Among birds the Phoenix, among fishes
the leviathan holds the chiefest place;
Cleaving the crimson clouds,
the Phoenix soars apace,
With only the blue sky above,
far into the realms of space;
But the grandeur of heaven and earth
is as naught to the hedge-sparrow race.
And the leviathan rises in one ocean
to go to rest in a second,
While the depth of a puddle by a humble
minnow as the depth of the sea is reckoned.
And just as with birds and fishes,
So too it is with man ;
Here soars a Phoenix,
there swims a leviathan.
Behold the philosopher, full of nervous
with a fame that never grows dim,
Dwelling complacently alone, – say,
what can the vulgar herd know of him?
Sung Yu, 4th cent. B.C.