Lazy Man’s Song

June 9 2011

“I have got patronage, but am too lazy to use it;
I have got land, but am too lazy to farm it.
My house leaks; I am too lazy to mend it.
My clothes are torn; I am too lazy to darn them.
I have got wine, but am too lazy to drink;
So it’s just the same as if my cellar were empty.
I have got a harp, but am too lazy to play;
So it’s just the same as if it had no strings.
My wife tells me there is no more bread in the house;
I want to bake, but am too lazy to grind.
My friends and relatives write me long letters;
I should like to read them, but they’re such a bother to open.]
I have always been told that Chi Shu-yeh
Passed his whole life in absolute idleness.
But he played the harp and sometimes transmuted metals,]
So even he was not so lazy as I.”

___

Bai Juyi, Lazy Man’s Song, AD 811, in Arthur Waley, translator, More Translations from the Chinese, George Allen & Unwin, 1919, a sequel to A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems, Constable, 1918.

Waley calls him Po Chü-i (Wade-Giles). He was a Tang government official. He doesn’t seem to have been that lazy. Waley:

“772 Born on 20th of first month.
800 Passes his Examinations.
806 Receives a minor post at Chou-chih, near the capital [Ch’ang-an or Xi’an].
807 Made Scholar of the Han Lin Academy.
811 Retires to Wei River, being in mourning for his mother.
814 Returns to Court.
815 Banished to Hsün-yang.
818 Removed to Chung-chou.
820 Reprieved and returns to Court.
822 Governor of Hangchow.
825 Governor of Soochow.
826 Retires owing to illness.
827 Returns to Ch’ang-an.
829 Settles permanently at Lo-yang.
831 Governor of Ho-nan, the province of which Lo-yang was capital.
833 Retires owing to illness.
839 Has paralytic stroke in tenth month.
846 Dies in the eighth month.”

Xi Kang is indeed Chi Shu-yeh.

White gibbons (old post).

4 Responses to “Lazy Man’s Song”

  1. davidderrick Says:

    The great novel about laziness: Oblomov.


  2. […] This post has information on the Tang poet. […]


  3. […] This post has information on the Tang poet. […]


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