A verse, on the occasion of moving from a large city to a small town, and from the Pacific coast to the Midwest

Let there be a little country without many people.
Let them have tools that do the work of ten or a hundred,
and never use them.
Let them be mindful of death
and disinclined to long journeys.
They’d have ships and carriages,
but no place to go.
They’d have armor and weapons,
but no parades.
Instead of writing,
they might go back to using knotted cords.
They’d enjoy eating,
take pleasure in clothes,
be happy with their houses,
devoted to their customs.
The next little country might be so close
the people could hear cocks crowing
and dogs barking there,
but they’d grow old and die
without ever having been there.

From Ursula K. LeGuin’s adaptation of the Tao Te Ching


  1. The last 5 lines in particular remind me of Belgium. My parents lived there for about a year and a half, and many people there stayed very local. The village my parents lived in was about a 20 minute bike ride from the nearest city. Lots of people from the village rarely went to the city, and (almost) never went farther than the city. The village had a different dialect from the city.

  2. @Estel It sounds a lot like the Shire and Bree, in “The Lord of the Rings”. Only a few adventurous hobbits went to Bree, most hobbits never went anywhere outside the Shire, and hardly any hobbit ever went to any other place at all.

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