Returning to Live in the South Ⅰ
- Poetry of Tao Yuanming

《归园田居·其一》

- Last updated: 2024-06-11 22:19:41

Returning to Live in the South Ⅰ by Tao Yuanming
中文原文

少无适俗韵,性本爱丘山。

误落尘网中,一去三十年。

羁鸟恋旧林,池鱼思故渊。

开荒南野际,守拙归园田。

方宅十余亩,草屋八九间。

榆柳荫后檐,桃李罗堂前。

暧暧远人村,依依墟里烟。

狗吠深巷中,鸡鸣桑树颠。

户庭无尘杂,虚室有余闲。

久在樊笼里,复得返自然。


English Translation

When young, I'd not enjoyed the common pleasures,

My nature's basic love was for the hills.

Mistakenly I fell into the worldly net,

And thus remained for thirteen years.

A bird once caged must yearn for its old forest,

A fish in a pond will long to return to the lake.

So now I want to head to southern lands,

Returning to my fields and orchards there.

About ten acres of land is all I have,

Just eight or nine rooms there in my thatched hut.

There's shade from elms and willows behind the eaves,

Before the hall are gathered peaches and plums.

Beyond the dark and distance lies a village,

The smoke above reluctant to depart.

A dog is barking somewhere down the lane,

And chickens sit atop the mulberry tree.

The mundane world has no place in my home,

My modest rooms are for the most part vacant.

At last I feel released from my confinement,

I set myself to rights again.

By Tao Yuanming

Why Chinese poems is so special?
The most distinctive features of Chinese poetry are: concision- many poems are only four lines, and few are much longer than eight; ambiguity- number, tense and parts of speech are often undetermined, creating particularly rich interpretative possibilities; and structure- most poems follow quite strict formal patterns which have beauty in themselves as well as highlighting meaningful contrasts.
How to read a Chinese poem?
Like an English poem, but more so. Everything is there for a reason, so try to find that reason. Think about all the possible connotations, and be aware of the different possibilities of number and tense. Look for contrasts: within lines, between the lines of each couplet and between successive couplets. Above all, don't worry about what the poet meant- find your meaning.

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