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The Story of Wine 1

Tao, Yuan-ming 2 (365-427 CE)

A remark about the title: Wine was invented by Yi-di and refined by Kang Du 3.
The sun illuminated Southern China. 4
All the birds paid homage to the phoenix. 5
Although the autumn grass did not wither, 6
The fire god could no longer blow powerful wind. 7
The white pebbles on the sandbank glistened, 8
While the purple clouds disappeared over Zhong Mountain. 9
Dukes of Yu-zhang 10 confronted their emperors as equals.
Only a mausoleum was left for Emperor Shun. 11
With tears I lament the demise of the Eastern Jin dynasty,
And listen intently for the crow of a rooster. 12
A rice plant with nine spikes was presented to Yu Liu
Who tamed a unicorn, a phoenix, a tortoise, and a dragon. 13
Zhu-liang Shen led troops to defeat and kill Sheng Yang. 14
After Pi Cao demoted Xian-di from emperor to Duke of Shan-yang,
Cao declared himself emperor. 15
Shi Bu was an outstanding shepherd. 16
Prime Minister An-le failed to admonish Emperor Fei-di. 17
Emperor Ping-wang moved the capital of Zhou to Luo-yi City. 18
Quan-rong occupied the capital of the Western Zhou dynasty. 19
Yu Liu recovered lost Lo-yang City and captured Hong Yao. 20
The appearance of a three-legged raven foretold a dynasty change. 21
Prince Jin loved to play flute music
And travel along the Yellow River and the Fen River. 22
Duke Chu tried to learn the secrets of longevity
And lived in seclusion to avoid trouble. 23
After Emperor Gong-di was buried on the tall western mountain,
He became a god.
Peng-zu's longevity paled in comparison with Gong-di's immortality. 24


1 In June 420, Yu Liu (363-422) deposed Gong-di as emperor and declared himself emperor, ending the Eastern Jin dynasty. Gong-di became King of Ling-ling. Thus, Yu Liu became the founding emperor of the Liu-song dynasty. Later, Liu gave a bottle of poisoned wine to Wei Zhang and ordered him to use it to murder the King of Ling-ling. However, Zhang drank the wine himself and died. In 421, Yu Liu ordered a soldier to break into the mansion of the King of Ling-ling and poison him. The king refused to drink the wine. Then the soldier suffocated the king with a quilt. Yuan-ming Tao wrote this poem to mourn the King of Ling-ling, but in that corrupt era Tao did not dare to explicitly voice his opinion. Consequently, he used "The Story of Wine" as the title of this poem.
    Yuan-ming Tao is the greatest poet in Chinese history. Without reading this poem which contains the historical background of his era, one cannot appreciate the greatness of his literary works.
    The title of the following video is "A Cup Filled with Bitter Wine":

