To the Recluse, Wei Pa
Often in this life of ours we resemble, in our failure to meet, the Shen and
Shang constellations, one of which rises as the other one sets. What lucky
chance is it, then, that brings us together this evening under the light of
this same lamp? Youth and vigor last but a little time. --- Each of us now has
greying temples. Half of the friends we ask each other about are dead, and our
shocked cries sear the heart. Who could have guessed that it would be twenty
years before I sat once more beneath your roof? Last time we parted you were
still unmarried, but now here suddenly is a row of boys and girls who
smilingly pay their respects to their father's old friend. They ask me where I
have come from; but before I have finished dealing with their questions, the
children are hurried off to fetch us wine. Spring chives are cut in the rainy
dark, and there is freshly steamed rice mixed with yellow millet. `Come, we
don't meet often!' you hospitably urge, pouring out ten cupfuls in rapid
succession. That I am still not drunk after ten cups of wine is due to the
strength of the emotion which your unchanging friendship inspires. Tomorrow
the peak will lie between us, and each will be lost to the other, swallowed up
in the world's affairs.
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