A dear Italian friend introduced me to the tao te ching in the summer of 2009. The first copy I read was one borrowed from Auckland Public Library. I caressed the pages beside the heat of a January afternoon and pondered upon the other faces and fingertips and seasons which had visited this profound text. I’ve received a response inquiring to the nature of Stephen Mitchell’s translation, and have felt compelled to post Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English’s translation also. The difference is quite remarkable. One more dogmatic, the other more ‘roomy’. I have been advised that with any translation one should refer to a number of versions. Henry spoke of a translation by Derek Lin – I shall forage.
The very highest is barely known by men.
Then comes that which they know and love,
Then that which is feared,
Then that which is despised.
He who does not trust enough will not be trusted.
When actions are performed
Without unnecessary speech,
People say, “We did it!”