A Pipa Melody Poem by East Sea Fairy Xing Yi

A Pipa Melody

Poem by Bai Juyi Translated by East Sea Fairy
By River Xunyang one night I see off a guest.
Maple leaves and reed flowers chill against wind from west.
Dismounted is the host while the guest is in boat.
With wine yet we want a pipe for a note.
Without joy we are about to part in sad sorrow,
while bathing in misty and murky moonlight is the flow.
Just then we hear on the water Pipa floating about.
I forget to return and my guest to set out.
We trace the sound and softly the player's name inquire.
The tune is paused but the reply is held over.
We row our boat near and invite for a party.
A candle-light revel with more wine is instantly ready.
Repeatedly we call and she appears with a lingering pace,
Half-hidden behind the Pipa in her arms is her face.
Adjusts the instrument and plucks the strings twice or thrice,
Before the tune she grabs our hearts in a trice.
Each chord is low and every sound is with mind-knots.
It seems she uses strings to show her unappreciated thoughts.
With her brows lowered the player plays at her fingertips,
plucking out her infinite sorrows in the stead of her lips.
Tenderly she twirls strings and slowly she plucks them graced.
After The Rainbow Gown she plays again The Green Waist.
Similar to a sudden downpour sound the notes pitched high.
The low notes sound like whispers nobody can hear nigh.
High and low notes together in the tune she interweaves.
Like all-sized beads falling on jade plate sound the heaves.
We hear singing orioles glide into the shades of blossoms.
We hear a flow under ice murmur with heavy hums.
The flow ices as if the strings are to snap.
So in the tune we hear there appears a gap,
which stands for the player's sad sorrow pensive and profound
that is better explained by silence than by a sound.
We hear a silver bottle burst with a water gush,
and clanks and clinks of steels following a steeds rush.
With the strings she draws a pretend circle to end.
The four strings working together sound as if silks rend.
Each and every boat falls into stillness and muteness mere.
Strolls above the river the silvery Moon clear.
With a heavily loaded heart she puts her Pipa down.
She finds her feet with composed face and straightened gown.
She says she was a maid of the capital city.
And at the foot of Toad Tor lived her family.
She was taught to play Pipa at three and ten,
And was categorized number one of the music school then.
Her playing threw all of the teachers in marveling fits.
Were in envy of her makeup looks the fancy bits.
Rich youths rivaled for tying with her a lover's knot.
By playing a tune numerous rolls of silk she got.
Men cracked gold and silver trinkets to mark beat knocks.
Spilt wine stained as red as blood her silk frocks.
Year after year she lived to please men of pleasure,
and saw off spring breezes and autumn moons in leisure.
Then her aunt died and her brother joined the army.
Time flied. Gone with it were her attractiveness and beauty.
With next to zero visitors she started a desolate life.
When past her rosy prime she became a merchant's wife.
Putting profit before his wife, the merchant left her behind
two months ago with a tea transaction on his mind.
So she has been aboat waiting for him to return.
Round and round on the river she yearns with concern.
In deep darkness she dreamed of her glad girlhood years,
and cried till her rouged cheeks were stained with tears.

"You tune has loaded my heart with many a sign.
You poignant and plaintive life story kills me nigh.
When ill-fated people meet at the edge of the sky,
though stranger to each other we share the music tie.
Since resigning from office and left the capital last year,
I've been confined to my sickbed in Xunyang here.
Far from cities it is. Music from nowhere it brings.
All year round I've heard of no sound of strings.
Now in a damp corner of River Pen I abide,
with yellow reed and wild bamboo growing on every side.
Do you know what I hear day and night there?
Nothing but cuckoos' bleeding cries and apes' sad songs drear.
On moonlit autumn nights or spring morns with flowers fine,
often by the river alone I call for a wine.
No doubt folk songs and rustic pipes I can hear.
Then again they are nothing but fleas in my ear.
Luckily tonight I hear this sweet Pipa tune right here
It's like a celestial melody that makes my ears clear.
Sit down and play another one. Please continue to be!
For you I'll write a lyric named A Pipa Melody."
Moved deeply. The player is erect for a long time.
Then she is seated and plays in quick rhythm.
This moving melody is more poignant than the first one.
It's so touching that tears of the house are won.
Do you know who sheds the most tears among the house?
Tear soaked is the assistant prefect of Jiangzhou's blue blouse.

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