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Peach Blossom Spring 桃花源記 by Táo Qián 陶潛


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:help

For many years I had thought that the story of the Peach Blossom Valley had been by Wang Wei.

One of my students has told me recently that although Wang Wei had written a story of the Fisher it was originally by Tao Chien ( I think that is the spelling).

I cannot find an English version on the net. Can anyone point me to or reprint a copy for me.

Thanks in advance.

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Thats great Mark, thanks so much, just what I wanted. Pardon my ignorance though but what is the difference between the preface and the poem, what is the preface?

Thanks again. :D

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skylee

This is the preface 〈桃花源記〉-

晉太元中,武陵人捕魚為業,緣溪行,忘路之遠近。忽逢桃花林,夾岸數百步,中無雜樹,芳草鮮美,落英繽紛;漁人甚異之。復前行,欲窮其林。林盡水源,便得一山。山有小口,仿佛若有光;便舍船從口入。初極狹,才通人;復行數十步,豁然開朗。土地平曠,屋舍儼然,有良口、美池、桑乏屬;阡陌交通,雞犬相聞。其中往來種作,男女衣著,悉如外人;黃髮垂髫,并怡然自樂。見漁人,乃大驚;問所從來,具答之。便要還家,設酒,殺雞作食;村中聞有此人,咸來問訊。自云先世避秦時亂,率妻子邑人來此絕境,不復出焉;遂與外人間隔。問今是何世,乃不知有漢,無論魏晉。此人一一為具言所聞,皆歎惋。餘人各復延至其家,皆出酒食、停數日,辭去。此中人語云:「不足為外人道也。」

既出,得其船,便扶向路,處處誌之。乃郡下,詣太守說如此。太守即遣人隨其往,尋向所誌,遂迷不復得路。南陽劉子驥,高尚士也;聞之,欣然規往。未果,尋病終。後遂無問津者。

(You can find the English translation in Mark's post)

This is the poem 〈桃花源詩〉-

嬴氏亂天紀 賢者避其世

黃綺之商山 伊人亦云逝

往跡浸復湮 來徑遂蕪廢

相命肆農耕 日入從所憩

桑竹垂餘蔭 菽稷隨時藝

春蠶收長絲 秋熟靡王稅

荒路曖交通 雞犬互鳴吠

俎豆猶古法 衣裳無新製

童孺縱行歌 斑白歡遊詣

草榮識節和 木衰知風厲

雖無紀曆誌 四時自成歲

怡然有餘樂 於何勞智慧

奇蹤隱五百 一朝敞神界

淳薄既異源 旋復還幽蔽

借問遊方士 焉測塵囂外

願言躡輕風 高舉尋吾契

(English translation)

When King of Qin transgressed the heavenly law,

The sages left their homes and went ashore.

When hermits Huang and Qi went to Mount Shang,

First settlers in the Springs came in a gang.

The early footprints are covered now with weeds;

The trodden bypaths are buried now by best;

In the fields, each person does his very best;

At sunset they go home and take a rest.

Bamboos and mulberries grow in such mild clime,

While beans and crops are planted in their time.

They raise silkworms and plough the fields in spring;

When they reap crops, they need not pay the king.

On bushy roads, no men are seen to go,

But dogs are heard to bark and cocks to crow.

They make sacrifices in ancient ways,

And wear the clothes they did in ancient days.

The children sing their songs with ringing voice;

The grey-hair have pastime at their own choice.

When grass grows lush, they know that spring’s alive;

When trees wither, they see autumn arrive.

Although they do not have an almanac,

The change of seasons helps them mark the track.

Their lives so full of joy and bodies fit,

They have no need to live by their wit.

This wonder, hidden fro five hundred years,

Is opened to the world as unspoiled spheres.

Their simple way of life is worlds apart,

And shuts its door to the world from the start.

How can a person from the madding crowd,

Expect to know Utopia neath a shroud!

Oh that I soar to the sky on gentle breeze,

And find the men of my ideal like these!

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Thanks Skylee, its a part of the story I had not heard before.

My next question would be do we know why Wang Wei chose to rewrite this poem some 500 years later? Was it wtill the custom in the Tang to take and rewrite old poems and prose?

Among the Chinese how is Wang Wei's vesion regarded?

With regards as usual,

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markalexander100

I've had more than one conversation with Chinese people who denied the very existence of a Wang Wei version. On the other hand, it's in the 300 Tang Poems anthology, so it can't be that obscure. Maybe just my Chinese friends are ignorant apes. :cry:

I think I read somewhere that WW was 18 when he wrote his version, so maybe he saw it as a study/homage rather than an independent work.

