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This isn't really a proverb, it's a quote from an 8th century poem. —This comment was unsigned.

In looking at this again, I agree that it is not a proverb. However, several dictionaries do list it as an entry under 成语 (idiom). The original poem can be found at Chinese Wikisource:


At some point, the poem should be translated into English and placed in the etymology section of the entry. For the time being, I'll provide a link to the poem in the references section. -- A-cai 23:49, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
A.C. Graham's translation:
A Bronze Immortal Takes Leave of Han
Boy Liu in Leafy Mound, visitor of the autumn wind ...
In the night I heard his horse whinny, at sunrise saw no track.
On the cassia tree by the painted rail the scent of autumn hangs:
In his thirty-six palaces the dust blooms emerald.
Wei's servants haul the cart, point ahead a thousand miles:
A sour wind shoots from the east pass at my pupils.
The moon of Han in vain with me I come forth at the palace gate:
At your memory the transparent tears are like molten lead.
Withering orchids escort me along the Hsien-yang road:
If heaven too had passions even heaven would grow old.
With the pan in my hands I come forth alone under the desolate moon:
The city on the Jwei far back now, quiet the waves. —This comment was unsigned.
Thanks for the translation. Unfortunately, copyright issues may prevent us from being able to use the above translation in the entry. Generally, we are safe in citing works that are older than 100 years old. Angus Charles Graham (1919 – 1991) is probably too recent. However, it should be helpful a resource for generating our own translation. Another option would be to only quote a few of the relevant lines from the poem. For example, we could do something like:


I think we would be safe, if we did something along these lines. Otherwise, we would probably have to generate our own full translation. -- A-cai 10:52, 2 June 2009 (UTC)