Of his time as a captive around the year 1280, Chinese scholar, Wên T'ien-hsiang, wrote about books:
"Alas! the fates were against me; I was without resource.
Bound with fetters, hurried away toward the north,
death would have been sweet indeed;
but that boon was refused.
My dungeon is lighted by the will-o'-the-wisp alone:
no breath of spring cheers the murky solitude in which I dwell.
The ox and the barb herd together in one stall:
the rooster and the phoenix feed together from one dish.
Exposed to mist and dew, I had many times thought to die;
and yet, through the seasons of two revolving years,
disease hovered around me in vain.
The dark, unhealthy soil to me became Paradise itself.
For there was that within me which misfortune could not steal away.
And so I remained firm, gazing at the white clouds floating over my head,
and bearing in my heart a sorrow boundless as the sky.
The sun of those dead heroes has long since set,
but their record is before me still.
And, while the wind whistles under the eaves,
I open my books and read;
and lo! in their presence my heart glows with a borrowed fire."