Ancient Song by Li Po

Chuang-tzu dreams he’s a butterfly,
And a butterfly becomes Chuang-tzu.

All transformation this one body,
Boundless occurrence goes on and on:

It’s no surprise eastern seas become
Western streams shallow and clear,

Or the melon-grower at Ch’ing Gate
Once reigned as Duke of Tung-ling.

Are hopes and dreams any different?
We bustle around, looking for what?

— Trans. David Hinton

 

David Hinton: Li Po … the Taoist (intuitive, amoral, detached), and Tu Fu the Confucian (cerebral, moral, socially-engaged).  Informative though it may be, this contrast is a simplification. To be a complete human being, a Chinese intellectual must be both Taoist and Confucian, and this was true of both Li Po and Tu Fu.

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