Yuanming, Tao: Choosing to Be Simple

Yuanming, Tao: Choosing to Be Simple

Regular price $22.00 Sale

Copper Canyon Press, paperback

Translated by Red Pine

Publication Date: October 10, 2023

Publisher Marketing: 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.