate), once a pass near the western end of the Great Wall, then on to the military region of Anxi. From the Han through the Tang dynasty there was an oasis town at Yangguan, built around a lake (see details). At the time this area, as the crow flies about 60 km southwest of Dunhuang, was China's westernmost cultural and administrative center, often the last stop of an official before entering the "barbarian" lands of Central Asia. The longer version mentions more details of the 2000 km trip from the capital, which often began (perhaps by boat) at Weicheng, on the Wei river just northwest of Chang'an. The longer version mentions various places on the itinerary, such as traversing the Wu mountains in western Shaanxi province, then going through Shatou and Dunhuang to Anxi.

Although, as this chart shows, nearly all versions after the long earliest surviving one include in their lyrics the complete poem by Wang Wei, most of them also add other lyrics.5 Here the melody begins with "The courier station's willows are hidden".6 It then it directly quotes and expands upon the famous poem by Wang Wei, Weicheng Tune, Seeing Yuan Er off to Anxi.7 This Wang Wei poem is then used in each section. The last three lines of each section (beginning with "Feelings most deep...") then seem to serve as a refrain. Such repetition of lyrics is not typical of qin songs, at least in their printed form.8 The melody is also somewhat unusual in its pairing method: extra strokes are included that make the melody diverge somewhat from the standard pairing method of qin songs.9 It might also be added that classical texts are rather silent when it comes to the relationship between the printed texts of the songs and the actual performance of them.10

Yangguan is one of the most famous Chinese melodies, often played on other instruments. As a qin melody it occurs in 29 handbooks from <1491 to 1961 (see Tracing Chart.11) As for the two basic versions of this piece, in early handbooks the short one is usually called Yangguan Sandie. The longer one, however, though also originally called Yangguan Sandie, is more often called Yangguan Qu or simply Yangguan; later it was also known as Yangguan Cao, Da Yangguan, Qiujiang Songbie (Autumn River Parting) or Chunjiang Songbie (Spring River Parting).

Both versions include Wang Wei's lyrics above, and both use variations on the same melody. The earliest surviving one, the Yangguan Sandie in Zheyin Shizi Qinpu, as is typical of the long version, has eight (nine including the coda) sections.

The long version survives in eight handbooks through 1623, then again crops up in two 19th century handbooks. This short version survives in 21 handbooks. Four handbooks have both versions.

Although this version in Faming Qinpu is very similar to the version commonly played today, it uses a different tuning: qiliang. Modern versions all use ruibin (raised fifth string) tuning, but early tablature (including that in Zheyin Shizi Qinpu) may use either ruibin or qiliang (raised second and fifth strings). Some handbooks say or imply they use qiliang, but actually use ruibin. Main cadences are on 6 (la), as is common in ruibin mode.

What is perhaps most remarkable about the use of qiliang tuning for the 1530 version of Yang Guan is that the only note that actually requires this tuning is the very first note paired to the lyrics: after the opening downwards glissando from the open seventh to open third strings, the lyrics begin with the word "chang" sung on the open second string: the relative note fa (4).12 After this all notes played on the second string are stopped and so their position could be adjusted to either tuning; it is also the only occurence of the note fa. For most versions of Yang Guan the second string is also not used much, making it quite easy to convert them from one tuning to the other.

Yangguan Sandie is played today largely as printed in Qinxue Rumen (1864); this was also part of the core of the modern repertoire as I originally learned it from Sun Yü-Ch'in. The music, still in three sections, is very similar to that of this short version in Faming Qinpu, but the lyrics (other than the Wang Wei poem) are quite different (see below). In addition, the lyrics are not written alongside the tablature, instead being placed at the end of the Yangguan Sandie tablature. This is perhaps one reason why it is rarely sung today. In fact the lyrics there can easily be paired to the music by following the normal formula of one character for each right hand stroke and certain left hand strokes.13

 
Preface
None here; see the
Zheyin Shizi Qinpu. version.

 
Music and Lyrics14 (transcription; timings follow my audio recording [sung] 聽錄音)
Three Sections, untitled; non-indented lyrics are the original poem by Wang Wei

  1.   (00.00)

              長亭柳陰陰。
              Cháng tíng liǔ yīn yīn.
              The courier station's willows are hidden.

    渭城朝雨挹輕塵。
    Wèi Chéng zhāo yǔ yì qīng chén.
    The morning rain at Weicheng dampens the light dust,

    客舍青青柳色新。
    Kè shě qīng qīng liǔ sè xīn.
    At the inn the lush green color of the willows is renewed.

    勸君更盡一杯酒。
    Quàn jūn gèng jǐn yī bēi jiǔ.
    This moves the gentlemen again to offer up a cup of wine.

    西出陽關無故人。
    Xī chū Yáng Guān wú gù rén.
    Going west through Yangguan there will be no old acquaintances.

    長亭柳陰陰。
    Cháng tíng liǔ yīn yīn.
    The courier station's willows are hidden.

    傷懷,傷懷,送我送我故人。
    Shāng huái, shāng huái, sòng wǒ sòng wǒ gù rén.
    Heartbreak, heartbreak: seeing off, seeing off my old friend.

    長亭柳陰陰。
    Cháng tíng liǔ yīn yīn.
    The courier station's willows are hidden.

    情最深,情最深,
    Qíng zuì shēn, qíng zuì shēn,
    Feelings most deep; feelings most deep.

    情意,情意最深。
    Qíng yì, qíng yì zuì shēn.
    Affections, affections most deep:

    不忍分,不忍分。
    Bù rěn fēn, bù rěn fēn.
    I can't endure the parting, can't endure the parting.

  2.   (01.11)

    渭城朝雨挹輕塵。
    Wèi Chéng zhāo yǔ yì qīng chén.
    The morning rain at Weicheng dampens the light dust,

    客舍青青柳色新。
    Kè shě qīng qīng liǔ sè xīn.
    At the inn the lush green color of the willows is renewed.

    勸君更盡一杯酒。
    Quàn jūn gèng jǐn yī bēi jiǔ.
    This moves the gentlemen again to offer up a cup of wine.

    西出陽關無故人。
    Xī chū Yáng Guān wú gù rén.
    Going west through Yangguan there will be no old acquaintances.

    擔頭行李沙頭酒樽。
    Dān tóu xíng lǐ Shā tóu jiǔ zūn.
    Carry only, as luggage, a Shatou wine goblet.

    長亭柳陰陰。
    Cháng tíng liǔ yīn yīn.
    The courier station's willows are hidden.

    傷懷,傷懷,送我送我故人。
    Shāng huái, shāng huái, sòng wǒ sòng wǒ gù rén.
    Heartbreak, heartbreak: seeing off, seeing off my old friend.

    長亭柳陰陰。
    Cháng tíng liǔ yīn yīn.
    The courier station's willows are hidden.

    情最深,情最深,
    Qíng zuì shēn, qíng zuì shēn,
    Feelings most deep; feelings most deep.

    情意,情意最深。
    Qíng yì, qíng yì zuì shēn.
    Affections, affections most deep:

    不忍分,不忍分。
    Bù rěn fēn, bù rěn fēn.
    I can't endure the parting, can't endure the parting.

  3.   (02.22)

    渭城朝雨挹輕塵。
    Wèi Chéng zhāo yǔ yì qīng chén.
    The morning rain at Weicheng dampens the light dust,

    客舍青青柳色新。
    Kè shě qīng qīng liǔ sè xīn.
    At the inn the lush green color of the willows is renewed.

    勸君更盡一杯酒。
    Quàn jūn gèng jǐn yī bēi jiǔ.
    This moves the gentlemen again to offer up a cup of wine.

    西出陽關無故人。
    Xī chū Yáng Guān wú gù rén.
    Going west through Yangguan there will be no old acquaintances.

    長亭柳陰陰。
    Cháng tíng liǔ yīn yīn.
    The courier station's willows are hidden.

