a Beauty Living Far Away
The above link refers to one of the most famous Chinese songs. It’s been sung by many celebrated singers, including the internationally renowned Chinese American, Leehom Wang. Some singers sang this song in Mandarin when conducting a performance in China, even if they don’t speak Mandarin. One of China’s space explorers broadcast this song in the space to find alien life forms that have the ability to understand the earth’s civilization.
However, being famous doesn’t necessarily mean every bit of it appeals to me. Let’s look into the lyrics of this song, and then you can decide for yourself whether it’s good or not.
What's your opinoin on this song?
I wish I could be a little sheep,
And accompany her.
I’d like her whip,
To gently hit me every day.
From this part, we learn that the beauty is probably a shepherd. Perhaps, the author wants to say he admires the sheep, which can accompany the beauty -- this is fine.
But saying that he wants the girl to beat him like an animal with a whip sounds very sick to me. This is almost a claim that he's masochistic!
Another possible psychology of the author is that he believes the girl has both nice appearance and personality. But has she? This stranger will pet him, who has transformed himself into a sheep because of love? This assumption is very stupid as it is just based on his own wish.
Besides, love must be formed on the basis of equality. There’s no love between an enslaved sheep and his master who beats him arbitrarily. Humility helps to earn respect. But don't confuse humility with slavery.
This song is considered by many people to be of love theme. But what I see is the author's obsession with love, and that he's terribly disturbed by it. This is not worth appreciation.
Other than this, the song is classic. I’m especially fond of its tune.
I would live a vagrant life in the grassland,
And shepherd with her so that
Every day, I’d see her pink face,
And beautiful clothing with golden braid.
Now the author has changed his tone from saying ‘You are so beautiful!’ to ‘I love you and I want to marry you!’. He’s even determined to live a humble life for his pursuit of love.
So far, it’s so good. But something undesirable appears in the next part.
Translation in black.
My comment in blue.
Far far away,
There’s a nice girl.
Every time people pass her tent by,
They would keep looking back in admiration while walking distant away.
This is the Chinese way of portraying a beauty. Western literature tends to describe a beauty in detail to convince readers. But sometimes, such a beauty is not of my taste, or may not be attractive to all westerners. Unlike western literature, this piece doesn’t really tell what the beauty is like. Instead, it portrays a remote figure (living in a remote place) with legendary beauty (illustrated by the way people admire her beauty).
Her pink face,
Is like the red sun.
Her beautiful and attractive eyes,
Are like the bright moon.
Then, the song begins to describe her appearance, but only briefly and vaguely. A pink face is very common among young Asian girls who have good skin. It says something about attractive eyes, but what are the attractive eyes like? The answer is not given directly, and is open to interpretation. This leaves readers with space to imagine their version of the beauty, so that no reader would be disappointed with the author’s perspective of beauty and stop listening. The Chinese way of portraying beauty is still used well in this part of the lyrics.