歸去來兮辭 - 陶渊明
Back Home Again Chant - Tao Yuanming
Go back home.
The garden will soon be overgrown, what are you waiting for?
I submitted my soul to corporal needs,
is this why I feel empty and alone?
The past cannot be changed, I know,
but the future is there to be had.
Not yet past the point of no return,
where I was wrong yesterday, today I am right.
My boat glides lightly and gently rocks,
my clothes are pushed about by gusts of wind.
I ask a traveler for the way forward,
and feel sadness upon seeing the first weak rays of dawn.
Seeing my old shack in the distance a feeling of joy overcomes me.
I hasten forward.
Young servants greet me halfway smiling,
as my children peek from behind the gate.
While weeds obscure the path to the door,
the chrysanthemum and pines remain as before.
Holding my children I enter the shack,
a jug of wine waits on the table.
Alone and content, I lift the jug and sip.
Seeing branches in the courtyard lifts my spirit
and I’m elevated leaning against the south-facing window.
This small simple room puts me at ease.
My daily garden walks delight.
Although we have a door to receive guests
it’s usually closed.
Breaks puncture cane-supported strolls,
my gaze often focuses on distant scenes:
clouds spilling naturally over mountains,
birds weary of flight knowing to return home.
The horizon welcomes a darkened sun,
I loiter, leaning against a solitary pine.
Go back home.
Put to rest the meaningless banter,
society and I are diametrically opposed.
What could I gain by returning to court?
My family’s warm words bring me joy,
music and reading dispel lurking dark clouds.
The farmers bring news of spring’s imminent arrival,
and soon there will be work in the western fields.
At times I drive a simple wagon or paddle a boat,
slip through secluded valleys or climb above rolling hills,
The trees are in their apex of glory,
when a stream’s trickle turns into a flow.
I like it when everything blossoms,
conscious the journey of my life is coming to a close.
I still have some time in this world,
I’ll live my life by following my heart.
Why be anxious? What are you trying to attain?
Riches and fame mean nothing to me,
and I don’t ever expect to see the fabled lands.
Cherishing good times I wander alone,
and tend to vegetable sprouts leaning on my cane.
I could climb East Hill and chant unencumbered,
or face clear flowing water and recite poems.
Following the natural way and returning to where we come from,
finding happiness in fate, what doubts could remain?