Seeing Off Guo Liangfu As He Journeys East
Li Duan (743-782?)
I’d offer you advice but nothing comes,
Your carriage quickly heads back east to Qin;
These twilight years you drive a thousand miles—
As sun sets on ten thousand homes in spring.
Sòng Guō Liángfǔ Xià Dì Dōng Guī
Xiàn cè bù dé yì
Chí chē dōng chū qín
Mù nián qiān lǐ kè
Luò rì wàn jiā chūn
Transliteration and Notes
See-Off Guo Liang Fu After Eastern Return
Offer plan no get idea
Quickly carriage east go Qin-State
Evening years thousand miles traveler
Falling sun ten-thousand homes spring
“Offer plan” means to offer advice or a suggestion. “Get idea” could mean “proud of oneself.” “Evening years” means one’s declining years, old age. “Falling sun” means “setting sun” and symbolizes old age. “Spring” symbolizes youth. “Qin” is pronounced like “cheen.”
This poem ends by noting that though his friend is in his declining years, but can watch his numerous offspring: “ten thousand homes in spring.” Note also the comparison between “twilight years” and “sun sets,” “thousand miles” and “ten thousand homes,” and the slowness to come up with ideas vs. the quickness of the carrage.
Li Duan lived in Shaoshan, modern Hebei, and worked as a provincial secretary. He wrote three volumes of poetry and one of his poems was selected for the 300 Tang Poems anthology.