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清明 (A Poem)

Title: 清明

Written by: 杜牧





If you are wondering why Singapore has started to rain in these few days, it is because 清明 is around the corner. As mentioned in 二十四节气,清明 is a day (or a period before and after the actual day) when Chinese people remember and pay respect to their ancestors. Also, spring is a wet season with a lot of rain.

But, why 清明 brings rain? This can be seen from the first verse of the poem: 清明时节雨纷纷.

清明时节 = during 清明

雨纷纷 = a lot of rain

The actual day of 清明 is 5th April 2014 (lunar calendar 6th April). Chinese people will be going for 清明 soon.

The second verse shows that the people are sad.

路上行人 = the people on the road

欲断魂 = just like a person without the soul / sad

The third verse, 借问酒家何处有,writes about a person asking a cowboy where he can find a place to drink wine.

The final verse, 牧童遥指杏花村,writes that the cowboy pointing to a village far away with the apricot tree as the landmark.

牧童 = a Chinese cowboy, who tends to a herd of cattle.

遥 = far

指 = pointing

杏花村 = the village near the apricot tree

This poem writes about the weather of 清明 and the feeling of the people paying respect to their ancestors. Nonetheless, it is also a poem of hope. From the final verse, we know that there is a place to drink wine to keep yourself warm and you can rest at the place while waiting for the rain to stop. 

The beauty of Chinese poem is that it gives you the picture of what is happening with few words. At the same time, you can let your imagination runs wild to imagine what will happen next. Will the person find the place as pointed out by the cowboy? Will the person feel a little happier after having some wine?

Enjoy the poem and the cooling weather!

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