Poems about Growing Old with English Translation by E. C. Chang








We use the same standard
to measure time wherever we go.
How we perceive time
can be quite different and variable.
When life is happy and carefree,
time runs like an escaped rabbit;
when we must work hard day and night,
time moves at the pace of a caterpillar.
In our youth, we care very little that
springtime waits for no one;
now with white hair, we realize that
good times may never again come.
At eighty, it shouldn't be too late to study
like Che Yin* by a bag of fireflies.
Half of the sky often glows in red
before the sun is ready to set.

*Che Yin was a fourth-century scholar who studied under the light of glowworms in his youth.







Loneliness is not something
that concerns me as I get old.
With a book of poetry, any time
I can recite my favorite poems.
I can imagine peeping at the crying
cranes through the clouds.
Or let my mind follow the flowing
water to see how fish sink and jump.
In the early morning, I can search for
poetic ideas by walking along a quiet path.
In the afternoon, I can listen to birds singing
in the dense grove.
No longer am I able to climb the
Five Sacred Mountains.
But I can still visit the famous places
on hilly ground for fun.






A Mood

Dreams unfulfilled; time has expired.
The scene appears even dimmer
looking back with my weary eyes.
Wild swans are too far away to leave
traces on the ground covered with snow.
Rapid currents in the cold
river lash against my fishing pole.
Scattered clouds will dissipate facing
the hurrying autumn wind.
The evening curtain has just fallen,
but on its way is the torrential rain.
Time flies; world and human
affairs keep changing.
My mind will follow the river currents
flowing to the east.

鴣天   老來樂


Joy at Old Age
(Tune: Partridge Sky)

At old age, one is often concerned
with the issue of health care.
Facing the mirror in the early morning,
I am afraid to comb my hair.
My body, ears, and eyes are
no longer as sound as before.
Memories of the past
can never be halted.
Go look for beautiful scenes.
Enjoy what field trips can bring.
Improve my health by
exercising and walking.
Let today’s fun be enjoyed today.
Let tomorrow’s worries
be dealt with tomorrow.

武陵春 輕狂

花木凋零秋已盡,結伴覽滄洋。逾半遊人發似霜,放任若輕狂。 人老何須心亦老,應效少年郎。歡樂情懷益健康。心若鳥,遠飛翔。

Free Spirit
(Tune: Spring in Wuling)

Trees and flowers have withered.
It will soon be winter.
With our friends,
we cruise the ocean together.
More than half of the travelers
have gray hair.
They do as they please;
their behaviors appear frivolous.

One who gets old can
still have a young mind.
Old people should learn
from the young ones.
A happy frame of mind
is good for the health.
Like a bird, let my spirit
fly to the sky.


賦閒不再僕風塵。 來日光陰最可珍。

染髮修容難卻老, 黃髫轉眼白頭人。

Passage of Time

Now that I am retired,
I no longer have to be travel-worn,
weary, and tired.
I will appreciate twice more the time
that has yet to arrive.
You cannot slow down
the process of aging
through hair dyeing
or a face-lift.
Before you know it,
a fledgling child has become
a white-headed person.

憶江南 白頭吟

人漸老,精力不如前。耳目欠靈行動慢,腰酸背疼夜難眠。最怕病魔纏。 人老矣,記憶不如前。若免痴呆兼失憶,天天吟誦小詩篇。好讓腦筋旋。 人已老,歲歲不如前。葉落暉斜秋已晚,平湖綠水碧如天。珍惜好塵緣。

Getting Old
(Tune: Remembering River South)

As you get old, your energy level will be low.
Your reaction time will be slow.
No longer will you see as clear and hear as loud.
Your back may be aching and
falling asleep may not be easy.
Chronic diseases can make you tense.

When you are old, your memory
starts to fade.
Don’t let Alzheimer’s and memory loss
have their way.
Recite a little poem each day.
Let your brain spin without delay.

When you are really old,
your body will have taken a heavy toll.
It will get worse from year to year.
Leaves will fall in late autumn;
sun will come down from the west.

But the lake is still as blue
as the sky every day.
Be appreciative of your time
in this world
every remaining day.

白頭吟 (PDF)