Embroidery brings together odd couple

Guo Jingming

I think Li Yuchun and Guo Jingming should date. They’ll be the strangest couple ever.

What happens when China’s two icons of adrodgenous pop idols work together? They produce Sichuan embroidery. With lyrics by Guo Jingming and sung by Li Yuchun, Shu Xiu, or Sichuan embroidery, will be the theme song for Sichuan’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Festival. I’m so jealous of Sichuan for having so many artists to grab from when they need some musical advertisment. Confucious’ home province need some love, too.

Shu Xiu – lyrics by Guo Jingming, sung by Li Yuchun

On a side note, Li Yuchun will be made into a wax figure at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Shanghai. She’ll also be the spokesperson for eClairol’s Natural Essences line.

Incomplete translation of lyrics by me, who probably mistranslated half of it.Feel free to make any corrections.

芙蓉城三月雨纷纷 四月绣花针
The rain flies in the city of cotton rose* in March, the embroidery needles of April (*The City of Cotton Rose= ancient nickname for Chengdu)
羽毛扇遥指千军阵 锦缎裁几寸
From afar, the feather fan* directs the army of thousands. How many inches shall the silken clothes be cut? (Famous Shu general Zhuge Liang is known for using a feather fan)
看铁马踏冰河 丝线缝韶华 红尘千帐灯
See, the the iron horses step upon the icy rivers, the silken strings stitch the glamourous days, the mundane lights shining in every tent
A journey through the mountains and rivers, and then through the wind and now

红烛枕五月花叶深 六月杏花村
Red candles pillow the rich-colored flower leaves in May*, the apricot-flowering village of June (*thanks to Nepheliad for this and the next line)
红酥手青丝万千根 姻缘多一分
Delicate hands* and jet black hair, millions of strands/ one more part of love** (*see here for more elaboration on this term) (**姻缘=fate in relationship to marriage and love)
等残阳照孤影 牡丹染铜樽 满城牧笛声
Waiting until the fallen sun leaves a single shadow, the peony spill upon the bronze goblet, and the city is full of the sounds of the cowherders* (*reference to the cowherders coming home at night?)
the beautiful girl stands by the door, waiting for her beloved to return home

君可见刺绣每一针 有人为你疼
Love, can you see that with every stitch of embroidery, somebody pains for you
君可见牡丹开一生 有人为你等
Love, can you see that every time the peony blossoms*, somebody waits for you (*aka a year has past)
江河入海奔 万物为谁春
The rivers run to the ocean, for whom does the world continues to turn* (*literally: for whom does the world turns spring again)
the bright moon cannot stop shining for the ones who are gone

君可见刺绣又一针 有人为你疼
Love, can you see that with every stitch of embroidery, somebody pains for you
君可见夏雨秋风有人 为你等
Love, can you see that through the summer rains and the autumn winds, somebody waits for you
翠竹泣墨痕 锦书画不成
the jade bamboos cry blemishes of ink, the letter cannot be finished
情针意线绣不尽 鸳鸯枕
Needles of love and strings of longing cannot stitch enough pillows of mandarin ducks* (*mandarin ducks are a symbol of lovers in China because they’re always seen in pairs)

此生笑傲风月瘦如刀 催人老
In this lifetime, the happy times are as thin as a sword, causing us to age* *(because of tiredness)
来世与君暮暮又朝朝 多逍遥
In the next lifetime, let us be together day after day and night after night, what freedom.

Repeat A1,A2,C1,C2

绕指柔破锦千万针 杜鹃啼血声
The delicate fingers softly prick thousands of needles, the cuckoo cries of blood
芙蓉花蜀国尽缤纷 转眼尘归尘
The cotton rosed country of Shu* ends its glory, and turns into dust in the blink of an eye (*Shu = dynasty with Chengdu as its capital)
战歌送离人 行人欲断魂
The battle song given to those who have left, causes one to want to lose their soul
Are those words of honey and sweet still true?