2 Yuan-liang was Yuan-ming Tao's alternate first name. After Yu Liu founded the Liu-song dynasty, Tao changed his first name to “Qian [seclusion]”. He was a native of Chai-sang City (present day Jiu-jiang-xian City of Jiangxi Province) in Xun-yang County. Yuan-ming Tao's great-grandfather was Kan Tao (259-334), a general who helped Emperor Yuan-di found the Eastern Jin dynasty. Yuan-ming’s father died when he was nine years old. He, his mother, and his sister lived in the mansion of Jia Meng, his maternal grandfather. Like contemporary scholars, Yuan-ming Tao studied Lao-zi and Zhuang-zi (classics of Taoism). He also studied the six classics of Confucianism. In 393, he was appointed as the principal of the Academy of Classical Learning at Jiang-zhou City. In 400, he worked for Xuan Huan at Jing-zhou City. In the winter of 401, he resigned his position and went home to attend his mother’s funeral. In February, 402, Xuan Huan rebelled and captured the capital. In 403, Xuan Huan declared himself emperor and founded the Kingdom of Chu. In 404, Yu Liu led troops to defeat Xuan Huan. Yuan-ming Tao went to Jian-kang City to work for Yu Liu. At first, Yu Liu did meritorious services such as eliminating the corruption in the emperor’s court. Later, Liu began to eradicate dissidents. Tao was disappointed with Liu's evil deeds. Consequently, he resigned his position, returned home, and lived in seclusion. In 405, Tao worked for Mayor Jing-xuan Liu at Jiang-zhou City. In April 405, Jing-xuan Liu resigned, so did Tao. In the autumn of 405, his uncle, Kui Tao, recommended him to be Mayor of Peng-ze City. After assuming his office for eighty-one days, a supervisor from Xun-yang County came to visit the city. His staff told him that he had to greet his supervisor in full dress. Tao said, "I should not bow for five bushels of rice and I will not serve vulgar people with eagerness and enthusiasm." Therefore, he resigned his position and never worked for the government again.
    Chapter 113 of Zi-zhi-tong-jian (Lessons for Governing a Kingdom), a history book written by Guang Si-ma (1019-1086), says, "The Jin dynasty was mainly supported by the northern warlords. In September 398, General Huan Xuan allied with other troops at Xun-yang County and disobeyed the central government. Since then, Xun-yang County became the battlefield of the seesaw war between Xuan Huan and Yu Liu."
    The essay "Emperor Wu-di (Yu Liu)" of The Liu-song Dynasty says, "During the late Eastern Jin dynasty, virtue and social order deteriorated. Warlords competed to expand their territories. Local lords and evil gentry seized people's lands at their whim. Heavy taxes and frequent corvée were imposed on farmers. People could not keep their properties and became destitute and homeless." Consequently, a farmers' rebellion led by En Sun broke out in 399. The emperor sent Lao-zhi Liu's troops to crush the rebellion. At this time Yu Liu joined Lao-zhi Liu's army. However, Lao-zhi Liu allowed his soldiers to widely loot and plunder people’s possessions. People were disappointed and fled to the countryside. More than a month after the war the cities remained empty. See Chapter 111 of Zi-zhi-tong-jian (Lessons for Governing a Kingdom).
    In 420, Yu Liu usurped the emperorship of the Jin dynasty and founded the Liu-song dynasty. At this time Yuan-ming Tao had suffered the cruelty of war for twenty-two years. Tao was a giant star in his corrupt era. Tao's character was noble and unsullied. He did not desire fame or fortune. His greatness lies in his integrity, his vision, and his broad-mindedness. His friends gave him a posthumous name, Jing-jie (integrity). Tao's poems are difficult to read because they contain many literary allusions. However, once one understands their true meanings, Tao's poems will become natural, serene, creative, and far-reaching. Of all the reclusive pastoral poets, Yuan-ming Tao is the most famous. Yuan-ming Tao's literary achievements were basically ignored by Chinese scholars until the crown prince Tong Xiao (501-531) of the Liang dynasty collected Tao's writings into The Anthology Compiled by Tong Xiao. Since then, Tao's literary works have been praised by every generation of Chinese scholars. Someone gave Dong-po Su The Collected Works of Yuan-ming Tao. Su read only one poem or essay at a time. Su said he would be unable to find anything else to amuse himself once he finished reading Tao's works.
    The essay, "The Springhead in a Blooming Peach Grove" (, was Yuan-ming Tao's representative work. In this essay, Tao created a utopia to console his lament at the contemporary corruption. The following video is based on the story in this essay:

3 Yi-di of the Xia dynasty (2070-1600 BCE) invented wine during Emperor Yu's reign. This line refers to Xuan Huan and Yu Liu’s use of poisoned wine to usurp the throne: Xuan Huan usurped the throne by poisoning Dao-zi Si-ma; Yu Liu imitated Xuan Huan and usurped the throne by murdering Emperor Gong-di; the Eastern Jin dynasty ended.

4 In 316, Yao Liu captured Chang-an City, the capital of the Western Jin dynasty. Emperor Min-di became his captive. The Western Jin dynasty ended. In 318, Emperor Yuan-di founded the Eastern Jin dynasty and established Jian-kang City (present day Nanjing City) as its capital. Jian-kang City, located south of the Yangtze River, represented Southern China.

5 This line says that all the talented people in China came to Jian-kang City and paid homage to Emperor Yuan-di.

6 This line says that "Although the Jin dynasty did not yet end,".

7 Rong Zhu of the Xia dynasty, the fire god, was the ancestor of the Jin dynasty. This line says that the Jin dynasty had been weak for a long time.

8 Jade symbolizes loyal officials, while "white pebbles" symbolizes treacherous officials. Here "white pebbles" refers to Xuan Huan. This line says that the military power of Xuan Huan at Jiang-ling City grew quickly.

9 Zhong Mountain was near Jian-kang City, the capital of the Eastern Jin dynasty. Here Zhong Mountain is used to represent the Eastern Jin dynasty. “Purple clouds” represents the imperial spirit.

