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                   Po Chü-i (722-846)
      Translated by Arthur Waley (1889-1966)

                      Lazy Man's Song

                               (A.D. 811)

    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-yeh1
    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.

1 Also know as Chi K'ang, a famous Quietest.


Waley writes that "No poet in the world can ever have
enjoyed greater comtemporary popularity than Po" and that
his lighter poems were popular until the Ming Dynasty 700
years after his death. In addition to being a poet, Po Chü-i
(also transliterated Bai Juyi) served as governor of
Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Honan.

Arthur Waley is widely considered to have been the most
influential translator of classic Japanese and Chinese
literature into English. His Translations from the Chinese
was first published in 1919, and the above can be found in:

  • Waley, Arthur. Translations from the Chinese. New York:
    Alfred A. Knopf, 1941.