In my last post, I recalled the Chinese version of Auld Lang Syne, commonly sung at graduation assemblies and funerals. Now, I’m going to share with you an original Chinese farewell song, elegantly written as a poem in 1915 by the charismatic and talented artist, LI Shutong 李叔同 (1880 to 1942), three years before he abandoned all worldly desires to become a Buddhist monk. This classical song with shared Chinese symbols is also often top choice for graduation assemblies.
Master Hong Yi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
LI Shutong, as Buddhist monk, is famously known as Master Hong Yi. The timeless appeal of this song, Farewell, has connected the Chinese people across the globe. The tune of the song is adapted from “Dreaming of Home and Mother,” composed by John Pond Ordway in 1868.
Please listen to this song, and try to picture in your mind the images of long pavilion as a departure place, gentle wind caressing the willow, Chinese flute faintly playing in the background, enchanting sunset, with a glass of murky wine in your hand (Jack Daniels would be lovely).
- 长亭外，古道边，芳草碧连天 Outside the long pavilion, near the ancient road, splendid grass connects to the sky.
- 晚风拂柳笛声残，夕阳山外山 Breezy evening wind caresses the willows. The sound of flute faltering, the setting sun sits beyond many a mountain.
- 天之涯，海之角，知交半零落 Friends have scattered to the reaches of heaven and the ends of the sea, with only very few left.
- 一瓢浊酒尽余欢，今宵别梦寒 Let’s enjoy this pot of murky wine to indulge ourselves in the remaining joy we have. Dreaming in the chilling night, I wave goodbye. Continue reading
Auld Lang Syne, the poem by Robert Burn written in 1788, has now become one of the symbols to embrace the new year. In Scotland in particular, this song about ‘old long since’, ‘old time past’ is sung when midnight strikes. Most people would also cross their arms when singing it, though the Queen preferred not to do so in 1999. No one knows exactly why arms have to be crossed and got pulled so uncomfortably, but again, it seems to be the ‘custom’ that most people just follow without questioning, just like people would respond with the silly horse riding dance once the music of Gangnam Style is played. It seems there’s something so spontaneous about Auld Lang Syne with arm-crossing.
Why crossing your arms when singing Auld Lang Syne?
I first learnt to sing the Chinese version of Auld Lang Syne when I was 12 years old. Our headmaster taught all Yr 6 students this song through the tannoy in our classroom. There are many Chinese versions of this renowned song, and the version, a popular and classic one, I was taught was called ‘Long Live Friendship.’ （友谊万岁).
The lyrics go: “Who would ever forget their good friends? Once you’ve parted, you’ll sure remember them fondly. Good friends will not be forgotten; friendship is as vast as the earth and sky. Let’s raise our glasses and sing in harmony; long live friendship.” Continue reading
“Thank you so much friends. We’re so privileged to be able to gather in a moment like this when so much of the world is plunged in darkness and chaos. So, ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
(If I post a Leonard Cohen concert like this, once a week, perhaps there’s no need for me to write anymore?) Have a lovely weekend everyone. I’m rather busy with my new job. I’ll be back soon.
Special dedication to Shimon Z on his brilliantly touching new post, Hurricane of the heart.
Have you heard that the English singer James Blunt wants to “quit music”?
Apparently, James Blunt told The Daily Mail, “I just want to take some time out for myself,” “I haven’t got any plans to do more songwriting. I have been chilling out since I finished my world tour and I’ve spent a lot of time in Ibiza.”
I know of 3 facts about James Blunt:
1) He sang ‘You’re Beautiful’. In the video, he stripped himself, then he jumped from the cliff into the sea.
2) James Blunt stopped World War Three in 1999.
James Blunt stopped a third World War in 1999
3) James Blunt sang a parody of his hit song “You’re Beautiful” (titled “My Triangle” ) on the Sesame Street in 1997. This song is simply hilarious.
Yesterday I wrote about the Butterfly Lovers.
My friend Bob left a message with a fascinating story about the Moon Fairy, inspired by the same story.
The above image of the Moon Fairy was Bob’s wonderful creation. Just in case you missed Bob’s message yesterday, here it is:
“I became familiar with the “Chinese violin concerto” based on this story about 40 years ago, since when I have listened to it countless times. Continue reading
What do butterflies mean to you? Freedom? Beauty?
If I say butterflies also mean a tragic love, like Romeo and Juliet, do you think it strange?
I use butterflies a lot in my cards. Sometimes I wonder, ‘What do they mean?’
Hopeful thoughts with butterfly
Here is a Chinese tragic love story, The Butterfly Lovers. The young lovers were Liang Shanbo (梁山伯, man) and Zhu Yingtai (祝英台, woman). Their names are normally shortened for Liang Zhu (梁祝).
Their tragic love is almost like that of Romeo and Juliet.
The basic story line is: Zhu pretended to be a boy and became Liang’s classmate; Liang didn’t know Zhu was a girl. They spent 3 years together as boys. Zhu was engaged to a rich man by her father later. Liang was too late. He died of a broken heart. Continue reading