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by Li Shimin (599 - 649, Tang Dynasty)
English translation: Miao Guang

The reflection of a bronze mirror allows one to straighten his attire;

the reflection of the past allows one to witness the rise and fall of sovereigns;

and the reflection of other people allows one to understand the meaning of success and failure.

I, the emperor, constantly take on these three reflections to avoid being at fault.

──from Zhenguan Zhengyao (Essentials of Government in the Zhenguang Period)

English translation: Miao Guang and Hsin-Yu Huang

Farmers work industriously, but most are without food to last overnight;
Weaveresses busily run about, but few have garments to fend off the cold.

When taking the three meals of the day, be reminded of the farmers’ painstaking efforts;
For every thread that covers the body, be mindful of the weaveresses’ laborious works.

Every inch of thread is spun from the lives of thousands of silkworms;
Each scoop of rice is harvested from a hundred whippings of the water buffalo.
To reap without sowing, means meals and sleeps without peace.

Befriend the virtuous, never the unrighteous;
Only take what one has rightfully earned, never accept drinks without a proper cause.

Always keep in mind to restrain oneself, remain quiet over gossips.
Shall one be able to follow these words of mine, prosperity and honor shall prevail.

──from Xingshi Shici Xuan (Selection of Poetry and Verses on Awakening the World)