In the northern darkness there is a fish and his name is Kun.1 The Kun is so huge I don't know-how many thousand li he measures. He changes and becomes a bird whose name is Peng. The back of the Peng measures I don't know how many thousand li across and, when he rises up and flies off, his wings are like clouds all over the sky. When the sea begins to move,2 this bird sets off for the southern darkness, which is the Lake of Heaven.
The Universal Harmony3 records various wonders, and it says:“When the Peng journeys to the southern darkness, the waters are roiled for three thousand li. He beats the whirlwind and rises ninety thousand li, setting off on the sixth-month gale.” Wavering heat, bits of dust, living things blown about by the
1Kun means fish roe. So Zhuangzi begins with a paradox—the tiniest fish imagi-
nable is also the largest fish imaginable.
2 Probably a reference to some seasonal shift in the tides or currents.
3 Identified variously as the name of a man or the name of a book. Probably
Zhuangzi intended it as the latter, and is poking fun at the philosophers of other
schools who cite ancient texts to prove their assertions.