Another poem about laziness

January 26 2015

“White hair covers my temples,
I am wrinkled and seared beyond repair,
And though I have got five sons,
They all hate paper and brush.
A-shu is eighteen:
For laziness there is none like him.
A-hsüan does his best,
But really loathes the Fine Arts.
Yung-tuan is thirteen,
But does not know ‘six’ from ‘seven.’
T’ung-tzŭ in his ninth year
Is only concerned with things to eat.
If Heaven treats me like this
What can I do but fill my cup?”


T’ao Ch’ien, Blaming Sons (An Apology for His Own Drunkenness), in Arthur Waley, translator, A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems, Constable, 1918.

Waley tells us that “six” and “seven” (which Yung-tuan certainly would not have known add up to his age) are written with characters very easy to distinguish.

Tao Yuanming or Tao Qian or (as Waley calls him) T’ao Ch’ien (365-427) lived in the middle of the Six Dynasties period (c 220-589), between the Han and the Sui.

Lazy Man’s Song (old post).

One Response to “Another poem about laziness”

  1. davidderrick Says:

    What did A-shu know about the fall of Rome?

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