Written in October 1929
人生易老天難老.—Ren2 sheng yi4 lao3 tian nan2 lao3.
歲歲重陽,————–Sui4 sui4 Chongyang,
今又重陽.————–Jin you4 Chongyang.
戰地黃花份外香.—Zhan4 di4 huang2 hua fen4 wai4 xiang.
一年一度秋風勁,—Yi nian2 yi du4 qiu feng jing4.
不似春光,————–Bu4 si4 chun guang,
勝似春光.————–Sheng4 si4 chun guang.
寥廓江天萬里霜.—Liao2 kuo4 jiang tian wan4 li3 shuang.
Men can grow old but not the sky.
The Double Nine Festival occurs every year,
Today is the Festival of Double Nine.
The yellow flowers growing in the battlefields are more fragrant.
Once a year the autumn wind blows strongly.
It is not like the spring time,
But now it is better than the spring time.
There are frosts in the boundless sky.
The festival of Double Nine (重陽 Chong Yang) occurs every year on the 9th
day of the 9th month in the Lunar Calendar. It occurred on October 11, in
1929 in the Solar Calendar when Mao Zedong wrote this poem.
On June 22, 1929, in the 7th Congress meeting of the 4th Red Army at Longyan (龍岩) in west Fujian province (福建省), Mao Zedong was being criticized for practicing the "Patriarchal System 家長制" by Zhe De (朱德) and Chen Yi (陳毅). In the election Mao Zedong was not elected as the Secretary of the Military Committee.
He left the 4th Red Army and went to work in Shanghang (上杭), where he
had a severe attack of malaria and he nearly died of it. He was sick for
five months and began to recover in November 1929. In September 1929 Zhou Enlai (周恩來) had taken charge of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party in Shanghai (上海). Knowing that Mao Zedong was not a member in the Military Committee of the 4th Red Army Zhou Enlai wrote and directed the 4th Red Army to reinstate Mao Zedong as the Secretary of the Military Committee of the 4th Red Army. On November 26, 1929, Mao Zedong was reinstated as the Secretary of the Military Committee according to the directive of the " September Letter".
This poem was written when he was a malaria sufferer. This was how he felt about life while he was lying on bed.
CHUNG Yoon-Ngan (鄭永元)