Chapter 20 of the Daodejing

Only in chapters 16 and 20 of the DDJ do we hear a personal voice. The first person pronouns wu and wo are seen eighteen times in this text, but usually as part of external quotations, the debater’s convention for making hypothetical arguments (“If I had no body….”) or to indicate the subject of knowledge – the person who knows or doesn’t know, or who teaches, or who sees. (more…)

Published in: on September 23, 2009 at 7:53 pm  Comments (1)  

In which I rewrite Chapter 33 of the Daodejing



If you know others you are smart;
If you know yourself you are wise.
If you conquer others you are tough;
If you conquer yourself you are strong.

If you know what is enough you are rich.
If you act forcefully you are strong-willed
If you accept your place you are secure.
If you die and are not forgotten you are long-lived.

Nothing is right about chapter 33. The rhyme scheme is AB CB CC CD, which suggests that either the first and last line or the last four lines were tacked on. The parallelism is weak, with lines of 4, 4, 5, 4, 4, 5, 6, and 6 syllables in that order. The first two couplets are parallel (or almost) and lines 1 and 2 and lines 3 and 4 contrast with one another, but the next two couplets are neither parallel nor contrastive. Much of the chapter consists of truisms which have no real connection to the rest of the DDJ and may be antithetical to it. I salvaged what I could from the chapter and ended up with what is probably a fragment, since it lacks a rhyme for 知足者富: (more…)

Published in: on September 19, 2009 at 6:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chapter 51 of the Daodejing



生而弗有 Chapters 2, 10, 34, 77.
自 (“of itself”). Chapters 32, 37, 57, 73.
自然 Chapters 17, 23, 25, 51, 64.
是謂 Chapters 10, 14, 16, 27, 36, 51, 52, 56, 59, 62, 65.
Chapters 1, 6, 10, 15, 51, 56, 65.
Chapters 10, 21, 23, 28, 38, 41, 49, 51, 59, 60, 63, 65, 68, 79.
玄德 Chapters 10, 65.

 生之, 畜之, 長之, and 育之 come from 蓼莪 (Ode 202 of the Shijing), which emphasized the poet’s enormous debt to his mother and father, but especially to his mother.




O my father, who begat me!

O my mother, who nourished me!

You indulged me, you fed me,

You held me up, you supported me,

You looked after me, you never left me,

Home and away you bore me in your arms. (more…)

Published in: on September 16, 2009 at 10:15 pm  Comments (2)