Modern Chinese translation by A Cheng
English translation by Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang
Published by Foreign Languages Press, 2001
Paperback: 312 pages; Dimensions (inch): 0.09 x 8.00 x 5.06
Song Proses is a unique collection of classical Chinese "ci" poetic gems rendered into naturally flowing modern Chinese and English verse. This book contains 59 "ci" lyrics from Song poets, among them, 7 from Liu Yong, 1 from Yan Shu, 1 from Ouyan Xiu, 1 from Yan Jidao, 9 from Su Shi, 1 from Qin Guan, 8 from Zhou Bangyan, 5 from Li Qingzhao, 20 from Xin Qiji, 6 from Jiang Kui.
In Chinese literary history, there were certain periods which were dominated by one distinctive predominant literary genre, such as "fu" (descriptive prose interspersed with verse) during the Han Dynasty, poetry in Tang, "Ci" poetry (a special poetic form) of Song and "qu" (singing verse) of Yuan. The "ci" lyric is very different from the "shi" type. While the older Tang Dynasty "shi" lyric can be read without minding the underlying melodies - even if there existed some underlying melodies - "ci" poetry must be seen as written songs. Most of the poems do not even have their own title, but they are named after an original melody. Composers and writers used this melody to write a new poem that could be sung to the original famous melody or tune pattern ("cipai"), a technique called contrafactum. This is the reason why we often see the same title for a "ci" poem, like "Die Lian Hua", "Man Ting Fang", "Yu Mei Ren". There are more than 800 tune patterns. "Ci lyric" emerged during the Tang Dynasty in response to the popularity of foreign musical tunes imported from Inner Asia. Already the outer shape of the "ci" lyric is clearly different to the "shi" lyric: the verses have different length. The early "ci" writers of the 9th century wanted to meet the needs of singing girls in the entertainment quarters in the lower Yangtse area. The most famous "ci" poets of Tang Dynasty are Wen Tingyun and the last king of Southern Tang, Li Yu. The great time of "ci" lyric was the Song Dynasty. Under the the influence of the great writer "Su Shi" ("Su Dongpo"), the "ci" poem began to free itself from its musical background and became primarily a literary creation.