Return (after T’ao Yuan-ming)
[Hot off the press, a very free ‘translation’ or rather Australian ‘version’ of an ancient Chinese poem by T’ao Yuan-ming aka T’ao Chi’en aka Tao Chi who lived 372-427 CE and created the Chinese genre of ‘field and garden poems’. Photo taken from the house shows our small apple orchard in the mist, honey locust leaves framing the photo at top, roses and then trellised grapes in foreground, large farm dam to the right, old eucalypts along the intermittent creek in the background struck by light.]
Return (after T’ao Yuan Ming 372-427 CE)
Always been a bit of a loner but
took that government job, secure,
boring, and then it’s forty years
among the herd in the Big Smoke.
The caged bird longs for sky and
wind, the fish in the tank: ocean.
Now back where I belong:
twenty acres of average soil
and a swampy bit down the middle.
Cleared a patch of brambles
to the north, a good spot
for some she-oak coppice, willow,
a few angophoras for the bees.
Peach, plum, apricot on the drier
slope, honey locusts shade the house.
A few chickens roost in the mulberry,
dogs bark far off, neighbours’ smoke
wreaths curl faint and distant.
Inside, five rooms with books and
a silence you can cut with a knife
or kookaburra laugh. Too long
inside a cage, a screen, now back
where nature, freedom, makes itself.