Sing Chinese song – Autumn Cicada

While enjoying a perfect autumn day, one that the Chinese describe as 秋高气爽 (qiūgāoqìshuǎng), with the sky clear and high, and the air cool and refreshing, I think of a song called 秋蝉 (Qiū Chán Autumn Cicada.).

As mentioned in a lesson posted last fall, the word (chán Zen) sounds exactly the same as (chán cicadas). The cicadas are also called 知了 (zhīliǎo). I still remember hearing them sing in unison in the countryside, their loud chorus reverberating with the waves of the summer heat.

The song, 秋蝉 (Qiū Chán Autumn Cicada.), was composed by 李子恒 (Lǐ Zǐhéng) while attending an apparently boring military education lecture in Taiwan. Later he made a few demo tapes for his girlfriend. Without telling him, his girl friend submitted one of the demo tapes to a major music contest in Taiwan. The song won the 1980 award for that competition and paved the way for Mr. Lee’s long and successful song-writing career.

At this link is a nice video of the song with the subtitles in traditional Chinese characters.

Click on this link to hear the song sung by a female performer. At that site the lyrics are provided in simplified Chinese characters.

The song is written in the first person, which is the cicada. The wording tends to be literary rather than conversational. The beautiful imagery of the autumn scenes float along with the soft, lilting melody.

听我 (tīng wǒ) means to listen to me saying or singing something. 看我 (kàn wǒ) means to watch me doing something.

听我讲个有趣的故事.
Tīng wǒ jiǎng gè yǒuqù de gùshi.
Hear me recount an interesting story.

看我来整他.
Kàn wǒ lái zhěng tā.
Wait and see me give him a hard time.

春水 (chūn shuǐ) is water in the spring. (jiào) is to call. (hán) means cold.

春天暖和, 冬天寒冷.
Chūntiān nuǎnhuo, dōngtián hánlěng.
It’s warm in the spring and cold in the winter.

绿叶 (lǜyè) are green leaves. (cuī) is to urge. (huáng) is yellow.

In the first two lines, the cicada tells you that its calls has cooled the water that was temperate in spring and urged the green leaves to turn yellow.

谁道 (shéi dào) is a literary way of saying 谁说 (shéi shuō), which means “Who is saying?”. (chóu) means to worry or to feel depressed.

烟波 (yānbō) are mist-covered waters and 林野 (lín yě) are woods in open country. (yì) refers to meanings, ideas, intentions or feelings. 幽幽 (yōuyōu) refers to distant, faint light or sound.

(huā) are flowers. (luò) is to fall down and (hóng) means red. (fēng) are maple trees. 花落红 (huā luò hóng) and 红了枫 (hóng liǎo fēng) are words put together to paint a picture and to sound good, but are not regularly used phrases. In the second phrase, (hóng) is used as a verb in the sense of coloring the maple leaves red.

秋天把枫叶染红了.
Qiūtiān bǎ fēng yè rǎn hóng le.
Autumn has dyed the maple leaves red.

展翅 (zhǎnchì) means to spread the wings. (rèn), in this case, means to give free rein to. (xiáng) or 飞翔 (fēixiáng) means to fly. (shuāng) is a pair. (yǔ) are wings. They belong to the wild geese, or (yàn).

Then the cicada refers to his own flimsy wings as 薄衣 (báo yī), or thin clothing. When pronounced as (bó), this word means ungenerous or meager. Many people in Taiwan only use the latter pronunciation regardless of the intended meaning. This is reflected in both of the videos mentioned above.

(guò) here means to pass or to go through. In 残冬 (cán dōng the last days of winter), the (cán) is interpreted as 残留 (cánliú remaining).

总归是 (zǒngguī shì) means “after all it is”. (xià) means summer. (zǒu) and (qù) both refer to the seasons’ passing or leaving. (nóng) means dense, concentrated or intense.

美景 (měijǐng) is beautiful scenery. When autumn passes, the beautiful scenery will be no more, i.e. 不再 (bùzài be no longer). There is a typographic error in the simplified Chinese lyrics. It should read 秋去冬来 (qiū qù dōng lái Autumn leaves and winter arrives.) instead of 春去冬来 (chūn qù dōng lái Spring leaves and winter arrives.). What the singer sang is correct.

means to be busy, while 急忙 (jímáng) or 匆忙 (cōngmáng), or 匆匆 (cōngmáng) means hastily, or hurriedly.

莫教 (mò jiào) means “don’t let”. (shì) is to pass away or to die. It’s wishful thinking not to let the nice spring days slip away.

And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, here is the cicada himself in the spot light.

Raindrops in Spring

雨 (yǔ) Rain

雨 (yǔ) Rain

It just dawned on me that the witches I’ve seen in pictures and movies all seem so feisty and energetic. The secret to their vigor and stamina may well be in their brooms, which they ride to zip across the sky, and which they perhaps also use to madly sweep away anything they detest. So, grab your own broom and do some spring cleaning. 整理庭院 (zhěnglǐ tíngyàn doing yard work) and 做家事 (zuò jiāshì doing housework) also count as exercises, you know. In fact, when you sweep backwards using a broom, the motions are not unlike those of rowing a boat, or 划船 (huáchuán).

Then come back and enjoy a nifty ditty, 三月里的小雨 (Sānyuè Li De Xiǎoyǔ Light Rain in March), sung by 劉文正 (Liú Wénzhèng).

三月里 (sānyuè li) means “in the month of March”.

小雨 (xiǎoyǔ) is a light rain. 下雨 (xiàyǔ) means to rain.

淅沥 (xī lì) and 哗啦 (huālā) mimick the sound of the falling rain and rustling leaves, respectively. Often they appear together as 淅瀝哗啦 (xī lì huālā).

(tíng) is to stop. 不停 (bùtíng) means incessantly. 下个不停 (xià ge bùtíng) describes how the rain falls relentlessly. Here, (ge) takes on the “silent tone” and serves as a colloquial word particle rather than a unit of measure. Now you should know how to say “He sings non-stop.”

山谷里 (shāngǔ li) means “in the mountain valley”.

小溪 (xiǎoxī) is a brook, a rivulet, or a small stream.

为谁 (wèi shéi) means “for whom”.

(piāo) is to flutter or float in air. (liú) is to flow or to drift. As a noun it refers to a current or a stream of fluid. 飘流 (piāo liú) means to wander or to drift around.

(dài) as a verb means to carry, to bring, or to take along.

请把这本书带去给他.
Qǐng bǎ zhè běn shū dài qù gěi tā.
Please take this book to him.

带著满怀的凄清 (mǎnhuái de qī qīng) means carrying a heart full of desolate feelings.

陪伴 (péibàn) means to keep someone company.

(tīng) is to hear or listen.

(sù) is to tell, inform, complain or accuse.

他告诉我, 他的志趣在教书.
Tā gàosù wǒ, tā de zhìqù zài jiāoshú.
He told me his interests are in teaching school.

可知 (kě zhī) could be interpreted here as “do they know”. The rain keeps you company, the brook listens to your muttering, but do they know the loneliness in your heart?

寂寞 (jìmò) means lonely or loneliness.

请问小溪 (qǐngwèn) could be interpreted as: “I’d like to ask the little brook”

追寻 (zhuīxún) means to search for or to pursue.

一颗 (yī kē) is the unit of measure for the heart in the phrase 爱我的心 (ài wǒ de xīn the heart that loves me).

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