Farewell to Prefect Du by Wang Bo 杜少府之任蜀州 (王勃)

You leave the town walled far and wide

For mist-veiled land by riverside.

I feel on parting sad and drear,

For both of us are strangers here.

lf you have friends who know your heart,

Distance cannot keep you apart.

At crossroads where we bid adieu,

Do not shed tears as women do!









This is a farewell poem. Feeling the sorrows of parting, the poet couldn’t bear  to see his friend leave, but did not want to be overwhelmed by the sentimental mood. He encouraged his friend to be broad-minded, ambitious and optimistic.

The poem begins with the parting place, the surroundings and the direction in which his friend would go. In the second couplet, the poet tells us the characters and what was happening. The twenty characters in the first two couplets describe such a scene: the poet was reluctantly bidding farewell to a friend, also an official, outside the Chang-an City, and then each went his own way. The third couplet is so famous that it has often been quoted at parting and widely loved for over a thousand years. He means that if two friends have mutual affinity, encouragement and support, they can each feel the solicitude and affection of the other even though they are far away from each other and they are closely related as if they were next-door neighbors. This couplet often makes one feel broad-minded and inspired. The last couplet echoes with the subject of “parting”. The poet tries to console his friend not to be sad. The couplet displays his optimistic attitude and vividly depicts a moving scene of parting.

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