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水调歌头•明月几时有 (shuĭ diào gē tóu • míngyuè jĭshí yŏu) Tune:Prelude to Water Melody

Mar. 20, 2015

水调歌头•明月几时有(shuĭ diào gē tóu • míngyuè jĭshí yǒu) Tune: “Prelude to Water Melody”

This poem is the most famous Mid-Autumn Festival poem. The author wrote it for his brother, whom he missed dearly after not having seen him for seven years. There are two sentences in the poem that are often quoted by people now. 人有悲欢离合, 月有阴晴圆缺, 此事古难全. (Rén yǒu bēihuānlíhé, yuè yǒu yīnqíngyuánquē, cĭshì gŭ nán quán.) has a philosophical connotation. It tells people that not everything is perfect, and we should learn to endure ordeals. 但愿人长久, 千里共婵娟. (Dànyuàn rén chángjiŭ, qiānlĭ gòng chánjuān.) is a famous sentence of blessing during a time of reunion. It expresses blessings of health and relationships to others. It is one of the many poems of the Song Dynasty that has also been made into beautiful songs.

Míngyuè jĭshí yǒu, bǎjiŭ wèn qīngtiān.
明月      几时  有,把酒  问   青天。
How long until the full moon appears? Wine cup in hand, I ask the sky.

Bù zhī tiānshàng gōngquè, jīnxī shì hénián?
不  知     天上      宫阙,   今夕  是  何年?
I do not know what time of year. It could be tonight in the palace on high.

Wǒ yù chéngfēng guīqù, wéikǒng qiónglóuyùyŭ, gāochù bú shèng hán.
我   欲    乘风       归去,   惟恐       琼楼玉宇,   高处     不   胜    寒。
Riding the wind, there I would fly, yet I’m afraid the crystalline palace would be too high and cold for me.

Qĭwŭ nòng qīngyĭng, hé sì zài rénjiān!
起舞    弄     清影,   何 似 在 人间!
I rise and dance, with my shadow I play. It is like on the earth!

Zhuǎn zhūgé, dī qĭhù, zhào wúmián.
转      朱阁,  低 绮户,照   无眠。
The moon goes round the red mansions through gauze-draped windows, soft to shed her light upon the sleepless bed.

Bù yīng yǒu hèn, héshì cháng xiàng bié shí yuán?
不   应   有   恨, 何事    长     向    别   时   圆?
Why then when people are apart, is the moon oft full and bright?

Rén yǒu bēihuānlíhé, yuè yǒu yīnqíngyuánquē, cĭshì gŭ nán quán.
人    有    悲欢离合, 月   有       阴晴圆缺,   此事   古   难   全。
People have sorrow and joy, they separate or meet again; the moon is bright or dim and the moon may wax or wane. There has not been anything perfect since the olden days.

Dànyuàn rén chángjiŭ, qiānlĭ gòng chánjuān.
但愿       人    长久,   千里    共     婵娟。
So let us wish that people live as long as they can! Though miles apart, we’ll share the beauty they display.

Vocabulary:
1. 几时(jĭshí) adv. when

2. 把酒(bǎjiŭ) v. to hold a glass of liquor

3. 不胜(búshèng) v. cannot stand or bear

4. 弄(nòng) v. to play and enjoy

5. 朱(zhū) adj. red

6. 婵娟(chánjuān) n. the beautiful things

You may be interested in more traditions related to Chinese Mid-autumn Festival:

Mid-Autumn Festival Customs

Chinese Nursery Rhyme: 中秋节(Zhōngqiūjié) Mid-autumn Festival

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