Song of Snow-White Heads


"Song of Snow-White Heads" is the tenth song of Ernst Bacon's song cycle Quiet Airs. The song sets an English translation the poetry of Cho Wēn-chün, translated by Arthur Waley.

Song of Snow-White Heads
by Cho Wēn-chün
Translated by Arthur Waley

(A Chinese wife to her lord)

Our love was pure
As the snow on the mountains:
White as a moon
Between the clouds -
They're telling me
Your thoughts are double:
That's why I've come
To break it off.
To-day we'll drink
A cup of wine.
to-morrow we'll part
Beside the Canal:
Walking about,
Beside the Canal,
Where its branches divide
East and West.
Alas and alas,
and again alas.
So must a girl
Cry when she's married,
if she find not a man
Of single heart,
who will not heave her
Till her hair is white.

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