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skylee

There are plenty of good poems, even if you just consider those 300 Tang poems. When I was at school, 桃花源記 was in the syllabus, 王維's 桃源行 was not. This may be the reason why WW's is not as popular, but it could also be a result of a choice for a better/more famous piece of work. (After all, Tao Qian's version is the original, and I of course am not saying any of WW's poems are mediocre.)

Among seven-worded long poems (including 古詩 and 樂府) in 300 Tang Poems, I enjoy 長恨歌, 兵車行, 麗人行 and 將進酒 much more.

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  • 5 years later...

Daan's comment on the Fuller thread prompted me to have a look at the story of the Peach Blossom Spring. First the text, and then some notes sentence by sentence.

晉太元中,武陵人捕魚為業。緣溪行,忘路之遠近。忽逢桃花林,夾岸數百步,中無雜樹,芳草鮮美,落英繽紛。漁人甚異之。復前行,欲窮其林。林盡水源,便得一山。山有小口,彷彿若有光,便捨船,從口入。

初極狹,纔通人。復行數十步,豁然開朗。土地平曠,屋舍儼然,有良田美池桑竹之屬。阡陌交通,雞犬相聞。其中往來種作,男女衣著,悉如外人;黃髮垂髫,並怡然自樂。

見漁人,乃大驚,問所從來。具答之。便要還家,設酒殺雞作食。村中聞有此人,咸來問訊。自云先世避秦時亂,率妻子邑人來此絕境,不復出焉,遂與外人間隔。問今是何世,乃不知有漢,無論魏晉。此人一一為具言所聞,皆嘆惋。餘人各復延至其家,皆出酒食。停數日,辭去。此中人語云:「不足為外人道也。」既出,得其船,便扶向路,處處誌之。及郡下,詣太守,說如此。太守即遣人隨其往,尋向所誌,遂迷,不復得路。

南陽劉子驥,高尚士也,聞之,欣然規往。未果,尋病終。後遂無問津者。

So here are my notes:

晉太元中,武陵人捕魚為業。

The author 陶潛, also known as 陶淵明, lived in Jin during the Liuchao era (3rd-5th century C.E.). The story is set during the 太元 era, i.e. between 376 and 396 C.E.

武陵 is in Hunan.

緣溪行,忘路之遠近。

緣: along. First I thought he walked, but later the text mentions a boat, so he went along the river on his boat.

忽逢桃花林,夾岸數百步,中無雜樹,芳草鮮美,落英繽紛。

忽: can this by itself also mean "suddenly"? Or maybe "unexpectedly".

夾岸: another indicator he is on a boat: 夾 "from both sides", so the peach blossoms were on both sides (within 100 paces on each side)

中無雜樹: there didn't grow anything else but peaches

芳草: this must relate to the peaches "fragrant grass", otherwise it would contradict 中無雜樹. Or does this relate to some other grass growing there as well.

落英: very nice to find 英 with a meaning that's congruent with its radical :mrgreen: "fallen leaves". Together 落英繽紛 "petals falling in riotous profusion".

漁人甚異之。

"The fisherman found this very extraordinary." is my take.

復前行,欲窮其林。

窮: has a meaning "to get to the bottom of this, to find the source of". I'm a bit confused here because the next sentence talks about a water source. So was he looking for the "source" of the grove, or the river he was on?

Another question, what's the function of 其 here?

林盡水源,便得一山。

林盡水源: the grove ended, there was a water source. Wouldn't you expect a 有 here?

山有小口,彷彿若有光,便捨船,從口入。

finally mention of a boat is made. I find it peculiar that it's 船 and not 舟, but I guess the difference is not all that clear-cut.

初極狹,纔通人。

纔 threw me off here, as it's usually now written 才. Here it means "only, just".

通人 looks like one of those transitivised intransitive verbs: "make a person go through" = "fit a person".

復行數十步,豁然開朗。

豁然開朗 in Modern Mandarin means "become suddenly enlightened (as in Buddhism)", but here it just means "bright and open".

土地平曠,屋舍儼然,有良田美池桑竹之屬。

曠 "bright and open" again.

屋舍儼然: "houses set out in neat order"

有良田美池桑竹之屬: I have some problems getting the structure of this clause. "There were good fields, and beautiful lakes and mulberry trees and bamboos and the like" would be my take.

阡陌交通,雞犬相聞。

阡 and 陌 refer to paths between fields, the former running N-S, and the latter W-E.

