Part poetry, part paradox, always stirring and profound, Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching has been inspiring readers since it was written over two thousand years ago. This masterpiece is also one of the most frequently translated books in all of history, in part because the multiple meanings of the Chinese characters make it impossible to translate into a Western language in a strictly literal way. For this reason, many translations are either too loosely interpretive or are too overloaded with notes, thereby losing the clarity of the terse poetry found in the original Chinese.
The extraordinary strength of Sam Hamill’s translation is that it has captured the poetry of Lao Tzu’s original without sacrificing the resonance of the text’s many meanings and possible interpretations. The result is a beautiful and deeply meditative rendering, one that is a delight to read over and over again.
Accompanying Sam Hamill’s translation are seventeen Chinese characters brushed by one of the great masters of calligraphy, Kazuaki Tanahashi. Hamill provides a comment for each character, giving the reader a fuller sense of the richness of the original text and insight into the process of translation itself.
About Sam Hamill
Sam Hamill is the author of more than thirty books of poetry, essays, and translations from the classical Chinese and Japanese, ancient Greek, Latin, and other languages. He has been a recipient of fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission. He lives near Port Townsend, Washington.
"Hamill has rendered the Tao Te Ching afresh, his translation from the Chinese is achingly poetic."—Publishers Weekly
“Exquisite renderings of the paradoxes that encircle us.”—Terry Tempest Williams
Tao Te Ching by Sam Hamill, illustrated by Kazuaki Tanahashi