Song of the landlord's hard compulsory labour.

Recorded by Wang Jian-guo.


In Document N it says that this song was written by Wang Jian-guo, but it does not indicate from whose singing it was transcribed. Most likely it was originally collected by Mr. Wang's father, Wang Ming-ji.

In style and in presentation this piece is unique. A young man has been conscripted by the landlord to work on a building project some distance away near the town of Shui- cheng. His betrothed, left at home, expresses her feelings in song. She sings of her fears and her anxiety, describing graphically her depression at his long absence and her elation when at last he comes home. She voices her anger, culminating in a full-blooded curse on the landlord, because her beloved has returned ragged, emaciated and scorched by the sun.

Every line of this song is uttered by the young woman herself speaking in the first person. The result is that, though her mother and her betrothed must both have had much to say, their side of the conversation is not recorded, and the young woman gives the impression of being an incessant talker. Despite this, the deep emotions expressed in the Miao poetry are strong enough to be moving even in translation.

The Miao were obliged to go and work on the landlord's house in "Sheep-month or Monkey-month", that is the third and fourth months of the lunar calendar, right in the middle of the spring planting season when they were urgently needed on their own farms. The work required of them was to fell the timber on the mountain-sides, to float it down the river as rafts, and then to carry it overland to the building site, where they had to assist in the actual erection of the building. It was heavy, laborious, dangerous work for which they received no payment.

Literal Transcription

You can see the original documents for this song.

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Word97 Introduction
Word97 Translation
Word97 Transcription
Word97 Notes

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