The world is full of iniquities,
Why do you struggle so in vain,
Always urging on that tiny body,
Forever carrying sticks and stones?
"I will fill up the Eastern Sea.
My body may fail; my aim won't change.
Until the great sea's filled
My heart can't know surcease."
Alas, don't you see
The many birds with sticks on stones among the Western Hills?
Magpies come, swallows go, all building their own nests.
1. Ch'ing-wei, a mythical bird, believed to be an incarnation of the daughter of Shen Nung (the god of agriculture), who died while travelling the Eastern Sea. The bird supposedly carries sticks and stones to fill in the sea. The poem is unusual in its use of the myth and the extended development of the metaphor, implying perhaps the lack of rebellious spirit among the people.