Monday, July 6, 2009

Tao Chien


The ways of heaven are mysterious,
the spirits pose a problem.
Since childhood, I struggled to do right—
forty-four years of struggle.
Things went bad when I was twenty.
At thirty, I lost my wife.
Fires burned my houses down
and weevils ate my grain.
Winds and rain ruined everything:
I couldn’t fill a mouth.
In summer, we went hungry;
in winter we all slept cold.
Evenings, we longed for the cock crow;
at dawn, we chased away the crows.
It’s my own poor karma, not heaven,
that leaves me troubled and bitter.
A name unearned, left for all the ages,
means no more to me than mist.

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