Mar 20

Ah, homeward bound I go!
Why not go home, seeing that my field
and gardens are overgrown?
Myself have made my soul serf to my body:
why have vain regrets and mourn alone?

Fret not over bygones
and the forward journey take.
Only a short distance have I gone astray,
and I know today I am right,
if yesterday was a complete mistake.

Lightly floats and drifts the boat,
and gently flows and flaps my gown.
I inquire the road of a wayfarer,
and sulk at the dimness of the dawn.

Then when I catch sight of my old roofs,
joy will my steps quicken.
Servants will be there to bid me welcome,
and waiting at the door are the greeting children.

Gone to seed, perhaps, are my garden paths,
but there will still be
the chrysanthemums and the pine!
I shall lead the youngest boy in by the hand,
and on the table there stands a cup full of wine!

Holding the pot and cup, I give myself a drink,
happy to see in the courtyard the hanging bough.
I lean upon the southern window with an immense satisfaction,
and note that the little place is cosy enough to walk around.

The garden grows more familiar
and interesting with the daily walks.
What if no one knocks at the always closed door!
Carrying a cane I wander at peace,
and now and then look aloft to gaze at the blue above.

There the clouds idle away from their mountain recesses
without any intent or purpose,
and birds, when tired of their wandering flights,
will think of home.
Darkly then fall the shadows and, ready to come home,
I yet fondle the lonely pines and loiter around.

Ah, homeward bound I go!
Let me from now on learn to live alone!
The world and I are not made for one another,
and why go round like one looking for what he has not found?

Content shall I be with conversations with my own kin,
and there will be music and books
to while away the hours.
The farmers will come and tell me that spring is here
and there will be work to do at the western farm.

Some order covered wagons;
some row in small boats.
Sometimes we explore quiet, unknown ponds,
and sometimes we climb over steep, rugged mounds.

There the trees, happy of heart, grow marvelously green,
and spring water gushes forth with a gurgling sound.
I admire how things grow and prosper
according to their seasons,
and feel that thus, too, shall my life go its round.

How long yet shall I this mortal shape keep?
Why not take life as it comes,
and why hustle and bustle like one on an errand bound?

Wealth and power are not my ambitions,
and unattainable is the abode of the gods!
I would go forth alone on a bright morning,
or perhaps, planting my cane,
begin to pluck the weeds and till the ground.

Or I would compose a poem beside a clear stream,
or perhaps go up to Tungkao
and make a long-drawn call on top of the hill.
So would I be content to live and die,
and without questionings of the heart,
gladly accept Heaven's will.

-- excerpted from The Importance of Living, by Lin Yutang

Feb 10