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Rush （translated by Zhu Chunshen）
Swallows may have gone, but there is a time of return; willow trees may have died back, but there is a time of regreening; peach blossoms may have fallen, but they will bloom again. Now, you the wise, tell me, why should our days leave us, never to return? — If they had been stolen by someone, who could it be? Where could he hide then? If they had made the escape themselves, then where could they stay at the moment?
I do not know how many days I have been given to spend, but I do feel my hands are getting empty. Taking stock silently, I find that more than eight thousand days has already slid away from me. Like a drop of water from the point of a needle disappearing into the ocean, my days are dripping into the stream of time, soundless, traceless. Already sweat is starting on my forehead, and tears welling up in my eyes.
Those that have gone have gone for good, those to come keep coming; yet in between, how swift is the shift, in such a rush? When I get up in the morning, the slanting sun marks its presence in my small room in two or three oblongs. The sun has feet, look, he is treading on, lightly and furtively; and I am caught, blankly, in his revolution. Thus — the day flows away through the sink when I wash my hands, wears off in the bowl when I eat my meal, passes away before my day-dreaming gaze as I reflect in silence. I can feel his haste now, so I reach out my hands to hold him back, but he keeps flowing past my withholding hands. In the evening, as I lie in bed, he strides over my body, glides past my feet, in his agile way. The moment I open my eyes and meet the sun again, one whole day has gone. I bury my face in my hands and heave a sigh. But the new day begins to flash past in the sigh.
What can I do, in this bustling world, with my days flying in their escape? Nothing but to hesitate, to rush. What have I been doing in that eight-thousand-day rush, apart from hesitating? Those bygone days have been dispersed as smoke by a light wind, or evaporated as mist by the morning sun. What traces have I left behind me? Have I ever left behind any gossamer traces at all? I have come to this world, stark-naked; am I to go back, in a blink, in the same stark-nakedness? It is not fair though: why should I have made such a trip for nothing!
You the wise, tell me, why should our days leave us, never to return?
28 March, 1922
Transient Days (translated by Zhang Peiji)
If swallows go away, they will come back again. If willows wither, they will turn green again. If peach blossoms fade, they will flower again. But, tell me, you the wise, why should our days go by never to return? Perhaps they have been stolen by someone. But who could it be and where could he hide them? Perhaps they have just run away by themselves. But where could they be at the present moment?
I don't know how many days I am entitled to altogether, but my quota of them is undoubtedly wearing away. Counting up silently, I find that more than 8,000 days have already slipped away through my fingers. Like a drop of water falling off a needle point into the ocean, my days are quietly dripping into the stream of time without leaving a trace. At the thought of this, sweat oozes from my forehead and tears trickle down my cheeks.
What is gone is gone, what is to come keeps coming. How swift is the transition in between! When I get up in the morning, the slanting sun casts two or three squarish patches of light into my small room. The sun has feet too, edging away softly and stealthily. And, without knowing it, I am already caught in its revolution .Thus the day flows away through the sink when I wash my hands; vanishes in the rice bowl when I have my meal; passes away quietly before the fixed gaze of my eyes when I am lost in reverie. Aware of its fleeting presence, I reach out for it only to find it brushing past my out-stretched hands. In the evening, when I lie on my bed, it nimbly strides over my body and flits past my feet. By the time when I open my eyes to meet the sun again, another day is already gone. I heave a sign, my head buried in my hands. But, in the midst of my sighs, a new day is flashing past.
Living in this world with its fleeting days and teeming millions, what can I do but waver and wander and live a transient life? What have I been doing during the 8,000 fleeting days except wavering and wandering? The bygone days, like wisps of smoke, have been dispersed by gentle winds, and, like thin mists, have been evaporated by the rising sun. What traces have I left behind? No, nothing, not even gossamer-like traces. I have come to this world stark naked, and in the twinkling of an eye, I am to go to back as stark naked as ever. However, I am taking it very much to heart: why should I be made to pass through this world for nothing at all?
O you the wise, would you tell me please: why should our days go by never to return?