Humankind— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 2, 2021
This is called “The Seven Steps Verse“, also known as the Quatrain of Seven Steps (七步詩), is a highly allegorical poem that is usually attributed to the poet Cao Zhi (192-232 AD).
Almost every literate Chinese knows this verse by heart.
The background of the verse is a sad story of one brother wanting to kill his talented younger brother. (Hence the “we grew from the same root” in the verse)
The verse describes Cao Pi’s suspicions of his brother Cao Zhi trying to usurp his rule (Cao Pi was also jealous of his brother’s talents, particularly his masterful command of imagery). Consequently, Cao Zhi is summoned to the court and is issued an ultimatum in which he must produce a poem within seven strides such that Cao Pi is convinced of his innocence. Cao Zhi does so, and Cao Pi becomes so flustered with emotion that he spares his brother, although he later exacts punishment upon Cao Zhi in the form of demotion.
The poem itself is written in the traditional five-character quatrain style and is an extended metaphor that describes the relationship of two brothers and the ill-conceived notion of one harming the other over petty squabbling.
This verse is often quoted to describe the woe of family disputes.