Tao said in his poem:
Hearing knocks at the door in early dawn,
I throw on some
clothes to open the door.
I asked who was there.
farmer with good intentions
and a decanter of spirits came
from afar to see me.
He wondered why I defied the sign of
"Wearing rags and with a straw roof over your
you can hardly be considered high status.
your generation are all officials,
I hope you will abandon
the muddy fields."
"The elder's words are deeply felt,
by disposition I am an uncooperative loner.
Although it is
worth it to learn to ride in a carriage,
walking on foot is
Let us enjoy a drink together,
though I will not
change my course."
Tao said, "One morning, someone knocked at my door. I
dressed hastily to open the door. A man who introduced
himself as a farmer brought a canteen of wine from faraway
to see me. He not only brought me some wine but earnest
advice as well. He thought my choice of returning home to
farm was contrary to the trend at the time. He said, "People
of your generation are all officials, I hope you will
abandon the muddy fields." Everyone's working for the
government; they don't consider the civil service, the
political arena bad places. Why do you alone want to oppose
the trend, refusing to join the others in the government?"
Tao Yuanming responded, "The elder's words are deeply felt,
but by disposition I am an uncooperative loner." I am
grateful for your admonishment, but my nature is such that I
don't follow the current fad, so I won't accept your
suggestion and will not change my mind. I am very glad that
you bring me some good wine though. Let's forget our
disagreements and "let us enjoy a drink together." For now,
let's just drink to our hearts' content! "Though" it will be
impossible for me to change my path; "I will not change my
In this poem, Tao Yuanming used many metaphors and symbols.
His reference to riding a carriage does not really indicate
a mode of transportation, but rather a way of life. We will
go into it in detail when we discuss the ninth poem. I am
simply using this poem to prove that someone gave him wine.
This poem as well as the seventh and eighth all mention
receiving wine from others.
In the following poem, Tao Yuanming used a historical figure
as his model. Tao said:
Zi Yun loved to drink by nature / yet could not afford it.
He often relied on some meddlesome men / who came to him
with problems and wine. / He downed every drop of alcohol /
and answered every question satisfactorily. / He
occasionally declined to speak / if the subject was related
to conquering another state. / Since this benevolent man was
concerned about others, / he didn't mind the embarrassment
of being silent.
Zi Yun, also known as Yang Xiong, was an erudite scholar who
wrote excellent poetry during the Han Dynasty. He loved to
drink, but just like Tao Yuanming, he could not afford it.
He did not have money to buy wine, so he relied on some
meddlesome men who presented him with wine. Meddlesome men
are people who like to mind other people's business.
"He often relied on some meddlesome men who came to him with
problems and wine." These nosy people carried containers of
liquor and questions for Yang Xiong. They raised many issues
and had hoped that Yang Xiong would give them satisfactory
answers. How did Yang Xiong deal with them? "He downed every
drop of alcohol and answered every question satisfactorily."
Didn't you bring some wine? All right, let me empty that
glass for you. Didn't you have some questions? Okay, I shall
answer them all to your satisfaction.
However, he did not answer every single question; "He
occasionally declined to speak if the subject was related to
conquering another state." Why did Yang Xiong sometimes
refuse to answer? That was because the question concerned
attacking or invading a country. Why did Yang Xiong refuse
to talk about attacking or invading a country?
Here is another story. During the Spring and Autumn Era, Liu
Xiahui who a man deemed to be "the Sage of Peace" by Chinese
history. Records claim that he was the most humble and
amicable man among ancient sages. Once the King of Lu asked
Liu Xiahui, "I wish to attack the State of Qi?" What do you
Liu Xiahui answered, "Don't do it! You should not start a
war." After that conversation, Liu Xiahui returned home in
great sorrow. He thought, "Why did the King of Lu ask me
about invading another country? I recall a quote from an
ancient sage, 'Never ask a benevolent man about matters of
war.' If the king wants to conquer another nation, he would
not ask for comments from a kind and humane person. Since
the king asked for my opinion about attacking another
country today, he must consider me an unkind soul." For this
Liu Xiahui was very aggrieved.
By referring to the anecdotes of both Yang Xiong and Liu
Xiahui, Tao was taking a stand. "I'm glad that you give me
gifts ofwine. I can drink with any one of you blithely;
however, I won't door say anything against my
To be continued