Buying Flowers

Springtime about to end in the emperor's city —
clatter-clatter, carriages and horses rush by.
" Peony time! " everyone says,
" and we're all of us off to buy flowers! "
Cheap, costly — no fixed price;
you pay by the number of blossoms.
Here, all aflame, a hundred sprays of crimson,
here five clumps of the commoner white;
stretch awnings over them to lend shade,
rig bamboo paling around them for protection;
sprinkle water, pack up the mud,
transplant them, and their colors will be as good as ever!
Household after household follows the same custom,
so many misled, never thinking it strange.
But an old man from the countryside
happens along where they're buying flowers,
head bent, heaves a long, lonely sigh,
a sigh whose meaning no one understands:
" One cluster of these deep-hued blossoms
would pay the taxes for ten ordinary families! "
Author of original: 
Po Ch├╝-i
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