Chen-ou Liu's Translation Project: First English-Chinese Haiku and Tanka Blog

Friday, September 27, 2013

Confucius Said, at Forty I Had No More Doubts

A Haibun for 劉鎮歐

Every day and night, I ask myself what if?  Whether things might have been different or better.  If anything more could have come of it.  But I died four days before my 40th birthday, on a moonless night.

distant sirens ...
across the winter sky
a shooting star

(included in my review essay, titled What Happens in [David Cobb’s Conception of] Haibun:A Critical Study for Readers Who Want More)

Note: The title comes from Chapter II of  The Analects, one of the foundational texts of Confucianism: At fifteen my heart was set on learning; at thirty I stood firm; at forty I had no more doubts; at fifty I knew the will of heaven; at sixty my ear was obedient; at seventy I could follow my heart's desire without overstepping the boundaries of what was right.

Confucius's retrospection of his own life has been the model for the Chinese people for more than 2500 years.