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More Translations from the Chinese, by Arthur Waley, [1919], at

p. 50


(A.D. 811)

In waters still as a burnished mirror's face,
In the depths of Wei, carp and grayling swim.
Idly I come with my bamboo fishing-rod
And hang my hook by the banks of Wei stream.
A gentle wind blows on my fishing-gear
Softly shaking my ten feet of line.
Though my body sits waiting for fish to come,
My heart has wandered to the Land of Nothingness. 1
Long ago a white-headed man 2
Also fished at the same river's side;
A hooker of men, not a hooker of fish,
At seventy years, he caught Wēn Wang. 2
But I, when I come to cast my hook in the stream,
Have no thought either of fish or men.
Lacking the skill to capture either prey,
I can only bask in the autumn water's light.
When I tire of this, my fishing also stops;
I go to my home and drink my cup of wine.


50:1 See "Chuang Tzŭ," chap. i, end.

50:2 The Sage T‘ai-kung sat still till he was seventy, apparently fishing, but really waiting for a Prince who would employ him. At last Wēn Wang, Prince of Chou, happened to come that way and at once made him his counsellor.

Next: Lazy Man's Song