The Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day, is a traditional Chinese holiday that is celebrated on the 15th day after the Spring Equinox, usually falling on April 4th or 5th. It is a time when families visit the graves of their ancestors to pay their respects and to perform ceremonial rites.
The Qingming Festival has been celebrated in China for over 2,500 years, and it is deeply rooted in Chinese culture. Many ancient Chinese poets have written poems about this festival, expressing their feelings and thoughts about life, death, and the passing of time.
One of the most famous poems about the Qingming Festival is “Qingming” by Du Mu, a Tang dynasty poet. The poem describes the beauty of the spring season and the sadness of parting with loved ones. The first few lines of the poem read:
Pure and still the swallows dart In their flight through heaven’s park, Where the trees with age are gray, And the sun now fades away.
The poem goes on to describe the customs of the festival, with people burning incense, offering food, and paying tribute to their ancestors. The final stanza reads:
Beneath the bright moon’s endless glow We sit together, every one; The graves are green with spring’s new life, And sorrow’s heart is never done.
Another famous poem about the Qingming Festival is “Ching Ming” by the poet Bai Juyi, also from the Tang dynasty. In this poem, Bai Juyi describes his journey to the grave of his friend, the poet Yuan Chen. He laments the passing of time and the inevitability of death, but also expresses his hope that their friendship will endure beyond death. The poem begins:
The air is still; the sky is calm; The birds are silent in the woods; Spring flowers in the narrow lane Are scattered, and the grass is green.
Other notable poets who have written about the Qingming Festival include Su Shi from the Song dynasty, who wrote “Qingming Shang He Tu” (Spring Outing at Qingming Festival), and Li Qingzhao, also from the Song dynasty, who wrote “Chunming Yuan” (Spring Brightness Courtyard).
In these poems, we see a reflection of the deep reverence and respect that the Chinese people have for their ancestors and for the natural cycle of life and death. The Qingming Festival is a time for remembrance, but also for celebration, as families come together to honor their loved ones and to renew their bonds of kinship.