Pages

Monday, 24 September 2012

The Scholar In The Narrow Street


Flap, flap, the captive bird in the cage
Beating its wings against the four corners.
Depressed, depressed the scholar in the narrow street:
Clasping a shadow, he dwells in an empty house.
When he goes out, there is nowhere for him to go:
Bunches and brambles block up his path.
He composes a memorial, but it is rejected and unread,
He is left stranded, like a fish in a dry pond.
Without - he has not a single farthing of salary:
Within - there is not a peck of grain in his larder.
His relations upbraid him for his lack of success:
His friends and callers daily decrease in number.
Su Ch'in used to go preaching in the North
And Li Ssŭ sent a memorandum to the West.
I once hoped to pluck the fruits of life:
But now alas, they are all withered and dry.
Though one drinks at a river, one cannot drink more than a bellyful;
Enough is good, but there is no use in satiety.
The bird in a forest can perch but on one bough,
And this should be the wise man's pattern.

Tso Ssŭ - third century AD
Translated from the Chinese by Arthur Waley

4 comments:

Roger said...

Just what I needed on a wet and grey Monday.

A K Haart said...

Roger - it's been grim here too. We've seen huge puddles in the hollows while driving along country roads.

James Higham said...

My ceiling's leaking. I've containers on the floor.

A K Haart said...

James - that's bad. Flat roof I suppose?