To my present and future friends the world over Xīn Nián Kuài Lè (新年快乐), Happy New Year! May 2014 be a year of many blessings for you all, and may the dreams of your heart come true!
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain
When I was in China I heard this beautiful Robbie Burns song played often and in any season. The Chinese love the song dearly and call it “The Friendship Song,” 友谊地久天长 (Yǒuyì dì jiǔ tiāncháng–Friendship Forever).
The song was introduced to China via a 1940 movie starring Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor: “Waterloo Bridge.” I’d never heard of this movie before going to China the first time. (There are, I think, few Westerners familiar with it.) In China Waterloo Bridge is considered a Western classic and has been used to help millions of students learn English.
In the movie (which I made sure I saw after my return from China), there is an exquisite scene of lovers dancing a “farewell waltz,” namely Auld Lang Syne.
The title of the movie in Chinese is: 魂断蓝桥 Hùn duàn lán qiáo, “Soul Lost (A Heart Broken) at Blue Bridge,” a title that captures the tender essence of the film much better than does the English title does. By the way, if you like deeply touching, thoughtful movies, Waterloo Bridge is perfect, and Vivien Leigh is extraordinary.
If you are interested, please see Martin Patience’s recent BBC article entitled How Auld Lang Syne Stormed China.
Auld Lang Syne, not that many know this (I had to do some research!), actually means “Times Long Past” in the Scots lowland language. Understood, I gather, is it’s the good old times being referred to. Here is the song sung the Scottish/ Western way, by the beautiful Norwegian singer Sissel:
Auld Lang Syne, by Sissel
Now here is the Chinese version. If you’re anything like me, at its YouTube location you’ll read the comments left by listeners. Apparently, the lyrics are very touching in Chinese. If any of my readers can share an English translation, please send them to me in the comments section below! I’d love to add them to this post. 🙂
“The Friendship Song” sung in Mandarin Chinese:
Zhídào xià yīcì (直到下一次 ),
Until next time,From my heart to yours, Ramona
The people in the photo at the top of this page are celebrating Chinese New Year at the Chinese Embassy in Indonesia in February 2013. The signs read “China Indonesia Friends Forever,” the last three signs like the song’s title.