Thursday, 21 May 2009

A new edition with political wisdom

I am indebted to The New Republic for reminding me of the many words of wisdom of the Chinese sage Lao Tzu via a splendid review in its current edition of the recently published Classical Chinese Poetry: An Anthology edited and translated by David Hinton. 
To give but one example:
Never bestow honors
and people won't quarrel.
Never prize rare treasures
and people won't steal.
Never flaunt alluring things
and people won't be confused.
This book review is one of those rare ones that has had me off and ordering so I can read the full version of Hinton's translation of the High T'ang poet Li Po's "Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon" from which these lines come:

Among the blossoms, a single jar of wine. No one else here, I ladle it out myself.
Raising my cup, I toast the bright moon,
and facing my shadow makes friends
though moon has never understood
and shadow only trails along behind me.
I sing, and moon rocks back and forth;
I dance, and shadow tumbles into pieces.

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 475 pp., $US45
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