Bai Juyi

(772–846 / Taiyuan, Shanxi)

Lodging With The Old Man Of The Stream - Poem by Bai Juyi

Men's hearts love gold and jade;
Men's mouths covet wine and flesh.
Not so the old man of the stream;
He drinks from his gourd and asks nothing more.
South of the stream he cuts firewood and grass;
North of the stream he has built wall and roof.
Yearly he sows a single acre of land;
In spring he drives two yellow calves.
In these things he finds great repose;
Beyond these he has no wish or care.
By chance I meet him walking by the water-side;
He took me home and lodged me in his thatched hut.
When I parted from him, to seek market and Court,
This old man asked my rank and pay.
Doubting my tale, he laughed loud and long:
'Privy Councillors do not sleep in barns.'

Comments about Lodging With The Old Man Of The Stream by Bai Juyi

  • Eugene Levich (5/6/2014 3:40:00 PM)

    This poem is one of the finest examples of Taoist philosophy in literature. The Old Man's life flows along as does the stream; his life of simplicity according perfectly with nature. The narrator in part envies the Old Man's freedom from desire and worry... but a Privy Councillor must continue along his own chosen path as a high-ranking imperial official... a position governed by desire and fraught with worry. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, August 9, 2012

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