Ah me, why did they build my house by the road to the market town?
They moor their laden boats near my trees.
They come and go and wander at their will.
I sit and watch them; my time wears on.
Turn them away I cannot. And thus my days pass by.
Night and day their steps sound by my door.
Vainly I cry, “I do not know you.”
Some of them are known to my fingers, some to my nostrils, the blood in my veins seems to know them, and some are known to my dreams.
Turn them away I cannot. I call them and say, “Come to my house whoever chooses. Yes, come.”
In the morning the bell rings in the temple.
They come with their baskets in their hands.
Their feet are rosy red. The early light of dawn is on their faces.
Turn them away I cannot. I call
them and I say, “Come to my garden
to gather flowers. Come hither.”
In the mid-day the gong sounds at the palace gate.
I know not why they leave their work and linger near my hedge.
The flowers in their hair are pale and faded; the notes are languid in their flutes.
Turn them away I cannot. I call them and say, “The shade is cool under my trees. Come, friends.”
At night the crickets chirp in the woods.
Who is it that comes slowly to my door and gently knocks?
I vaguely see the face, not a word is spoken, the stillness of the sky is all around.
Turn away my silent guest I cannot. I look at the face through the dark, and hours of dreams pass by.