Poem Translation Echoes 547: Rogue Rats

image of a rat

skinned off its decency dress

bare is death in man

rodents with sharp teeth

gormandise without restraint

dead man without shame

rats yield to own form

humans don with moral stand

death throes to live up


This is my translation of an ancient poem, selected from the Classic (Ode) Of Poetry (Shining), 11th to 7th century BC, compiled by Confucius. Please read the original poem, Rats (相鼠).

I have chosen to translate it in haiku/senryu, for its brevity and diction. This ancient poem depicts rogue states and individuals. There are homophonic elements in Chinese script radicals, for instance, 皮( 疲) 齿 ( 耻) 体 ( 礼), together with imageries. The current spat between states and individuals illustrates this well.

4 thoughts on “Poem Translation Echoes 547: Rogue Rats

  1. 轻艺术 慢生活

    These verses well resonated with the current crisis. Be it political, health or social development.
    Heard that mco is slowly easing up, hope good health and safety find you well. Take care.🙏

  2. wonkywizard Post author

    Thank you for your comment. It is a blessing to enjoy poetry from East and West, and find resonance in them.
    MCO is easing up in Malaysia, but the perils of covid 19 remains; maybe for a other year or two.
    If we look at the disease from a racial point, the skin, then we lack decency, and may as well be dead without morals. We are like rats without shame and form.
    We pray that all rhetoric die with all rogue rats, and humans will re connect and work together to solve this pandemic.

  3. aussieian2011

    Very thought provoking post my friend, from my observation of your Haiku I sense parallels with our current global environment.
    I sincerely hope when this crisis passes, that goodness and a harmonious relationship around the world emerges, not only between neighbours but between nations as well.
    Keep well and my kindest regards and best wishes.

    1. wonkywizard Post author

      Thank you for your wise and frank comment.
      The pandemic is causing the contagion of fear. It’s easy to react to such fear by blaming; then it rages to racialism, and violence. Fear is a universal feeling and it connects all beings. We need to face it together to tackle the disease. Love and compassion are our best vaccine.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.