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I'm attempting to understand this very haunting song 别后 and I have a number of questions, I hope it is OK to put them all in a single post.

Numbers refer to the lines in the transcription below.

2- 眼神兜一兜 literally, seems like he's shaking himself to rouse himself to full consciousness, correct?

5- 别后见真情 I'm thinking this probably means that being apart tests the relationship to see whether it is genuine, is this the correct understanding?

8- 同在世间生 同耕世上土 is 同 here referring to humanity in general, born into the world and ploughing the soil "like everyone" or the listener "the same as you"?

11- 恩怨 refers only to enmity/grievance so it would be "grievances and worries", not "kindnesses, grievances and worries" correct?

13- 血染生灵心 I'm assuming 灵心 is the object, and 染 is a verb. Blood is colouring 灵心. Should this be understood as something violent and unnatural ("bloodstain") or an animating quality? 灵心 it seems is something like the will of a deity or the teleology of nature.

13- 谁人凶刃手 is this 凶手 (murderer), if so why is 刃 separating the two characters?

18- 海阔天空心 常比日月久 First part seems to be about broadness of spirit, second part says "often longer (of duration) than the sun and moon". Does this mean that 海阔天空心 is virtually eternal, outlasting the heavenly bodies, or just capable of outlasting some period of time (days and/or months)?

19- 顶天立地身 Standing on the ground, pressing up against the sky with his head. I'm trying to understand the imagery, is it that he's making a supreme effort that will change the universe, or could it be more like "standing his ground"?

My biggest question is, who is the singer and what is his relationship with the other person in the song, who seems to have met with disaster. Did the singer kill him, or is he accusing a third party?

The only clues I have been able to find, are that the song was used as the theme for a gangster movie 我在黑社会里的日子, which seems to fit with the first reading, and that it's been connected with the traumatic events of 1989, which would fit with the last line as "Give me back my freedom" seems more influenced by modern ideologies than traditional Chinese culture.

Has the author Lo Ta-yu ever spoken about this?

Below is the transcription of the lyrics:

手指勾一勾 两人心在此
眼神兜一兜 可爱的样子
转身掉头去 谁的俏身影
别时多珍重 别后见真情
嘿呦哼嘿呦 天地的真情

人在世间生 谁无亲父母
血肉身连心 养大焉知苦
同在世间生 同耕世上土
同担日月天 同甘人世福
嘿呦哼嘿呦 天地的赐福

人在江湖上 几多恩怨尤
本是同根生 何以自相剖
血染生灵心 谁人凶刃手
绝灭天理处 谁人在怒吼
嘿呦哼嘿呦 天地的怒吼

人在风尘中 随风四飘流
好恶终有报 只分迟或早
海阔天空心 常比日月久
顶天立地身 只为换自由
嘿呦哼嘿呦 天地的自由

嘿呦哼嘿呦 还我的自由
还我的自由

Here is my working translation, please feel free to critique.

After Parting

A finger beckons, two hearts are in this place
I rouse myself, to see a loveable form
I turn my head and look, whose appealing figure is this?
When you leave take care, after parting you'll see if it's true love.

Hey oh, m hey oh, true love of heaven and earth.

Who among this world, did not have a mother and father?
Flesh and blood join hearts, who knows the effort of parents
Born into this world, ploughed the soil like you 
Worked both night and day, had times of joy like you.

Hey oh, m hey oh, happiness given by heaven and earth.

Out in the wilds, so many grievances and worry
Born of the same root, why butcher each other?
Bloodstained heart and spirit, whose hand struck the blow?
In the place where humanity was extinguished, who now roars in anger?

Hey oh, m hey oh, heaven and earth roar in anger.

Amid the flying dust, drifting with the four winds
Good and bad have their reward, it's only a question of time.
Broadness of heart often outlasts a few seasons
If I stand and brace the sky and earth, it's only in exchange for my freedom.

Hey oh, m hey oh, freedom given by heaven and earth.
Hey oh, m hey oh, give me back my freedom.
Give me back my freedom.

1 Answer 1

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"弹唱词-别后" was Mr. Lo written for the movie "我在黑社会的日子(周润主演)". He was the composer, the lyric writer, and the singer. (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xr6BKILPxfs). I couldn't find any information beyond the above.

Below is my response (in bold) to your effort.

1- "手指勾一勾 两人心在此" (pinky) Finger hooks (pinky) finger, two hearts are in this place

2- "眼神兜一兜 可爱的样子" describes the girl with her eyes rolling around and around, it looked so lovely/cute.

5- 别后见真情 I'm thinking this probably means that being apart tests**/will reveal** the relationship to see whether it is genuine, is this the correct understanding? (Correct)

8- 同在世间生 同耕世上土 is "(we) born into the same world and ploughing the same soil (of earth).

11- 恩怨 refers mostly to enmity/grievance so it would be "enmity andˉgrievances", not "kindnesses, grievances and worries" correct? (For simplicity, it is acceptable. The full text is "恩惠和仇怨", as the songwriter is describing an underworld person constantly giving or receiving kindness to/from others, incurring hatred and suffering grievances.)

13- 血染生灵心 I'm assuming 灵心 is the object, and 染 is a verb. Blood is colouring 灵心. Should this be understood as something violent and unnatural ("bloodstain") or an animating quality? 灵心 it seems is something like the will of a deity or the teleology of nature. (I think 生灵心 is one word. This phrase means "a person's heart covered in blood". Note the following phrase is "谁人(是那窮)凶(惡極的)刃手", which is asking who is the killer.)

18- 海阔天空心 常比日月久 First part seems to be about broadness (unrestrained and far-ranging) of spirit, second part says "often longer (of duration) than/outlast the sun and moon". Does this mean that 海阔天空心 is virtually eternal, outlasting the heavenly bodies/universe? (Yes, as the famous saying - spirits last forever - 精神永存.)

19- 顶天立地身 Standing on the ground, pressing up against the sky with his head (顶天立地 is derived from the saying "上對得起天,下對得起地", and it simply means "正直" - upright (of the moral correctness). I'm trying to understand the imagery, is it that he's making a supreme effort that will change the universe, or could it be more like "standing his ground"? ("顶天立地身 只为换自由" - "Staying morally correct (only) to exchange for freedom (stay out of gangland troubles.)"

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  • Thanks for your insights! Commented Jul 4 at 22:19
  • So it seems the song was written for the movie, which is significant and gives context. Commented Jul 4 at 22:21
  • Yes, "还有一些散曲,如为影片《我在黑社会的日子》所写的《弹唱词(别后)》(影片采用粤语版《飞沙风中转》, 粤语作詞,林振强, 主唱兼主演周润发)。这首歌用平平淡淡的语调唱出了朴素的人文思想,是罗大佑赴港后最好的作品之一,后来收入《罗大佑自选集》。" - angelfire.com/sk/jiuxin/backyard/plagiarist46.htm
    – r13
    Commented Jul 4 at 22:54

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