Tuesday, 30 June 2015

A pair of lover’s poetry exchange (情人于诗对气曲)

A very good friend of mine had decided that she’d had enough of her boyfriend of two over years. It took a while for her to come to this decision and finally, over the weekend, she moved out from their shared adobe and announced the end of their relationship. I’m one of the few that knew of the ups and downs as she confided in me most of the time. However, I knew that she’s making the decision based on frustration and emotion rather than the lack of love between them.

Frankly, most of our friends that are privy to this matter were actually betting on the numbers of days they will be separated. Some speculated a week, some said a month while some said she is dead serious, and there is no turning back. The break up lasted only two and half days but before agreed to renew their relationship again, a couple of poems were exchanged. It is worthy of a mention (and reference) for I find it amusing that poetry written during the Tang dynasty can be used to express his regret and her frustration.

From him:

谓城曲 王维者(699-759)
渭城朝雨浥轻尘,
客舍青青柳色新。
劝君更尽一杯酒,
西出阳关无故人。

Translation:
Rhyme from Wei City by Wang Wei
The city of Wei is clear after a morning breeze,
This place is quiet and I can smell the fragrant of the willow tree.
With regret, I hope you will enjoy this glass of wine,
After passing the Yang Pass, I am not sure if we will meet again.

Her reply:

凉州词  王之渙者 (688-742)
黄河远上白云间,
一片孤城万仞山,
羌笛何须怨杨柳,
春风不度玉门关。

Translation:
Beyond the border by Wang Zhihuan
The Yellow River risen up and yonder through white clouds,
One strip of city-wall by mile-high mountains on low grass,
Which flute can resists resisting the willow tree?
Yet, the wind of spring has not blown beyond Jade Gate Pass.

Taken out of its original context, he uses the poem to express his empty home after she left till he can smell the fragrance of the willow tree that are aplenty near his home which is not far from the Singapore Chinese Garden. He expresses his regret and offers a glass of wine because he isn’t sure if they will ever be together again. In ancient time, 阳关 or the Yang Pass referred to the last Chinese controlled territory along the Silk Road. Those who ventured out of it were basically venturing out into the wilderness where the guarantee of return can never be confirmed.

Ruins from Yang Pass when I visited the site in 2011. 

In her reply, she uses Wang Zhihuan’s Beyond the Border to express her nostalgia for the willow trees but she is frustrated that despite all their ups and down, she have not seen the sight of change but yet she is still not leaving that far, hence, the wind of spring has not blown beyond the Jade Gate Pass. Jade Gate Pass is another important pass along the Silk Road for travellers either chooses the northern route or the southern route after passing Dunhuang to reach Kashgar. 

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