Nostalgia at My Farmhouse in the Beginning of the Spring of 403 1

Tao, Yuan-ming (365-427 CE)


I have a few acres of fields.
When I worked for the government,
I let them grow wild.
Since I resigned my corrupt job,
My family has suffered hunger and poverty.
I must till my fields in Spring.
At dawn I prepare cattle and tools for the plow.
On the way to the fields I think of sages in ancient times.
Birds sing to celebrate Spring.
The breeze is cool and pleasant.
Cold grass covers the narrow path.
My fields are located in a secluded place.
Carefree and content,
The man carrying a hoe 2 will not return to his corrupt position.
Even though a recluse's philosophy may not allow him to be successful in his time,
Farming has many advantages 3.


Confucius taught that a gentleman worries about his integrity rather than his poverty.
Confucius' goal is difficult for me to reach.
I turn to work as a farmer.
With a hoe in my hand, I enjoy farming.
With a smile, I encourage people to farm.
As a distant wind blows across the level fields,
My seedlings put forth new buds 4.
Even though I do not know what my harvest will bring,
Farming itself is a great pleasure.
I have plenty of leisure time after faming.
No one bothers me with worldly affairs.
At sunset we farmers return home together.
After sharing wine with my neighbors,
I close my door to recite poetry.
I might as well be content with a farmer's life.


1 The title of the following video is "A Farmer's Family Is Happy":

2 "The man carrying a hoe" refers to Yuan-ming Tao himself.

3 Wen-huan Huang (1598-1667) said, "Farming has the following advantages: it allows one to be close to nature, free from hunger, true to one's principles, and away from corruption as well as disaster."

4 One day Dong-po Su (1037-1101) sat leisurely in his office at the Royal Academy. Suddenly, he called his servants to bring him some paper. He wrote seven or eight sheets of the above two lines in various calligraphical styles. Then he distributed them to his colleagues. He praised Tao’s writing by combining Tao’s thoughts with his own experiences: I live in a farm. Cultivating and harvesting are the strength of farm life. Between the summer and autumn, we had rain after a light drought. After the rain, I strolled on the path between fields. The breeze was pleasant. The corn and grain competed for beauty. The dust on the plants was washed away. The seedlings put forth new buds. This proves that Tao's careful observations allowed him to comprehend the underlying truth of nature." See The Annotations of Dao-shan-qing-hua [Dao-shan's Refreshing remarks] written by Meng-chun He (1474-1536).