Oyster Boy Review 14  
  Winter 2001
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Three Songs of Xanadu Made New

G. G. Gach & C. H. Kwock

Unrequited Love
(to the tune of "A Clear River")

Unrequited love's
                  a creditor

Coming round each day
                      to make me pay.

Always shouldering
                  such a sack of woe,

I can't even defer for
                      the interest I owe—

& not until I meet
                  that lass again
could I settle this account.

—Hsü Tsai-szu

(to the tune of "A Spring Tune")

              from drinking wine,
hovering over,
              after twilight,

The boudoir soon
                  encircled in
evening lengthens,

          & she pouts,
              Wake up,
              Oh! my love,
                            this night's
              so fine,—
              its time
                        runs out!


On Love
(to the tune of "Half and Half")

Blue silk curtains shut,
                        it's quiet,
no one's around.

He kneels down
              onto the bed
& quickly begs

like this: let's
                  kiss & make

She will bawl him
                  out like this: wretched
dog, repentant?—

although I'm making
                    a big hullaballoo
I'm saying


—Kuan Han-ching


"Songs of Xanadu" is a phrase coined by Prof. James I. Crump to refer to what's now known as Chinese opera aria as they emerged during the Yüan dynasty (1280-1369). The source of some of the greatest poetry of China, they haven't been translated until mid-20th century, and many remain untranslated today.

Kuan Han-ching was one of the most prolific writers of the form, with over 60 plays to his credit. Hsü Tsai-szu was known as a love lyricist. "Anonymous" was frequently the penname of women who could not use their own name.