Chou Wen-chung

Seven Poems of the T’ang Dynasty (1951-1952)

Empty the mountain, no one in sight,
But a faint sound of voices far away;
Slanting sunlight enters the dark woods,
And shines again on the green moss.
— Wang Wei (699-759)

Two mountain monks sit playing draughts,
Shadow of a bamboo across the board;
In the bamboo shade no one can see them —
But comes the sound now and then of a piece set down.
— Liu Yü-hsi (772-842)

Underneath a pine, a little boy I ask.
His master’s gone, he's picking herbs, he says,
Up on this mountainside somewhere —
Behind those clouds, he can’t say where.
— Chia Tao (788-843)

How long since I went to the Eastern Hill?
How many times have the roses bloomed?
And still the white clouds are mingling and melting —
And the bright moon, into whose courtyard falling?
— Li Po (705-762)

From my homeland you come,
What news do you bring?
Had the winter plum, when you left,
Before the silk window, flowered yet?
— Wang Wei

A thousand peaks, no birds flying;
Ten thousand trails, no human trace;
A single boat — in bamboo cloak a fisherman,
Alone, fishing in the cold snow river.
— Liu Tsung-yuan (773-819)

Setting sun, blue mountains farther away;
Bitter cold, house shabby through the white snow;
You can hear a dog barking at the log gate;
And a man trudges home through the stormy night.
— Liu Ch’ang-ch’ing (c. 710 - c. 780)

Preceding verses translated by Louise Varèse in collaboration with the composer.



    • T.B.: Tambourine — laid flat
    • S.D.: Snare Drum (tamburo militare)
    • T.D.: Tenor Drum (cassa rullante, without snare)
    • B.D.: Bass Drum — deep — laid flat
    • S.C.: Suspended Cymbal — deep, with dome
    • H.G.: Gong — deep
    • L.G.: Gong — very deep