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


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

Returning to Live in the South Ⅰ by Tao Yuanming











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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