Reeds, powerless and weak swayed by fall wind. Such frailty was expected from the beginning – their early sprouts struggle with spring breeze and dense stems are burdened with night dew. Even their glorious moment of wearing white snow-white flowers on their heads might have come and gone without being noticed.
Their flowers blossom and fall as any wildflowers and leaves are drowned by river water. What comfort did the poet want to offer, reflecting on the lives of reeds? Reeds, you wither the last among all plants and trees. I also stayed in a government post for a brief time and am now spending a long time in the countryside. But the slow-moving time of the countryside gives me brief comfort. The poet might have sympathized with reeds, thinking of his long isolation and suffering. Even sharing the concerns that he might be drowned in vain by time.
The short glorious moment for the poet until the age of almost 50 must have been his time serving as Zuo Suyi, an ancient official position. It was a low rank but an important position that could advise an emperor. Without it, there had been no “glory of snow-white flowers” for Du Fu who experienced a series of failures of employment exams, a long period of wandering, and parting from his family.