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