Norm, a recent visitor to this site says,
“I once saw a website which had the Chinese version of the Tao Te Ching. Not just the characters, but also the ’sound’ version of the character. While I don’t understand Chinese, one could see the poetic pattern of the Chinese sounds. At least it seemed that way to me. Your readers might find it useful to see ‘that aspect’ of the work. I’m new to your site so I don’t know if any of your ‘essays’ cover that aspect.”
I don’t know either, but here are some thoughts on this: One of the more curious things about Chinese is its mind boggling array of homonyms. Although, the tonal nature helps distinguish them some. This homonym characteristic, along with tonality lends itself to rhyming words, perhaps too well to make poetic rhyming the artistic challenge it needs to be.
For me, the poetry of Chinese, and especially the Tao Te Ching, rests in its succinctness. Saying more with less. It is possible to discern this even if you don’t read or speak Chinese. This is why I include a literal word for word translation for each chapter. I’ll take the first few lines of the Tao Te Ching to illustrate this briefly. These dozen characters express the heart of Taoism (心 xīn: heart; mind; feeling; intention; centre; core). All the rest, while useful, is nonetheless embellishment. Note how the word dào is used both as a noun (road, way, principle, etc.) and as a verb (think, speak, suppose, etc.).
The Chinese characters are:
The pinyin transliteration is:
dào kě dào,
fēi cháng dào.
míng kě míng,
fēi cháng míng.
The literal English translation is:
way (principle) can speak (think, suppose),
not (non-, un-) ordinary (invariable) way (principle).
name can name,
not (non-, un-) ordinary (invariable) name.