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Homechinese poemsMy Worries: Are They Justified? by Wu Guanzhong~吴冠中《杞人忧天》 with English Translations

My Worries: Are They Justified? by Wu Guanzhong~吴冠中《杞人忧天》 with English Translations

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My Worries: Are They Justified?

During the early years of the Cultural Revolution, I had a tooth problem. The dentist told me one of my molars was badly decayed and suggested I have a crown fitted, most preferably a gold one, because the hardness of gold is similar to that of enamel and would fit it well. I was afraid it would look ugly. However, the dentist assured me that nobody would see it since it was on one of the back teeth. So gold was chosen as the material, but where to find the precious metal at that time of political turmoil? Gold transaction was then forbidden on the market. And to make things worse, gold products along with jewelry were all being searched and looted by the Red Guards in the ‘Destruction of the Four Olds’ campaign1. No one in mainland China had access to even a single ounce of gold.
Fortunately, an old classmate of mine, a Thai-Chinese, was planning a trip home and promised to bring me a gold ring by wearing it on his finger when going through customs. That really was an ingenious solution to my tooth crowning problem! Using the melted gold as raw material the doctor prepared the crown with great care and superb skill. Protected by the well-fit crown, I was able to eat and chew with much ease for several decades. I thought the crown would keep good forever, but, to my dismay, gold too proved to be subject to wear and tear like all other things. Now gold is no longer a rarity, but back at that time gold was very hard to get and the gold ring-turned-crown was meant to save me from dental trouble for the rest of my life, so the fact that it was aging even faster than I was actually made me quite sad and sentimental. I came to understand that nothing in this world will last for good. However, people still spare no effort to pursue ease and permanence. The Great Wall, the Pyramids, the underground palaces, all these were built in an attempt to eternalize power or to preserve corpses until they can be restored to life someday.
Wood, stone, iron and steel, none of them can resist the erosion of time; earthquakes, tsunami and other natural disasters time and again mock the insignificance of mankind. The extinction of the dinosaurs, the tragic fate of Pompeii, all these are evidence that neither men nor animals can fend off the changes of the universe. To save themselves, man cleverly resorts to science, yet in doing so they only speed up the process of self-destruction. To top it all, over-multiplication of the human species has already brought disastrous consequences. Destruction and regeneration are irresistible laws of Nature, and the universe still remains a myth to men no matter how hard they endeavor to explore into it. Looking up at the beautiful stars on a summer night, grandmothers have long been telling the same story about the Cowherd and the Weaving Maid2: their romance has always remained fresh and the magpies have never failed to build a bridge for their yearly meeting. But grandmothers don’t know the tiny stars in the distant sky may turn out to be as large as or even larger than the sun, and that our sun will not shine steadily for ever, even though Houyi3 is long dead. Mankind has realized that we must keep the earth’s temperature from rising, but who can prevent a volcano from erupting again or stop the coming of another glacial period? Even if we can flee to Jupiter, we’re still not very far from danger, like only being a few yards from a falling house. In a Chinese legend, someone in the State of Qi feared that the sky would someday fall. That man, to me, is a wise prophet having the presentiment that Nature may spell doom to man.
The wearing-away of my tooth crown is a warning sign equal to that of the deterioration of the earth or a tremor of the universe. Disasters we humans have to endure are yet to come. May science provide for our salvation and the human race live as long as the universe lasts!

revolutionn. 革命,旋转,转数
ingeniousadj. 机灵的,精制的,有独创性的
destructionn. 破坏,毁灭,破坏者
restoredadj. 精力充沛的;精力恢复的 v. 修复(resto
meltedadj. 融化的;溶解的 v. 融化;溶解(melt的过
legendn. 传说,传奇
mockv. 嘲笑,嘲弄,模仿 n. 嘲笑,戏弄,模仿 adj.
insignificancen. 无意义;不重要;无价值
spareadj. 多余的,闲置的,备用的,简陋的 v. 抽出,饶
tremorn. 震动,颤动,战栗,兴奋,地震

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