唐 杜牧 (Du Mu) (803 – 852)
清明時節雨紛紛, 路上行人欲斷魂。借問酒家何處有, 牧童遙指杏花村.
A drizzling rain falls on Qingming Festival. On their way, people’s hearts are breaking . Inquiring, where a tavern can be found? A cowherd points to the Apricot Flower Village at a distance.
(In the second sentence, the words ‘欲斷魂’ are so strong in emotion that some people interrupt this sentence as ‘People are on their way to a distant place and cannot go to sweep the tombs in their home village on the Qingming Day. This is why their hearts are breaking.’)
The character ‘眀’ should be ‘明’. Surprisingly calligraphers in the old days put extra strokes in some words. I just follow this special tradition.
宋 王禹偁 (Wáng Yǔ-chēng) (954 – 1001)
Passing the Qingming Festival without wine and flower is as lonely and dry as a monk in the wilderness.
Yesterday I asked my neighbour for a new fire (after the Hanshi Festival when all fire was extinguished); early this morning, I use the fire to light a lamp for my studies.
(Some people interpreted the second last sentence in a literal sense as ‘my neighbour begged me for a new fire’. As the word ‘乞’ means ‘to beg’, it is used to describe the poet’s own action of borrowing from the neighbour in a submissive manner, not the other way round. When referring to other people’s actions, the Chinese will definitely use a more polite and respectful term.)