When I was young, I was out of tune with the herd:
My only love was for the hills and mountains.
Unwittingly I fell into the Web of the World’s dust
And was not free until my thirtieth year.
The migrant bird longs for the old wood:
The fish in the tank thinks of its native pool.
I had rescued from wildness a patch of the Southern Moor
And, still rustic, I returned to field and garden.
My ground covers no more than ten acres:
My thatched cottage has eight or nine rooms.
Elms and willow cluster by the eaves:
Peach trees and plum trees grow before the Hall.
Hazy, hazy distant hamlets of men.
Steady the smoke of the half-deserted village,
A dog barks somewhere in the deep lanes,
A cock crows at the top of the mulberry tree.
At gate and courtyard – no murmur of the World’s dust:
In the empty rooms – leisure and deep stillness,
Long I lived checked by the bars of a cage:
Now I have turned again to Nature and Freedom.
Tao Yuanming (365–427)
Translated from the Chinese by Arthur Waley