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TEN DISCONTENTMENTS

Tune: Sheep on the Mountain
by Zhu Zaiyu (1536 - 1610, Ming Dynasty)
English translation: Miao Guang

Working hard all day just to fill the stomach,
Yet having obtained food, one then thinks of clothing.

Having put on the silks one has purchased,
One then looks up and feels discontent with a low-lying roof.

Having constructed tall buildings and grand mansions,
One then finds missing at the bedside a beautiful wife.

Having married a beloved wife and pretty concubines,
One then worries about missing a horse at the door for a ride.

Having purchased a fine horse with money,
One then finds a lack of entourage around it.

Having employed dozens of entourage,
One is then tyrannized for being a powerless rich man.

Having been selected as county magistrate,
One then finds the position too low in ranking and authority.

Having risen to the position of minister,
One then thinks everyday of ascending the throne.

Having ascended the Southward throne* ,
One then wants to play chess with the immortals.

Having Lu Dongbin** at the chess game,
One then asks where the stairway to heaven is.

Before the stairway is even built,
King Yama has already sent for the ghosts to take one’s life.

If it were not time for his death,
One would still complain about the staircase’s lack of height!

── from Xing Shi Ci (Words of Awakenment)