The Transformation of Things, a poem

Zhuangzi Dreaming of a Butterfly, Ming dynasty, mid-Sixteeth Century – ink on silk

A Man sleeping …
A Butterfly flitting… 
Zhuangzi, dreamer of Butterfly,
ponders what joy there might be
in that tiny Butterfly brain

so subtle

too subtle to be perceived by I or eye

Is he dreaming me? Zhuangzi asks.
Imagine the Universe thus engaged.


a Cosmic Belly Laugh 

Ho! Ho!

Then Zhuangzi knows: He is silent,
flitting from flower to flower in eternal spring.

coming and going, going and coming

This is called the Transformation of Things.

©2011, Jamie Dedes

Zhuangzi dreaming a butterlfy, a butterfly dreaming of Zhuangzi

Zhuangzi dreaming of a butterlfy; a butterfly dreaming of Zhuangzi

I love this allegory from The Book of Zhuangzi, one of the two greatest books of the Chinese mystical Tao. (The other book is the I Ching.) The allegory is about chi (qi), the energy of creation, which some might call God. 

Illustration credits: first illustration courtesy of Lu Zui and in the public domain/ second illustration courtesy of About Qigong.


8 thoughts on “The Transformation of Things, a poem

  1. This piece inspires me to go back to the museum to write. I used to find paintings I like at the museum, sit and write short poems in response to them. Much enjoyed. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think I remember this from six years ago – is that possible, six years? Particularly enjoy this as ekphrastic poetry. The combination of old and new, celebrating ancient wisdoms in a modern context. I like that as a theme … Perhaps for the BeZine, or perhaps just Ekphrasticism (if there is such a word.?

    Liked by 1 person

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