Simplicity and sophistication are altering within the world,
And so is the general order advanced or reduced.
Morals are in the wake of constantly changing times,
Tools and things are taking new shapes.
Tally sticks replaced the knot cords used in primeval times,
And finally, paper displaced the bamboo poles.
It is inexpensive and suitable,
Meeting the ever- changing needs.
Its nature is manifold,
We should produce it with skill and care.
Four outlines limit its strict shape.
Its texture made of pure fibers
Receives the forms of art and conserves the written characters.
Truly, it is awaiting the muse,
And many a genius selects this plain fabric
When he creates something new from something old.
Outspread it presents itself ungrudgingly,
Rejecting all that has not been evaluated.
The spirit, either levitating or reposing,
Reveals and conceals. In particular:
When these six bindings are not put in an order,
And when we lead still lives in loneliness,
We’ll have scaled fish and wild geese take along
What our brush has written down on the fly.
What our hearts have been telling us
This we confide ten thousand miles away to a little piece of paper.
Fu Hsien 243-294
Translation from German into English: Renate Meyer