| 2020-05-19 | Hits:
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)
This character usually refers to the Luo River, a tributary of the Yellow River rising from Shaanxi Province and flowing east into Henan Province. 


luò yáng qīn yǒu rú xiāng wèn 
Luoyang (a city in present-day Henan Province) was the eastern capital of the Tang Empire (618–907), earning its name because it was north (yang) of the Luo River. Qin refers to relatives and you friends. Ru means “if” and xiang wen “to ask.” This term means “if my folks and friends in Luoyang ask after me.” 
This term is a line from the poem “Seeing Xin Jian Off at Hibiscus Pavilion” by the Tang poet Wang Changling (698–757). Wang probably composed this poem in 742 in Runzhou (present-day Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province), when his friend Xin Jian set out from Runzhou to Luoyang. “Along the river that merged with a cold rain,/ We entered the Wu city late at night./ Early at day break I bid you farewell,/ With only the lone Chu Mountain in sight./ If my kinsfolk in Luoyang should feel concerned,/ Please tell them from my part,/ like a piece of ice in a crystal vessel,/ Forever aloof and pure remains in my heart” (trans. Tao Jie). 
The first half of the poem highlights a mood of gloom through its depiction of the night before Wang parts with his friend—the cold shower in late autumn is so heavy that it mingles with the river. The poem indicates that Wang is up all night, tossing and turning, thinking about his friend who is leaving the next day. Xin sets off at dawn, but Wang doesn’t depict how he bids farewell to Xin. Instead, he illustrates what he sees after Xin’s ship vanishes from sight—the mountains lonely in haze. 
The last part of the poem enjoys great popularity in China. As a minister of Jiangning County (present-day Nanjing, Jiangsu Province) at that time, Wang deeply missed his kinsfolk and friends in Luoyang, but he couldn’t go north to reunite with them. What he could do is to ask Xin to take a message to them if people in the north asked after him. From the Six Dynasties period (220–589) on, the ice in a crystal case has been a popular metaphor for people who are pure and noble. The line “My heart is free of stain as ice in crystal” (trans. Xu Yuanchong) is far more than a message informing that he is fine. Through this line, Wang leaves a fitting monument to his belief—he will always be a man of integrity and pureness. 
edited by REN GUANHONG