王菲 《開到荼蘼》 (Last Blossom)

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

I was listening to this Chinese song by a Chinese girl. I noticed that i like this song. On some reflection, i thought of looking up the lyrics, and subsequently located it on the internet.

王菲 《開到荼蘼》
每隻螞蟻 都有眼睛鼻子 牠美不美麗
偏差有沒有一毫釐 有何關係
每一個人 傷心了就哭泣 餓了就要吃
相差大不過天地 有何刺激

有太多太多魔力 太少道理
太多太多遊戲 只是為了好奇
還有甚麼值得 歇斯底里
對甚麼東西 死心塌地

一個一個偶像 都不外如此
沉迷過的偶像 一個個消失
誰曾傷天害理 誰又是上帝
我們在等待 甚麼奇蹟

最後剩下自己 捨不得挑剔
最後對著自己 也不大看得起
誰給我全世界 我都會懷疑
心花怒放 卻開到荼蘼

 一個一個一個人 誰比誰美麗
 一個一個一個人 誰比誰甜蜜
 一個一個一個人 誰比誰容易
 又有甚麼了不起

每隻螞蟻 和誰擦身而過
都那麼整齊 有何關係
每一個人 碰見所愛的人 卻心有餘悸
every ant, has eyes and nose; are they beautiful?
the differences are less than an iota; does it matter?
every person, cries when hurt, eats when hungry.
the difference lies between heaven'n'earth; is it thrilling?

too much infatuation, too little logic
too many games, only for curiosity
what else are there, is hysteria a worthwhile cause?
and to what things, devotion?

all the idols; they are just so
idols in fads, one by one fades away
who did evil; and who is god?
Which miracle, are we waiting for?

at the end there's oneself, not too finicky
at the end facing oneself, with little esteem
who gives me the world, and i'll have to doubt
bursting into exuberance: but spring flowers have bloomed

 each one and every one; who's more beautiful
 each one and every one; who's more charming
 each one and every one; who's more easy
 so what's there to admire?

Every ant, has passing relations
and they are that orderly; what gives?
every person, when finding ones they love; but become uneasy

My God, what a beautiful song and lyrics. Note that it says, that every ant has eyes and nose, and, that every person, cry when hurt, eat when hungry. Isn't it true? I have become enamored with this song, listening to it repeatedly for hours.

The song is by the Chinese pop queen Faye Wong.

Faye Wong

What a nymph of Asian blood.

David Rutkowski in rec.art.poems newsgroup has the following version. (used with permission)

…

A quick and incomplete attempt to translate it into English song lyrics:

every ant has eyes and ears
it doesn't matter a lot
if it's fetching or not
it's got what it's got

every man cries sandstone tears
when he's hungry he eats
how exciting his lot
he's got what he's got

there's way too much magic
way too much reason
an open game season
so curiously tragic

hysteria seems more a propos
dead heart just a thing in a hole
for one by one every idol
ends up slightly suicidal

hopelessly wayward
lost icons abound
treacherous heavens
god lost and found

and so we are waiting
for a miracle cure
each one self-relating
and acting demure

…

This liberal translation gives it a more poetic flavor, but being incomplete in missing the all-important ending punch-line.

rubus rosifolius1 roseleaf bramble-s
Roseleaf Bramble. 3072×2304 image source

What dose 開到荼蘼 mean? What's 荼蘼? Here's a excerpt from Wikipedia Rubus rosifolius:

Rubus rosifolius, (syn. Rubus rosaefolius) also known as roseleaf bramble, West Indian raspberry, thimbleberry and ola'a is a prickly subshrub native to rainforest and tall open forest of the Himalayas, East Asia, and eastern Australia. … The plant can also be found in a lot of San Francisco neighborhoods.

Rose-leaf bramble leaves are compound with toothed margins, with glandular-hairs on both sides of leaflets. Flowers are white in panicles or solitary. Edible fruit are 2 cm long.

The flower is referenced in several Chinese classic literature. 荼蘼 is Roseleaf Bramble. In China, it is the last flower in summer, signifying the coming of an end. Here's excerpts from 荼蘼:

苏轼《酴醾花菩萨泉》诗:“酴醾不争春,寂寞开最晚。”

宋代王淇的《春暮游小园》:“开到荼蘼花事了,丝丝天棘出莓墙。”荼蘼是花季盛开的最后一种花,是沉寂下去的最后一点繁华,是绚烂归于平淡的前奏。

《红楼梦》中,众女掣花签,麝月拿到的那支正是荼蘼,象征了这个平凡不起眼,灵巧美丽不如晴雯,八面玲珑不如袭人的丫头却是能陪宝玉到最后的人。

「開到荼蘼」或「開到荼䕷」出自宋代詩人王淇《春暮遊小園》詩:「一從梅粉褪殘粧,塗抹新紅上海棠,開到荼蘼花事了,絲絲天棘出莓牆」,「開到荼蘼花事了」意思是荼蘼花開時已屆初夏,春天已到盡頭,比喻某事已到尾聲。

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