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,


Author: Marcus Antoninus

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.


    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.


  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.


    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



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