海内存知己,天涯若比邻 (If the world holds a friend who knows your heart, the sky’s end is a near as the next village)

René had attended several farewell dinners in Beijing. On Friday night he was at a student farewell dinner at Beijing Normal University. Emotions were high as many foreign students who had been studying in Beijing for several years were ready to leave and return home.

As might be expected, students and teachers were drinking, toasting and talking about close bonds of friendship that had formed during their study. Several teachers at René's table began reciting lines of kindred spirits and friendship from Tang poetry. One teacher wrote the following verse in a student’s farewell notebook:

海内存知己,天涯若比邻。
hǎinèi cún zhījǐ, tiānyá ruò bǐ lín.
(lit: ‘within the seas exist an bosom friend, the sky’s end liken to a neighbour')

This verse taken from a poem by the Tang dynasty poet Wang Bo called 'Farewell to Vice Prefect Du Setting out for a Post in the Kingdom of Shu.'

His teacher explained the verse in Chinese writing it underneath the poem:

四海之内有你这个知心朋友,即使远在天涯也像近邻一样。

sìhǎizhīnei yǒu nǐ zhège zhīxīn péngyou, jíshǐ yuǎn zài tiānyá yě xiàng jìnlín yíyàng.

Within the four seas, where there is a bosom friend.

(lit: 'a friend who understands or knows your heart
Although [we are] far apart, the end of the earth is like next door').

These famous lines are often recited and written to express volumes of subtext on the subject of true friendship. Despite the distances that separate people, where there is a deep and intimate understanding between two people, time nor space cannot break or sever that.

Popular Posts