Returning to Live in the Country

In honor of Dragon Boat Day, we present this work by one of the great poets of the Six Dynasties.

Tao Yuanming
365 – 427


Young, I was always free of common feeling.
It was in my nature to love the hills and mountains.
Mindlessly I was caught in the dust-filled trap.
Waking up, thirty years had gone.
The caged bird wants the old trees and air.
Fish in their pool miss the ancient stream.
I plough the earth at the edge of South Moor.
Keeping life simple, return to my plot and garden.
My place is hardly more than a few fields.
My house has eight or nine small rooms.
Elm-trees and Willows shade the back.
Plum-trees and Peach-trees reach the door.
Misted, misted the distant village.
Drifting, the soft swirls of smoke.
Somewhere a dog barks deep in the winding lanes.
A cockerel crows from the top of the mulberry tree.
No heat and dust behind my closed doors.
My bare rooms are filled with space and silence.
Too long a prisoner, captive in a cage,
Now I can get back again to Nature.

Postscript Sent to a Traveler

Bao Linghui
464 – ?


Ever since you went away
The face by the window has not lit up.
The clothes-pounder and block are mute at night;
The tall gates are closed during the day.
Into my bed curtains fireflies glide;
In front of the courtyard purple orchids bloom.
As nature withers, I know the season’s changing;
When wild geese arrive, I know the traveler is cold.
Your journey will end at winter’s close;
I’ll await your return at the start of spring.