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
with myself.

归园田居五首 (其一)

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