Multitudinous Stars and Spring Waters for Soprano and Oboe

$15.00$18.00

Multitudinous Stars and Spring Waters for soprano and oboe by Jenni Brandon combines a collection of poems by women poets from a vast period of Chinese history. Their poems make up the larger picture of love and waiting, sometimes with disappointment and grief, of admiration, of marriage and of eternal love. The whole work is a love song – telling that age-old story of the push and pull of emotions that only love can cause.

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Multitudinous Stars and Spring Waters for Soprano and Oboe by Jenni Brandon
Poetry edited and translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung


Performed by Amy Yeung – Soprano and Doug Owens – Oboe


Multitudinous Stars and Spring Waters represents a collection of  women poets from a vast period of Chinese history.  The poems in it come from the collection of poems “ Women Poets of China”.  This book, edited and translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung, explores poetry from many centuries both attributed to and written by women poets.

 Throughout the centuries Chinese women were not allowed to share their poetry. They were basically property of their husbands, having no rights to money, property, or education.  Poetry was written in secret, often destroyed or shared only amongst other women.  It has been just in the 20th century that Chinese women poets began to freely write and share their poetry.   

 Within this work are three main poems:

 o   Spring Song

o   Thinking of Someone

o   Married Love

These make up the larger picture of love and waiting, sometimes with disappointment and grief, of admiration, of marriage and of eternal love.  In between are selections, almost like Haiku, from the poem “Multitudinous Stars and Spring Waters” by Ping Hsin. These feel like fragments of thoughts; like what you’d think silently to yourself, before and after the bigger declarations of the messages from the three larger poems. 

 Thematically, all of the poems tie together. There are day and night themes (“Spring Song” moves into “Bright moon”).  There’s the “ocean of thoughts” and the turbulent waters of the heart (“The orphan boat” and “Thinking of Someone”).  And of course there is limitless, eternal love, like the night sky full of stars (“Void only” and “Married Love”). But the whole work is a love song – telling that age-old story of the push and pull of emotions that only love can cause.  The soprano and oboe are equals in this intertwining duet in telling this love story.  Both bring emotional weight to the work as they journey into eternal love as told through the final lines of the work:

I am in your clay. You are in my clay.
In life we share a single quilt.
In death we will share one coffin.

 Commissioned by Dr. Amy Yeung of the University of Tennessee-Martin, it was her vision of wanting to tell a love story through the voices of her culture that led to the creation of this work.  Premiered by Dr. Yeung and Dr. Douglas Owens at the University of Tennessee-Martin in March 2018. Co-Commissioned by Esther Gray Lemus, Soprano.


Part I

Spring Song
Meng Chu (3rd century)

In the sunny Spring of March and April,
When water and grass are the same color,
I met a young man dallying along the road,
I’m sorry I didn’t meet him earlier.

In the sunny Spring of March and April,
When water and grass are the same color,
I reach up and pick the flowers from the vines.
Their perfume is like my lover’s breath.

Four, now five years, I have expected you.
During this long wait my love
Has turned into sorrow.
I wish we could go away, back to some lonely place,
Where I could give my body
Completely to your embraces.

(In the sunny Spring of March and April,
When water and grass are the same color.)


From Multitudinous Stars and Spring Waters
Ping Hsin (1900- )
VII.
Bright moon-
All grief, sorrow, loneliness completed-
Fields of silver light-
Who, on the other side of the brook
Blows a surging flute?


Part II

From Multitudinous Stars and Spring Waters
Ping Hsin (1900- )

The orphan boat of my heart
Crosses the unsteady, undulant,
Ocean of Time.


Thinking of Someone
Hsiung Hung

For you I have stored up an ocean of thought,
Quiet, transparent, bright.
Your arms encircle the city of sleep
Of my far off, beautiful dreams.

A lamp shines faintly through a crescent window.
It is your name, changed to gold and silver silk,
That has wrapped me and entangled me
With half a century.

An ocean of thoughts
All stored in that quiet city moat –
The most beautiful language,
Sounds like beautiful flower petals,
That fall and clothe my body with dream.


From Multitudinous Stars and Spring Waters
Ping Hsin (1900-  )
III.

These fragmented verses
Are only drops of spray
On the sea of knowledge.
Yet they are bright shining
Multitudinous stars, inlaid
On the skies of the heart.


Part III

From Multitudinous Stars and Spring Waters

Ping Hsin (1900-)
Void only-
Take away your veil of stars
Let me worship
The splendor of your face.


Married Love
Kuan Tao-Sheng (1262-1319)

You and I
Have so much love,
That it
Burns like a fire,
In which we bake a lump of clay
Molded into a figure of you
And a figure of me.
Then we take both of them,
And break them into pieces,
And mix the pieces with water,
And mold again a figure of you,
And a figure of me.
I am in your clay.
You are in my clay.
In life we share a single quilt.
In death we will share one coffin.


“Spring Song”  By Kenneth Rexroth, from the original by Meng Chu, translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung, from WOMEN POETS OF CHINA, copyright ©1973 by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

“MULTITUDINOUS STARS AND SPRING WATERS”  from the original by Meng Chu, translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung, from WOMEN POETS OF CHINA, copyright ©1973 by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

“Thinking of Someone”  from the original by Hsiung Hung, translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung, from WOMEN POETS OF CHINA, copyright ©1973 by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

“Married Love” By Kuan Tao-Sheng, translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung, from WOMEN POETS OF CHINA, copyright ©1973 by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.