Fairer is the manuscript
When the reed is clipped;
Clearer runs the message, when
There's a trimming of the pen.
Dimly burns the lantern, but
When its wick is cut
Perfect will its lustre be
Through the wick's deficiency.
A. Notes: Anonymous - the poet's name is not known.
The first stanza
Line 1: manuscript: document written by hand.
Line 2: reed: a pen made from a dried reed.
Line 4: trimming: the point of the reed needs to be sharpened from time to time.
The second stanza
Line 2: wick: a bit of cotton or thread in a lamp on which a flame is lit.
Line 3: lustre: shining light.
Line 4: deficiency: reduced size.