Monday, April 19, 2010


Planting Melons

Wei Ying-wu (c. 737–791), Planting Melons (tr. Lim Chooi Kwa):
Following my natural disposition, I just behave carelessly,
And am particularly heedless in managing my livelihood.
This year I learned to plant melons.
However, my garden is mostly filled with weeds.
Although all the plants equally shared rain and dew,
My melon-seedlings were particularly luxuriant.
Due to the shortness of the spring,
The season slipped away before I was able to hoe in time.
The farmers laugh at me for having wasted my efforts,
As the days and nights proceed, my hopes grow slimmer.
Truly, this is not our business.
Just let me study the books of the ancients.
The same, tr. Red Pine:
When I follow my nature I'm rash
too careless to earn a living
this year I tried planting melons
in a garden that was mostly weeds
the plants all shared the rain and dew
but mine ended up in the shade
and once spring work got busy
the time for hoeing was past
the farmers laughed at my useless efforts
from dawn to dusk resulting in nothing
clearly this isn't my kind of work
I'll stick with ancient texts instead

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