independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

from Canto XIII Ezra Pound

Confucius (or Kung as Ezra Pound calls him, though it probably should be Kong) was born in 550 BC, and his thinking, if that is what it should be called, has been a major factor in Chinese life ever since.

He is often imagined in the West to have been a religious innovator, something on the lines of Christ or Mohammed, if the two can be compared. But he is not.

His religious views as expressed in his Analects are very scanty. He may have believed in an afterlife, but that is all.

Confucius was a moral preceptor, deeply conservative and deliberately unoriginal, who believed in reverence for parents and for tradition and ritual. But his views may be said to have held Chinese society together for a millennium and a half.

That a revolutionary like Ezra Pound should have made him a hero, and such a lively hero at that, is a paradox.

 

from Canto XIII Ezra Pound

And Thseng-Sie desired to know:

'Which had answered correctly?'

And Kung said, 'They have all answered

correctly,

That is to say, each in his nature.'

And Kung raised his cane against Yuan

Jang,

Yuan Jang being his elder,

For Yuan Jang sat by the roadside

pretending to

be receiving wisdom.

And Kung said

'You old fool, come out of it,

Get up and do something useful.'

And Kung said

'Respect a child's faculties

From the moment it inhales the clear air,

But a man of fifty who knows nothing

Is worthy of no respect.'

And 'When the prince has gathered about him

All the savants and artists, his riches will be fully

employed.'

And he said

'Anyone can run to excesses,

It is easy to shoot past the mark,

It is hard to stand firm in the middle.'

Irish Independent

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