Tao Yuanming



Tao Yuanming  陶淵明

Quote from crienglish.com
Tao Yunaming, also known as Tao Qian, lived in the 4th century during the East Jin period. His natural style helped define the ideal Chinese poem and though he lived a poor and simple life, he enjoyed it very much. His spirited, modest character was greatly admired by his contemporaries.

Tao Yunaming's great-grandfather, Tao Kan, held an official position and also made great contributions to the culture of East Jin. Tao Yunaming's father was an official as well, but died when his son was only eight years old. Soon afterward the family went through hard times. As a teenager, Tao Yuanming hoped to achieve success as an official, but there was much turbulence, corruption and conflict in East Jin at this time. Tao Yuanming retreated soon after getting his first official position at the age of 29. He would occasionally return to public life, but would always withdraw afterward.

Tao Yunaming became poorer as time went on. Eventually, he could not even feed his family. So, at the age of 41, he was forced return to work as an official. He condemned materialism and rank and 80 days later, resigned again and became a recluse.

At the age of 44, Tao Yuanmng's house was destroyed by fire. Out of this experience, he wrote "No food for summer; no quilt for winter". Though he was poor, he was happy and content. He began to compose many other poems that idealized country life and the themes became an important part of poetry and an escape from reality.

In his golden years, Tao Yuanming was so poor that he had to beg and borrow to feed himself, despite offers to return to the court. He finished his famous "Prose of Peach-Blossom-Source and Preface" in his late years. In it, he created a utopian society and told the story of a fisherman who accidentally ended up in Xanadu. The fisherman found that the villagers there were the offspring of some hermits who settled in Xanadu to escape war. The fisherman learned that the villagers had never left their land and knew nothing about the outside world. The tale about naive but peaceful villagers was very popular among readers who had to live in turbulent times.

Although he only wrote a few dozen works, TaoYuanming has great status in Chinese literary history. While many writers of the period tried to use flowery language in poems, Tau Yuanming began the tradition of the idyll. These poems followed a traditional Chinese simplicity, but also had much exuberance. The language was plain, fresh and smooth. The poems were the highest achievement of simplicity.
© CRIENGLISH.com,1998--2005.


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To Enmei, Chinese poet 365~427
陶淵明(とうえんめい )

365年 - 427年11月。興寧3年 - 元嘉3年)

淵明に ひとりではなし 菊の花
Enmei ni hitori de wa nashi kiku no hana

with Enmei
I am not alone -
chrysanthemums in bloom

WKD : Haiku by Butsugai Fusen 物外不遷
Tr. Gabi Greve

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Compiled by Larry Bole :

Enmai is not alone
in loving them:
chrsanthemums in bloom

Enmei (J.), aka Tao Ch'ien, Tao Qian, Tao Yuanming (C.)

"The popular image of Tao Yuanming derives from two of his poems, "Returning Home" (Jp: Kikyorai 帰去来), written on his trip from Pengze, and "Drinking Wine: (Jp: Inshushi 飲酒詩). In both works Tao describes his detachment from society and his fondness for yellow chrysanthemums."

From the several-pages long biography of him in "The White Pony: An Anthology of Chinese Poetry," edited by Robert Payne:

"He praised all the seasons, but seems to have preferred autumn, when the chrysanthemums blossom. ...

"He loved nature and wine, children and chrysanthemums...

"He so loved chrysanthemums that even now, fifteen hundred years after his death, it is almost impossible for a Chinese to see a chrysanthemum without summoning his name."

Here is a poem of his from "The White Pony," translated by Yang Chi-sing:


The autumn chrysanthemums have the loveliest colors,
Flowers and leaves all moistened with the dew.
I drink this cup of all-forgetful wine,
And so drive all my earthly cares away.

Alone I lift the cup to my lips:
The wine is poured when the cup is empty.
And everything is silent at the setting of the sun;
While the homing birds flock to the woods there is chirping.
Under the east balcony I shout boisterously:
Satisfied now that my humble life can go on.

An alternate translation, by Wu-Chi Liu, from the book, "Sunflower Splendor: Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry," co-edited by Wu-Chi Liu and Irving Yucheng Lo:

Autumn chrsanthemums have beautiful color,
With dew in my clothes I pluck their flowers.
I float this thing in wine to forget my sorrow,
To leave far behind my thoughts of the world.

Alone, I pour myself a goblet of wine;
When the cup is empty, the pot pours for itself.
As the sun sets, all activities cease;
Homing birds, they hurry to the woods singing.
Haughtily, I whistle below the eastern balcony--
I've found again the meaning of life.

