Liu Zongyuan: Dung-Beetles ~ 《蝜蝂传》 柳宗元 with English Translations

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《蝜蝂传》 柳宗元



Liu Zongyuan

Dung-beetles like to carry loads. They pick up whatever lies in their path, raising their heads to carry it; and refuse to give up however heavy their load and however exhausted they are. Moreover, since their backs are abrasive, things piled on them will not slip off. So at last they stumble, fall, and cannot get up. Sometimes people take pity on them and remove their burden; but they pick it up again as soon as they can crawl on. They like climbing too, and press forward with all their might till they fall dead.
There are people today in the world who are fond of gain, and will let slip no chance to enrich themselves, never thinking that this wealth may prove a burden. Their only fear they may not amass enough. When they grow careless and stumble, they may be demoted, banished or involved in trouble; yet as soon as they struggle to their feet they start again, scheming each day to better their position and procure a large salary, till their greed for more gain brings them to the brink of ruin. They never reflect upon their previous setbacks. Though there seem stout fellows and are known as “men,” they have no more intelligence than little beetles. How pathetic this is!

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