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English Lesson --003: Translation of Hua Fei Hua -- A Flower In The Fog
By Mr. Neil James (Canada)
Hi, friends, every day, I get some helpful letters from many friends. As a native English speaker, an English teacher and marketing manager, Mr.Neil James has rich experience on English teaching and good understanding on the Western and Eastern cultures. So, I would like to publish this letter of his here and hope you enjoy it. :-)

Fri.,Oct 28, 2005

Hi Shirley,

I really liked this poem. It is easy to understand why
it is difficult to determine the true meaning of this
poem. The poet gives us no clues as to his real
thoughts on the subject.

To me, this is makes an even better poetical work.
Why? Because the reader is free to apply their own
meaning and feelings to the piece.

It is not any different when viewing an abstract piece
of artwork. There may be hints of structure in the
painting but each viewer will see different images in
the painting that will appeal to them. As a result
that painting or poem, for that matter, will have a
lasting appeal throughout the years.

Below is your translation and explaining about the Chinese classical poem:


It's a flower, but it¨s not a real flower,
It's a fog, but it¨s not a fog as well.
It comes at midnight and goes at dawn,
It comes as a spring dream and can not stay for
It goes as the morning clouds and can not look for

( Note: Here is another translation by People's
Education Publish House, give you for information as

A Flower In The Haze

In bloom, she's not a flower;
Hazy, she's not a haze.
She comes at midnight hour;
She goes with starry rays.
She comes like vernal dreams that cannot stay
And goes like morning clouds that melt away.

I did not translate something in the poem to be "she",
I would like to give our readers bigger room to
imagine. I do hope to hear your opinions about that as


I agree with you. I do not think that the "entity"
should be described as female. This would restrict the
reader in their thoughts on the poem. I believe the
poem is about a spirit or even a ghost that enters the
author's thoughts. It could be male or female but
nonetheless the thoughts are calming to the reader.

This is my attempt at translation

Blossoming, but not a flower,
Vapourous, but not a fog,
Appearing at midnight,
Vanishing at dawn,
Arriving as a passing spring vision,
to melt away like morning clouds.

In my own mind, the poet is dreaming of a lover in his early youth. This would be the "passing spring vision". He met her in the "Springtime" of of his life. Perhaps she never even met him but he loved her from afar. She appears ghostlike in his dreams, only to disappear at when he wakes up.

Anyway, this is my interpretation of the poem. I hope
you like it.