Spring Night, Happy Rain

Good rain knows the right time
To fall when spring comes

And follows the wind in the night
Silently, moistening every thing

A wild path black and cloudy
A riverboat fire alone and bright
Dawn has the look that is red and wet
In Brocade City, Guancheng*

Spring Night, Happy Rain by Du Fu, written in Chengdu, 759 – 763, during the An Lushan Rebellion.

*Chengdu is known as Brocade City. Guancheng’s meaning is less clear, but probably references the fact that Chengdu is the the provincial (official) capital of Sichuan.

After the rain, at dawn, 夜晚雨春天黎明

After the Rain

Let it rain, let it rain, but only after sundown. Like Eric Clapton’s Let it Rain, and the Broadway musical Camelot where “The rain may never fall till after sundown,” these are ideas we associate with rain — the rain that nourishes life, and washes away our troubles.

After a sleepless night, after the rain, Du Fu arose before dawn, went for a walk in the dark, spied a riverboat with it lantern, and then, as the dawn broke over Chengdu, composed this poem.

I confess I like the first half of Du Fu’s poem, Spring Night, Happy Rain, over the second half.

The rain knows its time, it comes like a thief in the dark, quietly falling on everything. Well, not like a thief, to steal, but to give life. That is a pretty thought.

Next, Du Fu walks along a wild path next to the river, dark and cloudy, a single light on a river boat, in the distance the dawn is red and wet, in Chengdu City. Beginning in the winter of 759, in the midst of the An Lushan Rebellion, Du Fu and his family made a home here. He stayed for almost four years and wrote over 240 poems including Happy Rain.

His thatched cottage was located near a brook known as Huanhua. Today it is a popular tourist spot.

Original Chinese

chūnyè xǐyǔ

hǎo yǔ zhī shí jié
dāng chūn nǎi fā shēng
suí fēng qián rù yè
rùn wù xì wú shēng

yě jìng yún jū hēi
jiāng chuán huǒ dú míng
xiǎo kàn hóng shī chù
huāzhòng jǐn guānchéng

春夜喜雨

好雨知时节
当春乃发生
随风潜入夜
润物细无声

野径云俱黑
江船火独明
晓看红湿处
花重锦官城

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