Sing “Die Gedanken Sind Frei” in Chinese

Canada Geese Formation

The other day an old song popped into my mind, and I was able to recall two stanzas of the verses. Those I have translated into Chinese, and I am pleased to share them here with you. This German folk song is called “Die Gedanken Sind Frei”, which means “Thoughts are free”. The powerful lines in this song remind me of “Invictus”, a poem written by the British poet William Earnest Henley.

You can find the complete lyrics in German and English at:
https://lyricstranslate.com/en/die-gedanken-sind-frei-thoughts-are-free.html

To hear Peter Seeger’s version, you can click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbwQXVcbkU0

To download the piano sheet music for this song, click on the “Music Sheets” tab at the top.

思想自由自在.
Sīxiǎng zìyóuzìzài.
One’s thoughts are truly free.

有谁能将它猜透?
Yǒu shéi néng jiàng tā cāi tòu?
Who is able to guess them?

它随意去来,
Tā suíyì qù lái,
They come and go at will,

像掠影四处游走.
xiàng lüè yǐng sìchù yóu zǒu.
Like fleeting, roaming shadows.

别人无从捉摸;
Biérén wúcóng zhuōmō;
Others cannot fathom them;

猎人无法捕获.
lièrén wúfǎbǔhuò.
Hunters cannot capture them.

我们大家都明白 –
Wǒmén dàjiā dōu míngbai –
It’s obvious to all of us –

思想自由自在!
Sīxiǎng zìyóuzìzài!
One’s thoughts are truly free!

纵然将我囚禁
Zòngrán jiāng wǒ qiūjìn
Should someone lock me up

在阴暗的地窖里,
zài yīn’àn de dìjiào lǐ,
in a sinister dungeon,

那是白费心机,
nà shì báifèi xīnjī
That would be wasteful scheming,

多此一举, 毫无意义.
duōcǐyījǔ háowú yìyì
Unnecessary and without meaning.

我的思想会摧毁
Wǒ de sīxiǎng huì cuīhuǐ
My thoughts will destroy

铜墙铁壁, 冲出重围.
tóngqiángtiěbì, chōng chū chóngwéi
The bastion and the close siege,

把邪恶打败.
bǎ xié’è dǎbài
And defeat the evil.

思想自由自在!
Sīxiǎng zìyóuzìzài!
One’s thoughts are truly free!

As you may have noticed, I have included many four-character Chinese idioms and expressions in the above lines. There are many advantages of using four-character Chinese idioms, espcially in poems and lyrics. They are concise word nuggets that pack a powerful punch in them. Some idioms make a long story short, and many will elicit a knowing knod or smile from the audience.

自由自在 (zìyóuzìzài) means being unrestrained and carefree.

四处游走 (sìchù yóu zǒu) is to wander all about.

无从捉摸 (wúcóng zhuōmō) means no way to fathom or ascertain.

白费心机 (báifèi xīnjī) is to bother one’s head for nothing; in other words, to scheme in vain.

多此一举 (duōcǐyījǔ) means to make take an unnecessary action.

毫无意义 (háowú yìyì) means totally meaningless.

铜墙铁壁 (tóngqiángtiěbì) are copper and iron walls. They represent an unassailable fortress.

冲出重围 (chōng chū chóngwéi) is to fight one’s way out.

Please also review Chapter 28 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” – Chinese Idioms.

Here’s wishing you

圣诞快乐!
Shèngdàn kuàilè!
Merry Christmas!

新年快乐!
Xīnnián kuàilè!
Happy New Year!

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