Sleeping on Horseback
We had ridden long and were still far from the inn;
My eyes grew dim; for a moment I fell asleep.
Under my right arm the whip still dangled;
In my left hand the reins for an instant slackened.
Suddenly I woke and turned to question my groom.
"We have gone a hundred paces since you fell asleep."
Body and spirit for a while had changed place;
Swift and slow had turned to their contraries.
For these few steps that my horse had carried me
Had taken in my dream countless aeons of time!
True indeed is that saying of Wise Men
"A hundred years are but a moment of sleep."
Chinese; trans. Arthur Waley
Po Chu-i, Chinese, trans. Arthur Waley, One Hundred Seventy
Chinese Poems, 1919, Alfred A. Knopf.