Dongdasong東茶頌 Translation and Analysis(1): Song頌, is a type of poem in praise of things such as nations, people or natural things. It might be translated as a Eulogy or Hymn. Thus, this title could be translated as Hymn in Praise of Eastern Tea. This Hymn was composed by the Venerable Choui Ui-sun at the command of Haegeo-doin—it is said so by following the title. The texts consists of 17 quatrains with Choui’s annotations inserted following the relevant line. I present here my translation of this text quatrain by quatrain. Then I will provide my analysis mainly based on Choui’s annotations in the following.
The great tree, with the virtue of the tangerine, grown in Heaven and Earth,
It lives in the southern regions, obeying the order of unmoving.
Its flourishing leaves struggle against sleet to stay green during the winter,
Analysis: This quatrain closely relate to the Hymn in Praise of Tangerine橘頌written by Quyuan屈原(342BC-278BC), who also is regarded as one of the most prominent figures of Romanticism in Chinese classical literature. He lived in the Warring State period in Ancient China. Quyuan wrote:
The great tree grown in Heaven and Earth,
Obeying the order of unmoving,
Living in the southern regions.
Quatrain 1 shows that 1) it is related to the Hymn in Praise of tangerine橘頌written by Quyuan屈原, and
2) It praises the virtue of the tea tree, that is, unmoving. Unmoving means loyalty. Qu Yuan is regarded as a prime example of patriotism in China. His legend of committing a ritual suicide by wading into the Miluo river holding a rock as a form of protest against the fall and the corruption of his nation when his nation Chu was captured by the state of Qin. Thus, the virtue of unmoving relates to the virtue of loyalty. It could be loyalty to the nation. It also could be loyalty to the family. This is the reason why there is a tea ritual in weddings in China and Korea because the tea (tree) has the virtue of unmoving, thus the new couple (mainly the woman) would be loyal to the family.
3) It also praises the virtue of the tea tree’s ability to survive after struggling against difficulties. This praise often could be found in Chinese literature to praise the virtue of plants.