Translation Tuesday: Shu Ting’s To Oak


Love –
not only loving your majestic figure,
but also the stance you firmly hold,
the earth under your feet.

To Oak 致橡树 is a classic love poem that paints love as two trees standing side-by-side, supporting each other while remaining individuals, a love that is based on a common faith and goal that is beyond the surface.    Misty Poet Shu Ting wrote the poem in response to a traditional view of  love based on idolization and self-sacrifice, in particular by the female in the relationship.

I’m going to apologize in advance appropriating feminist poetry for a pair coming out of an amazing but unfortunately misogynist production team, but this poem fits the platonic love that is Ming Lou (Jin Dong) and Ming Cheng (Wang Kai) in The Disguiser so much.  So close are their dreams that they can finish each other’s paintings of their ideal home; so deep their trust that they have had absolutely no secrets to each other even though they’ve had not a single honest conversation with anyone else in the show; so connected their souls that the main mode of communication is gazing into each other’s eyes.

To Oak
by Shu Ting
translated by idarklight

If I were to love you —
I would never be the vines of the morning glory,
borrowing your tall branches to flaunt myself
If I were to love you—
I would never imitate the infatuation of the birds,
repeating monotonous tunes for the green shades
Nor would I be the springs that only
incessantly bringing cool solace,
nor the cliffs that only
elevate your height, showcase your grandeur
Nor even the sun,
nor even the spring showers.
No, those are not enough!
I must be a red cotton tree by your side,
standing with you as a tree.
Our roots intertwine in the earth;
Our leaves flirt in the clouds;
With every breeze that passes by,
we salute to each other,
but no one else
understands our language
You have your branches of bronze and trunks of iron,
like swords, likes daggers, and like spears;
I have my brilliantly crimson blossoms,
like a deep, heavy sigh,
yet like a heroic flame,
We share the chills, the storms, and the lightnings ;
We share the fogs, the mists, and the rainbows.
As if we’re always distinct,
but forever together.
This is a love that is great,
Faith and fidelity is here
Love —
not only loving your majestic figure,
but also the stance you firmly hold,
the earth under your feet.



photo cr: canufeelmyeyes@Weibo

15 thoughts on “Translation Tuesday: Shu Ting’s To Oak

  1. Thank you for the translation! I’m learning Chinese so it’s incredibly helpful, and this is such a beautiful poem <3 I wasn't going to watch the Disguiser because of its Republican setting and not wanting to get my heart broken, but now I think I need to!

    Separately, would you guys consider having a section somewhere on the site to recommend shows that you like? For new readers who are just dipping their feet into Chinese entertainment it would be very useful. I understand that every Cfensi writer probably has their own favorites, but perhaps there is some consensus about must-see shows… Apologies if this question has already been asked and answered.

  2. While I have major issues with Ming Tai’s continuous incompetence, the rest of the family more than make up for his shortcomings. Ming Jing, not the smartest bird on the tree, has an aura about her and is a natural leader. Even when she lay dying on the platform, she can still inspire trust and obedience. I can see where Ming Lou learnt his “big boss expression” from. But the area he truly shines in is his ability to talk his way into and out of a crisis. It’s a thrill every episode to see him do his “The sky may crash down but it will never fall on his head” thing. As for Ming Cheng, oh my astute assassin, he can fight, he can talk, and he can act cute. What’s not to love?

    Thank you for the poem that beautifully described Ming Lou and Ming Cheng’s relationship. If I love you, I will stand next to you and speak to you in our own language. I missed them already.

  3. I just started reading LYB the novel, but am also enjoying the drama.

    I would have to disagree that all the women in LYB do not have their own agendas. Princess Liyang, Banruo, and Xiadong all have their own agendas. And even if they didn’t have an agenda, that doesn’t make them weak characters. I think technically everyone has their own agenda, and that MCS was able to manipulate the people and situation to his benefit.

