One evening, a dear friend sent me a Chinese poem which she composed after listening to a touching song.

Though my Chinese Language ability is not extremely good, her words moved me as it painted an emotional picture.

Here’s her composition:





She wanted to have this beautiful poem translated into English. That was my challenge-to-be!

This brought back memories of my university days, majoring in English Language. I once did a module on Translation and DU FU Tang Dynastry Poetry (杜甫唐诗).

Tapping on what little I could remember from the module about translation, one thing for sure is that translating literature works like poetry with some much imagery and emotions will lose its essence if it was done merely on a literal level.

I told Sister Li Ying that I will need time to work on it and only after she sends me an unpacked version of her poem with simplier explanation of her poem.

After she sent me the explanation of her poem, 4 hours later at 10.30pm, I could not sleep. Why?

Poetry is really such a beautiful work of art. It is a treasure cove, holding precious gems and stones within. The gems in Sis Li Ying’s poem were glittering so brightly in the sky like diamonds that I can’t keep my eyes off them! How can I go to bed with this amazing art piece awaiting to be represented and expressed in a second language?

With the tune of “FAREWELL” in my head and Sis Li Ying’s beautiful reflection expressed through poetry in my mindstream, I worked on the translation.

Have a listen to the song before you read on:


Li Shutong’s 《Farewell》

*Li Shutong is also known as Grand Master Hong Yi. (1880-1942)

I was totally inspired and charged to complete the translation that night, though Sis Li Ying told me to take my time. So here it is…

Inspired by Li Shutong’s 《Farewell》

Sadness and grief suffocates our souls like straitjackets

Endless farewells yearn for moments of hopeful reunions

Life after life from the ancient times, the pain of departures shadows our existence

When will we end this treacherous sadness of cyclic existence

Alas our Buddha and lineage masters have shown us a way to dispel darkness and gain freedom

Will thus peacefully let sufferings and pains pass in glory as they have accomplished their destined purpose of making each of us, an evolved and better self

May the Dharma cleanse my heart and soul, making it a magnificent palace of pure virtue

Breaking barriers, we will forever depart from the evil clutches of suffering and thus gain the sweet taste of Prajna and ultimate freedom

Chinese Poem Written by: Oh Li Ying
Translated into English by: Irene Lee

Beautifully expressed in poetry by Sis Li Ying!

Thanks for this beautiful linguistic exploration and awakening journey filled with the ultimate truth from Buddha!


Here’s her unpacked poem in Chinese:









Photo credits: