Saturday, November 30, 2013

我的楼兰 Wǒ de Lóulán My LouLan

歌手: 云朵
Gēshǒu: Yún Duǒ
Singer: Yun Duo

Zuòqǔ: Dāo Láng
Composer: Dao Lang

作词: 苏柳
Zuòcí: Sū Liǔ
Lyrics: Su Liu

This song first came out in 2010. It is included in Yun Duo’s 2nd album《倔强》 (= Stubborn), released in May 2013.

Loulan was, in ancient times, a prosperous city near the brackish lake Lop Nur. Located on the Silk Road, known for the silk trade, it had a strategic position between China and the West. It lay within the highly contested Loulan kingdom, which disappeared in 77 BCE. The city itself disappeared about 400 years later, because the water resources dried up. The city lay engulfed by the desert until discovery in the early 20th century. In an archaeological expedition in 1980, various treasures were unearthed. Among them were mummies well preserved by the saltly-dry climate. In over 3800 years, the mummy of one woman had lost little of her beauty. At the same time she was mysterious, having Caucasian facial features. She was named “The beauty of Loulan”. This stunning discovery, now in a museum doesn’t fail to impress, as “外国人!” is often heard around the mummy, which now rests in a climatized glass case.

More under:

The poetic lyrics allow for various interpretations. My own is that the desert’s sand addresses the “Loulan” trilogy: the gone-by kingdom and the city as well as its civilization – in particular “The beauty of Loulan”. Though the dry sand led to her death, it also allowed her to prevail forever as a “sleeping beauty”.

I tried to compile several translation efforts here, if anyone has requests or suggestions for a better translation, feel free to comment or write to:
I’d like to thank for valuable inspiration:

Pau Zen
maytee Shanyib
jjss08 on
lakoje on

Each sentence is translated the following way:
1.       Simplified Chinese
2.       Pinyin
3.       Literal translation
(…) added word for better understanding or loosely translated
[…] word misplaced within sentence (according to English grammar)
4.       Liberal translation (sometimes taken straight from someone else)
5.       Vocab

沙漠 那一根  曲线
Xiǎng wèn shāmò jiè nà yī gēn qūxiàn
Want to ask the desert (spirit) to take which curve

I (the sand) want to ask the desert to take on a graceful silhouette

= gēn = classifier for slender objects e.g. cigarettes, guitar strings
曲线= qūxiàn = curve, line / a body having a curved shape

Fèng jiàn pīfēng wèi nǐ yùhán
Stitching a coat so you are warm

To stitch a coat against the wintry cold

= jiàn = measure word for matters () and clothing, furniture,…
= yù hán = resist cold

肺腑 触摸 灵魂
Yòng fèifǔ qù chùmō nǐ de línghún

Follow my heart to touch your soul

Touching your soul with my heart

Wǒ jiù zài nà zhǐ huǒlú biān qǔnuǎn
I just want to stay the fireplace [by] to keep warm

Then I’ll warm myself by the fire on your side

“the fireplace” could be the hot desert or the lady herself
= nà = classifier birds/animals/some utensils and vessels

Xiǎng wèn yīnyuán jiè nà yī gēn hóngxiàn
Want to ask the marriage (spirit) to take which red thread

I want to borrow a red thread from the God of Love

深埋生命 血脉相连
Shēn mái shēngmìng xuèmài xiānglián
[deep] buried life  |   blood vessels connect

To bury under our intertwined lives and bloodstreams

Yòng sīchóu qù rùnzé nǐ de jīfū
Using silk (to) moisten your skin

Using the silky dress to moisten your skin

Wǒ jiù zài nàgè huáibào lǐ chánmián
I just (want to be) your embrace [in] [lingering]

I am just lingering in your embrace

Nǐ zǒngshì suíshǒu bà yín zān chā zài tàiyáng shàngmiàn
You always casually place the silver hairpin on the sun [top of]

You always pierce your silver hairpin at the sun with ease

万道 光芒 蓬松着 长发 波澜
Wàn dào guāngmáng péngsōngzhe nǐ chángfà de bōlán
Ten thousand light rays fluffy your hair great waves

= zhe = aspect particle indicating action in progress
蓬松 = péngsōng = fluffy (hair)
长发 = chángfà = long hair
波澜 = bōlán = great waves

To let the beams of sunshine play in your floating hair

Wǒ wénzhe fēnfāng báshè zhe wúxiàn yuǎn
I smell your fragrance and walk endlessly far

I walk the distance of infinity after your fragrance

只为 看清 容颜
Zhǐ wèi kànqīng nǐ de róngyán
Just to see clearly your face
看清 = kànqīng = see clearly

Just to see your face

小心 倩影 月亮 上面
Nǐ zǒng bù xiǎoxīn bǎ qiànyǐng kào zài yuèliàng shàngmiàn
You always carelessly cast your beautiful shadow leaning on the moon surface
倩影 = pretty shadow, beautiful image of a woman

Now you lean against the moon in an elegant pose

万顷 月光 舞动着 优美 梦幻
Wànqǐng yuèguāng wǔdòngzhe nǐ yōuměi de mènghuàn
Innumerable beams of moonlight dance gracefully in your phantasy

万顷 = wànqǐng = vast space

Ten thousand rays of moonlight dance to your fanciful dream

Wǒ wénzhe fēnfāng báshè zhe wúxiàn yuǎn
I smell the fragrance and walk endlessly far

只为 看清 容颜
Zhǐ wèi kànqīng nǐ de róngyán
Just to see your face

美人 浴沙 河互 天地
Shuí yǔ měirén gòng yù shā hé hù wéi yī tiāndì
Who with this beauty shares a bath in rivers of sand to become earth and sky (with her)

= yǔ= together with

Who will bathe with the beauty in in the sands and rivers, serving as each other’s earth and sky?

  美人 夕阳 长醉 两千年
Shuí yǔ měirén gòng zhěn xīyáng zhǎng zuì liǎngqiānnián
Who with this beauty shares a pillow for an intoxicating 2000 years

夕阳 = xīyáng = sunset
= zuì = intoxicated, drunk

Who can rest his head on the setting sun with the beauty and relish this moment for two thousand years?

从未 说出 我是你的尘埃
Cóngwèi shuōchū wǒ shì nǐ de chén'āi
I never said I am your dust

I have never said to you that I'm only dust to you

说出 = shuōchū = to speak out,  to declare (one's view)

但你 却是 楼兰
Dàn nǐ quèshì wǒ de Lóulán
But you are truly my Loulan


  1. Thanks VERY much for parsing this beautiful song like this: a lot of work! There are others of us out there who want to understand the haunting lyrics in Chinese as much as possible. Thanks for gifting this translation to the adoring fans of this amazing singer!

  2. I am a Thai but having learned some Mandarin, I still could not translate this as beautifully as you have done.
    Thank you so much for beautiful work.