Archive for November, 2012

“People in ancient times who sustained themselves took pleasure in virtue and did not mind lowliness, so reputation could not affect their will. They took pleasure in the Way, and did not mind poverty, so profit could not move their minds. Therefore they were sober yet capable of enjoyment, quiet and able to be serene.

To use a finite lifetime to worry and grieve over the chaos of the world is like weeping into a river to increase its water in fear of its drying up. Those who do not worry about the chaos of the world but enjoy order in their own bodies can be engaged in conversation about the Way.”

From Wen-tzu – Understanding the Mysteries Lao-tzu
(translated by Thomas Cleary)

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Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

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Once upon a time, I, Chuang Tsu,
dreamed I was a butterfly flying happily
here and there, enjoying life without
knowing who I was. Suddenly I woke up
and I was indeed Chuang Tsu.
Did Chuang Tsu dream he was a butterfly,
or did the butterfly dream he was Chuang Tsu?
There must be some distinction between
Chuang Tsu and the butterfly.
This is a case of transformation.
From Chuang Tsu – Inner chapters
Translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English


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Spring Morning – A. A. Milne

Where am I going? The clouds sail by,
Little ones, baby ones, over the sky.
Where am I going? The shadows pass,
Little ones, baby ones, over the grass.

If you were a cloud, and sailed up there,
You’d sail on water as blue as air,
And you’d see me here in the fields and say:
“Doesn’t the sky look green today?”

Where am I going? The high rooks call:
“It’s awful fun to be born at all.”
Where am I going? The ring-doves coo:
“We do have beautiful things to do.”

If you were a bird, and lived on high,
You’d lean on the wind when the wind came by,
You’d say to the wind when it took you away:
“That’s where I wanted to go today!”

Where am I going? I don’t quite know.
What does it matter where people go?
Down to the wood where the blue-bells grow-
Anywhere, anywhere. I don’t know.

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Poem for Wei Ba – Du Fu

Often a man’s life is such
that he seldom sees his friends,
like the constellations Shen and Shang
which never share the same sky.
If not this evening, then what evening
should we share this lamp light?
How long can our youth and vigour last?
The hair at our temples is already grey.
We inquire about old acquaintances
to find that half are ghosts–
shocked cries betray
the torment of our hearts.
How could I have known
that it would be twenty years
before I again entered
your honoured home.
When we parted last
you were yet unmarried;
now your sons and daughters
line up in a smiling row
to greet their father’s friend.
They ask whence I have come
but before I can answer all questions
you chase them off
to bring wine and cups.
In the night rain, chives are cut
for the freshly steamed rice
mixed with yellow millet.
Saying how difficult it has been
for us to meet at last,
you pour ten cups in a row!
But even after ten cups
I’m not drunk, being so moved
by your lasting friendship.
Tomorrow we will be separated
by the peaks of mountains,
each of our worldly affairs
lost to the other’s sight.

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Even in sleep
You spoil me

and present me with gifts
a daffodil last night
more golden than the sun
You left it perching
on the doorstep of my dream

there were whiffs there
of Your perfume of Love

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