Du Fu: Befriend Poor Travelers


Befriend Poor Travelers

贫 交 行
翻 手 为 云 覆 手 雨
纷 纷 轻 薄 何 须 数。
君 不 见 管 鲍 贫 时 交
此 道 今 人 弃 如 土。
Pin Jiao Xing

Fan shou wei yun fu shou yu
Fen fen qing bo he xu shu.
Jun bu jian guan bao pin shi jiao
Ci dao jin ren qi ru tu.


Befriend Poor Travelers

Easy come and easy go, people gather into clouds, then scatter like rain
Numerous and profuse beyond counting, eventually thin out.
You do not see Guan and Bao except during times of poverty
Modern day people with means, lose each other like the dumping of dirt.



[The first line is a well-known Chinese idiom. It can also be translated as, “To produce clouds with one turn of the hand and rain with the other.”]

Guan and Bao:  Bao (d. 644 BC) was a famous official in the State of Qi during the Spring and Autumn period (770-476 BC) of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. Bao had his lifelong friend Guan elevated to the level of Chancellor. Their relationship is a metaphor for the steadfast loyalty of friends to each other.



Line #4 is another one of Du Fu’s classic lines.  Again his insights into the history of human behavior is dead on.

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