A clear wind in the flute, a singing zither
Touched by those beneath the cypress trees
How could we not find happiness here?
Voices idly spinning out new songs
Green wine relaxing dear, beloved faces
We don’t know what tomorrow has in store
More reason then to sing our hearts out now
Tao Yuan-ming was China’s first great lyric poet, and a beloved grandfather figure for the great Tang and Sung poets: Li Po, Tu Fu, Wang Wei, and Su Tung-po. Though less well known than his “grandchildren,” Tao may well be China’s greatest and most personally engaging poet.
Dan Veach is the founder of Atlanta Review and author of Elephant Water. His translations from Chinese, Arabic, Spanish and Anglo-Saxon have won the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize and the Independent Publisher Book Award. Editor of Flowers of Flame: Unheard Voices of Iraq (Michigan State University Press, 2008), Dan has performed his poetry worldwide, including Oxford University, People’s University in Beijing, the American University in Cairo, and the Adelaide Festival in Australia.