New Year’s Vigil
by Su Shi
translated by Aaron De Bee
We anticipate the coming end of year
like a snake entering a hole;
slender and scaly, it’s already partially disappeared.
Who’s able to stop it from slipping away?
Even if we wanted to tie its tail,
we wouldn’t succeed if we tried.
Children struggle against sleep;
through the night we laugh together.
No cry yet from the morning cock.
Reverence builds with the beat of the drum.
We sit so long the lights burn down,
and we rise to see the plow leaning to the north.
The next year may be our last,
and we worry that we’ve wasted time,
so tonight we give it all we’ve got,
and revel like we are young.