A line from his poem, "Retired Living," translated by Eric Sackheim in his book, "...the silent zero, in search of sound...":

"Chrysanthemums are able to stop declining years."

It appears that Fusen felt an affinity with Enmei.

According to the biography in "The White Pony," he turned his back on government position and public life, and became a gentleman farmer, "indifferent to fame." According to commentators, he spent exactly 83 days in public office. Of Yuamming, Su T'ung-po wrote (according to the biography):

"'There is no poet I treasure more than Tao Yuan-ming; he alone pleases me. He wrote few poems; they are plain yet beautiful; rich and yet not ornamented. Tu Fu, Li Po, and all the others are inferior to him...'"

The biography goes on to say:

"Chu Hsu, the great philosopher, said that his poems were so plain, peaceful, and unaffected that they seemed to have been composed by nature herself."

He is primarily thought of as a Confucian, but also has elements of Taoism and Buddhism as well. There are Ch'an (J: Zen) anecdotes about him, and he appears as a character in anecdotal paintings.

CLICK for original in WIKIPEDIA
© Photo Wikipedia

Tao Yuan-ming and Buson

"Tao Yuan-ming was one of Buson's favorite poets."
Bruce Darling

Makoto Ueda, in his book, "The Path of Flowering Thorn: The Life and Poetry of Yosa Buson," suggests that Buson took his pen name from the poetry of Tao Yuanming:

"Known hitherto as Saichoo, he [Buson 蕪村] now took on the name Buson, written in two Chinese characters meaning 'waste' and 'village'. Although there are several different interpretations of the name, most scholars today believe it was derived from Tao Ch'ien's prose
poem, 'Returning Home!', which begins: 'I will go home. My fields and garden are lying in waste.'"
In the book, Ueda also discusses the influence of Tao Yuanming on at least two of Buson's haiku. The first one:

yasumibi ya tori naku mura no natsu kodachi

village holiday--
a rooster crowing
in the summer grove

Buson, trans. Ueda

Ueda comments:
"The... hokku alludes to the words of T'ao Ch'ien's poem 'Returning to My Home in the Country': 'A dog barks in the deep lanes. A rooster crows atop the mulberry tree.' The image of a peaceful, idyllic place remote from earthly worries is enhanced by being set in the China of many centuries earlier."

The other haiku is the opening hokku of the kasen "Mustard Flowers."

na no hana ya tsuki wa higashi ni hi wa nishi ni

mustard flowers
with the moon in the east
the sun in the west

Buson, trans. Ueda

Part of Ueda's comment:
"The scene described here was probably observed around the tenth of the lunar second month, when the moon rises before sunset. Buson must have read one of T'ao Ch'ien's 'Miscellaneous Poems':

'The bright sun sinking on the western bank
and the pale moon rising above the eastern ridge,
the earth looms in the rays of light that spread far out
and reach all the corners of the spacious sky.'"

Ueda goes on to mention another possible influence,
a poem by Kakinomoto Hitomaro:

himugashi no no ni kagiroi no tatsu miete
kaerimi sureba tsuki katabukinu

on the eastern fields
the glow of the morning sun
rises higher--
as I turn and look back,
the moon is sinking in the west

. Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo .

- Buson referring to Tao Yuanming:

. hana ni kurenu waga sumu kyo ni kaeri nan (kaerinan) .

. sankei no jippo ni tsukite tade no hana .

Weeds are all over the garden paths
Pine and chrysanthemum are unscathed.

- "Go Back to My Old Home" - Tao Yuanming
- source : poetry-chinese.com/resources -


madonari ni hirune no dai ya takamushiro

by the window
on a high sleeping platform -
a bamboo mat

Written in summer of 1693 元禄6年夏.
Basho is maybe thinking of the Chinese poet Tao Yuanming 陶淵明 Too Enmei (365 - 427), who led a poor but poetically rich life. In the hot humid summer of Japan, it was very important to find a cool place to sleep in summer.

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

Too Enmei 陶淵明 (とうえんめい) To Enmei  

Original in Wikipedia Japan

© More in the Japanese WIKIPEDIA !


kiku sakeri Too Enmei no kiku sakeri

chrysanthemums blossom -
the chrysanthemums of
To Enmei blossom

山口青邨 Yamaguchi Seison(1892〜1988)


Related words

***** Chrysanthemum (kiku)

***** Takeda Butsugai Fusen ... 1795~1867


- #taoyuanming #toenmei -

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