In ancient times, people were poor and could not support themselves. They carried the classics with them
while hoeing, or recited the books while hauling firewood. Today, people eat plenty, dress warmly, and
have abundant free time. This is the first lament.
In ancient times, people did not feel it too far to come from a thousand li carrying their books on their
back, looking for a teacher. Today, people have worthy fathers and elder brothers to teach them and yet
they do not listen to those. Or they have a worthy teacher in the village and yet they do not know of his
vicinity. This is the second lament.
In ancient times, people copied manuscripts themselves, laboring day and night, and were constantly suffering
from the lack of books. Today, people have ready-made printed books and store ten thousand fascicles
piled up without ever reading them. This is the third lament.
In ancient times, people spent three years learning a single classic. They were thirty by the time they
established themselves in the five classics. From the time of their childhood their only goal was to study.
Today, people have books at early age but do not read them. Meanwhile, the days and months are flashing by.
This is the fourth lament.
In ancient times, people read by gathering fireflies or under the light reflected from snow. Today, people
can open up their scrolls near the light of the lantern, but they just happily engage themselves in
pointless talk, and amuse themselves by playing chess. This is the fifth lament.
There have been people who could not see the sun and the moon, who could not hear the sound of thunder.
Students of our age are have clear eyesight and acute hearing, they all receive the instructions of
wisdom. Yet, because they do not study, they know not where they going and they disregard proper conduct
and the rituals. Truly, they are nearly the same as being deaf and blind. This is the sixth lament.
When a man has a body, he has a register, when he has a register, he has duties. The students of our age
have their parents to work for them or because of their family's long-standing merits are exempt from
service. They have books but do not read them, being the same as the people outside the gates and on the
fields. This is the seventh lament.