Words & Music: Chinese, author’s name unknown, 1980
Arranged: Miguel Heatwole, 1991
When the Chinese People’s Liberation Army sent its tanks into Tiananmen square on the fourth of June 1989 it won an easy victory over the students and workers protesting there for democracy. But, along with its dignity and any claim to honour, the military lost a song. Curiously, although Xue Ran Di Feng Tsai had originated as a patriotic army song from the border war waged by China against Vietnam in 1980, its message of individual sacrifice for a perceived common good had been appropriated by the people demonstrating in the square and was sung by them alongside The International and the March Of The Volunteers (China’s national anthem).
On several occasions we have sung this piece before an audience containing Chinese people, and their spontaneous applause as they joined in singing it with us has given us some of our most rewarding experiences.
Ye shu wo gao bie, jiang bu zai hui lai.
Ni shih fou li jie, ni shih fou ming bai.
Ye shu wo dao xia, jiang bu zai chi lai.
Ni shi fou hai yao yung jiu di chi dai.
Lu guo shi juh yang ni bu yao bei ai,
Gung he guo di chi juh shang you
Women xue ran di feng tsai.
Ye shu ni di yan jing zai bu neng zheng kai.
Wo shen shen li jie ni chen mo di ching huai.
Ye shu ni dao xia, zai bu nung shing lai.
Wo yi ding shiangshin ni hua tsu liao shan mai.
Lu guo shi juh yang wo bu hui bei ai.
Yin wei women di tu rang li
You ni fu chu di ai.
This may be farewell forever. I might never return. I hope you understand why it is that I’ve gone. Maybe I’ll fall in the struggle, never to rise again. I wonder whether you’ll still want to wait for me, without end. If it should turn out that way please feel no lingering sorrow. Sacrificial blood will colour with scarlet our Republic’s flag tomorrow.
Yes, it may happen that finally your eyes will forever be closed. I know the sincere and unspoken feelings your honesty chose. And if you fall in the struggle, in earth you’ll forever repose but, like the mountains, to me you will shine with the radiance of snow. If it should turn out that way I will try not to grieve. For the very earth that we stand on is filled with the love that you gave.