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Responding to Ye Zhang 1 at the End of the Year 2

Tao, Yuan-ming (365-427 CE)

The capital mourns Emperor An-di 3.
Time flies and laments the sunset.
Today will end as the sun rises tomorrow.
How can I express my sorrow at the end of the year?
My shriveled face lacks spirit and luster.
Most of my hair has turned gray.
The words of King Mu-gong of Qin were impractical 4.
One’s physical strength weakens as one becomes old.
At sunset a distant wind rises.
Cold clouds conceal the western mountains.
It is bitterly cold.
Birds return to their nest one after another.
My best years will not last.
In addition, I am constantly overburdened by worries.
It is difficult for me to celebrate the New Year’s Eve
Because my wine jug is empty.
I do not mind my poverty.
My haggard face changes with nature.
When examining my conscience,
I deeply lament the contemporary corruption.
The moral degradation worries me.


1 Lai-ming was Ye Zhang's (350-418) alternate first name. He was Tao's fellow villager and a native of Chai-sang City in Xun-yang County. He wrote well, took good care of his parents, and befriended his brothers. The government recruited him, but he declined the offer. Later, he lived in seclusion on Lu Mountain.

2 The theme of this poem is to promote integrity. The title of the song in the following video is "Blossoms That Spread Fragrance During the Night":
If we use these flowers to represent men of integrity, then the theme of this song perfectly matches that of the above poem.

3 In December 418, Yu Liu ordered Shao-zhi Wang to strangle Emperor An-di. Yu Liu then established Gong-di as the emperor.

4 King Mu-gong (679?-621 BCE) of the State of Qin said, "The gray-haired soldier loses his physical strength. I still have mine." See the chapter entitled "The History of the Zhou Dynasty" in The Book of Records.