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Bai Juyi

(772–846 / Taiyuan, Shanxi)

Escorting Candidates to the Examination Hall


At dawn I rode to escort the Doctors of Art;
In the eastern quarter the sky was still grey.
I said to myself, 'You have started far too soon,'
But horses and coaches already thronged the road.
High and low the riders' torches bobbed;
Muffled or loud, the watchman's drum beat.
Riders, when I see you prick
To your early levee, pity fills my heart.
When the sun rises and the hot dust flies
And the creatures of earth resume their great strife,
You, with your striving, what shall you each seek?
Profit and fame, for that is all your care.
But I, you courtiers, rise from my bed at noon
And live idly in the city of Ch'ang-an.
Spring is deep and my term of office spent;
Day by day my thoughts go back to the hills.

Submitted: Thursday, August 09, 2012

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