Old and young alike die a single death,
wise and foolish are not allotted different fates.
Your daily wine may help you to forget,
but I fear it’s a pasttime that shortens your years.
Doing good, you say, will be your joy?
And who do you think will praise you?
Too much pondering may injure one’s life;
better leave everything to fate.
Go along with the waves in the great process of change,
take no delight in it, have no fear.
When it’s time to fade away, then fade away—
why should you alone be so full of care?
translated by Burton Watson
Sun and moon refuse to slow their pace;
the four seasons press and hurry each other onward.
Cold wind shakes the bare branches,
fallen leaves blanket the long lane.
Weak by nature, I feel myself decay with time’s passing,
the black hair at my temples already turned white.
Flecks of gray find their way into my head,
signs that the road ahead wll grow more and more narrow.
What is a house but an inn on a journey,
and I a traveler who must keep moving on?
Move on, move on–and where will I go?
My old home is there on the southern mountain.
translated by Burton Watson2
When the body perishes the name fades too–
thinking of it, my heart’s on fire!
Let us do good and win the love of ages after;
why not bend all efforts toward that?
Wine they say can wash away care,
but surely it cannot compare to such a goal!
transalated by Burton Watson