WAYs – Returning Home to My Fields and Gardens – T’ao Ch’ien

Returning to My Home in the Country, No.1

In youth I couldn’t sing to the common tune;
it was my nature to love the mountains and hills.
By mistake I got caught in that dusty snare,
went away once and stayed thirteen years.
The winging bird longs for its old woods,
the fish in the pond thinks of the deeps it once knew.
I’ve opened up some waste land by the southern fields;
stupid as ever, I’ve come home to the country.
My house plot measures ten men or more,
a grass roof covering eight or nine spans.’
Elm and willow shade the back eaves,
peach and damson ranged in front of the hall.
Dim dim, a village of distant neighbors;
drifting drifting, the smoke from settlements.
A dog barks in the deep lanes,
chickens call from the tops of mulberry trees.
Around my door and courtyard, no dust or clutter;
in my empty rooms, leisure enough to spare.
After so long in that cage of mine,
I’ve come back to things as they areh

Burton Watson


Home Again Among Gardens and Fields

1
Nothing like the others, even as a child,
rooted in a love for hills and mountains,

I fell into their net of dust, that one
departure a blunder lasting thirteen years.

But a tethered bird longs for its forest,
a pond fish its deep Waters. So now, my

land out on the south edge cleared, I
nurture simplicity among gardens and fields,

home again. Iíve got nearly two acres here,
and four or five rooms in my thatch hut.

Elms and Willows shade the eaves out back,
and in front, peach and plum spread wide.

Distant-village people lost in distant
haze, kitchen smoke hangs above Wide-open

country. Here, dogs bark deep in back roads,
and roosters crow from mulberry treetops.

No confusion within the gate, no dust,
my empty home harbors idleness to spare.

Back again: after so long in that trap,
Iíve returned to all that comes of itself.

David Hinton