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Proverbs and Poems in Heavy Snow

◆ The weather of Major Snow Day, the first day of Major Snow, has influence on the future:

If it is not cold on the day of Major Snow, the next spring will be. (Guangxi)

If the river gets frozen on Major Snow Day, the ship can not sail on it during Winter Solstice. (Heilongjiang)

If it is sunny on the day of Major Snow, there will be lots of snow next spring. (Hebei)

If it is not cold on the day of Major Snow, it will be dry next year. (Hebei)

Snow on the day of Major Snow forecasts rich rainfall next year. (Anhui)

If the Major Snow is welcomed by cold wind, the third nine-day period after the winter solstice will be warm. (Hebei)

If the cold doesn’t come on Major Snow Day, it will not leave till the Waking of Insects. (Jiangsu, Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Guizhou, Beijing, Hebei and Shanxi)

◆ Heavy and frequent snow during the Major Snow forecasts the harvest of the next year:

A heavy snow promises a good harvest; if not, the peasants will suffer losses. (Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Shandong, Hunan and Guangdong)

The heavier the snow is, the better the wheat will grow next year. (Gansu)

A timely snow promises a good harvest. (Sichuan)

◆ In Shandong and Jilin there is a proverb that goes, “The mountain areas suffer from the snow, and low-lying land lands suffer from frost.” There are similar proverbs in Anhui, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Hebei, Henan and other provinces. Other proverbs go:

If it snows heavily at the very beginning, there will be no heavy snow; if it snows lightly at first, there will not be light snow. (Henan Jiangxi and Shandong)

Snow is no big deal, but people may be froze to death when it is melting. (Jiangxi)

Sunny days after the snow, and there will be a promised harvest. (Shanxi)

◆ Other proverbs about snow:

Snowing earlier this year forecasts the harvest. (Sichuan)

Winter snow forecasts a late spring; spring snow forecasts an early one. (Zhejiang)

Winter snow kills the grass around the field, and next year there will be fewer pests. (Guangdong)

Winter snow is more precious than spring snow. (Jiangsu, Shanxi, Guangdong, Guizhou)


[Suffering from the bitter cold of the heavy snow, I couldn’t sleep at midnight and wrote two poems (Part I)]

By Zhang Lei (Song Dynasty)

There are no people around due to the heavy snow,

I closed the wooden door and knew nothing about the outside world.

The horn sounds far away in the cold city,

The rooster crows lately in this quiet place.

The time flying away, I feel lost,

The distress or eminent are only understood by myself.

Now, what I only care about is the meal and sleep,

While the weather and Dao will last forever.

About the Poet:
Zhang Lei (1054-1114), nicknamed Wenqian, known on the streets as Keshan, was also called Master Wanqiu or Zhang Youshi. He was tall and fat, so people also called him “Fei xian” (which means fat immortal). It is said that when he was hungry, his belly would sound like thunder and his sweat drops came down like rain. According to the poems of his friends, he resembled Maitreya, a god of Buddhism. As he describes in this poem, he had experienced eminence and distress. He was one of the four most famous disciples of Su Dongpo, a well-known poet and statesman of the Song Dynasty, though his later life was very pitiful. Two of his three sons were killed in the war and the last one was killed by bandits on his way to his brothers’ funeral.


Watching the Scenery at Twilight

By Yang Wanli (Song Dynasty)

The tenth month is called little spring, while there is no sign of spring,

This solar term is called “Major Snow”, but where is the snow?

The sunset cares nothing about the darkness of the west mountain,

It only shines on the east hills.
About the poet:

Yang Wanli(1127-1206), nicknamed Yanxiu, a.k.a. as Chengzhai, was born in Jishui of Jizhou prefecture (in modern-day Jiangxi province). He was a great poet in the Southern Song Dynasty. In his life, he wrote more than twenty thousand poems, though only a small number of them are left today. It is said that all the poems he wrote before his thirty-fifth birthday were burned by himself. He liked to read and write poems when he was young, and at the beginning, he learned from the poems written by famous poets. His early poems were full of exquisite phrases and literary quotation, but without his own style. To change it, Yang gathered all his poems and burned them all. After that, he went into nature frequently and talked to the common people. He observed the details of daily life and recorded his own feelings about the natural scenery and his concerns about the country with his own words. To make his poems clear and simple, he used colloquial words in his poems. Gradually, he formed his own style and had a deep influence on later poetry.

The poet is also famous for his love of tea. Even when he was sick, he would have seven or eight bowls of tea every day. He drank so much tea at night that he couldn’t sleep, but he still could not give it up.


Border Songs III

By Lu Lun (Tang Dynasty)

In the dim moonlight wild geese flew high in the sky,

In the dark fled the tartar chieftain.

The general was about to lead a light cavalry to chase,

Then came heavy snow clad in bows and glaives.


About the poem:

The Border Songs are mostly about wars over the border. This is the third one of Lu Lun’s six Border Songs. Lu used to be the assistant to a general, and had experienced the military life. Thus his description is rich and close to the substantial life. This poem is about the actions of a general chasing the enemy with his cavalrymen in a snowy night.

The first two lines are about the fleeing of the enemy. In the night, the moon is covered by the clouds and it is dark. The wild geese are frightened out of their sleep and fly high in the sky. On this unusual night, the enemies flee away. In the Tang Dynasty, the tartar chieftains often led their people to invade.

The last two lines are about the chasing of the general. He tracks down his enemy as they attempt to escape, and chases them with his cavalry. Just as they are leaving, a heavy snow starts and immediately the bows and glaives of the soldiers are covered by the snowflakes. This highlights the tough war conditions and the courage and energy of the warriors.

The intense atmosphere is totally expressed by the escape and the chasing. Though the chasing process and the fierce battle were not described directly, the poet fires our imaginations.

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