Spring Night Rain – Du Fu

Spring Night Rain

A good rain knows when it is spring
Wind-borne, it comes silently in the night
And wets all things, yet
Wild is the way the dark black clouds
Leave the river boat fires lit
And, at dawn reveal
Chengdu blossoming splendidly like a brocade

Chinese and Pinyin

Chūnyè Xǐ Yǔ
Hǎo yǔ zhī shíjié
dāng chūnnǎi fāshēng
suí fēng qiánrù yè
rùn wù xì wúshēng
yě jìng yún jù hēi
jiāng chuán huǒ dú míng
xiǎo kàn hóng shī chù
huā zhòng jǐn guān chéng


A good poem for a rainy day

A good rain knows when to rain. Here in Oz, it rained all night. It is raining now and will all day and tomorrow too, Oz knows. The good rain knows how to choose the right season and in Oz it is always right, which is why we say in the Land of Oz, “As right as rain.”

When the An-Shi Rebellion broke out in 758, the capital fell in 759 and Du fled to Chengdu in Sichuan Province. There he stayed for four years as the rebellion raged. He stayed in a thatched cottage beside the Flower Bathing Brook on the western outskirts of Chengdu. During his time there, he composed more than 240 poems.

Notes on translation

The title, 春夜喜雨, can be translated as Spring Night Rain, or Spring Rain, Happy Rain, Welcome Rain on a Spring Night, or Delight taken in a Spring Night Rain.

The place of the poem is identified in the last line, 锦官 城, jǐnguān chéng. Jinguan, another name for Chengdu, famous for its brocade production.

Zha Shibiao, Man on a boat in rain, detail (1615–1698)
Du Fu


Au printemps, il pleut plus à la nuit

Une bonne pluie connaît la saison
Quand le printemps arrive
À vent, il vole silencieusement dans la nuit
Et mouille tout, encore
Furieux la façon que les nuages noirs et sombres
Laissez les feux de bateaux de la rivière brûler
Et à l’aube révèle
La ville s’épanouir splendidement


Ein guter regen kennt die Saison
Wenn der Frühling stattfindet
Wenn der Nachtwind kommt, stiehlt er leise
Und benutze alle Dinge, noch
Wild ist die Art und Weise,
Wie die dunklen schwarzen Wolken
Lassen die Flussboot Feuer verbrennen
Und in der Morgendämmerung offenbart
Chengdu zu blühen herrlich und wunderbar

Zha Shibiao, Man on a boat in rain (1615–1698)

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Thank you. On this Scottish Island a weeks rain has begun. It is a good time to begin reading Classical Chinese but it is difficult.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s