Tears - (2010)    

Wang Seng-Ju (6th Century) translated by Herbert Allen Giles

for medium voice and piano


High o'er the hill the moon barque steers.
     The lantern lights depart.
Dead springs are stirring in my heart;
     And there are tears . . . .
But that which makes my grief more deep
Is that you know not when I weep.

[ 1 page, circa 1' 10" ]

Herbert Allen Giles



The English text (1901) is among many translated from the Chinese by scholar H. A. Giles, and is more popularly known for having been included in the anthology, A Lute of Jade, edited by by L. Cranmer-Byng.  Herbert Allen Giles (1845-1935), was English scholar of Chinese language and culture, professor of Chinese at the University of Cambridge, succeeding Sir Thomas Francis Wade, who together systematized the transliteration of Chinese languages by their so-called Wade-Giles method. The small form in poetry is much akin to the small form in song settings, in which the miniature in scope and length is its aesthetic aim. As with the text, the song setting is of an arch, coming to its dark conclusion from a beginning in lighter imagery. The notion of translating poetry across centuries and languages is complex, which to my taste often is a matter of poetry layered onto poetry, thereby making an artist like Giles a "contributor" to Wang Seng-Ju, the poet from the Tang Dynasty.


The score for Tears is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.