Sunday, October 26, 2008


A Bug in a Bowl

Han-Shan 235 (tr. Robert G. Henricks):
Man's life in this blanket of dust
Is just like [that of] a bug in a bowl.

All day long he goes 'round and 'round
And never gets out of his bowl.

Immortality he cannot attain;
Delusions he counts without end.

The months and the years flow by like a stream;
In a moment he's become an old man.
The same, tr. Burton Watson:
Man, living in the dust,
Is like a bug trapped in a bowl.
All day he scrabbles round and round,
But never escapes from the bowl that holds him.
The immortals are beyond his reach,
His cravings have no end,
While months and years flow by like a river
Until, in an instant, he has grown old.

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