Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Half-And-Half Song by Li Mi'An, traslated by Lin Yu-Tang

By far the greater half have I seen through
This floating life –Ah, there’s a magic word-
This “half” –so rich in implications.
It bids us taste the joy of more than we
Can ever own. Halfway in life is man’s
Best state, when slackened pace allows him ease;
A wide world lies halfway ‘twixt heaven and earth;
To live halfway between the town and land,
Have farms halfway between the streams and hills;
Be half-a-scholor, and half-a-squire, and half
In business; half as gentry live,
And half related to the common folk;
And have a house that’s half genteel, half plain,
Half elegantly furnished and half bare;
Dresses and gowns that are half old, half new,
And food half epicure’s, half simple fare;
Have servants not too clever, not too dull;
A wife who’s not too simple, nor too smart-
So then, at heart, I feel I’m half a Buddha,
And almost half a Taoist fairy blest.
One half myself to Father Heaven I
Return; the other half to children leave-
Half thinking how for my posterity
To plan and provide, and yet half minding how
To answer God when the body’s laid at rest.
He is most wisely drunk who is half drunk;
And flowers in half-bloom look their prettiest;
As boats at half-sail sail the steadiest,
And horses held at half-slack reins trot best.
Who half too much has, adds anxiety,
But half too little, adds possession’s zest.
Since life’s of sweet and bitter compounded,
Who tastes but half is wise and cleverest.