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Confucius, Laozi, Classic of Poetry

It is assumed that Eastern works have influenced the West only a very little.  I would beg to differ.  Benjamin Franklin, for example, could easily be seen as an American Confucius as he wrote his own “analects” in Poor Richard’s Almanac.  We might call his brand of knowledge as well as the brand of knowledge we get from Eastern works, secular intellectualism as the goal is not to attain salvation but enlightenment instead.

Of interest to us is the word economy in Eastern poetry.  In other words, the Eastern poets are able to say so much by writing so little as evidenced in the classic anecdote that the perfect poem is a blank sheet of paper: nothingness, blankness, infinite possibilities for interpretation.

Choose a couple of poems and some of Confucius’s analects or sayings and discuss between you what they might mean.  Keep in mind that more is said by saying little.  Each poem or analect is only the tip of the iceberg.  The vast meaning of the poem, then, is below the surface of the sea waiting to be discovered.


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