I came across the following poem by Rabindranath Tagore in that excellent French language edition of the Tao Te Ching, Tao Te King, Le livre du Tao et de sa vertu (Éditions Dervy, Paris). In the explanatory notes, the translator quotes the poem as a parallel example of the Taoist virtue of 'non-desire' in another philosphic tradition.
The poem moved me greatly when I read it. How true it is that we often ruin a relationship, a project, a situation, by smothering it with our selfish desires instead of allowing it to unfold naturally.
Here is my own English translation of the beautiful French version of the Bengali poem found in this book.
Why did the lamp go out? I covered it with my cloak to shelter it from the wind… That is why the lamp went out.
Why did the flower fade? I pressed it against my heart full of love and anxiety… That is why the flower faded.
Why did the stream dry up? I put a dam across it to keep the water for my use alone… That is why the stream dried up.
Why did the harp-string break? I wanted it to play a note that it could not attain… That is why the harp-string broke. Rabindranath Tagore 1861-1941