Monday, April 2, 2012

Very ancient wisdom


Today's poem is very ancient: Chuang Tze lived in the 3rd or 4th century BCE

The Need to Win

When an archer is shooting for nothing
He has all his skill.
If he shoots for a brass buckle
He is already nervous.
If he shoots for a prize of gold
He goes blind
Or sees two targets --
He is out of his mind!

His skill has not change. But the prize
Divides him. He cares.
He thinks more of winning
Than of shooting --
And the need to win
Drains him of power.

[Translated from Chinese by Thomas Merton]

This is as true today as it was more than two millennia ago.

I wish I could have illustrated this with a picture from the Nadam archery games in Mongolia which I wittnessed. Both men and women, in traditional costumes [deels] competed within the category of their sex; I felt I was wittnessing something very, very ancient ... indeed, as the poem shows, it was.

3 comments:

Jonas said...

You've been to Mongolia!?! It just so happens that visiting Mongolia (to see the herds of wild horses) is on my "Bucket List."

As for "Poetry Month"? Where to begin? Where to end? I've shelf after shelf laden with poetry books, thousands of pages dog-eared to note a "favorite". I return to those dog-eared pages over and over again, year after year, decade after decade.

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

June -- Fitting poem for everyone who reaches out for the golden ring. What a fantastic experience that archery display must have been! -- barbara

June Calender said...

Yes, Jonas, I've been to Mongolia and saw many wonderful things but no herds of wild horses.

Where to begin with poetry to post? More recent discoveries, shorter pieces.

Thanks, Barbara, human nature hasn't changed much, if at all.