Eighteen Refrains on Tartar Pipes Cai Yan [Cai Wenji] (ca. 177-?)
胡茄演奏: Tartar pipes performance—
译者按: 蔡琰 (字文姬)，蔡邕 (133-192 CE) 之女。 蔡邕为曹操 (155-220) 之师友。 文姬博学多才，精通文史音艺，一如其父，曹赏识之。 夫亡，战乱被掳至南匈奴强嫁，年念三，达十二年之久，生二子， 后获曹用重金赎回归汉。再婚，作敘事长诗<胡笳十八拍>，述其济遇。论者对詩体及所述史實有疑，认为此詩为后人所作。今人读此诗，知古人对异族颇有歧视之嫌。
Translator’s remarks: Cai Yan (a.k.a. Wenji) was Cai Yong’s (133-192 CE) daughter. Cai Yong was Cao Cao’s (155-220) teacher and friend. Wenji was as scholarly as his father. She was well versed in literature, history, music and art. Cao admired her talents. After her husband died, she was captured and abducted by the Southern Tartars at age 23, then forced to marry a tribal king and had two sons. After twelve years Cao redeemed her to return to Han territory by paying a hefty ransom; she was then remarried. She wrote an epic ballad, Eighteen Refrains on Tartar Pipes, about what experience. Researchers have doubted her authorship of this poem from its structural form and anachronism, and speculate that later poets could have written it. Present day readers of this poem would find tones of racial prejudice towards other races by the Han Chinese of that era.
‘Twas peace when I was born,
But Han’s fortune declined and torn.
Without mercy from heaven, chaos descended from high;
Without mercy on earth, I came to this epoch nigh.
A perilous road extending in days of war,
Refugees, aghast, dispersed in grief and all.
Hordes of Tartars rampaged far and wide;
Against my will, submit to coercion I abide.
Facing odd customs foreign to me,
To whom could I tell my abuses other than me?
Playing the zither harmonized to Tartar pipes at the first refrain,
Nobody would learn of the detestation I’ve sustained.
Tartars compelled me to be a concubine;
They abducted me afar to heaven’s confine.
Crossing cloud-clad distant mountains of no return,
Gusts blew along whipping sand and dust that churned.
Mobs were ruthless as a venomous snake,
They grasped bows and wore amour for show’s sake.
In second refrain the stretched strings almost snap to end,
My will and heart frequently break into a self-lament.