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THE MOON IS ABOUT 238,855 MILES AWAY (Versions after the Chinese)

Writing in “Litter” magazine, Jonathan Taylor said:

In the final song of Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde(1909), ‘Der Abschied,’ (‘The Farewell’), the contralto sings the words: ‘I seek peace for my lonely heart.’ The words could easily stand as the motto for Martin Stannard’s new book, The Moon Is About 238,855 Miles Away, a beautiful collection of ‘Versions after the Chinese.’

The collection comprises loose translations, which have been ‘rework[ed] to some degree,’ of poems from the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). Some of these are by the same authors set by Mahler: Li Bai, Meng Haoran and Wang Wei. Indeed, just as Mahler’s song symphony ends with ‘The Farewell,’ which includes lines by Wang Wei, so Stannard’s collection ends with ‘A Farewell,’ and his version of those same lines:

  I dismount, tie up the horse
  And we settle down with some wine
  And I ask where you are going, and why

  You say you no longer feel at home here
  And will return to South Mountain
  And its eternity of white clouds –

  And that I should ask no more questions


The book is available from Shoestring Press here.

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