Repeat C1, C2

23 thoughts on “Embroidery brings together odd couple

  1. also to clarify a bit,
    欲断魂 tho might literally means ” causes one to want to lose their soul” in general it just simply means very very sad, check this poem for its full feeling of meaning :清明时节雨纷纷, 路上行人欲断魂
    for the tl of 红烛枕五月花叶深 六月杏花村
    imo theyre reference of these lines :
    借问酒家何处有? 牧童遥指杏花村.

    for the tl/feeling of 残阳照孤影 牡丹染铜樽
    you should check these lines:
    also 铜樽 满城牧笛声 are all common things in chinese poems/literature, guess the arthor is just trying to build this image of beautiy, peaceful hometown with poetic scenery and such,

    to be in comparison with 千军阵 and 战歌 in the later parts of the lyrics which evetually will all be in vain as “转眼尘归尘”, aslo ,,in chinese theres this expressing that when one dies one will return to the yellow soil, the dust, so theres also the meaning that whats the point of all this fighting/war/etc when life is so short that we all might die in the next moment or when we are old and about to turn to dust knowing most of our life are spent in 遥指千军阵 and 丝线缝韶华(rather than being totether) ,,all we can do is hoping that “来世与君暮暮又朝朝 多逍遥”

    for the last part, imo 杜鹃啼血 is a 成语, no need to tl literally.

    • Thanks for all these references, I definitely didn’t pick up on all of them. I’m really glad this song gained more popularity after so many years >.<

      How would you translate 杜鹃啼血? I tried to translate it less literally, but couldn't come with anything. I've never heard of it before these lyrics, and when I baidu'ed it, it seems like the phrase could mean so many different things, especially since it's based on a story set in Shu.

      • sorry for the late reply, i almost completely forgot about it lol, the notification was filtered by mail,,
        yeah it’s hard to translate the feeling of the desperateness and sadness when in another language the image of a certain bird screeching doesnt have the implication of the said feeling,
        声 feels to me like an added bonus, not only does it also rhyme with the rest of the lyrics with the ending sound of “~en”, it also helps depict the image and feeling by making it more vivid, altho might seem out of place in an actually writing but tottaly ok and even brilliant as in a lyrics.
        not sure but guess something like “as desperate as the cries of blood by a cuckoo””untold sadness cried out by a cuckoo in blood””desperateness told by the non stopping cries of a cuckoo until bleeding”might be fine,

      • btw, also, i checked the baidu result, rather than the story that the ancient emporer from shu as cuckoo or whatever,
        you should check its Baike entry, which does a much better job of explaining its simple meaning,


  2. i was directed here when trying to reply to a youtube video featuring this song being performed in the 2015 chinese new year spring gala by Liyuchun,

    heres my take on the tranlsation and meaning of the lyrics,,
    hope it adds to the discussion and helps understanding the genral feeling of it,

    there are many 成语 and 典故 used in the lyrics, youll need to have a deep understanding and familiarity with chinese poems(tangshisongci to be exact) to understand them all and get the complete feeling the author is trying to express, to just name a few,
    “明月照不尽 离别人,情针意线绣不尽 鸳鸯枕” :(also the lines that impressed me most)chinese literature uses bright moons to express the feeling of being apart alot, like the most famously in 举头望明月低头思故乡,also 但愿人长久千里共婵娟 (婵娟 here means the moon), and such, casue “even when we are apart we look up in the sky and see the same moon”, so here very brilliantly 郭敬明 used 明月照不尽离别人 to express both the meaning that there are always ppl seperated apart helplessly and that we always sighs/have sad feelings/(or write poems,literature about) being apart, etc, in general this gives the whole lyric a sad but beautiful vibe lamenting taht there are alwasys apart lovers and their desperate wishes to be together. The next line used another often used theme/tradition about lovers where the girls would make 鸳鸯枕 for her men in hope for wellbeing(鸳鸯), 绣不尽 kinda has the similar vibe, tho alone in making it in the exactly same format while staying so natural and fluid itself is already no small feat, the whole part just feels so beautiful and moving when read or sung out.

