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Wen Xuan 1
Selections of Refined Literature, compiled by Xiao Tong2

David R. Knechtges translates Wen Xuan as "Selections of Refined Literature" and uses this as the subtitle for his translations of Wen Xuan; through 1996 Knechtges had published translations of the first 18 1/2 of the work's 60 folios (juan).3

According to ICTCL,4 this major collection of early Chinese literature "was compiled to provide an anthology of traditional prose and verse in opposition to the current literary fashion as expressed in the contemporary collection (by Xu Ling,5) Yutai Xinyong.6 The 60 juan in Wen Xuan contain 38 genres and more than 700 pieces written by 129 authors from the period of the Han through the Liang dynasties."

A search of this site for "Wen Xuan" will turn up numerous references. However, the number of surviving melodies that use lyrics that can be found in Wen Xuan is rather small. They include the following,

  1. Gui Qu Lai Ci (1511)

  2. Si Gui Yin (1511)

  3. Qian Chu Shi Biao (1585)

  4. Chen Qing Biao (1585)

  5. Si Si Ge (1597)

In addition, lyrics attributed to Ban Jieyu in the Yue Fu section of Wen Xuan can be paired to the music of Section 5 (harmonics) of the melody Han Gong Qiu.

The melody Zhao Yin includes in its preface the lyrics of that title by Zuo Si. A modern effort has been made to apply these lyrics to the melody itself, but they cannot be paired by any of the methods that can be found in Ming dynasty publications.

On the present website there is mention in several places of the 19 Old Poems, included in Wen Xuan, Folio 29.7

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 文選 Wen Xuan
The Chinese edition referred to on this website is 海嘯出版事業 Haixiao Chubanshiye, 4 volumes, 1997.

2. 蕭統 Xiao Tong (501 - 531)
Xiao Tong, eldest son of the Liang dynasty emperor Xiao Yan is best known as the compiler of 文選 Wen Xuan.

3. Wen Xuan translation
Knechtges, David R., tr.: Xiao Tong, Wen Xuan, or Selections of Refined Literature. Princeton, Princeton U. Press, 1982 (I), 1987 (II), & 1996 (III). As of 2015 no further volumes had been issued. (Return)

4. p.891 (Return)

5. 徐陵 Xu Ling (507 - 583)
Xu Ling, style name 孝穆 Xiaomu, was "a trusted, urbane official (who) managed to pursue a distinguished career for over 50 years in the most unpromising circumstances." (ICTCL, p.946). Court poet under Liang Emperor Wudi, around the year 545 he compiled the famous Yutai Xinyong (see next footnote) (Return)

6. 玉臺新詠 Yutai Xinyong, by Xu Ling
Translated by Anne Birrell, Chinese Love Poetry, New Songs from a Jade Terrace: A Medieval Anthology; Penguin, 1995.
At least three of its poems are used as lyrics for surviving qin melodies:

  1. Feng Qiu Huang ("Two Songs for the Lute", Birrell, p. 272)
  2. Si Si Ge ("Four Sorrows, four poems", Birrell, p. 276)
  3. Moshang Sang ("Sunrise at the southeast corner, a folk-song", Birrell, p. 40)

In addition, the original lyrics of "A poem on regret, with a preface", Birrell, p. 51, can be paired to the music of Section 5 (harmonics) of the melody Han Gong Qiu.

7. 19 Old Poems (古詩十九首 Gu Shi Shijiu Shou; also called "Nineteen Ancient Poems"; Wiki)
Wen Xuan, Folio 29 (Haixiao edition, pp. 1273-1294. As of 2015 the original text was copied out here and translations were linked here. Other references on this site include this one from Liangxiao Yin.

Return to Qin Poetry and Song or to the Guqin ToC.