On The Birth Of His Son Translations Su Tung P'O After Arthur Waley - Poem by Jonathan ROBIN
Families, when a child is born, want it to be intelligent. I through intelligence, have wrecked my whole life. Only hope the baby will prove ignorant and stupid. Then he will crown a tranquil life by becoming a Cabinet Minister.
Su Tung-p'o translation: Arthur Waley
On the Birth of his Son I
Proud parents, when their heir is born,
hold ne'er a brief for brainless brawn,
but I, by folly never drawn,
blame brilliance as my bane and thorn.
This warning must not prove forlorn,
so, son, on culture pour your scorn.
Then ‘fore long 'Privy' you'll be sworn,
'for Lion and for Unicorn! '
On the Birth of his Son II
Parents at their son's first light
pray that he'll be brave and bright.
Intelligence has let me down,
‘tis but a broken reed, I frown.
‘Twould show ambition's true delight
should you appear to lack insight,
then sweet success your life would crown
as Minister of the Crown.
On the Birth of His Son III
After anxious eight months' wait
an infant life will liberate.
He bawls, his limbs gesticulate,
he calls, begins to cogitate.
His parents, proud, prognosticate
a future great, fair fortunate!
But this belief's belied by fate,
sagacity we overrate.
Though consciousness I'd cultivate
as scholar and illuminate,
intelligence, my trait, did bate
the barbs of jealousy and hate.
Above I've tried to illustrate
the wisdoms which most venerate
too soon to tears degenerate.
Pierian springs inebriate,
success you seek? anticipate!
‘tis best to seem illiterate.
Then perfect peace will permeate
a spirit tranquil, temperate,
and ever may facilitate
admission through ambition's gate:
administrate and legislate,
debate as Secretary of State!
(17 July 1977)
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