The Lute Player
Liu Changqing (709-785)
As water flows, your lute of seven strings . . .
I hear the wind between the winter pines.
You pull an ancient tune that, though I love,
The players now can hardly play the lines.
Líng líng qī xián shàng
Jìng tīng sōng fēng hán
Gǔ diào suī zì ài
Jīn rén duō bù dàn
Transliteration and Notes
Flow flow seven stringed instrument
Quiet listen pine-tree wind cold
Ancient tune though I love
Today’s people much not play
The characters for “flow flow” represent the sound of water flowing. The poet is moved by the lute player’s ancient tune, a sad one reminding him of the cold wind as it moves through pine trees. He compliments the player’s smooth play, like water, and laments that few modern players play that tune, which he loves.