The Practice Of a Cultivated Man
Is to refine himself by quietude,
and develop virtue by frugality.
Without detachment there is no way to clarify the will;
without serenity there is no way to get far.
Talent requires study,
study requires calm,
Without study there is no way to expand talent,
without calm there is no way to accomplish study.
If you laze, you cannot do thorough research;
if you are impulsive, you cannot govern your nature.
If your will is not strong,
if your thought does not oppose injustice,
You will fritter away, your life stuck in the commonplace,
silently submitting to the bonds of emotion,
forever cowering before mediocrities,
never escaping the downward flow.
Aspiration should remain lofty and far-sighted,
look to the precedents of the wise;
Be patient in tight situations as well as easy one,
eliminate all pettiness!
Seek knowledge by questioning widely,
set aside aversion and reluctance.
What loss is there in dignity,
what worry is there of failure?
Zhuge Liang and the essay
Zhuge Liang (traditional Chinese: 諸葛亮; simplified Chinese: 诸葛亮; pinyin: Zhūgě Liàng, 181–234) was Chancellor of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period of China. He is often recognised as the greatest and most accomplished strategist of his era.
Often depicted wearing a robe and holding a fan made of crane feathers, Zhuge was not only an important military strategist and statesman; he was also an accomplished scholar and inventor. His reputation as an intelligent and learned scholar grew even while he was living in relative seclusion, earning him the nickname “Wòlóng” (臥龍, or “Sleeping Dragon”).
The ‘poetry’ above is an appendage of two letters that are sent out by Zhuge Liang to his nephew and his son on his dying days (which I found in the intro to The Way Of The Generals)
Combining the two letters together and rearranging the sentences and prose, I ended up with a poetry whose title is derived from the first line in the letter,’the practice of a cultivated man’.