Sand-Sifting Waves (VllI) by Liu Yuxi 浪淘沙 (其八) 刘禹锡

Say not in wave-like slander good man may be drowned!

Nor buried in sand will be an exile blue-gowned.

It’s hard labor to wash and sift from day to day;

Pure gold will not emerge till sand is blown away.

莫道谗言如浪深,

莫言迁客是沙沉。

千淘万漉虽辛苦,

吹尽狂沙始到金。

This vivid poem is very easy to understand and has profound meanings. It portrays the poet’s feelings when he was pushed aside and relegated to a place far away from his hometown in the capital city. Generally speaking, anyone who was calumniated and banished would be indignant, resentful, hopeless or desperate. However, this was not the case with the poet. He faced the reality squarely, calmly and objectively, firmly believing that falsehood could not cover up truth, and an honest person could not be overwhelmed by slander. He was sure that goodness would win over evils and the whole truth would come out sooner or later. The first two lines of the poem advise us not to care about rumors or be depressed by temporary setbacks. The last two lines indicate that grains of gold are bound to be selected out of the sands after going through innumerable hardships, and a man of integrity is certain to be re-approved. Therefore, his familiar line “Gold will come out when all grains of sand are blown away” has become a well- known saying which is usually used to refer to a person who succeeds at last after having experienced all kinds of hardships, or to a hard-earned success in scientific experiments.

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