My Favorite Chinese Love Poem(2) The Pledge

If you read my post My Favorite Chinese Love Poem (1): the Yangtze love, I hope you enjoy this beautiful love poem as I do.

In this post, I am going to share another of my favorite love poems. This love poem is written in Han dynasty about 2000 years ago.

This love poem with a Chinese title “上邪” (shang4 ye2) is actually a folk love song. Based on the meaning of this song, this love poem has an English title: The pledge.

Just let you know, different English translations might have different English titles for one same Chinese poem.

If you wish to appreciate a beautiful Chinese poem, the best way is: read this poem in Chinese.

Many times, an English translation might lose the beauty of the original Chinese classic work.

This love poem is written from a woman’s perspective. From this poem, we seem see a determined strong-willed woman.

Let’s take a look at this poem.

上邪!
我欲与君相知。
长命无绝衰。
山无陵 ,
江水为竭,
冬雷震震 ,
夏雨雪 ,
天地合,
乃敢与君绝!

At the beginning of this poem, this woman started to promise to the God.

By the way, in Chinese culture, we believe 天 (tian1) (sky) is the God, so in this poem, this woman said: 上邪 (shang4 ye2), it means: 上天哪 (shang4 tian1 na) (the sky).

上 means 上天 , the God. 邪 is a modal particle. When woman talked to the God, it means she was very serious.

After this, the woman said: 我欲与君相知 (wo3 yu4 yu3 jun1 xiang1 zhi1), it means: I am going to be your soulmate.

Note: Here you see the word 君 again. As I mentioned in my former post, 君 is a respectful way to call someone, usually, a man.

For example, if your friend’s last name is 李 (li3). If you want to show your respect to him, you don’t call his full name or first name, you just call him as: 李君.

Of course, nowadays Chinese people rarely use this title unfortunately.

However, if you use this title in a very formal situation, it does show your respect for the person.

Then this woman kept saying: 长命无绝衰 (chang2 ming4 wu2 jue2 shuai1), it means:  My love will last forever.

In order to show her determination,  this woman started to give examples to demonstrate how strong her love will be.

She kept saying: 山无陵 (shan1 wu2 ling1), it means: Until the mountains were disappeared.

江水为竭 (jiang1 shui2 wei2 jie2), it means: Until the rivers run dry.

冬雷震震 (dong1 lei2 zhen4 zhen4), it means: Until the thunderstorm happened in the winter.

夏雨雪 (xia4 yu3 xue3), it means: Until the summer snowed.

天地合 (tian1 di4 he2), it means: Until the sky and ground were closed together.

Obviously, these kinds of things will never happen, then this woman said: 乃敢与君绝!(nai3 gan3 yu3 jun1 jue2), it means: Then I dare to end the relationship with you.

When you read this love poem and understand the meaning, you might feel touched as I do.

As a famous love poem, no wonder many people tried to compose music for this poem. Now let’s watch the video to listen to this song based on  this poem.

By the way, this song is actually a Kunqu opera. You might notice some words sound differently. It is because this singer sings in the dialect.

I will talk more of Chinese dialects in my future post. Yes, except Mandarin Chinese, I also speak a local dialect.

Once I got the chance, I will record a poem to show you how my dialect sounds like. Enjoy your learning.

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