Home Again Among
Fields and Gardens

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

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

But a tethered bird longs for its old forest,
and a pond fish its deep waters—so now,

my southern outlands cleared, I nurture
simplicity among these fields and gardens,

home again. I’ve got nearly two acres here,
and four or five rooms in our thatch hut,

elms and willows shading the eaves in back,
and in front, peach and plum spread wide.

Villages lost across mist-and-haze distances,
kitchen smoke drifting wide-open country,

dogs bark deep among back roads out here,
and roosters crow from mulberry treetops.

No confusion within these gates, no dust,
my empty home harbors idleness to spare.

Back again: after so long caged in that trap,
I’ve returned to occurrence coming of itself.

—T’ao Ch’ien (365-427)


Climbing GreenCliff
Mountain in Yung-chia

Taking a little food, a light walking-stick,
I wander up to my home in quiet mystery,

the path along streams winding far away
onto ridgetops, no end to this wonder at

slow waters silent in their frozen beauty
and bamboo glistening at heart with frost,

cascades scattering a confusion of spray
and broad forests crowding distant cliffs.

Thinking it’s moonrise I see in the west
and sunset I’m watching blaze in the east,

I hike on until dark, then linger out night
sheltered away in deep expanses of shadow.

Immune to high importance: that’s renown.
Walk humbly and it’s all promise in beauty,

for in quiet mystery the way runs smooth,
ascending remote heights beyond compare.

Utter tranquility, the distinction between
yes this and no that lost, I embrace primal

unity, thought and silence woven together,
that deep healing where we venture forth.

—Hsieh Ling-yün (385-433)

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