    傷懷,傷懷,送我送我故人。
    Shāng huái, shāng huái, sòng wǒ sòng wǒ gù rén.
    Heartbreak, heartbreak: seeing off, seeing off my old friend.

    送故人,送故人。
    Sòng gù rén, sòng gù rén.
    Seeing off an old friend, seeing off an old friend.

    攜手在此長亭。
    Xié shǒu zài cǐ cháng tíng.
    Hand in hand here at the courier station,

    對酌此香醪。
    Duì zhuó cǐ xiāng láo.
    For each other pour this fragrant wine,

    香醪有限,此恨無窮,
    Xiāng láo yǒu xiàn, cǐ hèn wú qióng,
    The fragrant wine is limited, I hate this without limit.

    無窮傷懷,傷懷,復傷懷。
    Wú qióng shāng huái, shāng huái, fù shāng huái.
    Limitless heartbreak, heartbreak, again heartbreak.

    長亭柳陰陰。
    Cháng tíng liǔ yīn yīn.
    The courier station's willows are hidden.

    情最深,情最深,
    Qíng zuì shēn, qíng zuì shēn,
    Feelings most deep; feelings most deep.

    情意,情意最深。
    Qíng yì, qíng yì zuì shēn.
    Affections, affections most deep:

    不忍分,不忍分。
    Bù rěn fēn, bù rěn fēn.
    I can't endure the parting, can't endure the parting.

Compare the 1864 lyrics below

 
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Yangguan Sandie references (I/391)
42673.380 Yang Guan San Die refers to .381 Yangguan Qu (曲), "another name for the melody 渭城曲,送元二出便安西 Weicheng Qu, Seeing Yuan Er off to Anxi"; neither entry mentions the qin or any qin melody.
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2. Qiliang mode (凄凉調 qiliang diao)
Also written 淒涼調, see Shenpin Qiliang Yi and Qin Tunings, some theoretical concepts as well as Ruibin and other tunings and modes for Yangguan Sandie.
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3. Image
See further comment.
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4. Zheyin Shizi Qinpu version
See the commentary on that version; its section titles can be translated as follows:

1. Rain at Shatou
2. Releasing the magnolia boat
3. Leaving Yellow Crane Pavilion
4. Going on a distant road
5. Sorrow comes and goes like the tide
6. Wind blows in the willows
7. The moon shines on the sandbank
8. Repeatedly (asking the parting friend) to return
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5. Other lyrics
Usually versions with other lyrics intersperse them with Wang Wei's original poem. However, there is also a version, called 三疊離歌 Sandie Li Ge, which takes its lyrics from an unacknowledged source (probably not one of the psalms, as was apparently done with Meihua Sannong), adapting them to a common modern version of the Yangguan Sandie melody. The music, harmonized by Yang Yinliu, is one of many hymns by Yang included in a 1930s hymnal (since reissued) called 普天頌讚 Hymns of Universal Praise. The lyrics of Sandie Li Ge are as follows:

  1. 多年朋友共知心,一旦忽然兩地分, 
    重見不知何月日,臨行倍覺舊情深。 

    但願慈悲神,引領,引領,穩渡山高水深; 
    共仰慈悲神,同一信,同一信,天涯團契心心印。 

  2. 人生難免暫離分,有主永偕樂乃真; 
    休道長途多寂寞,性靈深處主關心。

    但願慈悲神,引領,引領,穩渡山高水深; 
    共仰慈悲神,同一信,同一信,天涯團契心心印。 

  3. 三年佈道作行人,救主生涯多苦辛; 
    服務人群遵主意,敢辭勞倦負天恩?

