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To the tax-collectors after the bandits retreat – Yuan Jie

In the year Kuimao the bandits from Xiyuan entered Daozhou, set fire, raided, killed, and looted. The whole district was almost ruined. The next year the bandits came again and, attacking the neighbouring prefecture, Yong, passed this one by. It was not because we were strong enough to defend ourselves, but, probably, because they pitied us. And how now can these commissioners bear to impose extra taxes? I have written this poem for the collectors’ information.
I still remember those days of peace —
Twenty years among mountains and forests,
The pure stream running past my yard,
The caves and valleys at my door.
Taxes were light and regular then,
And I could sleep soundly and late in the morning-
Till suddenly came a sorry change.
…For years now I have been serving in the army.
When I began here as an official,
The mountain bandits were rising again;
But the town was so small it was spared by the thieves,
And the people so poor and so pitiable
That all other districts were looted
And this one this time let alone.
…Do you imperial commissioners
Mean to be less kind than bandits?
The people you force to pay the poll
Are like creatures frying over a fire.
And how can you sacrifice human lives,
Just to be known as able collectors? —
…Oh, let me fling down my official seal,
Let me be a lone fisherman in a small boat
And support my family on fish and wheat
And content my old age with rivers and lakes!


贼退示官吏


癸卯岁,西原贼入道州,焚烧杀掠,几尽而 去。明年,贼又攻永州,破邵,不犯此州边 鄙而退,岂力能制敌欤?盖蒙其伤怜而已! 诸史何为忍苦徵敛!故作诗一篇以示官吏。
昔岁逢太平, 山林二十年。
泉源在庭户, 洞壑当门前。
井税有常期, 日晏犹得眠。
忽然遭时变, 数岁亲戎旃。
今来典斯郡, 山夷又纷然。
城小贼不屠, 人贫伤可怜。
是以陷邻境, 此州独见全。
使臣将王命, 岂不如贼焉?
令彼徵敛者, 迫之如火煎。
谁能绝人命? 以作时世贤。
思欲委符节, 引竿自刺船,
将家就鱼麦, 归老江湖边。

2016-06-22

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