Illness and Idleness
Illness and idleness give me much leisure.
What do I do with my leisure, when it comes?
I cannot bring myself to discard inkstone and brush;
Now and then I make a new poem.
When the poem is made, it is slight and flavourless,
A thing of derision to almost every one.
Superior people will be pained by the flatness of the metre;
Common people will hate the plainness of the words.
I sing it to myself, then stop and think about it ...
The Prefects of Soochow and Peng-tse
Would perhaps have praised it, but they died long ago.
Who else would care to hear it?
No one today except Yuan Chen,
And he is banished to the City of Chiang-ling,
For three years an usher in the Penal Court.
Parted from me by three thousand leagues
He will never know even that the poem was made.
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