Chang Ge poem 长歌行(literal translation a long teaching song poem)

The Chang Ge song is a poem of an ancient chinese song written during the Han dynasty and was written in the Imperial Music Bureau style or “Yuefu” style. This is a style that comprises of ancient folk song elements. Some other famous works written in this style includes the poem “The Ballad of Mulan” which tells the legendary chinese female general Mulan.  It is a poem that is written to encourage it’s listeners to work hard. It speaks of treasuring the time when you are young, work hard, to be able to achieve something of your own.

The poem

Chinese

青青园中葵,朝露待日晞。
阳春布德泽,万物生光辉。
常恐秋节至,焜黄华叶衰。
百川东到海,何时复西归?
少壮不努力,老大徒伤悲
Literary translation:
Within the vegetable patch the chinese mallow (1) turns a melancholy green,
The glistening morning dew drips from it’s leaves as it welcomes the sun,
Spring brings hope to the entire country/world,
Leading to the flourishing life around.
Fearing for the arrival of the fierce autumn wind
As the leaves of the leaves will brown, die and rot
The major rivers gushes into the Eastern ocean(2)
When will it’s waters return to the West?
If you do not work hard whilst you are young,
In the end you will only regret it when you turn old.
Notes:
1: a type of vegetable that was one of the most important staple food in the ancient chinese diet
2: China only borders a sea in the East
Appreciation of the work
This poem borrows different analogies to try and describe the last two lines. For example, comparing the chinese mallow, spring and life to youth and then the inevitable coming of autumn which will bring this all to an end. That is parallel to the human life too where death is inexorable.
Video

A modern song inspired by the poem sung by Wan Yuan from the TF boys. (The poem is included in the 1st stanza and last)

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the great translation! I stumbled on your blog from Googling Zhao Yao Eng subs. I’ve been waiting for the official YT channel to put up subs since I love the drama and novel enough that I was almost thinking of sinking in all the time to contribute the Eng subs myself. I mean, it’s really frustrating to feel like the drama you love is not getting the attention it deserves because international audiences can’t really access it w/o subs. For some reason, the official channel didn’t even bother labeling the episodes or channels with ANYTHING in English…it’s like they aren’t even trying to market it. I haven’t actually checked out your subs for Zhao Yao yet since I’ve been too busy watching the new episodes but I’ll probably rewatch it all after the drama finishes airing.

    Anyway, I’m glad to find that your website has more than just subtitles and I agree that since we all get bored and want to procrastinate, why not find something interesting and educational to “waste” time on, right?

    Like

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