Translation / December 2013 (Issue 22)


Going Up the Country

by Tao Yuanming, reinterpreted by Reid Mitchell

A rendition of a poem by Tao Yuanming. “Rendition”—its meanings include a translation from one language to another; the act of extracting fat; a legal procedure removing a prisoner from one jurisdiction to another.

Going Up the Country

Just a kid, somehow untouched
by everybody's favorite songs,
instincts raised my eyes toward the hills.

My mistake? I stumbled
into worldly snares and then gone!
thirteen or thirty years.

For their forest, finches sing
in their cages. A carp trapped—
small pond—desires the lake.

South of the border line,
a dry field previously unclaimed.
Watch me struggle to plant an orchard.

Ten acres should be enough.
Straw house, eight rooms
—well, why not nine?

The elms and willow trees
will shade the eaves. Ranked
before my house, peach and plum trees.

If I squint, I'll see far people
in the decayed village,
smoke rising. In their

deep alleys, dogs bark
and chickens fly to the top
of mulberry trees.

No mud in my dooryard.
No duties in my modest rooms.
Trapped in prison for the longest time,

I am finally getting
right
with myself.


归园田居五首 (其一)

少无适俗韵,性本爱丘山。
误落尘网中,一去十三年。
羁鸟恋旧林,池鱼思故渊。
开荒南野际,抱拙归园田。
方宅十馀亩,草屋八九间。
榆柳荫後檐,桃李罗堂前。
暧暧远人村,依依墟里烟。
狗吠深巷中,鸡鸣桑树颠。
户庭无尘杂,虚室有馀闲。
久在樊笼里,复得返自然。
 
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