I Watch People in the World

BY RYOKAN

I watch people in the world

Throw away their lives lusting after things,

Never able to satisfy their desires,

Falling into deeper despair

And torturing themselves.

I watch people in the world

Throw away their lives lusting after things,

Never able to satisfy their desires,

Falling into deeper despair

And torturing themselves.

Even if they get what they want

How long will they be able to enjoy it?

For one heavenly pleasure

They suffer ten torments of hell,

Binding themselves more firmly to the grindstone.

Such people are like monkeys

Frantically grasping for the moon in the water

And then falling into a whirlpool.

How endlessly those caught up in the floating world suffer.

Despite myself, I fret over them all night

And cannot staunch my flow of tears.

 

 

Japan, 1758-1831

Translated by John Stevens

Source: Old Poetry