The poem 守岁 by 李世民 ends with the following line:


It's apparently a well-known line and even Chairman Xi used it in one of his speeches:



There doesn't seem to be a lot of English translations though. Here are two I found:

Two poems for guarding the year (one for Taizong, and the other for Dazhou)

We celebrate the new year and the old,
and welcome each other for a night.


All people celebrate the turn of old and new year,
Greeting and Seeing-off one night with good cheer;

Do other translations not exist? (Published translations would be preferable.)

2 Answers 2


I think the translations you provided does not accurately reflect the literal Chinese meanings. Although I do not know other published translation, I can explain the poem word by word, so that you can have a better understanding of its meaning.

In the first part "共欢新故岁": "共" means "together". "欢" means "happy" or in this case "celebrate". "新" means "new". "故" means "old" and in this case, it means "the past". "岁" means "age" in modern Chinese, but here in ancient Chinese, it also means "year".

In the second part "迎送一宵中": "迎" means "welcome". "送" means "send" or "farewell". "一" means "one". "宵" means "night". "中" means "within" in this case.

So the poem should mean "Together we celebrate the new and old year. The welcoming of the new year and the farewell to the old year are both within this night."

What I wrote is just a literal translation. There might be other translations as Chinese and English are culturally different and it is very hard to translate literature works. Also, ancient Chinese often have multiple meanings so it is also very difficult to interpret poems using modern Chinese. Hence, different people will definitely have different interpretations.

  • Is there such a possibility that "新" does not mean "new" but means "make...new"?
    – T-Pioneer
    Commented Aug 23, 2020 at 11:36
  • That is possible. This is a grammatical phenomenon in ancient Chinese called "使动用法" ("causative". I'm not sure if it is translated in that way). In ancient Chinese, adjectives and nouns can sometimes be used as causative verbs.
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 13:27

Have a look here.

Well, I had to try, but I can't reach the 'crypticity' of Chinese:

Evening sun slants on the palace halls, years beautify this already beautiful palace.
Cold go, go winter snow, bring warm spring wind.
Scented steps release plum fragrance, hold offerings and red candles.
All happy at New, Old Year time, this welcome lasts on through the night.

fragrant palace hall: gorgeous palace. Following beautiful palace also the same.

beautiful: used as verb, make .... beautiful.

fragrance: fragrance.

plate flowers: this indicates an offering.

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