Tao Yüan-ming

T’ao Yüan-ming


(also known as T’ao Ch’ien). Born 365; died 427. Chinese poet.

T’ao Yüan-ming occupied minor official posts from the age of 29. At 41 he abandoned the government service and became a farmer. His poetry reflects his efforts to give up his career as an official and eulogizes a life of independence.

Works by T’ao Yüan-ming that have survived include 160 poems and several works in poetic prose, including Returning Home. The poetry of T’ao Yüan-ming retained the traditional four-and five-word verse line and often retained traditional content as well; examples are his works using conventional historical themes and his imitations of the ancients. Nevertheless, his poetry introduced the reader to a new world of clarity and of integrity with respect to thoughts and feelings. T’ao Yüan-ming’s works, which deal with moral issues, are generally concerned with contemporary events and elucidate his views on life. His world view may be reduced by the admonition that throughout man’s earthly existence he should be moral and do good.

Many of T’ao Yüan-ming’s poems are models of profundity and complex poetic meaning. One of his best-known works is the Utopian fantasy Tale of the Peach-blossom Fountain. T’ao Yüan-ming had an important influence on Chinese poetry and the poetry of neighboring countries.


In Russian translation:
In the collection Kitaiskaia klassicheskaia proza v perevodakh akad. V. M. Alekseeva. Moscow, 1959.
Lirika. Translated and with a foreword by L. Eidlin. Moscow, 1964.


Alekseev, V. M. Kitaiskaia poema o poete: Stansy Sykun Tu (837–908). Petrograd, 1916.
Eidlin, L. Tao Iuan’-min i ego stikhotvoreniia. Moscow, 1967.
Chang Chih. Tao Yüan-mingchuan lun. Shanghai, 1953.