Wednesday, 14 May 2014

#talk 15: The Poem behind Da Mo Yao (Legend of the Sun and Moon)'s Theme Song



 
   I was a clear fan of Huo Qiu Bing when I read Da Mo Yao, but I think I'm a Jiu Ye fan for the drama because Hu Ge's eyes kills me during the theme song trailer:



   I first saw the theme song from jaynestars, and realised that the theme song is basically a famous poem by a female poetess, Zhuo Wen Jun, titled The White Haired Poem (《白头吟》).


  Zhuo Wen Jun has a famous love story with Sima Xiangru (see here for more), she was widowed at a young age and fell in love with him when he played a beautiful song on the guqin (a musical instrument). So, they eloped! They had to go through difficulties at the start, but he eventually became successful through help from Zhuo Wen Jun's rich father and Sima Xiangru's own talents in poetry and music. When he became successful, Sima Xiangru was thinking of taking a Miao woman as a concubine.

  On hearing of this, Zhuo Wen Jun wrote the White Haired Poem, which is a famous poem speaking of the inconstancy of a man's love: 

皑如山上雪,皎若云间月。闻君有两意,故来相决绝。
今日斗酒会,明旦沟水头。躞蹀御沟上,沟水东西流。
凄凄复凄凄,嫁娶不须啼。愿得一心人,白头不相离。
竹竿何袅袅,鱼尾何簁簁。男儿重意气,何用钱刀为。

I have decided not to do a literal translation of the poem, but I'm translating the simplified meaning (with some poetic edits of my own) that is on baidu: 

  Love should be as white as the snow on the mountain and as pure as the moonlight in the clouds. I heard my gentleman's heart has two intentions, so I have decided to break from you.

 Today's banquet will be our last, tomorrow we will part. I walk slowly by the waterway, and only feel that from now on we will be like the waters that separate to the east and west.

That year I determinedly left my home to follow my gentleman, I did not cry like a normal maiden. I thought I had found the man of my heart, and we would never part even when our hairs turn white.

The fishing line bents, the tail of the fishes wag. When a man and a woman are in love, their love is like the softness and flexibility of the fishing line. A man should treasure real emotions, once lost, no money and wealth can compensate. 






This rough translation doesn't capture the beauty of the original chinese words, which becomes such a deep melancholic song in the video. I really like it - it's very interesting though, this poem as a choice for Da Mo Yao, is it because it emphasises similarly on the agency of our female lead? I think it's also very intriguing that the music video focuses more on Jiu Ye, and perhaps this is Jin Yu's love mourn to Jiu Ye, has your heart changed? Why won't you take me as a bride? (Alas.)

There is a happy ending to this story, apparently after reading the White Haired Poem, Sima Xiangru remembered their love from the start and did not take a concubine. They later retired to the quiet countryside, and lived in my mind, happily ever after. 

32 comments:

  1. it's like you read my mind decembi! I literally was just searching for the translations to this song and watching the MV on Youtube. Then I decided to check on updates on your blog.. then BANG you posted a post on it! Great minds thinks alike.. hehehe thank you!~

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    1. Hello sutekii, oh wow that is super cool! I usually don't write "live", but I just watched the MV like an hour ago and it was SO GOOD, i was like, omg I need to share this. Hahaha. I even went to watch the trailer for the drama again, ahhhhhh why am I on the Jiu Ye train? :(

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    2. I'm actually on HQB train but both men are equally great! Hopefully they air this drama in June instead of August.. it's been such a long wait..

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    3. Hahahah! But Jiu Ye, he is so noble idiot and pitiful :( *sobs*. Me too, I hope it airs in June!!!

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  2. I am looking forward to DMY, way more than YZG. When I am reading the novel. I want JinYu to end up happy.

    IMO, is JiuYe a noble idiot - yes and he has no confidence with himself (even though he controls a lot of things) or in his love for Jin Yu so I think, in a way, he did deserve not getting the girl in the end.

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    1. Me too! I want Jin Yu to end up happy :) she really deserves her happiness.

      I was a full on Huo Qiu Bing shipper in the novel because he kept fighting for Jin Yu, but He Ge's sorrowful eyes as Jiu Ye is really killing me. I think his acting is so good - his eyes are clearly saying "I love you but I cannot be with you", and it just slays me.

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    2. Totally agree with you decembi, He Ge's is truly perfect for this role, surely delivers all the right emotions and expression. He's the perfect Jiu Ye, I can see why you jump ships with the drama adaptation.

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    3. But that means I will be in a world of pain when the drama starts :( sniff. Hopefully I will root for Eddie Peng too. I hope it starts soon! Getting really excited for it.

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    4. Don't worry, you can have the best of both worlds, just root for both male leads. I actually find Eddie is quite cute in his role as HQB, though not a lot of fans agree with me since they say he looks too modern to fit the role but he has grown on me from the trailers I've seen of DMY

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    5. I think Eddie looks better in the trailers than the pictures! Hopefully they would have hot explosive chemistry :). I don't know why the trailers and videos seem to emphasise on Hu Ge so much more though, but it makes me feel so bad and sad for Jiu Ye :(.

