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陶淵明 桃花源 translation: The Peach Blossom Spring (prose), by Tao Yuanming

This is a translation / annotation of the prose explanation of the story 桃花源 (‘The Peach Blossom Spring’) by the Six Dynasties poet 陶淵明 (Tao Yuanming).

桃花源 Táohuā Yuán [peach] [flower] [spring] The Peach Blossom Spring

晉太元中,武陵人,捕魚為業,緣溪行,忘路之遠近; In the time of Jin Taizhong, a man from Wuling, who was a fisherman by trade, was traveling along the edge of a creek, and forgot the distance of the route;

忽逢桃花林,夾岸數百步,中無雜樹,芳草鮮美,落英繽紛,漁人甚異之。 he suddenly chanced upon a peach blossom forest; keeping by the shore he moved a hundred paces; inside there were no other trees, and the fragrant grasses were fresh and beautiful; the fallen leaves were a mix of colours, and the fisherman found it strange.

復前行,欲窮其林。 He continued onwards, wanting to find the end of this forest.

林盡水源,便得一山。 At the end of the forest and the creek, you got to a mountain.

山有小口,髣彿若有光,便捨船,從口入。 There was a small opening in the mountain, and it seemed like there was light, so he abandoned his boat and went in.

初極狹,纔通人; At first it was extremely narrow, and could only just allow a person to pass.

復行數十步,豁然開朗。 After several dozen more paces, it suddenly opened up.

土地平曠,屋舍儼然。 The ground was flat and vast, and there were neatly arranged residences.

有良田、美池、桑、竹之屬,阡陌交通,雞犬相聞。 There was fertile land, beautiful pools, mulberry trees and bamboo, and roads and paths for travel; chickens and dogs could be heard.

其中往來種作,男女衣著,悉如外人; Within were people working planting seeds, men and women were clothed in strange ways.

黃髮、垂髫,並怡然自樂。 They had yellow hair in long tufts, and seemed joyful and happy.

見漁人,乃大驚,問所從來; They saw the fisherman, and were shocked, asking where he had come from;

具答之。 he told them it all.

便要還家,設酒、殺雞、作食。 They invited him to their homes, brought out wine, killed chickens and made a meal.

村中聞有此人,咸來問訊。 Once it was heard in the village that this person was there, everybody came to ask him questions.

自云:「先世避秦時亂,率妻子邑人來此絕境,不復出焉; They said: "Former generations fled the chaos in the time of Qin, bringing their wives, children and villagers to this impasse; we have never left;"

遂與外人閒隔。」 "And so we have been separated from outsiders."

問今是何世; They asked what era it currently was.

乃不知有漢,無論魏、晉。 It turned out they hadn't even heard of the Han, let alone the Wei or the Jin.

此人一一為具言所聞,皆歎惋。 One by one this person was asked about all he knew, and everyone gasped.

餘人各復延至其家,皆出酒食。 The other people all wanted to have him back to their homes, and all brought out wine and food.

停數日,辭去。 He stayed for several days, then made his goodbyes and left.

此中人語云:「不足為外人道也。」 The people there said: "There is no use in telling others."

既出,得其船,便扶向路,處處誌之。 Thereupon he left, got his boat, and got back out onto the way, marking it down at every point.

及郡下,詣太守,說如此,太守即遣人隨其往,尋向所此誌,遂迷不復得路。 Upon reaching the county seat, he went to see the governor, and explained this; the governor then sent people to follow his trail, searching for the signs he had left; they were fascinated but could not find the way.

南陽劉子驥,高尚士也,聞之,欣然規往,未果,尋病終。 Liu Ziji of Nanyang was a noble scholar who heard of this, and joyously set out for it, but with no result; he died of illness during his search.

後遂無問津者。 After that, there were none who inquired about it.

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