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On the Birth of a Son

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Families when a child is born
Hope it will turn out intelligent.
I, through intelligence
Having wrecked my whole life,
Only hope that the baby will prove
Ignorant and stupid.
Then he'll be happy all his days
And grow into a cabinet minister.

Source: Poetry (Poetry)

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This poem originally appeared in the January 1918 issue of Poetry magazine

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On the Birth of a Son

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  • Su Tung-Po (1037–1101) was a Chinese poet, writer, artist, and statesman during China’s Song era. Born to a family of literati in the present-day Sichuan province, he is also known as Po Su Shi, Su Shih, and Su Dongpo. He published under the pseudonym Dongpo Jushi.
    Su Tung-Po spent most of his life employed in various governmental positions. His poetry and prose often put him at odds with ruling factions, and he was twice banished from different provinces. These banishments and the small stipends allotted to government officials encouraged him to take up Buddhist meditation. His poetry is infused with Buddhist philosophy, as well as with Confucianism.
    Today, Su Tung-Po’s oeuvre is valuable for the quality of its poems, its contributions to 11th-century Chinese travel literature, and its details about the Chinese iron industry.

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