The Autumn in Chinese Culture: 秋 Qiū

9 Oct

It’s autumn in Beijing now. This is the most beautiful season of Beijing. Do you know how to express autumn in Mandarin Chinese? 

Autumn (秋天 qiūtiān) has always been a season (季节 jìjié) that is full of meanings endowed by human.

In the western (西方的 xīfāng de) culture (文化 wénhuà), it is a season of harvest (丰收 fēngshōu), which has become autumn’s dominated image. It is also a season of melancholy (忧郁 yōuyù), with its grey (灰色 huīsè) sky and falling leaves (树叶 shùyè).
Same as in the western culture, autumn in Chinese culture has various associations too. There is no season that has been mentioned and portrayed (描述 miáoshù) so many times in literature (文学 wénxué) as autumn: autumn rain (秋雨 qiūyǔ), autumn leaves (秋叶 qiūyè), autumn moon (秋月 qiūyuè), autumn night (秋夜 qiūyè), autumn sound (秋声 qiūshēng), autumn color (秋色 qiūsè), autumn melancholy (秋愁 qiūchóu), autumn dream (秋梦 qiūmèng), autumn memorization (秋忆 qiūyì)…
There was once a great poet that used only 9 Chinese words, but fully described the autumn loneliness:

枯藤 (kūténg) 老树 (lǎoshù) 昏鸦 (hūnyā),
小桥 (xiǎoqiáo) 流水 (liúshuǐ) 人家 (rénjiā),
古道 (gǔdào) 西风 (xīfēng) 瘦马 (shòumǎ),
夕阳 (xīyáng) 西下 (xīxià),断肠人 (duànchángrén) 在天涯 (zài tiānyá)。
Withered vines, old trees, and crows in the dusk;
Small bridge, flowing water, some cottages;
Ancient road, west wind, scrawny horse;
The evening sun setting in the west;
A heartbroken man is far away from home.


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