    羽毛扇/千军阵,牡丹,铜樽,满城牧笛声,六月杏花村 all has their own special indication and vibe/extra meanings in chinese literature,
    also there are many ways of expressing things only used in poems, like 红尘千帐灯 山水一程风雪再一程, very concise but full of meaning and implications.

    if youre into this kinda of chinese, i highly recommend you start from learning and familiarize yourself with the most popular poems from Tang and Song.

    Tho i have no love for 郭敬明 and was never into any of his works or novels, this lyrics just moved me deeply the first time i heard this song while reading the lyrics.

  3. I wouldn’t say perfectly. Most would argue it impossible for someone to speak a language perfectly after a certain age.
    I think accents are fine as long as she tries. Plenty of Korean artists get by fine in China with the most basic Chinese, and they’re actors, too. And considering that she’s 3rd generation Chinese, and half at that, we shouldn’t expect too much of her Chinese skills.

    I don’t know about Guo Jingming, though. His forewords for the past two or three months have been too loving for him. He generally talks about friends, or himself, or travels. But now they’re all from a lover to another…I’m suspecting an other half.

  4. I think Guo Jingming can just date himself. As for Chloe and him, I don’t think they would be the perfect match either…but who cares. The most important thing is not to have Chloe speaking Chinese like Daniel Wu or Edison Chen’s Cantonese. After almost a decade living in HK, still got the accent and they are not regular folks, they are actors! They should be able to learn the language and accent perfectly and correctly.

  5. I liked how she sung the first two “君可见刺绣每一针 有人为你疼.”

    I wish they’ve gotten a more feminine artist to sing this. Li Yuchun is just an odd choice for embroidering, and even odder for such feminine lyrics.

    Guo Jingming wrote the lyrics for the Super Boys theme song in 2007…Lu Chuan was such a bad choice of famous directors for this. They should’ve gotten someone who can make the boys look good, not the MV.


    He also wrote the lyrics for his music novel. You can find it here

  6. Yeah, 姻缘 does pertain to marriage, and now that I think about it, it’s something like “fated union”, and that line might mean something more like “the fated union becomes a bit more likely”. Perhaps it’s referring to her embroidering, considering she’s stitching “lovebirds” and no matter how much she embroiders, it’s not enough.

    I dunno, the lyrics present two things that aren’t sufficiently meshed, to me. There’s all this lavish imagery of old Chengdu, then there’s this love story, and then there’s some mention of history, but they don’t seem to compliment each other. It’d make a good poem if rearranged, and I suspect the melody was written before the lyrics, which would trap him into conforming lines to the song. The D and C3 stanzas, in particular, just don’t seem to belong where they are, sandwiched between the refrain, like they were added in just because the tune went that way. That, plus it’s like he’s trying to cram too much into a single song, and ended up not giving a clear, evocative vision of anything – just a bunch of images of a flowering Chengdu, a girl embroidering, and armies thrown in at odd intervals. It also leads to some emotional weirdness, because the lines about Chengdu are so relaxingly beauteous, the lines about the love story tug at the heartstrings, and the lines about war are just disconcerting amidst it all.

    I place part of the blame for that on the composer, though; the composition fails to bring across the emotion of the lyrics. It doesn’t help that Li Yuchun sings kinda monotonously through the song – there’s no timbre nor climax to bring that sad feeling home, and certainly nothing to back the imagery of war or soldiers. I’d say this whole thing is definitely an odd couple (group, I guess), and unfortunately, it shows… not that most people would notice, haha. It’s probably just me being silly, anyway.

    Regardless, I’d take something like this over fluff lyrics any day. There’s gorgeous imagery and a story to be had, plus a wonderful, layered poetic form. I’d love to see him write lyrics for a song where he doesn’t have to cram in so many aspects in such a short span, focusing on presenting one story, one feeling – and work with a singer and a composer that would really allow the emotions of his lyrics to flow.

