As the year comes to an end, we look back on the past time It is the same for those who have lived on tiptoe like a balloon in the air, those who have raced through the year, or those who have grown weary by boring and humdrum days. The poet, who had to wander around in a strange land even at the year-end, has also become nostalgic. Although it seems to be an odd comparison at first glance, the poet summons the metaphor of a warm spring breeze to stay hopeful and optimistic despite living away from home in loneliness. Moreover, he tries to share this idea with all wanderers in the world.
The poet makes light of the “bleak coldness” by describing it as “mild cold,” trying to relieve the anxiety of fellow drifters. Spring wind will soon arrive, the poet optimistically proclaims, and will thaw the winter chill and bring a pleasant new year to everybody. One might think it is a bit contrived to think of a spring wind at a time when the year’s end comes near. However, this time of the year is not so distant from the onset of spring in February under a lunar calendar.
The poet left his hometown in west Hangzhou and wandered around the northern part of the Shaanxi province. We can only imagine how lonely the poet would have been, shivering in the bleak winter weather in a strange land as the year’s end came near. However, we tend to become meeker and more generous on the verge of the new year. Looking back on numerous unfulfilled wishes and resolutions, we become humbler. “At the end of the year / I suddenly grow up / grow one year older at once / my voice becomes softer, my footsteps become more cautious / having grown up all of a sudden, I have gone old” (Yoo An-jin, ‘As the year comes to an end’). How grateful it is to be able to “grow up all of a sudden” that we once more celebrate the year-end and welcome a new year.