Saturday, October 30, 2010

Line by Line - Verse 12, Line 1

Colour's five hues from the eyes their sight will take;
James Legge translation, from
The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

The five colors blind the eye.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

The five colors make one blind in the eyes
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

Sight obscures.
~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
In The Tao of Peace, Wang Chen has this to say about this line, "The five colors nourish the eyes but when looked at excessively result in blindness."

What each writer is trying to express is, in the words of Derek Lin, the danger of "sensory overload". When we get so wrapped up in rushing to and fro, we find it that much more difficult to maintain balance. There are too many sensations for us to synthesize and so it's not uncommon for it all to end up as a jumble in our brains.

To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

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