by Larry Nickel

featuring the Kiev Symphony Chorus directed by Viktoriia Konchakovska on Feb 20, 2020
watch the video below

Ballad of the Army Carts
translation to English

Wagons rattling and horses neighing and snorting,
conscripts marching, each with bow & arrows at his hip,
fathers and mothers, wives & children, running to see them off,
so much dust kicked up you can’t see Xian-yang Bridge!
And the families pulling at their clothes, stamping feet in anger, blocking the way and weeping,
the sound of their wailing rises straight up to assault heaven.
The frontier posts run with blood enough to fill an ocean,
and the war-loving Emperor’s dreams of conquest have still not ended.
Hasn’t he heard that in Han, east of the mountains,
there are two hundred prefectures, thousands and thousands of villages, growing nothing but thorns?
And even where there is a sturdy wife to handle hoe and plough,
the poor crops grow raggedly in haphazard fields.
It’s even worse for the men of Qin; they are such good fighters
they’re driven from battle to battle like dogs or chickens.
Truly, it is an evil thing to bear a son these days,
it is much better to have daughters;
at least you can marry a daughter to the neighbor,
but a son is born only to die, his body lost in the wild grass.
Has my lord seen the shores of the Kokonor?
The white bones lie there in drifts, uncollected.
New ghosts complain and old ghosts weep,
under the lowering sky their voices cry out in the rain.

Original text in Mandarin




SATB – with piano – RFP 009

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