Ever since the time when I was a boy
Down till now when I am ill and old,
The things I have cared for have been different at different times,
But my being busy, that has never changed.
Then on the shore, - building sand-pagodas;
Now, at Court, covered with tinkling jade.
This and that, - equally childish games,
Things whose substance passes in a moment of time!
While the hands are busy, the heart cannot understand;
When there are no Scriptures, then Doctrine is sound.
Even should one zealously strive to learn the Way,
That very striving will make one's error more.
Po Chü-i (772 - 846).
Written on the wall of a priest's cell, circa 828.
Translated from the Chinese by Arthur Waley