Four Poems Written While Drunk

By William Acker


Fortune and misfortune
have no fixed abode;
This one and the other
are given us in turn
Shao Ping working
in his field of melons
Was much as he had been
when Lord of Dongling.
Cold and hot seasons
follow one another,
And the way of man
will always be like this
The intelligent man
sees that it must be so.
Having gone so far
he will not doubt again,
But from that moment
every day and evening
He will be happy
holding a cup of wine.


The Tao has been lost
nigh on a thousand years
And people everywhere
are misers of their feelings
Though they have wine
they do not dare to drink it,
And think of nothing save
keeping their reputation.
All the things that make us
care about our lives —
They are surely compassed
within a single lifetime
And how much can that life
amount to after all —
Swift as the surprise
of pouring lightning,
Fixed and circumscribed
within a hundred years —
Hemmed and bound to this
what can we hope to do?


I built my house near where others dwell,
And yet there is no clamor of carriages and horses
You ask of me. ” How can this be so? “
” When the heart is far the place of itself is distant. “
I pluck chrysanthemums under the eastern hedge,
And gaze afar towards the southern mountains
The mountain air is fine at evening of the day
And flying birds return together homewards
Within these things there is a hint of Truth,
But when I start to tell it, I cannot find the words.


In the clear dawn
I hear a knocking at my gate
And skirt on wrong way round
go to open it myself
I ask the visitor
” Pray, sir, who may you be? “
It is an old peasant
who had a kindly thought,
And has come from far away
bearing a jug of wine,
Because he thinks I am
at variance with the times
” Sitting in patched clothes
under a thatched roof —
This will never help you
to get on in the world!
All the world together
praises that alone,
So I wish, sir, that you too
would float with the muddy stream “
” Old man, I am deeply
grateful for your words,
But your advice does not accord
with my inborn nature.
Even if I could learn
to follow the curb and reins,
To go against one’s nature
is always a mistake
Let us just be happy
and drink this wine together —
I fear my chariot
can never be turned back. “

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