T of C
|Personal||email me search me|
Suzhou's Canglang Ting: built by Su Shunqin? 2
Qinshu Daquan includes three poems by Su with a qin theme:
Yanhua is a master of the qin zither. In the past, he once performed for a former emperor. When Yanhua heard that I have a fine instrument in my collection, he asked to play it, but having played, was reluctant to put it down. I have therefore written this poem to describe his feelings.
Winds waft the music of the immortals
from the vast void—
All who hear are entranced by the sound,
their hair standing on end!
As he plays the zither, we forget
that the music comes from his fingers,
Nor are the fingers conscious
of the music of the heart.
The rhythm may stop, the tones fade away—
And in the midst of this sparse, soft sound
he expresses deep feeling,
Deep feeling — a thin flavor I alone understand
As I am swept, ecstatic,
back to the antiquity of the sages.
The piece at an end, the master closes his eyes,
and doesn’t say a word;
Then suddenly tells us that he once played
in the august Presence.
The emperor of the xiangfu years
had few affairs of state,
And so he had the leisure to call
great artists to the palace.
When the regalia were withdrawn from the imperial precincts,
and the cold sun glowed red,
The master was led on horseback to the Palace of Paradise.
With one performance of Pacifying the Barbarians
he soothed His Majesty’s ears,
And the nobles, at attention in their furs and jewels,
were noticeably moved.
A robe in Purple Cocoon pattern
was brought from the Imperial Wardrobe,
And in one day his fame had spread to a thousand noble homes.
Now, old and sick, he lies in retirement
in a land of lakes,
Having met no connoisseurs of music,
the past completely gone.
A pair of jade-white cranes
may be flying in the heavens,
But people here see only the old wutong tree were they perched,
withered and dying.
Happily, he has found this precious zither,
in tune with his heart and hands;
Moved by the sound to recall the past,
tears dampen his breast.
Looking back at me, hesitating,
unable to depart,
He wants to leave behind him still another sorrowful song.
Huaiyue is also mentioned in another poem
Nothing is known of Su Shunqin's skills as a qin player. And although the title of the following poem by Fan Zhongyan suggests it is about Su Shunqin studying qin, perhaps Fan's references to "I" (余 and 我) suggest he (as an accomplished players) was simply encouraging Su to study (or study more).
It begins as follows (total [5+5] x 18):
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)
Su Shunqin (蘇舜欽 1008 - 1048)
33250.221; ICTCL p.730.
|2. Suzhou's Canglang Ting||ancient stele (enlarge)|
In light of this stele, and rubbings that survive of the ground plan, the basic layout is actually quite accurate. The building structures for the most part could not be older than Song's time, the 17th century. In both China and Japan, the 17th c. seems to be the watershed; few are the buildings that really and truly predate that period.
聽演化琴 Listening to Yan Hua (Play my) Qin, with Preface
The original text, as in Qinshu Daquan Folio 19B, #83 (V.432) is as follows:
Prof. Chaves translation was originallly published in the 1970s in the poetry journal Pequod.
Return to the top or go to qin biographies,