Home Page Button Syllabus / Policies Button Composition Button Grammar Button Rhetoric Button Rhetoric Button Literature button poetry button classical button medieval button Renaissance Button Vocabulary Button
 

 

The following fairly late writing is in prose, rather than poetry per se. It is from the philosopher Chuang-Tzu's Writings, xxii, VIII, sixth century BCE.

Here, the tone, imagery, and personification are heavily influenced by Taoist thought in the Tao-Te Ching, including the Taoist emphasis on the inability of language and logical categorization to encompass reality. The attempt to put a label on something can falsely reify a non-existent thing, as Starshine discovers when he questions Non-Being, the darkness. The conceptual categories that separate what "is" from what "isn't" accordingly become paradoxical.

"Starshine and Non-Being "


Starshine asked Non-Being,

"Master, do you exist? Or do you not exist?"

Since he received no answer at all,

Starlight set himself to watch for Non-Being.

He waited to see if Non-Being would appear.

He kept his eyes fixed on the deep Void,

hoping to catch a glimpse of Non-Being.

All day long he looked.

He saw nothing.

He listened.

He heard nothing.

Then Starlight cried out at last: "This is IT!"

"This is the farthest yet! Who can reach it?

I can understand the absence of Being.

But who can understand the absence of Nothing?

If now, on top of all this, Non-Being exists,

Who can understand it?"

 

 

     

To Home Page
Copyright Dr. L. Kip Wheeler 1998-2017. Permission is granted for non-profit, educational, and student reproduction. Last updated January 5, 2017. Contact: kwheeler@cn.edu Please e-mail corrections, suggestions, or comments to help me improve this site. Click here for credits, thanks, and additional copyright information.