When Chuang Tzŭ was wandering in the park at Tiao-ling, he saw a strange bird which came from the south. Its wings were seven feet across. Its eyes were an inch in circumference. And it flew close past Chuang Tzŭ's head to alight in a chestnut grove.
"What manner of bird is this?" cried Chuang Tzŭ. "With strong wings it does not fly away. With large eyes it does not see."
- Or it would not have flown so near.
So he picked up his skirts and strode towards it with his cross-bow, anxious to get a shot. Just then he saw a cicada enjoying itself in the shade, forgetful of all else. And he saw a mantis spring and seize it, forgetting in the act its own body, which the strange bird immediately pounced upon and made its prey. And this it was which had caused the bird to forget its own nature.
- And approach so close to man.
- This episode has been widely popularised in Chinese every-day life. Its details have been expressed pictorially in a roughly-executed woodcut, with the addition of a tiger about to spring upon the man, and a well into which both will eventually tumble. A legend at the side reads,—"All is Destiny!"
"Alas!" cried Chuang Tzŭ with a sigh, "how creatures injure one another. Loss follows the pursuit of gain."