  4. I’m kinda disappointed in the rushed ending even though I’m pleasantly surprised by how these two are technically canon now since they are living together in their dream house inaccessible to the rest of the world. That was some foreshadowing.

    It’s weird how they have the same production team with Lang Ya Bang but the other series despite being an ancient setting still had better female characters.

    • The scriptwriters are different, though. I don’t think LYB is that much better in the female character section since none of the female characters have their own agendas apart from helping/revenging a man.

      Even though Jinyun is super annoying in The Disguiser, I liked how she never once comprised her ideals for Ming Tai. Even when he came in asking for help, she never once told him anything that would give her away. Nor did she ever suggest she would chose him over her duties. I think I would’ve liked her if it weren’t for her and MIng Tai’s combined incompetence and the fact that their dialogues are so draggy compared to the usual concise and multi-layered dialogues for everyone else in the show.

      The use of the painting as symbolism throughout the show was great. I liked how it didn’t just appear once and was forgotten, but was used throughout the show to move the story along.

      • I never really felt a love connection between Jinyun and Ming Tai. Like you said she never share her belief or show passion toward him. She give away more of herself (she made him a promise and everything) to a kid she just met at the camp than Ming Tai. It also kinda pissed me off that their relationship is a set up controlled by Ming Lau to safe Ming Tai.
        I agree that Ming Tai’s incompetence is a big minus on his character. Also his treatment of Manli. I understand love is love and you can’t force it but I feel a part of why he couldn’t be with her is because of her past. Also I thought he would be more mature and start thinking with his head as the series progress but technically it has been only a few months. There wasn’t a lot of character development to have.
        Thanks god for Ming Lau and being the brain that carry the series. And Ming Cheng to smooth things over for everyone. This trio is definitely the representation of Id, Ego and SuperEgo.

        It’s true LYB female characters does not exist independently from the men but they seemed to have more agency. Especially Wang Ou’s character later on. Also less of them ended up tragically.

        • Now that you mentioned it, I just realized that almost all the main female characters die in The Disguiser …In the novel, I think it was pretty clear he had qualms about Manli’s past, which I agree is another big minus on his character.

          As for Jinyun … There is a great scene in the novel that got cut from the adaptation where Ming Jing actually opposed the marriage between Jinyun and Ming Tai because she felt like Jinyun didn’t love Ming Tai enough. She told Jinyun that “I hate everything about Wang Manchun, but I admire her audacity to love.” Then Jinyun hada break-down and professed her love for Ming Tai. I don’t know they cut it out since it’s such a great line and would’ve made me feel better about Jinyun-Ming Tai. They had a few cute scenes together, but his love for her seems like puppy love, and hers for him a duty. It seems especially weak once you contrast their relationship with Wang Manchun’s obsession with Ming Lou, the spiritual connection between Ming Lou and Ming Cheng, and the tight family bonds of the Ming family. Even Ming Cheng and Nightingale have more chemistry together.

          • I would really love to read the novel. I’ve only read LYB (Viet version) and preferred the book more. People said Disguiser’s adaption is better but I’ve heard of the book ending and I feel like it would be more fitting for Ming Jing. She didn’t have that much to do in this series which bother me. Seemed like they added more stuff to Ming Cheng.
            Didn’t jinyun’s actress got injured during the filming that why she was non-existence in the entire last 10 eps? Even with those scenes I wouldn’t even like her. It doesn’t take much as you said with Ming Cheng and Nightingale, or even with Ming Cheng and Ming Jing they only had a few seconds to establish a bond. It the lack of effort in production team to make her likable.
            Ming Tai and Manli’s relationship got so much build up that it’s just weird how cold he is to her in the second half of the series than suddenly all depressed about the death. That one part of the adaption that could give Ming Tai more depth but they didn’t want to risk it I guess.

            • I never knew The Disguiser was actually originally a novel. Might go and read it (but I feel it might ruin the drama for me if it ends up being better).

