from Taoteching by Lao Tzu

Imagine a small state with a small population 
let there be labor-saving tools 
that aren’t used 
let people consider death 
and not move far 
let there be boats and carts 
but no reason to ride them 
let there be armor and weapons 
but no reason to employ them 
let people return to the use of knots 
and be satisfied with their food 
and pleased with their clothing 
and content with their homes 
and happy with their customs 
let there be another state so near 
people hear its dogs and chickens 
but live out their lives 
without making a visit 

Reprinted with permission of the translator. All rights reserved.

In Kaoling Describing My Feelings 
to Commandant Lu of Sanyuan 
from In Such Times: The Poetry of Wei Ying-wu

The straight and the square rarely advance 
I’m serving in the stupidest of posts 
I don’t have time to open a book 
buried beneath casework and records 
the disaster of war has worn us all down 
there’s no vacation from corvée and taxes 
the downtrodden masses need help 
but compassionate measures only cause us trouble 
I think of retiring day and night 
from outside my door I can see the old mountains 
if you feel the same 
let’s go back arm-in-arm together

The Ninth
from In Such Times: The Poetry of Wei Ying-wu

Suddenly I’m governing Wu Prefecture
and suddenly chrysanthemums are blooming 
as I start to think of my garden back home 
happily a group of guests arrives