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To Hermit Eighth Wei 1

Du, Fu (712-770 CE)
A congenial friend is hard to find.
He and I move like Shen and Shang 2.
How fortunate we are this evening to be able to share this candlelight!
How long can youth and strength last?
Our hair has already turned gray.
As we try to visit our old friends,
Half of them have become ghosts.
Your unexpected greeting warmed my heart.
Who could imagine, after twenty years, that I would be able to see you again?
When we parted, you were unmarried.
All of a sudden your children form a line.
With joy and respect for their father's friend
They ask me from where I come.
Before I can finish answering their questions,
They start to set out unstrained wine.
In the night rain they gather chives
And add some saffron 3 to the rice before preparing the meal.
The host remarks that it is difficult for us to get together.
He insists on toasting me with wine ten times in a row.
Without being intoxicated I appreciate his long-lasting friendship.
By tomorrow night we will be separated by mountains.
Worldly affairs are doubly unpredictable: both for you and for me.

1 Eighth Wei gained his name because he was the eighth child of the Wei family.

2 When the Star Shen rises, the Star Shang falls, and vice versa.

3 They add some yellow rice to the white rice. As yellow rice is cooked, it produces a fragrant smell.