              I’m glad Jinyun didn’t really appear much in the last few episodes, she was probably the weakest character in the drama (and weakest acting wise) so I don’t think anyone is sad about missing her.

              Overall the biggest pull of this drama is the chemistry between the Ming family and even the other characters e.g. Liang Zhongchun (his scenes with Ming cheng were always good), Wang Tianfeng etc. I want to see this cast work together again (apart from LYB).

              Also apparently the very last scene was a prequel teaser to All is Quiet in Peking?

              • Overall, the drama is definitely better. Ming Lou is a lot more human in the drama, Ming Cheng more independent, and the supporting characters (Liang Zhongchun, Nantian, Wang Manli) more developed. Plus, like you said, a lot of the show is the chemistry between the actors. Jin Dong said that he added a lot of the small interactions with him and Ming Cheng because he felt like Ming Lou needed someone to talk to. The book version of Ming Jing is a lot smarter, though, and I think the ending a lot better.

                Yeah, the last scene is suppose to hint at Ming Tai becoming Cui Zhongshi (Zu Feng) in All Quiet in Peking, which would suck for him because Cui Zhongshi died pretty early in the show and Fang Mengwei (Wang Kai) ended up taking care of his child and wife. Poor Wang Kai’s had to take care of fatherless children for the last three dramas he’s been in (including in LYB).

            • LYB novel > LYB drama, The Disguiser drama >> The Disguiser novel. LYB failed to take full advantage of the power of film. Instead of having MCS talking about his schemes, they should’ve done more to show the schemes.

              Yeah, I think she was injured so they were only able to get close-up shots of her. But actually, in the novel, Ming Tai and her are pretty much non-existent in the last couple of episodes anyways. That would’ve been nice because then he wouldn’t have been the cause of what happened at the end …

              Still, given how much chemistry everyone else in the show has , I don’t know why they simply don’t have that spark. Seriously, everyone else in the show looks cute together. Even Ah-Xiang and Ming Tai are cute together. Not to mention the growing Ming Cheng- Wang Manchun ship that exploded last night…

              • It’s interesting how similar the circumstances of the two production are. The female novel writers became scriptwriters. Disguiser’s writer is a lot better at communicating through the visual art. To bad for LYB but I think she kinda getting better as the series go along, LYB is just a little too complex and she’s trying to hard to take out the bl vibe which is a shame. It make all their relationships less connected and superficial.
                I saw those cute pictures from the party too. It make me look forward to both the new modern series with Jin Dong and Wang Kai (is Wang Ou going to be in it?) and also a prequel. I could watch 100ep of the Ming Family sitcom or Ming Lau Wang Tianfeng Ming Cheng the college year.

                • But Jin Dong and Wang Kai have no interactions in the modern show :( I’m hoping one of the girls in the show (Liu Tao?) is a fanshipper like Wang Ou and convinces the director to add a scene with the two talking to each other.

                  I think Hai Yan is trying way too hard and I agree it makes the strong connection between LS/the guys weak and the random non-relationship with Nihuang awkward. Since the entire show is about revenge for the brotherhood, it’s weird that she is taking down the strong brotherhood just to try to clear the BL name.

                  • Queerbaiting is so disingenuous but I can’t avoid it. I just love these characters/ actors so much. Liu Tao is a big Hu Ge/Wallace Huo shipper. But I think most actress give lip service to shipping to avoid hate by fandom.
                    If anyone have sway over how much screen time people get it usually the actors tho. Especially with this production I feel like Jin Dong has the most sway. He usually make good decision. I just hope all Yu Zheng rumors are faux.

  5. Here’s a link of Wu Xiubo reciting the poem.

    I know a lot of fans wants Wang Kai to come out with an EP since he has a really pretty singing voice, but I really want him to come out with a poem recitation album. If only celebs could make money by reciting poems… I would die of happiness if Chen Daoming came out with a poem recitation album.

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