Monday, November 27, 2017

Weiqi, a third poem, to an (as yet) unknown tune

The 11th fascicle of Staatsbibliothek 34981 has turned up a third poem on weiqi, this one is apparently set to a -style tune, but I’m not sure what the tune is. The metrical scheme seems to consist of two stanzas of the form 7,6,7,5,5 with rhyme x,A,A,x,A.

This poem uses an EO-rhyme, which consists of certain words ending in EO and IO. I think these words probably ended in a rising diphthong, such as [əw], and therefore do not rhyme with other words ending in -o, which fall into the E rhyme.

It seems likely that the poet chose the EO-rhyme because it rhymed with the theme, but interestingly the author of the first weiqi poem I looked at chose an E rhyme, suggesting that tonio could have been pronounced in two different ways, perhaps as [tɔɲɔ] at some times, and [tɔɲəw] at others.

tonio [碁],    Weiqi
Staatsbibliothek 11.22 (View Online)
yacin šanyan juwe siden,    Black and white, the two sides,
maka kimun binio,    I wonder, is there some enmity?
arga bodon unenggio,    Are the plans and calculations genuine?
etehe seme,    Suppose you win,
5aibe bahambio,    what do you get?
galai afambi seci,    When you say you’re making an attacking move,
yala bucunuheo,    aren’t you actually fighting?
wara deribun sureo,    Is it wise to begin killing?
efin dabala,    It is only a game.
10batai adalio.    Are you like enemies?

Translation Difficulties

bucunuheo. I don’t find this in my dictionaries. I initially read it as *bucenuheo, from *bucenumbi, “to die together,” but I agree with the feedback in the comments below that it is probably becunumbi, and I have updated my reading to reflect that.


  1. 'bucunuheo' probably stands for 'becunuheo' from 'becunumbi', 'to fight, to quarrel'.

    1. I think you're right. I've updated my reading. Thanks!