Confiscating Salt

From the local office, orders flying thicker than comb's teeth:
along the seacoast, salt confiscation stricter than ever.
Poverty moans and sobs under a broken roof
while boatloads of inspectors patrol back and forth.
Islands of the ocean, from times past lean and barren;
island folk struggling just to keep alive:
boil sea water or starve to death;
who can sit unmoving, not try to escape?
And now they say there are pirates hereabouts
who murder traveling merchants, scuttle their boats—
The life of one subject weighs heavier than the realm!
What true man would vie with others for a hairbreadth's gain?
Author of original: 
Wang An-shih
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