Classic Chinese song and Ci 词 poem — 水調歌頭 Shui diao ge tou Prelude to water melody 蘇軾/苏东坡 Su Shi / Su Dong Po English Translation by Shu: Song by Faye Wong 王菲 and Deng Li jun Teresa Teng--但愿人常久 dan yuan ren chang jiu — Wish people live long : pinyin, lyrics, English translation

水調歌頭 Shui diao ge tou  Prelude to water melody
蘇軾/苏东坡 Su Shi / Su Dong Po

苏轼 (苏东坡)




“When will the bright moon appear?”
I am raising a cup of wine and asking the dark blue sky.
I am wondering in the palace of the heaven, this night is
which year  as  it is in the celestial time?
I wish to soar with the wind and return to (the heaven palace);
yet I am afraid of the jade pagoda and crystalline palace
for the lofty heaven will be too bitterly cold.
Rising to a dance and  casting  slim shadows,
it doesn’t seem like in the mundane world at all.

The moon is turning its beams toward  the red chamber,
descending its light through latticed window,
and shining upon the sleepless.
We should not bear any resentment.
Why at the time of partings, the moon often is so bright and full?
People have their own sorrow, joy, parting, and reunion.
The moon has its dimness, brightness, waning, and waxing.
Since  ancient times, life has never been perfect.
May we all be blessed with longevity.
Although a thousand miles apart, we can still share the beautiful moon together.


Translated by Shu












The pinyin lyrics come from:

About Shui diao ge tou:

The poet Su Shi lived in the North Song Dynasty, which is about 1000 years ago. This Ci 词 poem of Prelude to the Water was composed in year
1076 on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Su Shi wrote the poem to express how he longed to see his younger brother, Zi You 子由, again and wished that they both and all people will live long and be able to share the bright round moon even if they are far apart. Su missed his brother dearly after not having seen him for seven years. There are a few famous lines  in the poem that are often quoted by educated Chinese people. 人有悲欢离合, 月有阴晴圆缺, 此事古难全. 但愿人长久, 千里共婵娟. These sentences express that in our life, we had, have or will have all the good times and bad times — miseries, joys, departing and reunion. All of those, no matter sad or happy, are like the moon has the thin shape or the full size — no one can prevent the moon from getting thinner or getting fuller. The up and down of life is an universal thing; from ancient time to the present, no one can be excluded. So, the poet, Su Shi, kept a positive attitude  toward life at the conclusion — as long as we are alive, even we are far apart from each other,  we can still connect with the ones that we love by gazing the moon in different spaces and time, and wish for the best to come 🙂


This entry was posted in Chinese culture, Chinese festivals, Chinese poems, Chinese songs, Famous Chinese singers and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Classic Chinese song and Ci 词 poem — 水調歌頭 Shui diao ge tou Prelude to water melody 蘇軾/苏东坡 Su Shi / Su Dong Po English Translation by Shu: Song by Faye Wong 王菲 and Deng Li jun Teresa Teng--但愿人常久 dan yuan ren chang jiu — Wish people live long : pinyin, lyrics, English translation

  1. Snow says:

    It’d be good if you could post the meaning of each word..

  2. Maya says:

    I think that you should add in more effort into this. because the PinYin thing looks sarcastic and a bit annoying. Practice more to add in more effort and don’t post blurry pictures.

    • Learn Chinese Help says:

      I haven’t checked the post for the long while and the Youtube account of that video got cancelled and that is why it happened. This is a post I did long time ago and there are a lot things need to be improved. If I have time I will make some changes. Thank you for visiting.

  3. Victor Choo says:

    Wow… I can’t believe the ingratitude of the people who post here….

    I think this is excellent… and it really helped me so much to understand the meaning better and also to appreciate the depth of the language used. This poem is truly an amazing work.

    Thanks for helping to translate. It made alot of difference for me.

    • Learn Chinese Help says:

      Hi Victor,

      I am glad that this post helps you in a way:) Have good time learning Chinese and enjoy the songs!

  4. Ng Entse says:

    Great translation job. Most grateful! Is it true that old Chinese poems sound more authentic when read in old or Middle Chinese ? i.e. Fukenese or Cantonese or Hakka respectively?else , a humble suggestion for pedagogical purpose , maybe you could tell us a bit more about the literary background of Chinese poetry in a separate addendum.thank you again.

    • Learn Chinese Help says:


      Compared with modern Chinese, Fukienese indeed preserves more authentic sound. Thank you for the suggestion, if I have time, I might write a post about literary background of Chinese poetry, but that won’t be any time in the near future. Have good time learning Chinese poems, and best wishes:)

  5. fifi says:

    why dark blue sky for 晴天?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *