Choosing to Be Simple: Collected Poems of Tao Yuanming (Paperback)
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Navigating the uncertainty of a divided China wracked by warfare and corruption, Tao Yuanming's poetry--expertly translated by Red Pine--chooses the path walked by China's ancient sages, finding joy in living a simple life.
The latest work in Red Pine's rich career of translation, Choosing to be Simple: Collected Poems of Tao Yuanming, is a definitive portrait of the early Chinese politician and poet. Thoroughly researched and beautifully translated, this bilingual collection of over 160 verses chronicles Tao Yuanming's path from civil servant to reclusive poet during the formative Six Dynasties period (220-589). Familiar scenes like farming and contemplating the nature of work and writing are examined with intimate honesty. As Red Pine illuminates Tao Yuanming's sensitive voice, we find the poet's solace and sorrow in a China transformed by modernity.
Tao Yuanming's distinct verse shows a keen attention to rhythm as he explores the tension of scarcity and indulgence, duty and escape. Reverberating with clarity and sincerity and laced with humor, the poems of Choosing to Be Simple portray a man's timeless desire to live by the principles enshrined by China's sages. Guided by Tao Yuanming's own wonderment, we, too, find ourselves asking: "Why did I ever question my heart"? We are encouraged to find joy in simplicity--the tending of a garden, the sharing of wine with a stranger.
About the Author
About the AuthorEarly fifth-century poet Tao Yuanming (d. 427) was known for his love of rice wine and chrysanthemums, as well as for his disdain of official position. His hometown is Shahe, where the Tao Yuanming Memorial Hall is also located.About the TranslatorBill Porter, under the pen name Red Pine, is the renowned translator of classic Chinese poetry. His translations have been honored with two NEA translation fellowships, a PEN Translation Prize, and the inaugural Asian Literature Award from the American Literary Translators Association. A Guggenheim Fellow, Porter also received the 2018 Thornton Wilder Prize for Translation bestowed by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. A full-length film documentary Dancing with the Dead: The Life and Times of Red Pine is forthcoming in 2023. He lives in Port Townsend, Washington.