A Verse-Cake for My Seventieth Birthday *
In the old days it wasn't easy to live to seventy.
Now it's very easy to live to eighty.
Some say life begins regenerating at seventy,
But I began degenerating at sixty.
My talks became foolish, motions sluggish.
My wife sneered at me, children snickered at me.
I earned not a dime, did not a deed, the whole decade;
Contrarily, I consumed much meat, more milk, each meal.
Anyway I didn't consider myself aged,
I practiced chikung and taichi hour after hour;
Also read and wrote all nights and days,
These only made my family laugh even more.
Moreover, I kept on being handsome and romantic, in my heart;
Frequently combed my balding hair before a broken mirror.
Fervently, I ogled all blooming flowers, waving willows;
Earned quite a lot of silent swears and slighting leers.
Please do not scorn those who are old, dear folks.
Their bodies turn senior, but minds return to youth.
You will all know how bitter the taste really is,
When you are not young, the young scorn you.
Forgive them and care for them a bit, please.
It will cultivate your well-doing and well-being.
Those who are filial and friendly will have heaven's grace.
Those who give insult and disgust will lessen nature's blessing.
Do not be sorrowful of being elderly, my friends.
No one can alter life's character and heaven's course.
Both humans and nature are subjected to drastic change;
But a broad-mind, being half-deaf-and-blind, can lessen its loss.
Why do we still cherish sex and wealth, worry of give and gain;
While we should munch the bright moon, and gulp the soft wind?
Cherish the blue waters long or vast, and green hills rolling or high.
Enjoy the colorful sky, morning and twilight, also peaceful earth at night.
* An English version of the author's Chinese work.
Copyright © by Kuo-Pen Yung.
Posted on December 6, 2011
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