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What does the word '悲亡' mean? I found it in a verse by 北岛 : 大海为生者悲亡,the ocean suffers for the living beings.

  • How about more context? – user19549 Jun 23 '18 at 16:12
  • the ocean suffers for the living beings is very unlikely to be the meaning, if you look at the previous verse. Hint: it semantically matches 鄉愁如亡國之君. – dROOOze Jun 23 '18 at 16:14
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    Without more context, I would comprehend 大海为生者悲亡 the person who lives upon the sea suffered a tragic death. My English translation might not be that good. So, 悲亡 means tragic death. Hope you could get what I mean. – dan Jun 24 '18 at 1:40
  • 大海为生者悲亡 (the tide of) the ocean of life's sadness is away . Is it possible to understand this verse like: the Ocean's grief for the death of the human beings? rosa – Rosa Jun 25 '18 at 19:27
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北岛 (中国当代诗人、香港中文大学教授)

He's relaxing, forgetting life's worries for a while.

过冬
Pass the winter

醒来:北方的松林——
(I'm) Awake: (to this) Northern Pine Forest
大地紧迫的鼓声
(I hear) Earth's urgent drumbeat,
树干中阳光的烈酒
Tree trunks in the sunshine intoxicate (me),
激荡黑暗之冰
surging dark and cold
而心与狼群对喊
and (my) heart howls back to the wolves

风偷走的是风 (not too sure about this)
(what) the wind steals is (just) wind
冬天因大雪的债务
the lack of winter snow
大于它的隐喻
is like a metaphor for
乡愁如亡国之君
a homesick forgotten country's ruler
寻找的是永远的迷失
the sought after is eternally lost

大海为生者悲亡
(the tide of) the ocean of life's sadness is away
星星轮流照亮爱情——
the stars take turn to light up love
谁是全景证人
who bears witness to the scene
引领号角的河流
lead the way loud river
果园的暴动
(to the) orchard of rebellion

听见了吗?我的爱人
can you hear? My lover
让我们手挽手老去
let us hand in hand forever go
和词语一起冬眠
with words together hibernate
重织的时光留下死结
reweave time, leave behind problems
或未完成的诗
or unfinished verse

  • 大海为生者悲亡 (the tide of) the ocean of life's sadness is away – Rosa Jun 25 '18 at 19:22
  • 大海为生者悲亡 (the tide of) the ocean of life's sadness is away is a wrong interpretation. – dan Jun 26 '18 at 0:02
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It could be (靠)[大海][为生者][悲亡] He who depend on the ocean to live dies a sorrow death

Or more likely:

"大海 (the ocean) 为生者(for the livings) 悲(feel sorrow for) 亡(their death)"

"The ocean feels sorrow for the livings' death"

The ocean lives for eons, the livings' lives are so fleeting compare to it

  • 大海为生者悲亡 (the tide of) the ocean of life's sadness is away . Is it possible to understand this verse like: the Ocean's grief for the death of the human beings? – Rosa Jun 25 '18 at 19:22
  • 'grief ' means the Ocean feels sad for human's death, 'feel sorrow' is like the Ocean 'pity' the human, which is more likely – Tang Ho Jun 25 '18 at 19:59
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I put an answer here to spell it out for you.

No. 大海为生者悲亡 (the tide of) the ocean of life's sadness is away is a wrong interpretation.

Let's break down 大海为生者悲亡.

大海为生: live upon the ocean, used as an attributive to modify 者;

者: someone, a person, the subject for this sentence;

悲亡: a tragic death, which is used as a verb here as a predicate for the whole sentence.

So, {大海为生}者(subject) 悲亡(verb). I interpreted it as the comment I put above: The person who lives upon the sea suffered a tragic death. But you can develop your own sentence based upon that.

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「亡」does not mean death in this poem (and doesn't even mean primarily mean death; the base meaning is to lose something, and is cognate to「忘」, which means to lose one's memory; forget). With that out of the way, such phrases should be interpreted in the context of the whole poem.

The first three verses of 過冬 (Passing Winter) are (paraphrased with my own translation):

醒來:北方的松林——

Forests of the North have awoken;

大地緊迫的鼓聲

the land trembles under thunderous drumbeats.

樹幹中陽光的烈酒

The piercing rays of the sun washes over the trees,

激盪黑暗之冰

and floods the snow under the dark shadows.

而心與狼群對喊

My heart responds to the howling of wolves.


風偷走的是風

The Wind is powerless against the cold; for

冬天因大雪的債務

Winter is far mightier

大于它的隱喩

than the snow that caused it.

鄉愁如亡國之君

Its yearning is like that of an Exiled King,

尋找的是永遠的迷失

searching for that which is forever lost.


大海爲生者悲亡

The Vast Oceans are the Sorrows of a Wanderer,

星星輪流照亮愛情——

yet the Twinkling Stars can guide those who are lost.

誰是全景證人

Whence do we find someone with the strength and wisdom

引領號角的河流

to lead the Rebellion against Winter, Calling for the rivers to flow

果園的暴動

and the orchards to bloom again?

The meaning of 大海爲生者悲亡 should be interpreted as 大海爲生者之悲「與」亡. For a person trying to get through Winter (coldness; exile; melancholy), we can compare such a person to a person lost at sea (great oceans are the cause of such a person's sorrow 生者之悲, and the cause of their loss/wandering/melancholy 生者之亡).

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