Yesterday, I posted the poem Qingming by the poet Du Mu (803 – 852) that mentions the Qingming Festival (also called Ching Ming). I asked my friend Ray Lee about it. He grew up in Hong Kong and I wanted to hear his impression about the poem and also my translation of it (below). Here’s what Ray wrote:
This is indeed a very well known poem. We were taught this poem when we were in school. I don’t know if they still teach this in school. Even if they don’t, the school kids are bound to hear it from their parents or on TV or read about it somewhere.
The translation you have is pretty good. I am not sure about the second line though. I have always thought it said, “pedestrians on the road are like ghosts,” because of the rain.
Below you can find the Chinese text, the Pinyin and an English translation I had done of the poem Qingming plus an mp3 of Qingming being recited…
It’s raining hard at the time of the Ching Ming Festival,
The mourner’s heart is overwhelmed on the road upland.
May I ask where there’s a tavern to drown my sorrows?
The shepherd boy points to Xinghua Village in the distance.
清 明 时 节 雨 纷 纷，
路 上 行 人 欲 断 魂。
借 问 酒 家 何 处 有，
牧 童 遥 指 杏 花 村。
qīng míng shí jié yǔ fēn fēn
lù shàng xíng rén yù duàn hún
jiè wèn jiǔ jiā hé chù yǒu
mù tóng yáo zhǐ xìng huā cūn
Ray later wrote to me about the second line:
There is another translation on the Internet that is somewhere between my translation and yours. This one says something like travelers all look gloomy and miserable.
Thanks, Ray, for letting us know more about this poem!
The poem was read by Jia Zhou for Librevox.
If anyone would like to comment about the translation, please feel free to let us know what you think in the comments below or to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Below you can read posts about the Chingming Festival…
This article was posted on Friday, April 3rd, 2009 at 11:33 am and is filed under Cantonese, China, Chinese, Ching Ming, Ching Ming Festival, Countries & Cultures, Du Mu, Holiday Poems, Holidays Around the World, Hong Kong, Languages, Mama Lisa, Mandarin, Poems about Spring, Poetry, Poetry about the Seasons, Poets, Qingming, Taiwan. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
3 Responses to “Qingming Poem by Du Mu with an MP3 Recording”
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April 13th, 2009 at 3:26 am
I AM VERY HAPPY TO SEE THIS POEM
May 3rd, 2010 at 4:07 pm
[…] old Chinese saying about this time of year, “Qing Ming shi jie yu fen fen,” which simply means, “It always rains at Qing Ming.” Qing Ming means “Clear Bright Festival,” which sounds like a cruel joke, as the weather is […]
November 6th, 2010 at 11:58 pm
细 雨 纷 纷 ， as opposed to 倾 盆 大 雨 or 狂 风 暴 雨， actually refers to drizzles。
In poetic mode, it is often used to paint a sad atmosphere.
The drizzles do not actually soak a person instantly, but continue to harass and add to whatever miseries that’s troubling him.
清 明 节 or Ching Ming Festival usually falls on wet season。
hence 清 明 时 节 雨 纷 纷， not heavy rains， but drizzling most of the time。
So this leads to the second line that says
路 上 行 人 欲 断 魂
meaning everybody on the road tried to get away from it.
断 actually means break away from or cut off from something.
and that something is described here as 魂。
荫 魂 不 散 is used to describe some unpleasant experience that follows you everywhere， it just won’t go away， like the sickening drizzles。
The next line aptly tells you what to do : ask for a way to the nearest pub house for a break. In the old days, Chinese don’t call 酒 家 as bars or pub house。 So we will stick to the term 酒 家。
借 问 酒 家何 处 有 ： please may I know where can one find a “ 酒 家 ” around here
牧 童 refers to the boys who attend to the cows, a young cowherd.
牧 童 遥 指 杏 花 村。
The young cowherd points （ directs me ）to the distant village of 杏 花 村。