Tao Yuanming Seated under a Willow, Tani Buncho, Japan, 1812. | Purchased with the Hollis Family Foundation Fund, 2003/Philadelphia Museum of Art/Wikipedia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great men want the four seas. I’ve only
wanted old age to come unnoticed like

this. My family together in one place,
kids and grandkids looking after each

other still, I linger out mornings over
koto and wine, the winejar never dry.

My clothes a shambles, exhausting every
joy, I sleep late now, and nod off early.

Why live like all those fine men, hearts
stuffed with fire and ice to the end,

their hundred-year return to the grave
nothing but an empty path of ambition?

From The Selected Poems of T’ao Ch’ien, translated by David Hinton © 1993. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

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