daodejing

daodejing*

Laozi

From the catalogue of harvardartmuseums.org – Laozi riding through the pass on a black ox by Chŏng Yusŭng (also known as Ch’ui-ŭn), Korean (born c. 1650 )

the book
bound and
unbound
what could
be sentences**
fiddled apart
and locked back
together on the
page by scholars
for centuries
what the sage
might have meant
a greater work
perhaps than
what he meant
written in the
clouds of age
up near the pass
handed down
from the back
of the bull
the gate keeper
reading it
still.

2 december 2013

*The Chinese historian Sima Qian states that Laozi grew weary of the moral decay of city life and noted the kingdom of Zhou’s decline. According to these legends, he ventured west to live as a hermit in the unsettled frontier at the age of 160 riding a water buffalo At the western gate of the city, or kingdom, he was recognized by a guard, Yinxi. The sentry asked the old master to record his wisdom in a text, now known as the Daodejing. In some versions of the tale, the sentry is so touched by the work that he leaves with Laozi, never to be seen again. Some legends elaborate further that the “Old Master” was the teacher of the Siddartha Gautama, better known as the Buddha, or was even the Buddha himself.[Source: Wikipedia]

**The style and the language of Daodejing present multiple difficulties to the best of translators; this results in the wondrously variant rendering of the same passage in a number of cases.  As written, classical Chinese has no kind of punctuation.

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