海內存知己,天涯若比鄰

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Mandarin[edit]

simpl. 海内存知己,天涯若比邻
trad. 海內知己天涯若比鄰

Etymology[edit]

Literally: the far ends of heaven are like next door

  • c. 647 – 675: Wang Bo, 送杜少府之任蜀州 (Seeing off Vice-prefect Du on the occasion of his appointment to the state of Shu)
    城闕三秦風煙五津離別海內存知己,天涯若比鄰歧路兒女
    The watch towers[1] are protected by the three Qin states[2], I can make out the land[3] of the five crossings[4] in the distance. My mood (is somber) as I part from you, We are both officials traveling (far from home). When one has a close friend in this world, the far ends of heaven are like next door. (Therefore, when we reach the) fork in the road (where we must part), let us not exchange kerchiefs moistened (with tears like) women and children. (Wiktionary translation)
  1. ^ Most commentaries explain that 城闕 (watch towers on the city walls) is a reference to the capital city of Chang'an. One other possibility is that it refers to the watch towers of the town where Vice-prefect Du is to be assigned. According to this interpretation, the author is expressing praise for the prestige of his friend's future assignment (lit. The watch towers of the town where you will be assigned provide protection to the three Qin states).
  2. ^ Former Qin, Later Qin and Western Qin
  3. ^ Some commentaries explain that 風煙 was a synonym for 風景 (landscape). This is the interpretation used here.
  4. ^ A reference to the five ferry crossings of the Minjiang River (Sichuan).

Idiom[edit]

海內存知己,天涯若比鄰 (traditional, Pinyin hǎinèi cún zhījǐ, tiānyá ruò bìlín, simplified 海内存知己,天涯若比邻)

  1. to feel a closeness to a friend or loved one despite being separated by a great distance (this phrase is often used when talking about the internet, long-distance phones etc)