Wang Wei: Farmer Families

Farmer Families

田 家
旧 谷 行 将 尽
良 苗 未 可 希。
老 年 方 爱 粥
卒 岁 且 无 衣。
雀 乳 青 苔 井
鸡 鸣 白 板 扉。
柴 车 驾 羸 牸
草 屩 牧 豪 豨。
多 雨 红 榴 折
新 秋 绿 芋 肥。
饷 田 桑 下 憩
旁 舍 草 中 归。
住 处 名 愚 谷
何 烦 问 是 非!


Tian Jia

Jiu gu xing jiang jin
Liang miao wei ke xi.
Lao nian fang ai zhou
Zu sui qie wu yi.

Que ru qing tai jing
Ji ming bai ban fei.
Chai che jia lei zi
Cao jue mu hao xi.

Duo yu hong liu zhe
Xin qiu lu you fei.
Xiang tian sang xia qi
Pang she cao zhong gui.
Zhu chu ming you gu
He fan wen shi fei !


Farmer Families

Old grain about to be used up
Cannot hope for a good new crop.
In one’s older years there is a love for porridge recipes
By year’s end almost without clothes.

Sparrow chicks live in the green mossy well
Chickens cheep through unpainted shutters.
Firewood cart pulled by a thin female ox
In straw sandals herd unconstrained pigs.

Heavy rain falls onto, rolls off of red pomegranates
New autumn tuber greens rich and strong.
Farmers take a break, eat and talk within the mulberries
Or go back to the grass and lean against the house.
The place where they live is called Yu Gu
It is wrong to take the trouble to ask why!



Yu Gu: Literally it means “Foolish Valley”. The story is of the emperor who asks a wise man the name of his region, and he replies “Yu Gu”. The emperor asks him “Why Yu Gu? He tells the emperor that he sold his cow to buy a horse for his son. The people thought they were both foolish…hence Foolish Valley. Because soldiers use horses and farmers use cows, the emperor believed that if the farmer had a son, he has already enlisted him into the army. The wise farmer thereby protects his son from military service and keeps outsiders from poking into his business, but at the expense of others calling him foolish.


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