The Chinese poets of the T'ang Dynasty are a great source of wisdom. Seamus Heaney writes, in a poem about reading the poetry of Han Shan: ". . . enviable stuff,/Unfussy and believable." ("Squarings XXXVII" in Seeing Things.) The wisdom of the T'ang poets is of particular value in a time of media and political hysteria. In recent days, I have been reminded of lines from Patrick Kavanagh's "Leave Them Alone": "Newspaper bedlamites who raised/Each day the devil's howl." Kavanagh concludes:
The whole hysterical passing show
The hour apotheosised
Into a cul-de-sac will go
And be not even despised.
Here is Po Chu-i (as translated by Arthur Waley) on How to Live with perspective and humility (which are both, I fear, in short supply):
Climbing the Ling Ying Terrace and Looking North
Mounting on high I begin to realize the smallness of Man's Domain;
Gazing into distance I begin to know the vanity of the Carnal World.
I turn my head and hurry home -- back to the Court and Market,
A single grain of rice falling -- into the Great Barn.