Custom Search

To the Tune of "Sweet and Serene Melody" 1

Li, Yu (937-978 CE)

Since I said farewell to my home country,
Half of Spring has passed.
Everything I see disheartens me.
The fallen plums below the stone steps are as chaotic as snow.
The blossoms continue to fall on me.
After I brush them off,
They quickly cover me again 2.

The wild geese come by without bringing any news 3.
The distance of the journey hampers my dream to return.
The sorrow from separation is like Spring grass.
No matter how far I go,
I still find it everywhere.

Notes

1 Yu Li wrote this poem to cherish the memory of his lost kingdom. "Sweet and Serene Melody" refers to his sweet past. The melody title originated from the poem, "A Sweet and Serene Melody" written by Bai Li. The following video shows how this poem of Bai Li's is sung:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRIsebed1As&feature=related 2 These three lines and the following three lines from Yu Li's other poem, To the Tune of "The Ravens Cawed at Night", express the same sad feelings with different approaches:
Great shears cannot cut away my sorrow from leaving my kingdom.
The harder I try to tidy up my tangled thoughts,
The more chaotic they become.

3 This refers to a legend from the time of the Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE). In 100 BCE, after a period of peace between the Huns and the Han dynasty of China, the King of the Huns detained Ambassador Wu Su of China. This started a war (99 BCE) which lasted 18 years. When they agreed to a truce, the Emperor of China sent an envoy to inquire about Wu Su. The King of the Huns first denied any knowledge of the affair. The envoy fabricated a story by saying, "The Emperor of China received a letter that Wu had tied to the leg of a wild goose." The King of the Huns then admitted to his fault and released Wu Su. Later, in their fiction, Chinese writers often used a wild goose as a means of delivering letters. Here the line says that Yu Li wished the wild geese could have brought him some news from his home country.