A thing that is still is easy to hold.
Given no omen, it is easy to plan.
Soft things are easy to melt.
Small particles scatter easily.
The time to take care is before it is done.
Establish order before confusion sets in.
Tree trunks around which you can reach with
your arms were at first only miniscule sprouts.
A nine-storied terrace began with a clod.
A thousand-mile journey began with a foot put down.
Doing spoils it, grabbing misses it;
So the Wise Man refrains from doing
and doesn't spoil anything;
He grabs at nothing so never misses.
People are constantly spoiling a project when
it lacks only a step to completion.
To avoid making a mess of it, be as careful of
the end as you were of the beginning.
So the Wise Man wants the unwanted;
he sets no high value on anything
because it is hard to get.
He studies what others neglect
and restores to the world what multitudes have passed by.
His object is to restore everything to its natural course,
but he dares take no steps to that end.