I threw out the idea of having a joint Classical Chinese poetry composition (詩會, 시회) on a post few weeks ago. Fortunately, three people responded, meaning that with myself included that would be four, and one of the most common Classical Chinese poetic form are quartets. All of us were Asian diaspora: a Cantonese speaking Chinese-American, Mandarin speaking Chinese-Canadian, Vietnamese-American, and Korean-American. As for our educational background, three of us including myself are from a technical background and the remaining one from the humanities and music. We chose to write a quartet (絶句, 절구) as the poetic form (詩體, 시체) with 陽(양) as the riming character (韻, 운). The theme (主題, 주제) picked was hopes for the new year, since the Lunar New Year was approaching and is today. We each took turns composing each line and then afterward commented and (heavily) revised upon it. This was a truly delightful experience.
Hopes for the New Year
In foreign lands, few know the significance of the new moon’s light. (Kuiwon)
As winter departs, red plum blossoms obscure the homeland. (Jeff Loh)
A ten thousand mile journey planned towards south, my heart ceases not thinking. (Tiễu Am)
Let go of the reins of the thoroughbred horse and straddle the divine ram. (Mengzhao)
Strange land • middle • first day • moon • few • to know • light
Cold • to exhaust • red • plums • to cover • old • village
Ten thousand • li • south • to plan • mind • not yet • to cease
To untie • reins • horse • horse • to drive • divine • ram
- Heptasyllabic quartet (七言絶句). Riming character (韻) is 陽.
- 南圖 – Literally means “to plan southward.” Refers to great aspirations.
- 騏驥 – Refers to a horse that can gallop very quickly.
- 神羊 – Literally “divine ram.” Can refer to Xiezhi (獬豸) or Haetae (海陀), a legendary lion-like beast in Chinese and Korean mythology. Statues of the beast can be found at the gates of many old homes and palaces.
- Last year was the year of the horse (甲午). This year it is the year of the ram (乙未). Last line alludes to transitions from the year of the horse to the year of the ram.
신년소망 shin nyeon so mang
기중삭월소지광 gi jung sak weol so ji gwang
한진홍매엄고향 han jin hong mae eom go hyang
만리남도심미기 man ri nam do shim mi gi
사강기기어신양 sa gang gi gi eo shin yang
san1 nin4 so2 mong6
gei1 zung1 sok3 jyut6 siu2 zi1 gwong1
hon4 zeon6 gung1 mui4 am2 gu3 hoeng1
maan6 lei5 naam4 tou4 sam1 mei6 ji5
se3 goeng1 kei4 kei3 jyu6 san1 joeng4
Tân niên sở vọng
Ky trung sóc nguyệt thiểu tri quang
Hàn tận hồng mai yểm cố hương
Vạn lý nam đồ tâm vị dĩ
Tá cương kỳ ký ngự thần dương
xīn nián suǒ wàng
jī zhōng shuò yuè shǎo zhī guāng
hán jìn hōng méi yǎn gù xiāng
wàn lǐ nán tú xīn wèi yǐ
xiè jiāng qí jì yù shén yáng