Of old, he who was well-versed in the Way
Was unfathomable, and too profound to be known.
He could only be described vaguely, by his appearance.
Hesitant, as one treading over the stones of a winter’s brook;
Alert, as one wary of enemies around him;
Reverant, as one receiving an honored guest;
Yielding, as ice on the point of melting.
Simple as an uncarved block,
Hollow as a cave,
Confused as a muddy pool,
Expansive as a valley.
Who can wait quietly while the clay dries?
Who can stay still until the moment of action?
Who holds to the Way does not want to be full,
But precisely because he is not full,
He can remain like a hidden sprout,
And will not rush to early ripening.