    Haha, his stringent requirements totally match his writing style! I couldn’t really imagine him dating Li Yuchun – they’re both powerful personalities. Side note: simply dating a minor over sixteen isn’t illegal in the US, and I don’t imagine it is in China, either. But eh, I don’t think he and Chloe Wang are in the same sphere, really.

  7. lol..that’s why I said it’s deep, cause I need help from a dictionary to understand it and yet, still unsure about my own interpretation.
    Btw, if Liyichun and him dated, they would be a very edgy couple but I think he could date Chloe Wang to help her mandarin and Chinese literature …maybe?

  8. I was just glad that this had a coherent story to it… as pretty as they are, there are a lot of Chinese lyrics that make no sense whatsoever.

    But it does sound forced at times (mainly the parts I don’t get…). But then, Guo Jingming’s favorite singer is Faye Wong, and favorite lyricist Lin Xi, who writes plenty of un-understandable but pretty lyrics.

  9. Deep as in darkness of color makes sense, as does the jet black hair. I’m not sure whether happiness is right. 姻缘 is generally restrictive to marriage, yet it doesn’t make sense…. Why would there be additional 姻缘 for a girl who’s loved one has left? Maybe it means that another marriage season has past?

    ”红烛枕五月花叶深 六月杏花村“
    I had no idea where the commas went for the first part of this. The commas could go after 烛, 枕, 月 or 花….
    I cut it up according to the earlier phrase “芙蓉城三月雨纷纷.” You know, Guo Jingming would be good with dui lian’s.

  10. ”红烛枕五月花叶深 六月杏花村“

    Are you sure the “枕” here is a noun and not a verb, and that “深” isn’t referring to the color of the leaves? ‘Cause I thought the line was supposed to means something like “Crimson candles pillow May’s richly-colored leaves / June’s flowering apricot village”, but eh.

    “红酥手青丝万千根 姻缘多一分”

    I… don’t see “jade” in this line, but maybe I’m just too sleep-deprived right now. “Delicate hands and jet black hair, millions of strands / one more part of happiness”. A happy fate in terms of relationships, dunno any word for that, haha.

    The lyrics are so flowery (with regards to language, not just imagery, and no pun intended)… I guess that suits the purpose, but still, it seems excessive and forced to me. I guess it’s not my kind of thing.

  11. i’m loving the song.
    props to jingming for writing the beautiful lyrics (:
    this tops 青花瓷 for complicated chinese lyrics XD

  12. I’ve translated most of it, but I have no idea how to translate these two lines:
    红烛枕五月花叶深 六月杏花村
    红酥手青丝万千根 姻缘多一分

  13. it sounds really pretty, but it uses really complex chinese and i can’t understand a word, someone translate!

  14. Man..how could he be so fashionable and yet having such depth in his writing. If I didn’t know who he was, I would have thought that he was one of those boys who relied on their looks to survive ( I’m not talking about Hit-5 here, more about some other boybands) *smile*

  15. Qingdao’s quite far from either of the places I can call my hometown, though.

    Wait…we also have that next-chairman of China’s wife. Too bad she doesn’t sing anymore. and it’s home to most of the Outlaws of the Marsh.

    She generally has pretty nice songs. I wish more eeMedia artists would do Zhong Guo Feng in general. Especially Wei Chen and Top Combine.

    I think Guo Jingming’s lyrics can be easy when he wants it to be (ie. the 1989 one). This is probably the most complicated one so far, probably because I fail at ancient Chinese. But I did just learn that “芙蓉城=Chengdu” and “韶华=beautiful spring times.”

  16. This is my first time hearing this, bc the link you gave me yesterday stopped working.

    I’m guessing Confucius’s old home is Shandong? But they have all the pretty actresses. And they have Jing Dong, rofl.

    You should translate the song if you have the chance to. It’s very pretty and Guo Jingming’s lyrics are a bit too complicated for my level of Chinese. I hope Li Yuchun does more Zhong Guo Feng, because I’ve really liked all of her ZGF music. China Youth I think was her best release.

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