My book culling goes apace. One of the things I went through today were books on China and on poetry. On that note, I saw this on the site of the Laudator:
A poem by Yuan Mei (1716–1797), tr. Arthur Waley:
Everything else in life is easy to break with;
Only my books are hard to leave behind.
I want to go through them all again,
But the days hurry by, and there is not time.
If I start on the Classics I shall never get to history;
If I read philosophy, literature goes by the board.
I look back at the time when I purchased them—
Thousands of dollars, I never worried about the price.
If passages were missing, the pains I took to supply them,
And to fill out sets that were incomplete!
Of the finest texts many are copied by hand;
The toil of which fell to my office clerks.
Day and night I lived with them in intimacy.
I numbered their volumes and marked them with yellow and red.
How many branches of wax-candle light,
How many drops of weary heart’s blood!
My sons and grandsons know nothing of this;
Perhaps the book-worms could tell their own tale.
Today I have had a great tidy-up,
And feel I have done everything I was born to do….
It is good to know that the people in the books
Are waiting lined up in the Land of the Dead.
In a little while I shall meet them face to face
And never again need to look at what they wrote!