Swallows leave, but there will be a time when they return. Willows wither, but there will be a time when they become verdant again. Peach blossoms shrivel up, but there will be a time when they bloom again. But tell me─oh clever one─why do our days run away and never come back?
More than eight-thousand days have already slipped through my hands. Like water dripping from the tip of a needle into the sea, so do my days into the river of time, with neither sound nor shadow.
When I wash my hands, days pass through the basin; when dining, they pass through the bowl; when I am in silence, they pass through my gazing eyes. I perceive that it leaves in haste, and as I reach out my hand to stop it from leaving, it passes by the side of the hand that tries to block its way. At night, when I lie on my bed, it strides off cleverly from my side, and flies away from my feet.
As I open my eyes and meet the sun again, another day has gone swiftly, and I cover my face and sigh. Yet the shadow of the new day leaves as quickly as bolts in sighs.
Oh clever one! Tell me, why do our days pass and never return?