Returning to live in the country

Young, I was always free of common feeling.
It was in my nature to love the hills and mountains.
Mindlessly I got caught in the dust-filled trap.
Waking up, thirteen years had gone.
A caged bird wants the old trees and air.
A fish in a pool misses the ancient stream.
I plough the earth at the edge of South Mountain.
Keeping life simple, return to my fields and garden.
My place is hardly more than a few fields.
My house has a few 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 gates.
My bare rooms are filled with space and silence.
Too long a prisoner, captive in a cage,
Now I get back again to Nature.

T’ao Yuan-Ming (365 – 427)
(Translation by A.S. Kline, http://www.poetryintranslation.com/)

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Author: Marcus

Philosopher, poet and lover of life.

7 thoughts on “Returning to live in the country”

  1. That’s funny – I read this thinking, man you sound like one of the ancient Chinese poets (almost a little too much). Then I saw in fact that this was T’ao Yuan-Ming. I know this poem from a David Hinton translation (my favourite translator of Chinese poetry and wisdom) – Tao Chien, Home Again Among Fields and Gardens. I would highly recommend David Hinton’s, Mountain Home, The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China, if you don’t already have it. Thank you for sharing this.

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    1. Thanks for the comment. T’ao Yuan-Ming is my top favorite poet. I admire so much his depth, while keeping things simple and fairly direct, always addressing what is important in life. I do not have the book you mention, but I know David Hinton’s translations very well. I own and cherish several of his translations of ancient Chinese poetry, and also his own “Hunger Mountain”. All the best.

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  2. Yours words are beautifully crafted in each and every post and such that I can read them quickly (in my limited time), but I shall enjoy re-reading them again and again. I must find some books of the Chinese Poet you mention in this post.

    Your words remind me of the film Amongst White Clouds (Buddhist Hermit Masters of China’s Zhongnan Mountains). I must have watched this DVD fifty times since I bought it and if you haven’t already seen it, I can highly recommend it for the Philosopher you are.

    Have you put your verse into a book yet? If not, I really think you should. I rarely read writing blogs these days due to time and energy constraints, but I will take the time to check out the blogs YOU follow as they may contain something to enjoy along with following yours.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Vicki, and thanks for visiting and following my blog. I admire the ancient Chinese poets, Taoists and Buddhists, reading a lot of their poems, and pondering on their deep insights on life. I also admire and read the Stoics and Epicureans, in the western tradition.

      Glad to hear that you enjoyed the poetry. I like to write in simple words, with a simple cadence. My aim is the philosophical meaning, and I do not want to hide it behind stylistic or other language barriers. Also, English is not my native language.

      My verses are being compiled into a book, but there is still a long way to go!

      All the best

      Marcus

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