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    6. which makes me wonder if the director and producers end up changing the ending to the novel.. or they just like to focus more on He Ge role as the male lead instead

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    7. I seldom watch C-dramas so I have no emotional baggage. I thought Eddie looks like a Huo Qu Bing. Hu Ge is too skinny for a larger-than-life character but he would nail the part of soulful Jiu Ye.

      The thing about DMY is that I started rooting for HQB because I like his boldness. When I mistake the ending of Book 1 as the end of the whole book, I re-read the chapters trying to get on the Jiu Ye ship and I actually fell for his character on the second read Then I switch ships again in Book 2, but the empathy for Jiu Ye remains. His delusion when he got fever just kills me. And the ending of course. How could he be so (soul?) sacrificing?

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    8. Sutekii, I know I know! A part of me was like omg do you think they will film an alternative ending? But I don't think so because they had so many problems with the censorship board precisely because Huo Qu Bing lives instead of dying like in the history books, so likely Huo Qu Bing is still end game :(

      Moonblossom, haha it's interesting that you think Eddie looks like a Huo Qu Bing. Doesn't he seem a little small? Though he kind of has the playful teasing look down pat! Yes the ending :(. The trailer sounds Hu Ge in the desert as Jiu Ye and it really kills me kills me kills me.

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  3. Wow, what a nice poem. It is nicer yet that it has a backstory and happy ending. I hear it a lot, especially the “只愿一人心,白首不分离" - I hope it is tehe same pom for 2 words are different. It appears in a lot of TH novels and I heard it too many times during "Best Time"

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    1. Me too! I read your version too, although I read these two lines more often, "愿得一心人,白头不相离". I always liked it but never thought deeper into it, and only just realised that there's a whole backstory to this poem! I love it even more now that I know it's supposedly written by a woman, because I really do think this wanting to grow old until all our hairs turn white kind of wish is very feminine?

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  4. OMG decembi, I was just watching the trailer and MV last night for this :)))

    Thanks for doing the detective work and write up on the poem, I was wondering what it meant. I didn't know it was originally from a poem. If the poem is about the inconstancy of a man's love, it may not be really applicable to the story but you're right, it could be referring to Jin Yu asking why Jiu Ye does not seem to love her back wholeheartedly - he's nice one moment and cool the next - it seems like he is divided into two minds (to be with her or not to be with her). Now it makes sense to me :)

    Somehow I feel that Hu Ge seems to fit the role of Meng Jiu better? I can't really see him as Huo Qu Bing. Eddie seems ok for the role of Huo Qu Bing so far (I don't get the hoo-ha about the complaints on the roles, maybe because ShiShi-HuGe shippers really wanted them to be a OTP in one drama?) But overall, Hu Ge may be getting the better end of the stick because Meng Jiu is the more memorable role in the story.

    I can't wait for this to air!!

    By the way did you watch Bu Bu Jing Qing?

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    1. Hello! Hahaha, detective work! Yes, I love what you said - this divided into two minds bit. I went to re-watch the trailer and I think they used the poem at the part where Jin Yu decides that she is going to leave Chang An and leave her feelings for Jiu Ye behind. Ah, it's pretty apt for that too, because one of the memorable lines is not crying when the maiden follows the gentleman she loves to marry, but the use of the chinese words that sound like "qi qi" makes it sound like now the person is crying when the love has ended. Although I suppose another reading is that, that time when I followed you I didn't cry, now when I decided to separate from you, I will also not cry. It's a very strong bold female voice. I love it!

      That's true. I'm giving all my fan love to Hu Ge now. He looooks so gooood. Me too! I will probably write tons of entries gushing over it.

      Nope! It's gotten so much criticism for its edits :(. There's even three alternative endings, but the finale is a happy one.

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    2. Yup I really loved Da Mo Yao after reading it too. I think although it is more simplistic than say Lost You Forever or Yun Zhong Ge, it gave me a light hearted feeling although I was crying buckets over Meng Jiu's epilogue. But the image of two lovers riding off into the sun and leading the kind of life they want just really struck a chord in me. Some people didn't really like Jin Yu's character but it was refreshing to read about the a gutsy female character who is willing to do some actual work and to help her man out and yet also be able to show vulnerability and willingness to lean on the man she loves because she trusts him.

      Looking forward to your gushing entries on Da Mo Yao. I won't say anything about Meng Jiu or Huo Qu Bing because it would be too long a comment.

      I sat through the train wreck and I was "??? towards the end. I think it would have been better without the twins backstory - too jarring to see Nicky's character suddenly falling in love with Zhang Xiao midway. But I needed a Shi Shi drama fix :( So I'm hoping Da Mo Yao will be good!!

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    3. Hahahahahahahah! I cannot wait till I read what you write about Meng Jiu or Huo Qu Bing. Whee!!! It's the only c-novel that I read solely from translations because koala's translations are so good that it never occurred to me to read the original. I think I love lost you forever, once promised and da mo yao in different ways - like da mo yao feels like first love, once promised feels like the lover that died on me, and lost you forever is like marriage. And, I'm so happy that two of the leads actually get to be free birds roaming the country! True happy ending that one.

      Yes, I was like - eh why is there a twin? This looks disturbing. I'm actually super looking forward to the one with Shi Shi and Wallace Huo, it's some female doctor thing. I shall go find the drama news and translate it soon :)

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    4. BBJQ was blood vomit for me..

      Anyways Decembi, are you referring to the upcoming drama "The Imperial Doctress 女医·明妃传"?

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    5. yes yes!!! i think they are filming it now :)

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    6. from the stills thats been released, the costume sort of gives a kdrama influence vibe going on.

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    7. Yes, I think I heard some controversy about that! I'm not sure if the drama's costumes were historically accurate. Though I think historically, there was a period in ancient China where the costumes were similar to Korea, it is possible that there were cross cultural influence at that time.

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    8. I stopped reading Da Mo Yao after Jin Yu and Huo Qu Bing spent the night together, especially after reading spoilers about Meng Jiu regretting and wanting Jin Yu back subsequently. Heart-breaaaa~~~~k. Not sure how I'm gonna get through watching the drama when it airs, but at least Eddie and Shi Shi seem to have some chemistry, so I'm hopeful.

      Now, if only Shi Shi and Wallace confirm that they are joining Guai Xiao Yi Zhi Mei 2!!!! T.T

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    9. Awww! Yes, Meng Jiu's epilogue is especially heartbreaking. I don't know... Tong Hua seems to enjoy torturing the male characters she love hahaha. I'm still waiting for the show to air... if ever :(

      Hahaha! It's a bummer they don't have a happy ending in Imperial Doctress from what I've read so far.

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    10. Yeah Shi Shi's comment at the SH Film Fest killed off my hope. =.=

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  5. Indeed, I love everything Chinese (except for some modern characteristics of Chinese).

    Chinese buildings (so so so beautiful and majestic), Chinese food (the non-contaminated/artificial ones), Chinese lyrics (I find them generally more meaningful than English ones), Chinese characters and poems (I love the meaning and imagery a few words/lines can paint, which often sound unnatural or get lost in translation when we try to translate into English) etc etc...

    I guess of the 8 lines of the poem, the most famous 2 would be:
    凄凄复凄凄,嫁娶不须啼。
    愿得一心人,白头不相离。

    Especially the last one, which speaks of the bitterness of females in Ancient China where a man's faithfulness to a single lady is a faraway dream. Man can even divorce a woman who gets too jealous over another woman!

    I guess another rather famous poem would be 長恨歌. Like the bittersweet emotions of these lines:

    在天願作比翼鳥,在地願為連理枝。
    天長地久有時盡,此恨綿綿無絕期。

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    1. Are you Chinese? Haha. Haha, I laughed when you said the non-contaminated/artificial chinese food. I really agree about chinese lyrics - chinese songs always make me want to cry and move me in a way that english songs do not. Not necessarily that chinese songs are better, but I think the lyrics evoke certain memories that are not translatable in the english context.

      I like the poem you quoted too! There really is a sentiment that is not often translatable. I think it's because each chinese word can have so many different layers of meaning.

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    2. I'm Singaporean Chinese! I've been travelling to China but everytime I tell my colleagues that, I get the "Why again? Didn't you go last year?". China is so big with different scenic views and historical sites everywhere!!

      I'm just worried about the food...and of course, the scams that lurk at unexpected corners.

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    3. I agree with you! I love the history in China <3. When I have more time, I really want to read up on the historical periods and learn more about everything. I want to visit Lijiang too! Heehee. Which part of China is your favourite?

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    4. Yes, yes! When I watch a period drama which features some historical characters, or is set against some political backdrop, I'll read up on the dynasty and stuff. So it was really confusing to me when the SAFRT (or whatever the acronym is) had issues with Da Mo Yao's creative interpretation of historical characters (ok, maaaaybe the take on Huo Qu Bing's death was stretching it, but why the need to change Jin Yu and Meng Jiu's names?). Are the youths these days really so incapable to reading up and finding out actual history compared to fiction? *sighs*

      I'm going for a volunteering trip to Yunan this August and will be touring Lijiang after that!!! I heard the scenery there is gorgeous!

      I love Beijing for the wealth of history and all the monuments, and also Hangzhou and Guangzhou. <3 So many places I haven't visit too! Intend to visit Silk Road too.

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    5. Hahaha! Yes, I agree. But I suppose there have their own views on censorship there. I'm worried if they crack down on the internet novels too :(

      Oh that sounds lovely! I have not been to the Yunnan area (PANDAS!) and I think you will have such a great time. I love Beijing, Hangzhou and Guangzhou. Well, Guangzhou can get pretty dangerous, but it has a great commercial vibe. Beijing's weather was largely atrocious when I visited but I enjoyed it. I love Hangzhou, it's gorgeous! I stayed in Shanghai for a few years when I was young and always feel nostalgic in China.

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