    但願慈悲神,引領,引領,穩渡山高水深; 
    共仰慈悲神,同一信,同一信,天涯團契心心印。 

Recordings of this version sung with chordal keyboard accompaniment may be found online. Currently, for example, online recordings include this one on zanmeishi.com (this YouTube adds notation) and this one on YouTube (one verses 1 and 2).
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6. 長亭柳陰陰。 Changting liu yin yin
This line is sung three times in each verse. "Changting" (42022.292 in olden days, the courier stations that occurred every ten li on roadways) are not mentioned in the long version. This courier station must be at Weicheng, the port town for Chang An on the Wei river.
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7. Wang Wei's "Yang Guan"
This poem, the full title of which is Weicheng Tune: Seeing off Yuan'er Going Out to Anxi (渭城曲,送元二出便安西 Weicheng Qu: Song Yuan'er Chu Bian Anxi), as found in 300 Tang Poems, is as follows:

渭城朝雨浥輕塵。Weicheng's morning rain dampens the light dust,
客舍青青柳色新。The guest house is green with willows colored anew.
勸君更盡一杯酒。This moves us again to urge on (each other) one more cup of wine.
西出陽關無故人。Westward through Yangguan there will be no more old acquaintances.

This short version of Yangguan Sandie repeats these lyrics in each of the three sections; the earlier long version quotes it only at the beginning.
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8. Variations from published form
Because of the age and importance of tablature there is sometimes a tendency to look at it like Western notation: as a fixed composition. However, it seems quite likely that many pieces, particularly songs, were not always played the same way, even by the same person.
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9. Standard Pairing Method
In general qin tablature places the lyrics next to the tablature, pairing the two on the basis of one character for each right hand stroke, as well as one for certain left hand techniques. Here (not counting glissandi, which in many qin songs are not paired) extra notes are added here and there, usually as repeated or passing tones. Although this is unusual, it does not go any further, for example by including whole phrases or passages not set to lyrics.
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10. Singing qin songs
The standard method of singing these songs today (whether or not following the Standard Pairing Method) is for the voice simply to follow the qin melody, making adjustments only to keep the voice within its natural range. This sort of unison singing is not common in other Chinese genres, where the music tends to be more heterophonic. I know of no ancient texts describing how the songs might have been sung, but my personal tendency is to try to expand beyond this unison singing. In addition, the brevity of some song suggests that in performance the intention was that they be expanded. Once again, however, I know of no classical texts outlining how this might be done. There is some further discussion of this in the Introduction to Zheyin Shizi Qinpu.
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11. The Chart Tracing Yangguan Sandie is based largely on Zha Fuxi's index 12/124/222, 14/149/258 and 41/--/560.
(Return)

12. Opening note fa
This opening word "chang" is sung to the only relative note fa in this entire version and, to my knowledge, this version is also the only one that opens with (or uses?) the note fa (see chart). Perhaps for this reason it is a very striking note, but it is so striking that I cannot imagine changing it. Now, if one wishes to keep the ruibin tuning, this note must be played on the second string stopped at position 13.6 rather than on the open third string. A note stopped on an open string usually has a notieably different color from the same note played on a stopped string: stronger and more clear. So playing this melody in ruibin tuning requires making some special effort to emphasise and play this fa in a way that makes it have the same sort of power it would have if it was being played on an open string.
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13. Qinxue Rumen version
As with Faming Qinpu the lyrics include both Wang Wei's original poem and other lyrics. In the Qinxue Rumen version these Wang Wei lyrics appear in exactly the same place as they do in the Faming Qinpu version. Most of the other lyrics are different, but they have almost the same pattern (phrasing and number) as those in Qinxue Rumen. Thus the Faming Qinpu lyrics (see below) could easily be sung to the Qinxue Rumen tablature. It might also be noted that in the Qinxue Rumen tablature there are no instrumental interludes, only music with song, but some players add a few notes at the front and/or repeat a phrase or two without repeating the lyrics.
The complete Qinxue Rumen lyrics are here. There is further comment on one of the phrases, "聞鴈來賓", here.
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14. Original lyrics
With these lyrics as written above, the original poem by Wang Wei is not indented, other phrases repeated each section are indented singly, while phrases that appear only once are double indented.

Without the English translation these Faming Qinpu lyrics are as follows; the indentation pattern is the same (listen to my recording 聽錄音):

  1.   (00.00)

              長亭柳陰陰。
              Cháng tíng liǔ yīn yīn.

    渭城朝雨挹輕塵。
    Wèi Chéng zhāo yǔ yì qīng chén.

    客舍青青柳色新。
    Kè shě qīng qīng liǔ sè xīn.

    勸君更盡一杯酒。
    Quàn jūn gèng jǐn yī bēi jiǔ.

    西出陽關無故人。
    Xī chū Yáng Guān wú gù rén.

    長亭柳陰陰。
    Cháng tíng liǔ yīn yīn.

    傷懷,傷懷,
    Shāng huái, shāng huái,

    送我送我故人。
    Sòng wǒ sòng wǒ gù rén.

    長亭柳陰陰。
    Cháng tíng liǔ yīn yīn.

    情最深,情最深,
    Qíng zuì shēn, qíng zuì shēn,

    情意,情意最深。不忍分,不忍分。
    Qíng yì, qíng yì zuì shēn. Bù rěn fēn, bù rěn fēn.

  2.   (01.11)

    渭城朝雨挹輕塵。
    Wèi Chéng zhāo yǔ yì qīng chén.

    客舍青青柳色新。
    Kè shě qīng qīng liǔ sè xīn.

    勸君更盡一杯酒。
    Quàn jūn gèng jǐn yī bēi jiǔ.

    西出陽關無故人。
    Xī chū Yáng Guān wú gù rén.

    擔頭行李沙頭酒樽。
    Dān tóu xíng lǐ Shā tóu jiǔ zūn.

    長亭柳陰陰。
    Cháng tíng liǔ yīn yīn.

    傷懷,傷懷,
    Shāng huái, shāng huái,

    送我送我故人。
    Sòng wǒ sòng wǒ gù rén.

    長亭柳陰陰。
    Cháng tíng liǔ yīn yīn.

    情最深,情最深,
    Qíng zuì shēn, qíng zuì shēn,

    情意,情意最深。不忍分,不忍分。
    Qíng yì, qíng yì zuì shēn. Bù rěn fēn, bù rěn fēn.

  3.  (02.22)

    渭城朝雨挹輕塵。
    Wèi Chéng zhāo yǔ yì qīng chén.

    客舍青青柳色新。
    Kè shě qīng qīng liǔ sè xīn.

    勸君更盡一杯酒。
    Quàn jūn gèng jǐn yī bēi jiǔ.

    西出陽關無故人。
    Xī chū yáng guān wú gù rén.

    長亭柳陰陰。
    Cháng tíng liǔ yīn yīn.

    傷懷,傷懷,
    Shāng huái, shāng huái,

    送我送我故人。
    Sòng wǒ sòng wǒ gù rén.

    送故人,送故人。
    Sòng gù rén, sòng gù rén.

    攜手在此長亭。
    Xié shǒu zài cǐ cháng tíng.

    對酌此香醪。
    Duì zhuó cǐ xiāng láo.

    香醪有限,此恨無窮,
    Xiāng láo yǒu xiàn, cǐ hèn wú qióng,

    無窮傷懷,傷懷,復傷懷。
    Wú qióng shāng huái, shāng huái, fù shāng huái.

    長亭柳陰陰。
    Cháng tíng liǔ yīn yīn.

    情最深,情最深,
    Qíng zuì shēn, qíng zuì shēn,

    情意,情意最深。不忍分,不忍分。
    Qíng yì, qíng yì zuì shēn. Bù rěn fēn, bù rěn fēn.

Same as previous, but in this version all lyrics not indented are the same in each verse.

