Poetry Friday: Thoughts on the “Tao Te Ching”

I feel bad I neglected to post for Poetry Friday last week; however, I had been spending the first half of the week preparing for my live announcing gig at our local state fair, which began Thur., Sept. 1, at which point I began my 55-hour weekend.

I’ll share my thoughts and insights on the fair, as I do every year, next week – but for now, I’m sharing a golden shovel poem based on the famous words of Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, who is credited (likely improperly) with writing the Tao Te Ching, a series of texts upon which the philosophy and religion of Taosim is based.

In a nutshell, Taoism is the belief that aligning oneself with the Tao – also known as The Way, the universal rhythmic force that binds everything and everyone – is the key to happiness. Rather than fighting in opposition to the flow of the Tao, a Taoist allows the flow to guide them, using a principle of wu wei, roughly translated as “action through inaction.” This is not to mean one should be lazy or exert no effort at all, but to work with the flow of life and not against it.

With this in mind, I took a walk along the brook that borders our property and was inspired to write a short golden shovel using a portion of Lao Tzu’s famous quote, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”:

My friend (and wonderful supporter) Carol Varsalona is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup today at her blog Beyond LiteracyLink with a couple of poems celebrating the season we are leaving behind, one of which is a cento – a poem created from lines of other poems. I see we are both openly inspired by others’ words today!


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I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.


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Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)


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12 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Thoughts on the “Tao Te Ching”

  1. Matt, Lao Tzo’s quotation is one that I have admired for years. Your golden shovel flows beautifully with a bit of wisdom. May I add your image poem to my Poetryliscious padlet for public viewing?


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