Omens, Warnings, and Advice: after Yang

This poem is modeled on one from the Yuan Dynasty, 1279-1368, in The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry.

Don’t trouble over the moon, keep your back
to the wind. Never count on friends to be on time.
If you must, ask whether it’s night or day.
When you leave, don’t bump into the door.
Keep your teeth in a bowl by your bedside.
During morning walks, don’t look back.
Avoid the sun. Drink when you are happy
but not when you are strained. In the fall
and winter, when it’s raining, swallow your pills.
And in spring, when the flowers open, be sure
to sniff the poppies. If you waste your money
spend it on wine, tobacco, and high-mountain trout.
Avoid spoiled fruit and get rid of your books!

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

I thought I had the perfect Catholic fairy tale: Meet and a date a former seminarian. Seven months after I got married, my world was utterly shattered.
Patty Breen July 27, 2017
The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington in January 2017. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
Controversial decisions, such as Brown v. Board of Education (school desegregation), Roe v. Wade (abortion) and, most recently, Obergefell v. Hodges (same-sex marriage), often are challenged for decades by opponents seeking their reversal or limitation.
Ellen K. BoegelJuly 27, 2017
Oscar Isaacs as Hamlet (photo: The Public Theatre)
In a bewildering new staging at The Public Theater, Oscar Isaac is giving a rich, riveting lead turn as the dubious Danish prince.
Rob Weinert-KendtJuly 27, 2017
Usain Bolt has become a living legend in a track event that is known for creating superstars. His pre- and post-race rituals are purely Catholic, and yet the faith of one of the world’s most talked-about athletes is an open secret.
Nick Ripatrazone July 27, 2017