1. (00.00)
          長亭柳陰陰。

渭城朝雨挹輕塵。
客舍青青柳色新。
勸君更盡一杯酒。
西出陽關無故人。

長亭柳陰陰。
傷懷,傷懷,
送我送我故人。

長亭柳陰陰。
情最深,情最深,
情意,情意最深。不忍分,不忍分。

2. (01.11)
渭城朝雨挹輕塵。
客舍青青柳色新。
勸君更盡一杯酒。
西出陽關無故人。

擔頭行李沙頭酒樽。

長亭柳陰陰。
傷懷,傷懷,
送我送我故人。

長亭柳陰陰。
情最深,情最深,
情意,情意最深。不忍分,不忍分。

3. (02.22)
渭城朝雨挹輕塵。
客舍青青柳色新。
勸君更盡一杯酒。
西出陽關無故人。

長亭柳陰陰。
傷懷,傷懷,
送我送我故人。

送故人,送故人。
攜手在此長亭。
對酌此香醪;香醪有限。
此恨無窮,無窮。
傷懷,傷懷復傷懷。

長亭柳陰陰。
情最深,情最深,
情意,情意最深。不忍分,不忍分。

尾聲 (03.59 - 04.24)
          從今別後,
          兩地相思萬種,
          對誰人說?

Compare the 1864 lyrics below
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Appendix
"Three Refrains of 'Yang Pass'"
Lyrics from the
1864 Yangguan Sandie, with translation sent by David Badagnani
(Compare 1530)

I.
清和節當春。
Clear and warm in the late spring,...
渭城朝雨浥輕塵,
The morning rain at Weicheng dampens the light dust.
客舍青青柳色新。
At the inn, the willows look lush and green once again.
勸君更盡一杯酒,
I urge you, dear sir, to finish one more cup of wine, for
西出陽關無故人。
Going west through Yangguan there will be no old friends.
霜夜與霜晨。
Through frosty nights and frosty mornings,
遄行,遄行,長途越渡關津,
Hurry along, hurry along, the journey is long, and the ferry awaits.
惆悵役此身。
Melancholy weighs the body.
歷苦辛,歷苦辛,歷歷苦辛,
Endure, endure, endure hardship, and
宜自珍,宜自珍。
Take good care, take good care.

II.
渭城朝雨浥輕塵,
The morning rain at Weicheng dampens the light dust.
客舍青青柳色新。
At the inn, the willows look lush and green once again.
勸君更盡一杯酒,
I urge you, dear sir, to finish one more cup of wine, for
西出陽關無故人。
Going west through Yangguan there will be no old friends.
依依顧戀不忍離,
Full of regret at parting, and filled with nostalgia, I cannot bear this separation;
淚滴沾巾,
Teardrops soak the towel.
無復相輔仁。
Such a friend I may never again meet.
感懷,感懷,思君十二時辰。
Yearning, yearning, longing for my good friend all twelve watches of the day.
參商各一垠,
Like two stars which never see one another, each at the edges of the sky,
誰相因,誰相因,誰可相因,
Who can carry on, who can carry on, who is able to carry on?
日馳神,日馳神。
Each day, my thoughts fly to you; each day, my thoughts fly to you.

III.
渭城朝雨浥輕塵,
The morning rain at Weicheng dampens the light dust.
客舍青青柳色新。
At the inn, the willows look lush and green once again.
勸君更盡一杯酒,
I urge you, dear sir, to finish one more cup of wine, for
西出陽關無故人。
Going west through Yangguan there will be no old friends.
芳草遍如茵。
By now, the scented grass has grown into a thick mat.
旨酒,旨酒,未飲心已先醇。
Excellent wine, excellent wine; even without a sip the heart is already intoxicated.
載馳駰,載馳駰,
Pulled by galloping dappled horses, pulled by galloping dappled horses,
何日言旋軒轔,
On what day will we be able to speak again, when I hear the rumble of your returning carriage?
能酌幾多巡?
How many rounds can we pour?
千巡有盡,寸衷難泯,無窮的傷感。
Even after a thousand rounds have been finished, one inch of sentiment can’t be extinguished, boundless heartsickness.
楚天湘水隔遠濱,
The sky of Chu and and waters of Xiang are distant and remote.
期早托鴻鱗。
Quickly, ask the birds and the fish,
尺素申,尺素申,尺素頻申,
Bring the message, bring the message, again and again bring the message,
如相親,如相親。
So as to meet again, to meet again.
 
噫!從今一別,
Alas! From today on, we separate.
兩地相思入夢頻,
Two lands apart, but close in dreams.
聞雁來賓。
I hear the migrating wild geese coming as guests.

 
Return to Faming Qinpu or to the Guqin ToC.