140. Untitled (August 20, 1916)










Untitled (August 20, 1916)

My side locks grown thin, how many threads are white?

For the first time I can see youth waning in a day.

What is it that I seek among the fragrant and the foul?

I lodge this life in a dream of myself as a butterfly.[1]

I sandal my feet and descend the empty stairwell, cold dew scatters;

I move the chair to the abandoned stones, chirring cicadas go quiet.

A clear breeze fills the land, the plantain trees shade,

Swaying to and fro during a nap, the leaves are pliant.

[1] This line alludes to the final lines in Section Two “Discussion of Making All Things Equal” of Zhuangzi: “Once Chuang Chou dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased.  He didn’t know he was Chuang Chou.  Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Chuang Chou.  But he didn’t know if he was Chuang Chou who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Chou.  Between Chuang Chou and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things.” In Burton Watson, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, (New York: Columbia UP, 1968), 49.