Chou Wen-chung

The Willows are New (1957)

Calligraphy by Chou.Yang Kuan, another ch’in work bearing the name of the poem by Wang Wei (689-759) that inspires it, has been refashioned into a composition in which “mutations of the original material are woven over the entire range of the piano and embroidered with sonorities that are the magnified reflexes of brushstroke-like movements.” The title “The Willows Are New” comes from a line of the poem. The composer’s translation follows:

In this town by the river,
morning rain
has cleared the light dust.

Green, green around the tavern,
the willows are new.[1]

Let us empty another cup of wine
For, once west of Yang Kuan[2]
there will be no more friends.

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  1. Sprigs of willow, used in farewell ceremonies, are a symbol of parting.
  2. Yang Kuan is a mountain pass, known as the point of no return for a traveler.