On Poetry (V)
The best of poetry comes from the destitute, but my pocket is not yet empty;
I gather, it’s all because I haven’t perfected my skill as a poet.
Having fish to eat or bear’s paw? 1 I admit, I’m greedy for both:
I yearn for skill in poetry, yet how I dread being poor!
1. Alluding to a famous parable in the Meng-tzu, in which Mencius points out that when two delicacies, fish and bears’ paw, are placed before a person and he can only have one of the two to eat he has to make a difficult choice.