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Chinese Classical Poem 154 & Shirley Created Music 154: Fu De Gu Yuan Cao Song Bie - Send off on the Ancient Plain   - Oct 7, 2012 / August 15, 2012/Feb 20, 2012 /Jan 31, 2010/ Oct 7, 2007/

 

Note: I re-sung the poem in English and in Chinese and re-recorded the music, the poem and the singings in a professional music company, also I re-recorded the new words in Sep, 2012, for protecting the copyright, before it is published formally, it will not be online. But You can listen to the two samples via the poem Chun Xia and another poem Hui Chong Chun Jiang Wang Jing

Listen to Shirley Singing the Poem in English & in Chinese Feb 18, 2012
Listen to Shirley Singing the Poem in Chinese & in English Feb 18, 2012

Listen to Shirley Explaining the Poem
Follow Shirley to Read the Poem & Chinese Characters

Learn the Meaning of the Poem

See Shirley Painted Picture for the Poem Oct 2, 2012See Shirley Painted Picture for the Poem Feb 16, 2012
See Shirley Painted Picture for the Poem Jan 30, 2010

Have you ever been to an ancient plain? Do you like the grass on it?   I do.

I really admire the vital force of the grass. It doesn¨t matter how cold and how hard a winter it experiences, as soon as the spring breeze blows over, it quickly grows up and dresses the land in beautiful green clothes...

In all the thousands and thousands of Chinese poems about grass, the two most famous lines are "Ye Huo Shao Bu Jin, Chun Feng Chui You Sheng -- The wildfire cannot burn the grass out, it re-grows in the spring breeze" from the poem Fu De Guyuan Cao Songbie C Send Off on the Ancient Plain by Tang Dynasty(618-907) Poet Bai Jiuyi (772 - 846).
Chinese people use these two lines in our daily language to allude to something beautiful and right that cannot be kept down forever, even though in the most adverse conditions. As soon as the situation gets better, it will quickly re-emerge.   Many art works -- movies, novels have these lines or a part of these lines as their title. The first part of the poem, which includes these two lines, appears in the textbooks of elementary schools and in almost all children's poetry books. People usually only recite the first four lines.
About the Poet:

Bai Juyi (772 - 846) was from Shanxi, but he was born in Hebei. He was one of the greatest poets in Tang Dynasty (618 -907).

Bai Juyi was a successful candidate in the highest imperial examinations in 800 and was appointed as an official in various positions. He was demoted in 815 for daring to speak out about something true and this offended his superiors. In his position as Jiangzhou Sima, he saw how the ordinary people lived with his own eyes, this helped him write many realistic poems and he became one of the greatest poets in the Tang Dynasty after Li Bai and Du Fu. He has left us more than 2800 poems in the world and many of them are very long.

This poem was written in 787. The two words "Fu de" in the title shows us that it was an examination assignment in accordance with the rules of the national imperial examination in the Tang Dynasty. There were some very strict rules on writing this kind of poem and so there are not many good works of this kind, however, this poem has been on everybody's lips for more than 1200 years.

This poem was written when he was 16.   That year, he went to the capital-- Changan. with his poems, he paid a formal visit to the personage Gu Kuang.

At first, Gu Kuang made a joke with the name of Bai Juyi (Ju Yi in Chinese means "it is easy to live somewhere") and said that rice was expensive in Changan, it is not easy to live here at all. But when he read the words: Ye Huo Shao Bu Jin, Chunfeng Chui You Sheng, he could not help being greatly appreciative Wow! If he is able write such wonderful poetry, "Ju yi yi yi -- it will be easy to live". And then, because Gu Kuang's good recommendation, quickly, Bai Juyi's reputation was greatly boosted. :-)

Enjoy the Poem

There are eight lines in this poem, but in common with most people I will only introduce the first four.

The first two line: 宣宣圻貧課, 匯槙匯酢蕃 L┴l┴ yu│nsh┐ng c┌oy┤su━ y┤ k┗r┏ng。 - Lush grass grows on the ancient plain, each year it withers and flourishes.

First line explains the essence of the title with the words "ancient", "plain" and the "grass": What lush grass covers the ancient plain! They are very common words, but they capture one of the characteristics of the grass -- its exuberant vitality.

The second line introduces another characteristic of the grass --    each year it withers and flourishes. When I translated it, I thought for a long time and I asked myself whether I should translate it as ^each year it flourishes and then withers ̄ in accordance with the natural life cycle of the grass? Finally, I decided to totally stick closely to the original because ^it flourishes and then withers ̄, writes about the grass in the autumn whereas ^it withers and flourishes ̄, writes about the grass in the spring.

This line does not only describes the natural life cycle of the grassbut also acts as a preparation for the next line.   

The last two lines: 勸諮付音勝, 敢欠患嗽伏Y├hu┓ sh─o b┣j━n, ch┗nf┘ng chu┤ y┛ush┘ng -- Wildfire cannot burn it out, It re-grows in the spring breeze"

The two famous lines develop the words "withers" and "flourishes", and further describe the most important characteristic of the grass, its strong life force, meanwhile ^painting ̄ two beautiful pictures. It cannot be burnt out completely; it cannot be uprooted at all. With the lines "wildfire cannot burn it out", the poet creates a more heroic artistic conception.

Wildfire is strong and terrible, it destroys everything and can burn the grass in the twinkling of an eye, however, no matter how strong the fire is, it cannot burn out the roots of the grass, as soon as the spring breeze blows across the ancient plain; it will reawaken and re-grow and it re-covers the ground quickly.

Emphasizing the power of the wildfire also emphasizes the power of the grass to re-grow in the spring.

The hot and red wildfire is strong, the soft and green grass is stronger, the fourth line echoes the first line but not only does it express the character of the grass once more, it also expresses an idea of the poet -- A thing of beauty cannot be destroyed forever,
it will usually re-emerge in the right conditions.

When I wrote this, I could not help thinking of the story of the Rise of the Phoenix. Both of them have the different approaches but an equally satisfactory outcome.

This poem uses very simple language and is neat and orderly, every word is exact and meaningful, it has become well liked by Chinese people and the third and fourth lines have become very famous since they were first written.

I translated it into English and wrote a piece of music for the poem in 2006, created two paintings to go with it in 2010 and 2012. I really hope that my effort will be of some help to you to learn Chinese culture and language.


Main Meaning of the Poem

Lush grass grows on the ancient plain,
Each year it withers and flourishes,
Wildfire cannot burn it out,
It re-grows in the spring breeze.

Chinese Characters & Pronunciations:

You can click on any Chinese Character to open the New Character Board and to see its Chinese pinyin, meaning, pronunciation and follow me to read it,   you can also click the links over to enter the Painting Column,or you can directly enter the art notes on the painting that I created for this poem to see my painting and art notes for the poem

験誼硬圻課僕艶何蛍 -- The first part of the peom

易肖叟   (      )

宣宣圻貧課 - L┴l┴ yu│nsh┐ng c┌o
匯槙匯酢蕃 - Y┤su━ y┤ k┗r┏ng。
勸諮付音勝 - Y├hu┓ sh─o b┣j━n
敢欠患嗽伏 - Ch┗nf┘ng chu┤ y┛ush┘ng。

If you have any questions, comments and suggestions, please write to shirley@ebridge.cn , or shirleyz004@yahoo.com, You are welcome.

Shirley Zhang

Oct 7, 2012 / August 15, 2012/Feb 20, 2012 /Jan 31, 2010/ Oct 7, 2007/ Jun 10, 2006