night jasmine 夜來香

tonkin jasmine 夜來香

I spotted the little yellow flowers with beautiful scent in dad’s container garden the other day and I immediately knelt down, dug through the vines to get a better look at them and spent some time trying to get a good shot of the blooms before I asked what it was. Dad said, “This is 夜来香 (ye lai xiang)!”

I googled and found its proper name as Telosma Cordata as well as its common names Tonkin Jasmine and Chinese Violet to name a few but the Chinese name was the one that really stood out. 夜来香 (ye lai xiang) means “fragrance comes at night”, and it describes the flower’s characteristics without any need for further explanation, looking at the name you know the beautiful fragrance of these little yellow flowers is the strongest at night…

However, what was impressive about 夜来香 (ye lai xiang) to me was not how beautiful the name sounded but a song of the same name that was brought to mind the instant 夜来香 (ye lai xiang) was mentioned. It was a very famous song among the Chinese, I don’t mean the Malaysian Chinese but the Chinese the world over; a song written not in the recent years but in 1944, way before I was, or even my parents were born! But most of us today recognise this classic song, know almost all of the lyrics and sing along with it whenever it was being played or sung all because we grew up listening to it!

It was a beautiful song then it still is a beautiful song in the present 21st century in my humble opinion. It was written and composed by the famous composer of his time 黎錦光 (Li Jin Guang), sung famous by Chinese born Japanese actress/singer 李香蘭 (Li Xiang Lan)/山口淑子(Yamaguchi Yoshiko). Though it was well received at the time its popularity was short-lived as it was banned subsequently by China citing “spiritual pollution” etc during the Japanese invasion in World War II. The song was later re-interpreted by 鄧麗君(Teresa Teng) in the 80’s who gave a new lease of life to a song written 4 decades before that.

I have tried to interpret the lyrics from Chinese to English but I don’t think I have done justice to the song as one cannot capture the essence of the beautiful Chinese words in English version nor the melody in words….

那南風吹來清涼
The southern breeze is refreshingly cool
那夜鶯啼聲輕唱
The nightingale sings softly
月下的花兒都入夢
All the flowers in the moonlight have fallen asleep
只有那夜來香
Only the night jasmine
吐露著芬芳
Releasing beautiful fragrance

我愛這夜色茫茫
I love this dark and misty night
也愛這夜鶯歌唱
And also love the nightingale’s singing
更愛那花一般的夢
I love even more of the flower-like dream
擁抱著夜來香
I embrace the night jasmine
聞著夜來香
I smell the night jasmine

夜來香
Night jasmine
我為妳歌唱
I sing for you
夜來香
Night jasmine
我為妳思量
I think of you
啊~啊,我為妳歌唱
Ahhh, I sing for you
我為妳思量
I think of you

我愛這夜色茫茫
I love this dark and misty night
也愛這夜鶯歌唱
And also love the nightingale’s singing
更愛那花一般的夢
I love even more of the flower-like dream
擁抱著夜來香
I embrace the night jasmine
聞著夜來香
I smell the night jasmine

夜來香
Night jasmine
夜來香
Night jasmine
夜來香
Night jasmine

the humble "fragrance comes at night" - 夜來香

the humble “fragrance comes at night” – 夜來香

One thought on “night jasmine 夜來香

  1. Pingback: nocturnal fragrance | Colourful Threads of Life

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