A Farewell to Tung Shao-nan by Han Yu ~ 韩愈·《送董邵南游河北序》 with English Translations






A Farewell to Tung Shao-nan

Han Yu

In antiquity the lands of Yen and Chao were known for their many brave men who were filled with noble sentiments and vented their frustrations in song. Recently, Master Tung was recommended for the degree of doctor of letters but was repeatedly rejected by the examining officials. Now he has decided to keep his talents to himself and to set out for those regions. There, he is bound to meet men who will appreciate him. Master Tung, do not be discouraged!

You may be at odds with your times, but anyone you meet who is devoted to what is right and moral will value your friendship. Moreover, such virtues come naturally to the men of Yen and Chao. However, I have heard that local mores may alter with the times. How can we be certain that those regions are the same today as they were in antiquity? Perhaps your trip there will settle the matter. Master Tung, do not be discouraged!

Your departure has given me cause for reflection. Please pay my respects to the tomb of the Lord of Wang-chu and look in the market-place to see if the dog-butter of long ago is still there. If he is, tell him for me, “Today an enlightened sovereign reigns. You may return to the world and serve!”

(Ronald C. Egan 译)

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