Tao Yuanming Poems: Farmwork (II)– 陶渊明《癸卯岁始春怀古田舍  (二首其二)》



























Confucius told us to do properly

And not to worry about poverty.

How to follow our Master who sees far?

I can be busy as all farmers are.

In time I will do farm work, plough in hand,

Smiling, I talk with them who till the land.

Winds coming from afar caress the plain;

Tender shoots welcome spring to come again.

Though we know not how much we’ll reap this year,

Yet farm work in the field evokes our cheer.

At times when we are tired, we take a rest,

None come to inquire about east or west.

Coming back when the sun’s on the decline,

I’ll see my neighbors with a pot of wine.

Crooning a poem, then I close the door.

Content, what does a farmer need for more.


Two poems from the poem “Farmwork” are a group of poems by Tao Yuanming, a literary scholar of the Jin and Song dynasties. Through depicting the joy of working in the fields, these two poems reflect the difficulty of realizing the ambition of “worrying about the way but not about the poor” and express the determination to follow the example of previous sages. The first poem is about the spring plowing at the beginning of the year, showing the fresh and pleasant scenery of the fields, expressing the poet’s pleasure of seclusion rather than service, and expressing the poet’s inner joy; the second poem thinks that “worrying about the way but not about poverty” like Confucius is unattainable and unattainable, so it is better to follow the example of Chang Fei and Jie Dao and live in seclusion and cultivate. The descriptions of the idyllic scenery and the idyllic life in the poem are very vivid and evocative, full of rich sentiment.

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