- Thoughts

Chrysanthemum Terrace

菊花台
Jú huā tái
An Original Film Song
for
Curse of the Golden Flower
满城尽带黄金甲
by
周杰倫 Jay Chou

 

妳的泪光 柔弱中带伤
Nǐ de lèi guāng, róu ruò zhōng dài shāng
Your tears, weak with wounds.

惨白的月弯弯, 勾住过往
Cǎn bái de yuè wān wān, gōu zhù guòwǎng
Pale curved moon, hooked to the past.

夜太漫長, 凝結成了霜
Yè tài màn cháng, Níng jié chéng le shuāng
The night is too long, formed into frost.

是谁在阁楼上? 冰冷的绝望
Shì shéi zài gé lóu shàng, Bīng lěng de jué wàng
Who is in the attic? Ice cold despair.

雨轻轻弹, 朱红色的窗
Yǔ qīng qīng dàn, zhū hóng sè de chuāng
The rain gently bounces, on the vermilion window.

我一生在纸上 被风吹乱
Wǒ yī shēng zài zhǐ shàng bèi fēng chuī luàn
My life is on paper, blown away by the wind.

梦在远方 化成一缕香
Mèng zài yuan fāng huà chéng yī lǚ xiāng
Dream in the distance, into a trace of incense.

随风飘散 你的模样
Suí fēng piāo sàn, nǐ de mú yàng
With the wind, your appearance drifts.

菊花殘, 滿地傷, 妳的笑容已泛黃
Jú huā cán, mǎn dì shāng, nǐ de xiào róng yǐ fàn huáng
Chrysanthemum damaged, full of wounds, your smile turned yellow.

花落人断肠 我心事静静躺
Huā luò rén duàn cháng wǒ xīn shì jìng jìng tǎng
Flowers fall and people are heartbroken, my mind quietly lies.

北风乱 夜未央 妳的影子剪不断
Běi fēng luàn yè wèi yāng nǎi de yǐng zi jiǎn bù duàn
North wind is chaos, early in the night, your shadow cannot be cut.

徒留我孤单 在湖面成双
Tú liú wǒ gū dān, zài hú miàn chéng shuāng
Leaving me with loneliness, on the surface of the lake, becoming two.

花已向晚 飘落了灿烂
Huā yǐ xiàng wǎn piāo luò le càn làn
The flower at night, falling, glittering.

凋谢的世道上 命运不堪
Diāo xiè de shì dào shàng mìng yùn bù kān
The world is withering, unbearable fate.

愁莫渡江 秋心拆两半
Chóu mò dù jiāng qiū xīn chāi liǎng bàn
Anxiously, not crossing the river. Heart and Autumn split into half.

怕妳上不了岸 一辈子摇晃
Pà nǎi shàng bù liǎo àn yī bè izi yáo huàng
I’m afraid you can’t get to shore, a lifetime of shivering.

谁的江山 马蹄声狂乱
Shéi de jiāng shān mǎ tí shēng kuáng luàn
Whose country? Horseshoes sound of madness.

我一身的戎装 呼啸沧桑
Wǒ yī shēn de róng zhuāng hū xiào cāng sāng
I am armored, screaming, changes of life.

天微微亮 妳轻声的叹
Tiān wéi wéi liàng nǎi qīng shēng de tàn
Sky is faintly bright, you softly sigh.

一夜惆怅 如此委婉
yi ye chou chang / ru ci wei wan
Night is melancholy, in a graceful way.

Notes from the translator.
I decided to translate this song because it has deep meaning for me and someone who is special to me.

I was unsure of the many English translations available online. I found that many of the translations were simply run through translation software. In some cases, this worked but there were times that the translations made little sense in the context of the song. My goal was to capture the simplicity of the lyrics and cut away many of the grammatical elements of English. Thus, many of the lines are cut into phrases and single words which capture the essence of poetry in Chinese.

Chinese use of figurative language is very distinct due to the nature of Chinese characters. A single character can have many different meanings and a single syllable can take on many different meanings. Because of this, simple sentences and utterances can convey meanings beyond what is obvious.

The word amber or, 琥珀 hǔpò, is a great example of the symbolic nature of Chinese. The first character, 琥 hǔ, can be further broken down into two distinct characters, (king, 王 wáng) and (tiger, 虎 Hǔ). The second character, 珀 pò, can be broken down to the characters (king, 王 wáng) and (white, 白 bái). Aside from the word amber, 琥珀 hǔpò can also mean “spirit of the tiger” as well as courage. As you can see, an artist can develop many different artistic symbols and meanings from a single word. Most likely Jay Chou and Vincent Fang focused more on the lyrics and sounds for their song rather than the visual elements of the Chinese characters. However, it is worthy to note that symbolism in Chinese is different than many other cultures because of the uniqueness of the Chinese character system.

As for the lyrics, the song is using nature as a metaphor for feelings of angst and sorrow. The song is also trying to paint a scene for the listener. This setting is sad, cold, nighttime, a person looking from an empty home, and it is near a body of water. Central to the song is the Chrysanthemum. The chrysanthemum is withering, and its petals are floating away. The Chrysanthemum is a metaphor for love and the scene is the expression of feelings.

What Does This Have to do With the Art of War?

Although most of my study has been in Asian languages and in warfare, it is useful to exercise one’s abilities to think abstractly. Additionally, it helps develop my ability to understand ancient texts such as the Art of War from a cultural perspective.

Please comment with your thoughts, or if you have a different interpretation or correction to my translation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *