Philosopher – poem by Bai Juyi, T’ang Dynasty

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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 Tzu.

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

If we are to believe that Lao Tzu
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

By | 2018-04-18T17:19:25+00:00 June 6th, 2017|China, Literature|0 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Philosopher – poem by Bai Juyi, T’ang Dynasty. Quatr.us Study Guides, June 6, 2017. Web. June 23, 2018.

About the Author:

Dr. 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 Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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