Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chapter 30, Part G - Chuang Tzu

The king said, "What is the sword of the commoner like?"

"The sword of the commoner? It is used by men with tousled heads and bristling beards, with slouching caps tied with plain, coarse tassels and robes cut short behind, who glare fiercely and speak with great difficulty, who slash at one another in Your Majesty's presence. Above, it lops off heads and necks; below, it splits open livers and lungs. Those who wield this sword of the commoner are no different from fighting cocks - any morning their lives may be cut off. They are of no use in the administration of the state.

"Now Your Majesty occupies the position of a Son of Heaven, and yet you show this fondness for the sword of the commoner. If I may be so bold, I think it rather unworthy of you!

The king thereupon led Chuang Tzu up into his hall, where the royal butler came forward with trays of food, but the king merely paced round and round the room.

"Your Majesty should seat yourself at ease and calm your spirits," said Chuang Tzu., "The affair of the sword is all over and finished!"

After this, King Wen did not emerge from his palace for three months, and his swordsmen all committed suicide in their quarters.
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.

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