阡陌交通 "the paths between the fields were running in all directions"

雞犬相聞: what's the function of 相 here? "Chickens and dogs could be heard" rather than "Chickens and dogs could hear each other"? EDIT: Here's what the MOE annotations say: 雞犬相聞:雞和狗的叫聲都可以相互聽見。比喻住家相近。

其中往來種作,男女衣著,悉如外人;黃髮垂髫,並怡然自樂。

種作: I think it means "grow (plants) and work"

悉: all ("everything was the same as in the outer world")

黃髮垂髫: 黃髮 stands for old people, 垂髫 (tiáo, "tufts of hair at front of a child's head") for young

見漁人,乃大驚,問所從來。

a nice 所 clause: "問所從來"

具答之。

具=all.

便要還家,設酒殺雞作食。

The "asker" then invites (要 yao1) him to come home, puts up wine, kills a chicken and makes a meal .

村中聞有此人,咸來問訊。

咸=all. Great, isn't it. One tiny text and already three different words for "all". I think these are just variations rather than semantically different terms, but correct me if I'm wrong here.

問訊: do you think this is a V-V or V-O structure :wink:

自云先世避秦時亂,率妻子邑人來此絕境,不復出焉,遂與外人間隔。

now they talk about themselves in return

避[[秦時]亂]

率妻子邑人: We can assume in the Jin era 妻子 still means "wife and children" instead of just "wife". Also I think this is a story told by one villager as in "I brought my wife and children as well as other villagers from the same village to this place"

絕境: "cross the border", "cut off relations (with the outer world)". I think the latter is the intended meaning, but does 境 have a meaning like that?

EDIT: MOE annotation: 絕境:和世人隔絕的地方。So rather than a V-O structure this is a V-N structure.

問今是何世,乃不知有漢,無論魏晉。

何世 "what era/period"

此人一一為具言所聞,皆嘆惋。

一一: one by one

為具言所聞,皆嘆惋: nice passive construction, and yet another word for "all" :roll:

嘆惋: sigh in sympathy

餘人各復延至其家,皆出酒食。

延: lead, bring (the fisherman to their homes)

停數日,辭去。

停: stay

辭去: I think "he said he needed to leave" is the intended meaning here rather than "he took his leave and left"

此中人語云:「不足為外人道也。」

不足: "not worth it" in the sense of "it shouldn't be talked about by outsiders"

為外人道: I assume this is a passive construction again

既出,得其船,便扶向路,處處誌之。

扶: here similar to 緣 at the beginning, "along"

向: so I assume this is again something like "earlier" but used attributively: "the earlier way". "towards" wouldn't fit here too well, I think.

EDIT: MOE agrees: 便扶向路:就沿著前來的路。扶,循、沿。向路,前來的路。

及郡下,詣太守,說如此。

郡下: it's where the 郡守(=太守?) resides.

詣 (yì): "visit, go to"

Why oh why, did he do this? I guess otherwise, the story would lack a meaningful ending, but it still casts the fisherman in a bad light...

太守即遣人隨其往,尋向所誌,遂迷,不復得路。

尋向所誌: here again the 向 as "earlier"

南陽劉子驥,高尚士也,聞之,欣然規往。

南陽劉子驥,高尚士: I suppose this means, (the scholars) 劉子驥 and 高尚士 from 南陽

欣然: "merrily, happily"?

未果,尋病終。

病 here in the sense of "failure"

後遂無問津者。

This is the origin of the chengyu 無人問津 "nobody shows any interest in X". Now the 津 "ford" here threw me off a bit first (had I missed something about a ford? They were looking for a cave in the mountain or something like that, not a ford), but again the dictionary had the answer: 問津 "ask the way to the ford" (as is attested in the Analects) by the time of Tao Qian at least had another meaning, i.e. "inquire about, ask about". So this literally means "After that nobody ever asked about it any more".

This story is the source for another chengyu, 世外桃源. I just saw it after I read the text, here's more info on the chengyu, the source text with annotations (I missed that the 尋 in the last sentence can be interpreted as "not long afterwards") and a slightly abridged Modern Mandarin translation of the original text.

There is also a poem, which I won't go into, but maybe someone else might:

桃花源詩

嬴氏亂天紀 賢者避其世

黃綺之商山 伊人亦云逝

往跡浸復湮 來逕遂蕪廢

相命肆農耕 日入從所憩

桑竹垂餘蔭 菽稷隨時藝

春蠶收長絲 秋熟靡王稅

荒路曖交通 雞犬亙鳴吠

俎豆猶古法 衣裳無新製

童孺縱行歌 斑白歡游詣

草榮識節和 木衰知風厲

雖無紀歷志 四時自成歲

怡然有餘樂 於何勞智慧

奇蹤隱五百 一朝敞神界

淳薄既異源 旋復還幽蔽

借問遊方士 焉測塵囂外

願言躡輕風 高舉尋吾契

Edited by chrix
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LongwenChinese
復前行,欲窮其林。

窮: has a meaning "to get to the bottom of this, to find the source of". I'm a bit confused here because the next sentence talks about a water source. So was he looking for the "source" of the grove, or the river he was on?

