Human beings are soft and supple when alive, stiff and straight when dead.
The myriad creatures, the grasses and trees are soft and fragile when alive, dry and withered when dead.
Therefore, it is said:
The rigid person is a disciple of death;
The soft, supple, and delicate are lovers of life.
An army that is inflexible will not conquer;
A tree that is inflexible will snap.
The unyielding and mighty shall be brought low;
The soft, supple, and delicate will be set above.
（Victor H. Mair 译）
Soft and weak at birth,
a man is rigid hard at death.
Trees and plants are soft and supple alive,
brittle and withered when dead.
Thus the hard and brittle belong to death
and the soft and weak belong to life.
An adamant army may be decimated.
A tree that’s too strong will be crooked.
Thus the hard and strong are subjugated
and the soft and weak triumph.
（Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping 译）
A man is supple and weak when living, but hard and stiff when dead.
Grass and trees are pliant and fragile when living, but dried and shriveled when dead.
Thus the hard and the strong are the comrades of death;
The supple and the weak are the comrades of life.
Therefore a weapon that is strong will not vanquish;
A tree that is strong will suffer the axe.
The strong and big takes the lower position,
The supple and the weak takes the higher position.