Chinese Poem: 乡愁 Xiangchou (Nostalgia) by 余光中 Yu Guangzhong

By Ling-Ling Lisa Shih

Yu Guangzhong (余光中),a Contemporary poet

Yu Guangzhong_Wikipedia

乡愁 余光中 乡愁 余光中



乡愁 by 余光中


小时侯 乡愁是一枚小小的邮票
我在这头 母亲在那头
长大后 乡愁是一张窄窄的船票
我在这头 新娘在那头

我在外头 母亲在里头
而现在 乡愁是一湾浅浅的海峡
我在这头 大陆在那头


by Yu Guangzhong

When I was a child,
Nostalgia seemed a small stamp:
“Here am I
And there ……my mother.”

Then I was a grown-up,
Nostalgia became a traveling ticket:
“Here am I
And there……my bride.”

During the later years,
Nostalgia turned to be a graveyard:
“Here am I
And yonder……my mother.”

And now at present,
Nostalgia looms large to be a channel:
“Here am I
And yonder……my Continent!”

Lyric in PDF: Xiang Chou_Pinyin and Chinese character

xiāng chóu guāng zhōng xiǎo shí hou4 xiāng chóu shì méi xiǎo xiǎo
乡愁 by 余光 小时 候◆ 乡愁 小小
de yóu piào zài zhè tóu qīn zài tóu zhǎng hòu xiāng chóu
邮票 母亲 长大 乡愁
shì zhāng zhǎi zhǎi de chuán piào zài zhè tóu xīn niáng
张窄窄 船票 新娘
zài tóu hòu lái ā xiāng chóu shì fāng ǎi ǎi de fén
后来 乡愁 一方 坟墓
zài wài tóu qīn zài tou ér xiàn zài xiāng chóu shì
在外 母亲 里头 现在 乡愁
wān qiǎn qiǎn de hǎi xiá zài zhè tóu zài tóu
海峡 大陆

See the following for different translation versions of this poem:


translation: 杨钟琰

When I was a child,
Nostalgia seemed a small stamp:
“Here am I
and there my mother.”

Then I was a grown-up,
Nostalgia became a traveling ticket:
“Here am I
And there my bride.”

During the later years
Nostalgia turned to be a graveyard:
“Here am I
And yonder my mother.”

And now at present
Nostalgia looms large to be a channel:
“Here am I
and yonder my Continent!”

Vocabulary for Xiang Chou (Nostalgia)

ID Chinese Trad. Pinyin English Definition
ID Chinese Trad. Pinyin English Definition
1 乡愁 鄉愁 xiāngchóu homesickness; nostalgia
2 余光 guāng


The poet’s name
3 zhōng China; Chinese; surname Zhong; within; among; in; middle; center; while (doing sth); during; (dialect) OK; all right
4 小时候 小時候 xiǎo shíhou in one’s childhood
5 shì is; are; am; yes; to be; variant of ; (used in given names)
6 one; 1; single; a (article); as soon as; entire; whole; all; throughout; “one” radical in Chinese characters (Kangxi radical 1); also pr. for greater clarity when spelling out numbers digit by digit
7 méi surname Mei; classifier for coins, rings, badges, pearls, sporting medals, rockets, satellites etc; tree trunk; whip; wooden peg, used as a gag for marching soldiers (old)
8 小小 xiǎoxiǎo very small; very few; very minor
9 de of; ~’s (possessive particle); (used after an attribute); (used to form a nominal expression); (used at the end of a declarative sentence for emphasis)
10 邮票 郵票 yóu piào (postage) stamp; Classifiers:
11 I; me; my
12 zài (located) at; (to be) in; to exist; in the middle of doing sth; (indicating an action in progress)
13 zhè this; these; (commonly pr. before a classifier, esp. in Beijing)
14 tóu head; hair style; the top; end; beginning or end; a stub; remnant; chief; boss; side; aspect; first; leading; classifier for pigs or livestock; Classifiers:
15 母亲 母親 qīn mother; also pr.
16 that; those; then (in that case); commonly pr. before a classifier, esp. in Beijing
17 长大 長大 zhǎng to grow up
18 hòu surname Hou; empress; queen; back; behind; rear; afterwards; after; later
19 zhāng surname Zhang; to open up; to spread; sheet of paper; classifier for flat objects, sheet; classifier for votes
20 zhǎi narrow; narrow-minded; badly off
21 船票 chuánpiào ship ticket
22 新娘 xīnniáng bride
23 后来 後來 hòu lái afterwards; later
24 ā interjection of surprise; Ah!; Oh!
25 一方 fāng a party (in a contract or legal case); one side; area; region
26 ǎi low; short (in length)
27 坟墓 墳墓 fén sepulcher; tomb
28 在外 zài wài outer
29 里头 裡頭 tou inside; interior
30 ér and; as well as; and so; but (not); yet (not); (indicates causal relation); (indicates change of state); (indicates contrast)
31 现在 現在 xiàn zài now; at present; at the moment; modern; current; nowadays
32 wān bay; gulf; to cast anchor; to moor (a boat)
33 qiǎn shallow; light (color)
34 海峡 海峽 hǎi xiá channel; strait
35 大陆 大陸 mainland China (reference to the PRC); continent; mainland; Classifiers:

Videos 余光中《乡愁》朗诵

Downloadable Worksheets 

Xiang Chou_Lyric_Worksheet

Xiang Chou_Pinyin and Chinese character

Xiang Chou_Vocabulary Worksheets


Xiang Chou_Vocabulary List

Vocabulary Quiz Worksheet for Nostalgia

Questions for Class Discussion:

  1. How many stanzas can the poem be divided into? Can you find different time periods in the poem? 
  2. What are the four key nouns/objects the poet uses to symbolize “homesickness?”
  3. What are the measure words used with these four objects/nouns?

Vocabulary Quiz Worksheet for Nostalgia (乡愁)

By Ling-Ling Shih

Select an appropriate time phrase, location vocabulary, or a measure word to fill in the following blanks.

后来    现在  长大后   小时候

这头   里头   那头

湾      张    方    枚



我在这头 母亲在_________



我在这头 新娘在那头



我在外头 母亲在________



我在________ 大陆在那头

Listen the clip of the following video between 14:30 to 15:45 to hear the poem and see the poet in the video:

For Teacher only: Lesson_Plan for YuGuangZhong_Poem-Nostalgia or go to the following link: Lesson Plan for Yu Guang Zhong’s Xiang Chou

By Ling-Ling Lisa Shih

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