Sunshine today, rain tomorrow. Colorful leaves come tumbling down like snowflakes. There’s no mistaking that autumn is here. Sandwiched between the hottest and the coldest seasons, spring and fall scenes tend to be the favorite subject matter for poems and songs. The very popular “Autumn Leaves” was originally a French song (“Les Feuilles Mortes” – The Dead Leaves), with music by Joseph Kosma and lyric by Jacques Prévert. You can hear Nat King Cole sing the English version by clicking on this link.
Today we will interpret the English lyric written by Johnny Mercer in Chinese prose. You might imagine yourself writing a letter to a sweetheart who has been away for some time. To flesh out the verses, it is necessary to add words here and there that are not in the original lines but we will try to keep the embellishment to a minimum so as not to be guilty of exaggeration. In Chinese, embellishing and exaggerating a story when retelling it to another person is called 添枝加叶 (tiānzhījiāyè add branches and leaves), 加盐加醋 (jiā yán jiā cù add salt and vinegar), or 加油添酱 (jiā yóu tiān jiàng add oil and a thick sauce).
添 (tiān), like 加 (jiā), means to add or to increase.
Try and see if you can get the meaning of any unfamiliar words by reading them in the following context.
Qiūtiān de yèzi piāo guò wǒde chuānghù.
The autumn leaves float by my window.
秋天的叶子, 有的绯红, 有的金黄.
Qiūtiān de yèzi, yǒude fēihóng, yǒude jīnhuáng.
Some of the autumn leaves are bright red, some are golden yellow.
Wǒ yǎnqián fúxiàn nǐ fēngmǎn de zuǐchún,
Before my eyes your plump lips appear,
shǐ wǒ xiǎngqǐ wǒmén xià rì de rè wěn.
bringing back the memory of our hot kisses in the summer.
Wǒ yě xiǎngqǐ nǐ nà shài hēi le de shǒu,
I also recall your sun-burned hand,
yǐjí wǒmén yǐqián shǒu qiān shǒu de qíngjǐng
and how we used to hold hands.
Zìcóng nǐ líkāi yǐhòu, rìzi biàn de màncháng nán ái.
Since you left, the days have become long and hard to endure.
Zài bùjiǔ jiù huì tīngdào dōngtián qīliáng de gē shēng.
Pretty soon we will hear the sound of winter’s desolate song.
但是, 亲爱的, 我最想念你的时候
Dànshì, qīnài de, wǒ zuì xiǎngniàn nǐ de shíhòu
However, beloved, the time I miss you the most
háishì zài qiū yè kāishǐ diào luò de shíjié.
is still when the autumn leaves start to fall.
浮 (fú) means to float. It also means superficial, flighty, or unstable 现 (xiàn) means to appear, to show, being at the present, or existing. 浮现 (fúxiàn) means to appear in one’s mind.
丰满 (fēngmǎn) means well developed or plenty.
晒黑 (shài hēi) is how the Chinese describes getting tanned by the sun. The Chinese word for “to burn” is 烧 (shāo). If the skin is indeed injured by the burn, you would use 烧伤了 (shāoshāng le) to describe it.
以及 (yǐjí) means as well as.
情景 (qíngjǐng) means scene or circumstance.
自从 (zìcóng since) is a conjunctive used in forming complex sentences.
漫长 (màncháng) means very long, and 凄凉 (qīliáng) means bleak or miserable.
秋叶 (qiū yè autumn leaves) is the short form of 秋天的叶子 (Qiūtiān de yèzi).
掉落 (diào luò) means to fall or drop.
时节 (shíjié) is time or season.