Tao Qian English Translations
Click on the title of each poem for the text in Chinese characters, pinyin and literal translation.
I made my home amidst this human bustle,
Yet I hear no clamour from the carts and horses.
My friend, you ask me how this can be so?
A distant heart will tend towards like places.
From the eastern hedge, I pluck chrysanthemum flowers,
And idly look towards the southern hills.
The mountain air is beautiful day and night,
The birds fly back to roost with one another.
I know that this must have some deeper meaning,
I try to explain, but cannot find the words.
Returning to Live in the South (I)
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.
Returning to Live in the South (II)
I sow my beans below the southern hills,
Though grasses flourish, the sprouting beans are scarce.
I rise at dawn to clear the wasteland up,
Beneath the moon I carry back my hoe.
The path is narrow, the trees and grass grown tall,
My clothes are dampened by the evening dew.
Yet dampened clothes are nothing to begrudge,
If only my desires can be fulfilled.