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Tang Poem (唐诗) -《清明》杜牧 Qing Ming by Du Mu

Updated: Feb 2, 2020

Qing Ming 清明 is a day for the Chinese to celebrate life and honour their ancestors. This is a popular Tang Dynasty poem written by Du Mu 杜牧 about Qing Ming Festival 清明节. Most Chinese children have been taught to recite this poem on the day as a tribute to the festival, perhaps synonymous to reciting the Selkirk Grace on Burns Night.

Qing Ming falls on the 15th day after the Spring equinox, (April 5 this year) when the weather is changing to a warmer Spring when sudden rainfall is common. This beautiful poem describes simply the feeling of loss and despair ( as with the ceaseless drizzle of rain during Qing Ming Festival : "清明时节雨纷纷") and then welcoming the hope of warm and brighter times ahead (in the direction of Apricot Flower Village or Xing Hua Village as pointed by the shepherd boy "牧童遥指杏花村"), befitting the true meaning of Qing Ming Festival, which is really, in my opinion, a celebration of life!

If that is not enough a reason for you to memorise this poem, it is definitely a great way to impress your Chinese friends as will reflect admirably on your understanding of Chinese culture.

清明时节雨纷纷, qīng míng shí jié yǔ fēn fēn


lù shàng xíng rén yù duàn hún


jiè wèn jiǔ jiā hé chù yǒu


mù tóng yáo zhǐ xìng huā cūn

In this poem, Du Mu describes the despondent state of a lonely traveller still on the road while others are already reunited with their families. The man's state of mind and despair are accentuated by the unceasing rain. Oh where can one drown his sorrows, the traveller laments. A sense of hope is conveyed when a shepherd boy points the traveller to the direction of an inn in Xing Hua Village 杏花村 (Xìng Huā Cūn) where he is able to find shelter and lodging as well as wine.

Since then, the name Xing Hua Village 杏花村 (Xìng Huā Cūn) is a symbolic place of refuge or a place where one can find excellent wine to drown ones sorrows. There are many places in China today that are called 杏花村 (Xìng Huā Cūn).

Here is a YouTube clip of the poem.

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