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:

To hear Peter Seeger’s version, you can click on this link:

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

Sīxiǎng zìyóuzìzài.
One’s thoughts are truly free.

Yǒu shéi néng jiàng tā cāi tòu?
Who is able to guess them?

Tā suíyì qù lái,
They come and go at will,

xiàng lüè yǐng sìchù yóu zǒu.
Like fleeting, roaming shadows.

Biérén wúcóng zhuōmō;
Others cannot fathom them;

lièrén wúfǎbǔhuò.
Hunters cannot capture them.

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

Sīxiǎng zìyóuzìzài!
One’s thoughts are truly free!

Zòngrán jiāng wǒ qiūjìn
Should someone lock me up

zài yīn’àn de dìjiào lǐ,
in a sinister dungeon,

nà shì báifèi xīnjī
That would be wasteful scheming,

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

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,

bǎ xié’è dǎbài
And defeat the evil.

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

Shèngdàn kuàilè!
Merry Christmas!

Xīnnián kuàilè!
Happy New Year!

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