The Accomplished Man
Zuo Si of the Jin dynasty
Poem Eight from Eight Poems on History
Flap, flap, a caged bird
Beating wings against four corners.
Aloof, aloof, the backstreet scholar,
A brooding shadow kept to an empty house.
Going out, there is no exit,
Brambles block the way.
Dreams are abandoned,
Like fish out of water.
On the street – no measure of fortune;
At home – not a measure saved.
Constantly belittled by relations,
Day and night neglected by friends.
Su Qin propagandized in the north and
Li Si memorialized in the west, but
Aspiring to glory and splendor, tsk,
Is just carving rotten wood.
Drinking from the river fills the belly,
But one can drink only so much.
A forest nest need perch but on a single branch:
Such is the way of the accomplished man.
Zuo Si 左思 (250-305 A.D.), Yongshi bashou 詠史八首 (Eight Poems on History), Wenxüan 文選 (Selections of Refined Literature, ca. 520 A.D.), Xiao Tong 蕭統 (501–531 A.D.), comp. (Hong Kong: Commerical Book Co., 1973), ch. 21, pp. 447.