Diary of the Plague Year: Day 80 3 June 2020: Quotidian Poetry: FROM The Book of Songs China (c. 600 BC)


Tossed is that cypress boat,
Wave-tossed it floats.
My heart is in turmoil. I cannot sleep.
But secret is my grief.
Wine I have, all things needful
For play, for sport.

My heart is not a mirror,
To reflect what others will.
Brothers too I have;
I cannot be snatched away.
But lo, when I told them of my plight
I found that they were angry with me.

My heart is not a stone;
It cannot be rolled.
My heart is not a mat;
It cannot be folded away.
I have borne myself correctly
In rites more than can be numbered.

My sad heart is consumed. I am harassed
By a host of small men.
I have borne vexations very many,
Received insults not a few.
In the still of night I brood upon it;
In the waking hours I rend my breast.

O sun, ah, moon
Why are you changed and dim?
Sorrow clings to me
Like an unwashed dress.
In the still of night I brood upon it,
Long to take wing and fly away.


The Airs of Bei 26-44

The Ancient Chinese Classic of Poetry
Translated by Arthur Waley

Grove Press