A cold rain mingled with the Eastern Stream at night;
At dawn you leave the Southern hills lonely in haze.
If my friends in the North should ask if I’m ail right,
My heart is free of stain as ice in crystal vase.
This farewell poem was written when the poet was demoted to Jiangning (today’s 上 Nanjing) and he was seeing his good friend Xin Jian off, who was going to Luoyang for his post.
The first two lines describe the scene of parting, The last two lines convey the poet’s aspirations that he would not change his original intention and that he would keep up his lofty mora! characters despite the demotion.
The two lines depicting the parting blend feelings with the sight. In the cold and dark night, the chilly rain was falling and the river water was flowing, and this cold setting was just the prelude to parting, which made people feel extremely sad and emotional. But they had to bid farewell after all, and it was already daybreak before they knew it. In the distance the blue mountains after rain grew more discernible, and when the lonely and clear scene greeted the eyes, one could not help feeling solitary. The lines also fully express the poet’s sincere and deep emotions that he couldn’t bear to part from his friend.
The last two lines are particularly well-known, in which the poet vividly expresses a profound meaning with a unique figure of speech. “If my relatives and friends ask after me” shows that the poet’s kinsfolk were keeping thinking about him and were very concerned about his life and work. His reply was, “my heart is like a clear piece of ice in a jade pot.” Although treated unfairly, he never regretted nor grieved, firmly believing that his views and practice were right, and his heart was as pure and noble as a piece of crystal-clear ice in a flawless and elegant ‘jade pot. The poet’s answer fully conveys his deep feelings towards his relatives and friends and his confidence in himself. It also shows his strong will of defying the brute forces, not playing up to those in power and holding firmly to the truth. The reply is tactful and modest, but when savored carefully, it has firmness in gentleness. Today, people often quote the lines to express their unswerving, pure and noble beliefs and feelings.