Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Frogs, an unhappy poem to a suspicious tune

SB 11 has a group of four poems that take lowly forms of life as their subjects: Frogs, Cicadas, Dragonflies and Praying Mantises. Each of these poems casts the subject in a negative light, as in the poem below, where the frogs keep the poet awake all night with their incessant noise.

These four works are all set to a tune called Double Tune Celebrating the Sacred Dynasty (双調賀聖朝). There is a  tune attested in the Táng, Sòng and Yuán with a similar name (examples of which can be found on Sou-Yun).

wakšan [蝦蟇]    Frogs
Staatsbibliothek 11.37 (View Online)
dobonio,    All night,
ulu wala ya,    oh, the murmuring,
kunggur kunggur gūwaššame,    the grumbling, rumbling, throbbing,
corgin corgin kaicara,    the chattering, nattering, shouting

mudan hahiba.

    in rapid tones.

fuhali,    It seems like
tungken urangga,    the resonance of drums
jilgan uhei šašahai,    sounding all together
tolgin gemu tookaka,    have delayed all my dreams.
10jaci ubiyada.    So very detestable!

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