不第后赋菊: Composing Chrysanthemum [Poem] After Failing The Imperial Examination (By 黄巢 Huang Chao)

*poem mentioned in Chaos of Beauty chapter thirty-two

chrysanthemum.jpg

{{Composing Chrysanthemum [Poem] After Failing The Imperial Examination}}

Waiting for autumn to come, eighth of the ninth month,

Once my flowers bloom, hundred flowers perishes.

Bursts of fragrance soars the skies as it penetrates Chang’an,

The entire city coated in golden armoury.


《不第后赋菊》             Bù Dì Hòu Fù Jú

待到秋来九月八,         (Dài dào qiū lái jiǔ yuè bā)

我花开后百花杀。         (Wǒ huā kāi hòu bǎi huā shā)

冲天香阵透长安,         (Chōng tiān xiāng zhèn tòu cháng’ān)

满城尽带黄金甲。         (Mǎn chéng jǐn dài huáng jīn jiǎ)


The eighth of the ninth month is a day before the nine-nine festival or Chongyang Festival, where there is the custom to climb mountains and admire chrysanthemum flowers which blooms in the autumn season. [For more details: http://www.chinahighlights.com/festivals/the-double-ninth-festival.htm]

“My flowers bloom”, refers to chrysanthemum, the season they bloom, is the season other flowers (“hundred flowers”) withers and fades, thus emphasising the mighty power of chrysanthemum flowers. The line also means, once the nine-nine festival comes, the peasants shall stage an uprising, the humiliating ruling class, are they not like those hundred flowers dying away then?

During this season, particularly the season of the nine-nine festival, chrysanthemums are seen everywhere, golden armoury refers to the colour of the flower. Chrysanthemums holds great symbolism in Chinese culture, particularly in arts [additional note: it represents autumn amongst the Four Noble Ones], as it is able to rise amongst the howling winds and stands strong whilst other flowers falls, it holds such valiant and heroic image, and also portrays the poet’s heroism in waiting for an opportunity to change the world. Similarly, when the rebel army enters Chang’an dressed in battle armoury, sparkling gold under the sun, is this not heroic spirit soaring the skies?

[Note: You may recognise the final line as the Chinese title of the movie Curse of the Golden Flower]

Poem and explanation translated from: http://baike.baidu.com/subview/11236/6451789.htm

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