Drawing Tiger

Yutang Lin

Failure to draw a tiger properly would invite ridicule instead;
Style and tone of commonplace disgraces the elite deceased.
Lest it be claimed proper for biographies to be edited at will,
One should consider the complaints being piled up in heaven.


Some suggested that, since for famous personages there are usually various biographies, people can write one at will. Nevertheless, how the words and phrases are put to set the tone and the style, what materials are included, and how they are arranged in the presentation to reveal the character and flavor, could easily lead to failure in achieving the proper goal. A famous Chinese proverb says, "Failure in drawing a tiger results in a likeness of a dog instead." A delicate matter should not be attempted by unskillful hands. Nowadays some would gather plagiarized materials and worldly social correspondences into a so-called biography for deceased personages, without reflecting on its shortcomings. Such exploitation would certainly invite complaints from the deceased in heaven.

Written in Chinese and translated on January 28, 2001
El Cerrito, California

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