Another question, what's the function of 其 here?

Qiong: to find the end of

Qi: this/that

Quote:

林盡水源,便得一山。

林盡水源: the grove ended, there was a water source. Wouldn't you expect a 有 here?

De: serves the purpose of "you".

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De: serves the purpose of "you".

I'm not talking about the mountain here, but about the water source, only the first, highlighted part:

林盡水源,便得一山。
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忽: can this by itself also mean "suddenly"? Or maybe "unexpectedly".

According to the 古代漢語常用字字典, the word 忽 was used in the sense of 忽然 in the 晉書, so that seems to be possible.

漁人甚異之。

"The fisherman found this very extraordinary." is my take.

Mine too.

復前行,欲窮其林。

窮: has a meaning "to get to the bottom of this, to find the source of". I'm a bit confused here because the next sentence talks about a water source. So was he looking for the "source" of the grove, or the river he was on? Another question, what's the function of 其 here?

I think this could literally be translated as "he wanted to exhaust this forest", so basically, he wanted to see where the forest ended. 其 functions here as what Pulleyblank (1995: 80) calls a weak demonstrative.

林盡水源,便得一山。

林盡水源: the grove ended, there was a water source. Wouldn't you expect a 有 here?

I would expect one, but on the one hand this makes for a sentence length equal to the next phrase,which reads better. On the other hand, looking at the internal structure of this phrase, we see two opposites: 林 <> 水, 盡 <> 源. Perhaps this conveys a feeling similar to "Where the forest ended, the water began"? I'm not necessarily saying 源 is a verb, though. I guess my point is that since this is literature, written to please aesthetically, rules might be applied more loosely here.

Unfortunately I have to call it a night now, but I'll be back with more comments. I am spending the weekend in Hong Kong, but hope to reply to the other points before I leave :)

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豁然開朗 in Modern Mandarin means "become suddenly enlightened (as in Buddhism)", but here it just means "bright and open".

Yes, or "become bright and open", since he reaches the end of the passage and sees the light at the end of the tunnel (now unfortunately a metaphor for something entirely different :wink:).

有良田美池桑竹之屬: I have some problems getting the structure of this clause. "There were good fields, and beautiful lakes and mulberry trees and bamboos and the like" would be my take.

Yes, that would be mine too.

雞犬相聞: what's the function of 相 here? "Chickens and dogs could be heard" rather than "Chickens and dogs could hear each other"? EDIT: Here's what the MOE annotations say: 雞犬相聞:雞和狗的叫聲都可以相互聽見。比喻住家相近。

This is an allusion to chapter 80 from the 道德經, in which a peaceful and harmonious society is described:

小國寡民。使有什伯之器而不用;使民重死而不遠徙。雖有舟輿,無所乘之,雖有甲兵,無所陳之。使民復結繩而用之。甘其食,美其服,安其居,樂其俗。鄰國相望,雞犬之聲相聞,民至老死,不相往來。

I would assume this would have been caught immediately by contemporary readers, who would no doubt have memorised the entire 道德經. It would thus immediately evoke the setting described in that chapter.

問訊: do you think this is a V-V or V-O structure :wink:

If you ever figure it out, let me know :wink:

率妻子邑人: We can assume in the Jin era 妻子 still means "wife and children" instead of just "wife". Also I think this is a story told by one villager as in "I brought my wife and children as well as other villagers from the same village to this place"

Yes, so do I.

Time to go once more - stay tuned!

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延: lead, bring (the fisherman to their homes)

That would be possible, although I would prefer to translate as 邀請, which is an extended meaning of the one you quote :)

辭去: I think "he said he needed to leave" is the intended meaning here rather than "he took his leave and left"

I agree.

此中人語云:「不足為外人道也。」

不足: "not worth it" in the sense of "it shouldn't be talked about by outsiders"

為外人道: I assume this is a passive construction again

I think this is 為 wèi 外人道, with 道 meaning 'to say', as in the following verse from the 詩經:

牆有茨、不可埽也。

中冓之言、不可道也。

所可道也、言之醜也。

The tribulus grows on the wall,

And cannot be brushed away.

The story of the inner chamber,

Cannot be told.

What would have to be told,

Would be the vilest of recitals.

or perhaps even 道可道,非常道, the famous first sentence of the 道德經, although interpretations vary.

