poet Li Po

Li Po

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Chuang Tzu And The Butterfly

Chuang Tzu in dream became a butterfly,
And the butterfly became Chuang Tzu at waking.
Which was the real—the butterfly or the man ?
Who can tell the end of the endless changes of things?
The water that flows into the depth of the distant sea
Returns anon to the shallows of a transparent stream.
The man, raising melons outside the green gate of the city,
Was once the Prince of the East Hill.
So must rank and riches vanish.
You know it, still you toil and toil,—what for?

Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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Comments about Chuang Tzu And The Butterfly by Li Po

  • Castellenas JohnCastellenas John (3/18/2019 7:17:00 PM)

    A wonderful poem. The words danced to perfection.

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  • Fabrizio FrosiniFabrizio Frosini (5/6/2017 5:40:00 AM)

    this poem by Li Po (701-762 CE) refers to ''Chuang Tzu's Dream'':

    ''Once Chuang Tzu dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around,
    happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Chuang Tzu. Suddenly
    he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Chuang Tzu. But he didn't know if he
    was Chuang Tzu who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang
    Tzu. Between Chuang Tzu and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the
    Transformation of Things.''
    From Chuang Tzu, Book Two (circa 300 BCE)

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  • * Sunprincess * (9/13/2015 7:00:00 PM)

    ..........amazing dream with a butterfly, thought provoking ★

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  • Cecilia Rios (10/24/2009 7:38:00 AM)

    I`m not sure if this poem is from Li Po. Chuang Tzu was a chinese philosopher, and Octavio Paz and Jorge Luis Borges (two great poets from Mexico and Argentina) have also written poems related with the dream of the butterfly. Sorry because I can´t translate them to English...

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