Tao Yuanming: Thickly Flowered Hibiscus

Thickly Flowered Hibiscus

荣 木
采 采 荣 木
结 根 于 兹。
晨 耀 其 华
夕 已 丧 之。
人 生 若 寄
樵 悴 有 时。
静 言 孔 念
中 心 怅 而。
采 采 荣 木
于 兹 托 根。
繁 华 朝 起
慨 暮 不 存。
贞 脆 由 人
祸 福 无 门。
匪 道 曷 依 ?
匪 善 奚 敦 ?
嗟 予 小 子
禀 兹 固 陋。
徂 年 既 流
业 不 增 旧。
志 彼 不 舍
安 此 日 富。
我 之 怀 矣
怛 焉 内 疚。
先 师 遗 训
余 岂 之 坠 ?
四 十 无 闻
斯 不 足 畏。
脂 我 名 车
策 我 名 骥。
千 里 虽 遥
孰 敢 不 至。
Rong Mu

Cai cai rong mu
Jie gen yu zi.
Chen yao qi hua
Xi yi sang zhi.

Ren sheng ruo ji
Qiao cui you shi.
Jing yan kong nian
Zhong xin chang er.

Cai cai rong mu
Yu zi tuo gen.
Fan hua zhao qi
Kai mu bu cun.

Zhen cui you ren
Huo fu wu men.
Fei dao he yi ?
Fei shan xi dun ?

Jie yu xiao zi
Bing zi gu lou.
Cu nian ji liu
Ye bu zeng jiu.

Zhi bi bu she
An ci ri fu.
Wo zhi huai yi
Da yan nei jiu.

Xian shi yi xun
Yu qi zhi zhui ?
Si shi wu wen
Si bu zu wei.

Zhi wo ming che
Ce wo ming ji.
Qian li sui yao
Shu gan bu zhi.


Thickly Flowered Hibiscus

Multicolored thick hibiscus
Produced big roots this year.
The flowers magnificent in the morning glow
By sunset, they have died or closed up.

Human experience just like these temporary and earthly visitors
We have our seasons of illness and decline.
Words of calm, deep interior thoughts
From this inner core, disappointment and melancholy.

Multicolored thick hibiscus
Relies now upon their roots.
Flowers thrive as the dawn breaks
However, by sunset they cannot remain.

All things are fragile, different people believe
Misfortune or luck outside our control.
If without the Dao, what can we rely upon?
I we do not use virtue as a model, how can we find encouragement?

I lament for being such a simple man
And being born with such poor and limited endowments.
The past years have already flowed away
Good works have not increased enough.

I hope to not abandon these ideals
Too satisfied now to just stay drunk.
From my way of thinking
I fear even more a heart full of remorse!

Ancestral teachers have left their teachings
What do I have to lose?
Forty years old now without the honor of success
Here I don’t require the admiration of others.

Grease my axles to acquire fame
Go to the whip to make a name.
Even though they are hundreds of miles distant
I will try to reach some certainty and a measure of cultivation.



Once again I have noticed a strong similarity between the philosophy and spiritual viewpoints of Tao Yuanming and those of the Preacher in the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. An example are lines three and four of this poem: “Human experiences are like (these flowers that come and go); We have our season of illness and decline.”

Tao also touches upon a major tenet of Buddhism, that being the transitory nature of existence down here on earth.  And so it goes.

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