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Tao Chien: Great men want the four seas

Tao Chien: Great men want the four seas
Photo: Taoist Priest in Beijing, China, by Sidney David Gamble (1924-1927)



​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?

(T’ao Ch’ien)




Source and Recommended Reading:

'Selected Poems of T'ao Ch'Ien' 

By David Hinton (Editor)

Purchase Book:


T'ao Ch'ien, (365 - 427, C.E.), one of the most revered poets in classical Chinese literature, is presented in a lucid translation with an introduction. "David Hinton is one of the most impressive of the younger translators of classical Chinese poetry.... His renderings are varied and imaginative while remaining faithful to the spirit of the original."--Burton Watson.



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