To stand upon the river-bank
And snare the purple fish,
My net well cast across the stream,
Was all that I could wish.
Or lie concealed and shoot the geese
That scream and pass apace,
And pay my rent and taxes with
The profits of the chase.
Then home to peace and happiness,
With wife and children gay,
Though clothes be coarse and fare be hard,
And earned from day to day.
But now I read and read, scarce knowing
What ’tis all about,
And eager to improve my mind,
I wear my body out.

from “Discontent” by Han Yu A.D. 768-824


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