Tuesday, January 19, 2016

facing night

facing night

a drainage ditch outside a lonely city:
river village amid turbulent waters

deep in the mountains, winter daylight’s cut short
majestic trees alter in the lofty winds

cranes descend under clouds toward the nearby shoal
chickens settle, sharing our thatched roof

my qin & books scattered in bright candlelight—
through the long night, I ready myself for the end

Jack Hayes
© 2016
based on Du Fu:
xiàng xī

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
“A picture of the guqin Lingfeng Shenyun (靈峰神韻) in the Zhongni form”: photo by CharlieHuang, who makes it available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version & under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The guqin is the contemporary name of the instrument Du called 琴, that is the qin.  It became known as the guqin during the 20th century simply because a number of instruments were referred to as qin by that time; guqin simply means ancient qin. It’s 7-string zither typically tuned to a pentatonic scale, & while often used now for instrumental music, it was used by poets in Classical times as an accompaniment to their poems. 

For some idea of what that could sound like, here’s a link to musician Yuan Jung-ping accompanying his performance of a Song Dynasty poem on the qin. & for really detailed information about the qin, you can check out the website of qin master John Thompson at this link.

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