Wei Yingwu Poem: For My Brothers in the Capital on Cold Food Day – 韦应物《寒食寄京师诸弟》









[1] 寒食:《荆楚岁时记》云:“冬至后一百五日谓之寒食。”

[2] 禁火:古代寒食节“禁火三日”(《荆楚岁时记》)。

[3] 流莺:莺声圆啭如流。

[4] 杜陵:汉宣帝陵,在西安府城东南十五里。韦应物是杜陵人,以此代指对家乡的思念。

For My Brothers in the Capital on Cold Food Day

Wei Yingwu

No fire is made in empty room on rainy days;

I hear alone the riverside orioles’ lays.

Drinking, I gaze on flowers and miss my brothers dear;

On Cold Food Day homeland grass grows green and drear.

In ancient China the Cold Food Day fell three days ahead of the Mourning Day, that is, the fourth or fifth day in the third lunar month. No fire was made on Cold Food Day because an ancient sage burned himself in the mountains, so people would eat cold food in mourning for him.


The poem “Sending My Brothers to the Capital on the Winter Eclipse” is a seven-line poem written by Wei Yingyou, a poet of the Tang Dynasty. The poem begins with the setting, “in the rain”, “forbidden fire” and “empty fasting”, and strives to render the atmosphere of loneliness and desolation, in which the feelings of homesickness and nostalgia are already implied. The next lines are about “listening to warblers”, “drinking wine” and “looking at flowers”, which are enjoyable, but the feeling of missing one’s hometown and relatives can never be dispelled. The last line is about the fragrant grass in the hometown of Duling, which is a subtle and meaningful way to end the love with the scene.

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