A descendant of Yüeh Wang, a worthy gentleman, dwells in a village without soil and croons verses without words. He once told Tung-p’o, the Retired Scholar, that his mind was as pure as the rays of the Autumn Sun, his emotions as peaceful as its tranquility. “I love virtue,” he said, “and am determined to fulfil it, even as the Autumn Sun strengthens the crops. I hate evil, and desire to chastise it even as the Autumn Sun strikes that group of trees. So I am anxious to write a fu upon it. What does the Master think?”
The Retired Scholar smiled. “How,” he replied, “can a gentleman like yourself appreciate the Autumn Sun? Born into a luxurious mansion, when older, you roamed through the Emperor’s Courts. Outside, you were sheltered by a large umbrella; at home, you were waited upon behind curtain and veil. You could stand the hot weather up to the point of warmth, and the winter to the point of coolness – that is all! What then can you know about the Autumn Sun?
Now, a man like myself really appreciates it. When the summer floods become excessive, when the clouds become vapour and the rains fall, when the thunder rolls and the lightning flashes, when rivers and lakes merge together and the god of the soil is in danger of drowning, then do boats sail on the city-walls, fish and dragon enter the house, mildew covers the utensils, frogs and earth-worms crawl about the tables. At night, one must move five times to avoid the damp; in day-time, one must dry the clothes in the sun for three changes. But still there is nothing in all this to worry about!
In San Wu, there is a plot of ploughed land. There, ripened grain becomes covered with fungi, matured rice curls up into the mud. Drains and dykes overflow. Walls, undermined by water, collapse in ruins in the mud. One’s eyes glisten with tears as the smoke from the fuel in boiler and cauldron fills the room. All around, the neighbourhood is silent. The crane cries in the doorway. The wife rises in the night and heaves a deep sigh, as she reckons up the number of foodless days and wonders whether the clothing will last to the end of the year.
Suddenly, the cauldron sends out sparks in myriad confusion, and the lamp-wick hangs down in double blossom. Clear blows the west wind; drums and bells resound. The slaves joyously tell me that this is the sign of no more rain. So I rise early to divine it, and I find that Hesperus, the evening star, is placid and no longer flashes as it bathes in the Valley of Sunshine and rise over Fu-sang. Ere one has winked, the whole prospect has changed with winged flight to the crossbeams of the house. In that moment, I feel as though I am awakening from a drunken slumber. I am like a dumb man who can speak, a paralytic who can rise and walk. I am like a wanderer returning to his ancestral village who gets his first glimpse of the Elders! Have you, Sire, also tasted joy like this?”
“That’s fine!” he laughed. “Although I cannot say that I have personally experienced this, yet I can well appreciate it.”
“The Sun,” continued the Retired Scholar, “moves through the Southern and the Northern Heavens in different ways. Its fierce and fiery heat is not the result of tyranny, nor is its soothing warmth due to tenderness, for the warmth of today is the heat of yesterday. Why then consider Summer as Tun and Winter as Ts’ui? We little men are easily vexed or glad, so that the dread of summer or the love of winter is of no greater import to us than the numbers ‘3’ and ‘4’ to a crowd of monkeys!
Henceforth, understand this and be not in doubt. Live without plastering the door; go out without putting on a labourer’s hat; and do not complain of the summer heat if you would not forget the virtues of the Autumn Sun.”
Whereat my nobleman clapped his hands and laughed as he wrote this down.
（Cyril Drummond Le Gros Clark 译）