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To-Em-Mei’s “The Unmoving Cloud” (AD-365-427)

Translated by Ezra Pound



"Wet springtime," says To-em-mei,

⁠"Wet spring in the garden."


I


The clouds have gathered and gathered,

and the rain falls and falls,

The eight ply of the heavens

are all folded one darkness,

And the wide flat road stretches out.

I stop in my room towards the East, quiet, quiet,

I pat my new cask of wine.

My friends are estranged, or far distant,

I bow my head and stand still.


II


Rain, rain, and the clouds have gathered,

The eight ply of the heavens are darkness,

The flat land is turned into river.

“Wine, wine, here is wine!”

I drink by my eastern window.

I think of talking and man,

And no boat, no carriage approaches.


III


The trees in my east-looking garden

are bursting out with new twigs,

They try to stir new affection,

And men say the sun and moon keep on moving

because they can't find a soft seat.


The birds flutter to rest in my tree,

and I think I have heard them saying,

It is not that there are no other men

But we like this fellow the best,

Yet however we long to speak

He cannot know of our sorrow


SOURCE

Pound, E. (2010). Lustra of Ezra Pound, with earlier poems. Nabu Press.


BACKGROUND


This composition was part of a larger project called- 'Fields and Gardens poetry' which was a literary movement that was usually thought to have originated during the Six Dynasties period that inspired centuries of lyrical enthusiasm. Both the Chinese Landscape poetry and the Fields and Gardens poetry have as their central theme nature, with humans and human thoughts appearing to be of secondary importance. However, in the case of the Fields and Gardens genre, the nature that was emphasized was more domestic—the nature found in gardens, backyards, and the cultivated countryside.


One of China's greatest poets, Tao Qian, was born in 365 in Xunyang (now Jiujiang, Jiangxi province) and passed away there in 427.

Tao Qian, who was raised in an impoverished affluent family, resigned from a low government position in his 20s to help support his ailing parents. He served in that position for almost ten years before leaving to serve for a short time as county magistrate. He left public life because he was repulsed by its excessive formality and pervasive corruption. He retired to an agricultural community south of the Yangtze River with his wife and kids. Tao was content writing poetry, growing the chrysanthemums that were inextricably linked with his poetry, and sipping wine, another frequent subject of his verse, despite the difficulties of a farmer's life and frequent food shortages.


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