ON BEING SIXTY
Addressed to Liu Meng-te, who had asked for a poem. He was the same age as Po Chü-i.
Between thirty and forty, one is distracted by the Five Lusts ;
Between seventy and eighty, one is a prey to a hundred diseases.
But from fifty to sixty one is free from all ills ;
Calm and still — the heart enjoys rest.
I have put behind me Love and Greed ; I have done with Profit and Fame ;
I am still short of illness and decay and far from decrepit age.
Strength of limb I still possess to seek the rivers and hills;
Still my heart has spirit enough to listen to flutes and string's.
At leisure I open new wine and taste several cups ;
Drunken I recall old poems and sing a whole volume.
Meng-te has asked for a poem and herewith I exhort him
Not to complain of three-score, "the time of obedient ears."'
1 Confucius said that it was not till sixty that "his ears obeyed
him." This age was therefore called " the time of obedient ears."