Civilization by Yüan Chieh

To the south-east–three thousand leagues–
The Yüan and Hsiang form into a mighty lake.
Above the lake are deep mountain valleys,
And men dwelling whose hearts are without guile.
Gay like children, they swarm to the tops of trees;
And run to the water to catch bream and trout.
Their pleasures are the same as those beasts and birds;
They put no restraint either on body or mind.
Far I have wandered throughout the Nine Lands;
Wherever I went such manners had disappeared.
I find myself standing and wondering, perplexed,
Whether Saints and Sages have really done us good.

translated by Arthur Waley

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