南陽劉子驥,高尚士也,聞之,欣然規往。

南陽劉子驥,高尚士: I suppose this means, (the scholars) 劉子驥 and 高尚士 from 南陽

欣然: "merrily, happily"?

I think this is "the scholar 劉子驥, a scholar in high standing from 南陽, heard this, and merrily started making plans to go there".

未果,尋病終。

病 here in the sense of "failure". [...] I missed that the 尋 in the last sentence can be interpreted as "not long afterwards".

Yes, I think this is "shortly afterwards, his efforts not having come to fruition yet, he fell ill and died". The scholar had planned to go and look for the utopian world described by the fisherman, but since he fell ill, he never managed to do so.

A nice text, isn't it? :)

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Thank you, Daan, for your valuable comments.

First off, I also propose a thread about 其 (thanks also for reminding me about Pulleyblank's "weak demonstrative", I had read that before, but it had slipped my mind when I read the text). We ran into some trouble with one on the Fuller thread too, they sometimes appear in uncommon places :mrgreen:

According to the 古代漢語常用字字典, the word 忽 was used in the sense of 忽然 in the 晉書, so that seems to be possible.

That would be possible, although I would prefer to translate as 邀請, which is an extended meaning of the one you quote

Ohem, I should really look at my dictionary more carefully, it's there as extended meaning :oops:

A good catch about the 雞犬相聞, a further look at the CTP reveals that this was a common theme, it appears in the Mengzi, Zhuangzi, Wenzi, Huainanzi and Guanzi. I'm not sure if this really all goes back to the Daodejing (though most of the texts have same idea of 鄰國相望 preceding it), or if it really just stands for a closely-knit society.

I think this is 為 wèi 外人道, with 道 meaning 'to say', as in the following verse from the 詩經:

Oh, no doubt about 道 meaning "to say" here, but why wèi? By "passive", I mean the construction with wéi. We've had a similarly ambiguous sentence in the Zuozhuan thread... I guess it boils down to the question how 道 can be construed...

I think this is "the scholar 劉子驥, a scholar in high standing from 南陽, heard this, and merrily started making plans to go there".

Oops, I think you're right, I got misled into thinking there were two scholars...

Agree, nice text (my friends from Taiwan tell me they all read this in high school)!

Edited by chrix
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my friends from Taiwan tell me they all read this in high school

Don't know how they do it in Taiwan. But in China, the way they teach Classical Chinese made this supposedly very beautiful 散文 much less interesting, if not boring, to many of us.

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Hehe, this is what my friend from Taiwan said about the text:

不管喜不喜歡, 都一定要讀...因為這是國中國文課本裡的文章

不過是篇很美的文章啊

Well, I think this is a problem around the world, usually when teaching Classical languages in secondary education (be it Latin, Ancient Greek, Classical Japanese or Classical Chinese), the focus is usually on vocabulary and grammar, not understanding all the cultural, historical and literary background.

It would be interesting to discuss this here as well, as far as I understand, the text has a lot of Daoist influences, and the author is famous as a man of integrity (不為五斗米而折腰).

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Oh, no doubt about 道 meaning "to say" here, but why wèi? By "passive", I mean the construction with wéi. We've had a similarly ambiguous sentence in the Zuozhuan thread... I guess it boils down to the question how 道 can be construed...

Ah, sorry, I had somehow misunderstood what you meant there. I checked the CTP database to see if it was possible to indicate the indirect object of 道 by using 為 wèi, but this does not seem to have been common. My 虛詞 dictionary, however, lists a couple of sentences where 為 wèi indicates the indirect object of 言, and it says 道 can be construed similarly. I just noticed it even gives the sentence from the 桃花源記 as an example there. But you are right that reading this as wéi would work as well, though it seems a bit (but only a bit) more logical to me they would tell the fisherman not to share this with everyone, than for them to be telling them "outsiders do not need to discuss this".

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I am reading "大江大海1949" by 龍應台. Its Chapter 61 "日日是好日" starts with this paragraph -

從彰化到魚池鄉,一路是青蔥的山景。早春二月,粉色的櫻花錯錯落落開在路旁,遠看像淡淡一片雲。綿延婉轉的山路一個轉彎,忽然天地遼闊,半畝湖水,無限從容,「晉太原中武陵人」似地敞開在眼前。

The author expects the readers to understand the last sentence without problems (which is reasonable as 桃花源記 is secondary school stuff). And the use 「晉太原中武陵人」似地 is very vivid. But for those who have never read 桃花源記, it could be difficult to understand. This is partly why we have to learn 桃花源記 / Classical Chinese.

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