I built my hut in a zone of human habitation
Yet near me there sounds no noise of horse or coach,
Would you know how that is possible?
A heart that is distant creates a wilderness round it.
I pluck chrysanthemums under the eastern hedge,
Then gaze long at the distant summer hills.
The mountain air is fresh at the dusk of day,
The flying birds two by two return.
In these things there lies a deep meaning
Yet when we would express it, words suddenly fail us.

The author is Tao Qian and you can read more about this poem here. The translation is by Arthur Waley from ‘One hundred and seventy Chinese poems’, Jonathan Cape, London, 1969, p.57. (Originally published in 1918).

The illustration is Beside still waters by: Tim Coleman via

About layanglicana

Author of books on Calcutta, Delhi and Dar es Salaam, I am now blogging as a lay person about the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. I am also blogging about the effects of World War One on the village of St Mary Bourne, Hampshire.
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