Substance, Shadow and Spirit
The Great Potter cannot Intervene All creation thrives of itself. That Man ranks with Earth and Heaven, Is it not because of me? Though we belong to different orders, Being alive, I am joined to you. Bound together for good or ill I cannot refuse to tell you what I know: The Three August Ones were great saints But where are they living today? Though P’eng-tsu lasted a long time He still had to go before he was ready. Die old or die young, death is the same, Wise or stupid, there is no difference. Drunk, every day you may forget, But won’t it shorten your life span? Doing good is always a joyous thing But no one has to praise you for it. Too much thinking harms my life; Just surrender to the cycle of things, Give yourself to the waves of the Great Change Neither happy nor yet afraid. And when it is time to go, then simply go without any unnecessary fuss.
Published in The Poetry of T‘ao Ch‘ien by James Hightower, Clarendon Press, 1970 TAO YUANMING, also known as Tao Chien (365–427 AD), is widely considered one of the greatest poets of the Six Dynasties Era (220–589 AD). In 405, after the death of his sister, he gave up his job as a government official and spent the rest of his life as a reclusive poet.