Chinese Proverbs

by David Antin

if the ground under your feet is wet, the sky is to blame
before you buy shoes, make sure you measure your feet
if you doubt what you hear, you can’t believe what you see
it’s as difficult to recover the past as to pick up spilled water
every needle has a point
if there’s a car ahead of you in a fog, you can follow its lights, but
not too closely
no matter how tall you are, your legs still touch the ground
if you’re always in a hurry, you’ll never arrive on time
a person who walks in a straight line and a person who walks in a
curved line will never arrive at the same place
you can tell it on the mountain, but whisper it in the valley
if the morning is sunny, the evening can still bring clouds
a festival for some people is a traffic problem for others
time is a hallway we never get out of, except at the end
a question may be an answer to a question as an answer may
     be a question to an answer
a system of values may be nothing more than an accountant’s
it’s hard to be a bystander in a storm
the country is where the food is, but the city is where the money is
the fool will not believe you because your story is too complicated
     the educated man will not believe you because your story is
     too simple
there is no fact as unlikely as a giraffe
when you’re caught in the rain you’ll remember you forgot your
don’t climb a tree to look for fish
when you’re climbing a mountain don’t step back
if you’re holding a tool in your hand, it’s also holding you by the hand
you can’t use paint to cover a hole in the wall
there are two sides to every wall
if you don’t drink, the price of wine doesn’t matter
if you stand on a mountain top nothing is likely to fall on your head
if you go underground you may not have enough light
until you get in the water you don’t know what it’s like to swim