Old Chinese Burial Songs For Royalty and Common Men


Discovered in the 1918 book “A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems”, translated by Arthur Waley.

Works in the public domain.

“The dew on the garlic-leaf,” sung at the burial of kings and princes.

How swiftly it dries,
The dew on the garlic-leaf,
The dew that dries so fast
To-morrow will fall again.
But he whom we carry to the grave
Will never more return.

“The Graveyard,” sung at the burial of common men.

What man’s land is the graveyard?
It is the crowded home of ghosts, —
Wise and foolish shoulder to shoulder.
The King of the Dead claims them all;
Man’s fate knows no tarrying.

This article was originally published on Medium on May 17, 2022.


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