With Mother’s Day right around the corner, we’d like to share with you a renowned Chinese poem composed by Meng Jiao(孟郊) in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). It depicts a mother’s generous love, and has been passed down from generation to generation.
For your convenience, every line will be presented in this order: pinyin/Chinese characters/literal translation.
yóu zǐ yín
Song of a Travelling Son
cí mǔshǒu zhōng xiàn
A thread in the hands of a loving mother
yóu zǐshēn shàng yī
Is made into clothes for her departing son
lín xíng mì mì féng
Carefully she sews stitch by stitch
yì kǒng chíchíguī
dreading his delayed return
shuí yán cùn cǎo xīn
How can the tiny sprouting grass’s love
repay the kindness of the sun for three spring months?
游子: travelling son
吟: a kind of poetic/singing format
临行: to leave soon
意恐: be worried about, afraid
寸草: little grass (in this poem, it refers to the son)
三春晖: the light of the sun in the three spring months (in this poem, it refers to the mother’s generous love)