Monday, 9 November 2015

The poems in Chor Lau Heung 1984

Chor tai-gor reciting the last line of 'Tale of the Magpie Bridge' (ep 13)

Ancient series are usually peppered with poems. The New Adventures of Chor Lau Heung 1984 was not an exception. I could only recall three four poems from the CLH 1984, but I really like them hence I post them here. The full text of the poems can be found at the end of this post. My favourite is definitely the Tale of the Magpie Bridge, first recited by Koh A Lam (Sharon Yang) in front of Wu Tit Fa in ep 11. Later in ep 13, Wu asked Chor tai-gor about that poem, and Chor recited a part of it for Wu’s benefit. Chor Lau Heung did look pensieve though when he recited the last line (“Eternal love shall withstand the time apart”), which made me think that he was thinking of Song Siu Ching for just a few seconds there.

Tale of the Magpie Bridge is part of a famous ancient Chinese story called the Weaver Girl and the Cowherd, dated back to over 2,600 years ago, around the time of the Han Dynasty. The story involved Zhinu (the weaver girl, or the star Vega) and Niulang (the cowherd, the star Altair) whose starcrossed love made them banished such that each of them live in another side of the Silver River (the Milky Way). Once a year (7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar), magpies would form a bridge between the two lovers such that they could meet for one day.

Below is the few lines of the Tale of the Magpie Bridge Chor Lau Heung recited in ep 13.

On an autumn night, their reunion darks all love scenes
Moments of their reunion surpass joy on earth
So sad to part each other
Eternal love shall withstand the time apart

CLH inviting Zo Hing Hau to recite 'Jiang Jin Jiu', ep 1

The second poem I like, which was actually the first poem in this series, was “Jiang Jin Jiu”  (“Invitation to Wine” or “Bring in the Wine”) by Li Bai (701-762) of the Tang Dynasty. In Ep 1, Chor Lau Heung and Zo Hing Hau enjoyed wine as Zo told Chor his troubles. Chor tai-gor then said that they’d usually drink wine and recite Invitation to Wine. He then recited his favourite line Let us enjoy our lives to the fullest while we can, after which Zo Hing Hau then recited his I’d give up any treasures to exchange for preferably good wine so that we’ll drown our sorrow”. Later in ep 27, the two friends recited the same lines again as Zo exhaled his final breath. It was sad...

Master Khoo Mui reciting 'Yearning', ep 36

The third poem was recited by Nun Khoo Mui (aka Scary Nun) in ep 36 after she found out that Yip Shing Lan was actually her long-lost son. The quatrain poem was titled 'Xiang Si' or “Yearning” and was written by Wang Wei (701-761), a contemporary of Li Bai, also from the Tang Dynasty:

Red beans come from the South
They harvest in spring
Pick as many as you can
They are the symbol of love 

The fourth poem was Li Yu's Ji Duo Chou ("How Much Sorrow"). Li Yu or Li Hou Zhu was the last Emperor of Nan Tang (Southern Tang) whose story was portrayed by Nicky Wu, Liu Tao, et al in Li Hou Zhu yu Zhao Kuang Yin (CCTV 2006) that I wrote in this post. Ji Duo Chou was also the end theme of Li Hou Zhu 2006, but I didn't recognise it until recently. In CLH 1984, Tung Sam Leung (the girl whom was saved by Fell Cut) played a zither and sang a song for the Emperor inside the Bat Cave. The song was actually the Ji Duo Chou poem by Li Yu sung in Cantonese, hence I didn't recognise it immediately. However, just now as I watched ep 24, I recognised the translated lines as Ji Duo Chou. The following is How Much Sorrow that Sam Leung recited. 

When will there be no more moon and spring flowers
How much do you know about my past
My attic still stands against the vernal wind last night
It's so sorrowful to see the lost land under the moonlight
Carved balustrades and marble steps are still there
But things have changed
If you ask me how sorrowful I am
It's like water rolling towards the east

Have I missed any poems in CLH’84? Do let me know if I have. Below are the full text of the three  four poems and the sources. Please keep in mind that the translation in CLH might not perfectly match the translations in these sources. Tale of the Magpie Bridge pretty much matched, but I found it hard to match the Chor/Zo recital with the online translation of Invitation to Wine. The translation for Yearning that I found pretty much matched Khoo Mui’s recital, although it was supposed to be ‘red beans’ instead of ‘red beams’. Much Sorrow was pretty much in accordance to the original version. 

Tale of the Magpie Bridge (by anon), eps 11 and 13

Among the lofty clouds
Over the heavenly river
Crosses the weaving maiden
A night of rendezvous
Across the autumn sky
Surpassing joy of earth
Moments of tender love and dreams
So sad to leave the magpie bridge
Eternal love between those two
Shall withstand the time apart

Jiang Jin Jiu ("Invitation to Wine", by Li Bai), eps 1 and 27

Have you not seen
that the waters of the Yellow River come from upon Heaven,
surging into the ocean, never to return again;
Have you not seen -
in great halls' bright mirrors, they grieve over white hair,
at dawn like black threads, by evening becoming snow.
In human life, accomplishment must bring total joy,
do not allow an empty goblet to face the moon.
Heaven made me - my abilities must have a purpose;
I spend a thousand gold pieces completely, but they'll come back again.
Boil a lamb, butcher an ox - now we shall be joyous;
we must drink three hundred cups all at once!

Master Cen,
Dan Qiusheng,
bring in the wine! -
the cups must not stop!
I'll sing you a song -
I ask that you lend me your ears.
Bells, drums, delicacies, jade - they are not fine enough;
I only wish to be forever drunk and never sober again.
Since ancient times, sages have all been solitary;
only a drinker can leave his name behind!

The Prince of Chen, in times past, held feasts at Pingle;
ten thousand cups of wine - abandon restraint and be merry!
Why would a host speak of having little money? -
you must go straight and buy it - I'll drink it with you!
My lovely horse, my furs worth a thousand gold pieces,
call the boy and have him take them to be swapped for fine wine,
and together with you I'll wipe out the cares of ten thousand ages.

Xiang Si("Yearning", by Wang Wei), ep 36

Red beans grow in southern countries.
How many would sprout in spring?
I wish you'd pick more, my dear friend:
The closest bond they would bring.

Ji Duo Chou ("How Much Sorrow", by Li Yu), ep 24

Spring flowers, autumn moon, when will they cease existing?
How many past events am I aware of?

Last night, the eastern wind again blew over the little tower. 
It was unbearable to look at the old country in the bright moon light
Carved railing and jade layered stairs should still remain
Only the youth countenance changed

Should you ask how much sorrow I can bear
Just like the spring water of Yang Tze River flows to the east

And here's Ji Duo Chou sung by the lovely angelic late Teresa Teng, which has the English subtitle containing another translated version of the poem (check the 'cc' to make the subtitle appear if needed).


Ha Nguyen said...

Beautiful! This really brought to my attention the poetic beauty that I totally missed, or never got when I was watching as a young girl. I really want to watch this again. Its been tons of years!

Icha said...

Thank you so much for the comments, Ha! Yes, the poems are gorgeous... I actually borrowed an ancient Chinese poetry book from the library just for a reference last month. Might be coming handy...

Vương Thu Hương said...

Thank you so much for your post of Chor Lau Heung! love love love!

Icha said...

Thank you so much for visiting and commenting! Have a nice weekend!