Thank you for putting up that beautiful poem, 清明 (Qing Ming) by renowned Tang Dynasty poet, Du Mu. In response to your questions, here are my comments.
It drizzles endless during the rainy season in spring,
Travelers along the road look gloomy and miserable.
When I ask a shepherd boy where I can find a tavern,
He points at a distant hamlet nestling amidst apricot blossoms.
Du Mu's poem depicts, to a great extent, the sentiment of those people during that era (i.e. Tang dynasty) when Buddhism was widely followed by the Chinese society.
Du Mu was describing the mood of the people who went tomb-sweeping. While on their way to the cemeteries, they reminisced about their deceased loved ones and wished they could repay their (deceased) kindness.
The atmosphere is serene, with light drizzle, and the air is cool (return of spring). The flowers are blooming - mainly the xin hua [杏花 ], a flower which was common in the area south of the Yang Tze River [江南地带 ], known to be land of ‘fish and rice’ [ 鱼米之乡 ]. That is why Du Mu put it in as the last line of his poem. It is a beautiful picture. Must be in the countryside where the graves are found. The air is crisp and cool. The shepherd boy is minding the cows. The tomb-sweepers were on their way to the graves to remember their loved ones...in total sadness...[欲 = thinking of, or looks like ]
Also, the word, ‘travelers’ [行人] does not necessarily mean they are people who go tomb-sweeping. It could also mean those lonely travelers e.g. traders from afar. When they think of their deceased loved ones, they like to buy themselves a few cups of wine to drown their sorrow; what's more, accompanied by the timely atmosphere - crispy air and light drizzle. I am sure you have come across the ancient Chinese brush painting ［山水画］
In case some of your readers prefer a Chinese version of the explanation of the poem, I provide it below:
This leads me to your 2nd question about the Chinese idiom concerning filial piety. It reads:
This line explains the time when the son (descendant) wants to repay his parents' kindness, but they are already gone!. This is probably taken from Confusius‘ collection:
Finally, here's my version that sounds rather crude and rude: (hey, I was only a kid!)
My Qing Ming poem has to be taken in the Singapore context though, where the weather is always hot and humid. It goes:
Come to think of it, my inspiration came from spending nights at your Lorong Kinchir place back in the late 60s/early 70s when the human waste was collected and disposed of at the sewerage centre, so called [ 屎塘 ].
The tracks at Pik San Teng were non-tarmac, and when the weather was dry and humid, one could feel the roasting dust ［路焦焦］. Banana trees ［香牙蕉］were common among the kampong area; but you need to buy – its not free. The reader has to read my version in Cantonese to bring out the ‘aroma’.
(Not sure if it is appropriate to post this naughty poem on your blog – but then you asked for it. Haha)
Posted by Simon Chu, Scotland.
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