Philosopher poem by Bai Juyi, Medieval Chinese Poet
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The Philosopher

Lao Tzu
Lao Tsu

This is a poem by Bai Juyi, written in China about 800 AD, during the late T'ang Dynasty. It's about the famous philosopher Lao Tsu.

"Those who speak know nothing;
Those who know are silent."
These words, as I am told,
Were spoken by Lao Tsu.

If we are to believe that Lao Tsu
Was himself one who knew,
How did he happen to write a book
Five thousand words long?

(adapted from a translation by Arthur Waley)

Learn by Doing - Write a poem

More about Bai Juyi
Song of Everlasting Sorrow
The Grain-Tax (a poem)
Chinese Literature
Ancient China
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Links to more of Bai Juyi's poems

Chinese literature
Ancient China

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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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