10 Both Xuan Huan and Yu Liu were made the Duke of Yu-zhang.

11 Emperor Shun (2300-2200 BCE) of the Yu dynasty was buried in Ling-ling City. Here "Emperor Shun" refers to Gong-di who was deposed as emperor by Yu Liu and became King of Ling-ling. This line says that only death was waiting for the King of Ling-ling.

12 This line says that Tao could not fall asleep during the night because of his deep concern for state affairs.

13 A rice plant with nine spikes, a unicorn, a phoenix, a tortoise, and a dragon were propitious signs. Yu Liu used them to show that his usurpation of the throne was the will of Heaven.

14 In 487 BCE, Sheng Yang killed Mayor Zi-xi, kidnapped King Hui-wang of the Kingdom of Chu, and declared himself king. Zhu-liang Shen led troops to defeat and kill Sheng Yang. Hui-wang regained his kingship. Tao used this story to refer to two situations: the fact that Xuan Huan kidnapped Emperor An-di and took him to Xun-yang City and the fact that later Yu Liu led troops to defeat and kill Xuan Huan resulting in An-di’s regaining his emperorship.

15 Pi Cao (187-226) deposed Xian-di as emperor of the Eastern Han dynasty and founded the Wei dynasty. Xian-di became Duke of Shan-yang. This line refers to the fact that Yu Liu declared himself emperor after demoting Gong-di from emperor to King of Ling-ling.

16 Because Shi Bu donated money to finance the border defense, Emperor Wu-di (156-87 BCE) of the Han dynasty offered him a position as minister. Shi Bu did not want to be a government official, so the emperor appointed Bu as the shepherd in the imperial park. Shi Bu was an outstanding shepherd. His sheep were healthy and fertile. Emperor Wu-di frequently praised him. Shi Bu said, "Tending sheep is like governing people. One should get rid of bad ones to protect the herd." This line refers to the fact that Yu Liu eradicated dissidents.

17 After Emperor Zhao-di of the Han dynasty died, Fei-di inherited the throne. Because he was vicious beyond measure and his prime minister, An-le, failed to admonish him, Emperor Fei-di was dethroned by General Guang Huo. Emperor Fei-di was on the throne for twenty-seven days. This line says that Yu Liu failed to fulfill his duty to his emperor.

18 In 771 BCE, Quan-rong, a border tribe in Northern China, invaded the Kingdom of Western Zhou and killed Emperor You-wang at the foot of Li-shan Mountain. The Western Zhou dynasty (1046-771 BCE) ended. Kings established Ping-wang as their emperor. Emperor Ping-wang moved the capital of the Zhou dynasty from Hao-jing City (present day Chang-an City in Shaanxi Province) to Lo-yi City and founded the Eastern Zhou dynasty. This line refers to the fact that Emperor Yuan-di moved the capital of the Western Jin dynasty to Jian-kang City and founded the Eastern Jin dynasty.

19 This line refers to the fact that Yao Liu captured Lo-yang City and ended the Western Jin dynasty.

20 Hong Yao (388-417) was the last king of the Kingdom of Late Qin during the Sixteen Kingdoms Period (304-439). In 416, Yu Liu captured lost Lo-yang City and paid homage to the mausoleums of the deceased emperors of the Western Jin dynasty. In 417, Yu Liu recovered lost Tong-guan and Chang-an Cities and captured Hong Yao.

21 "Ode to the Capital of Wei" written by Si Zuo (250-305) says, "A black three-legged raven came to pay homage to the emperor." Yuan-lin Liu explained this line. It says, "In 220, ravens with three legs and foxes with nine tails appeared in some cities; a rice plant grew nine spikes; a sweet-tasting spring emerged." All these signs foretold the change from the Eastern Han dynasty to the Wei dynasty. Here the appearance of a three-legged raven foretold the change from the Eastern Jin dynasty to the Liu-song dynasty.

22 Prince Jin was the crown prince during Emperor Ling-wang's reign (571-545 BCE) in the Zhou dynasty. The area between the Yellow River and Fen River was his feudal land. This line says that the Eastern Jin dynasty ended and that Emperor Gong-di became a god and roamed above his lost kingdom.

23 This line says that Yuan-ming Tao resolved to live in seclusion to avoid trouble.

24 Emperor Gong-di died at the age of thirty-six. According to Chinese mythology, Peng-zu lived more than seven hundred years.