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COTTAGE NOTES
by Ji Yun (1724 - 1805, Qing Dynasty)
English translation: William Chong

Faults so numerous like the autumn grass
that cannot be completely removed;
Learning so shallow akin to the spring snow
that cannot thicken.

Who planted those bamboos
that makes such beautiful sounds,
Such melody that befits a carefree official;
I compete not amongst spring’s blossoms,
but alone guard my moral purity
while awaiting winter.

In the middle of the night,
I long to return to a distant hermitage,
To capture the beauty of autumn
depicted on four painting panels;
Before my bed,
I notice not the end of my riches;
Before my mirror,
I cannot make my silver hair grow long.

An acquaintance comes from Jiangnan
at the time of the waxing crescent,
In his leisurely travel, three full moons passed.
Dawn follows as the moon dips into the horizon,
while at dusk the moon too appears;
Who is to say that the moon is callous,
accompanying one even though
it is a thousand miles away.

── from Yuewei Caotang Biji (Notes on a Minutely Observed Thatched Hut)