Translation:The Peach Blossom Spring

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For other English-language translations of this work, see Tao hua yuan ji.
The Peach Blossom Spring
by Tao Yuanming, translated from Chinese by Wikisource

(The Tale of the) Peach Blossom Spring (Chinese: 桃花源记; pinyin: Táo​huā​ Yuán; literally "Source of [the River of] the Peach Blossoms" was a fable by Tao Yuanming in 421 about a chance discovery of an ethereal utopia where the people lead an ideal existence in harmony with nature, unaware of the outside world for centuries

1184282The Peach Blossom SpringTao Yuanming

In the Jin Dynasty, during the Taiyuan era (376 - 397), there lived in Wuling Commandery a fisherman. One day, he paddled upstream and lost track of how far he had gone. Suddenly, he came upon a forest of peach blossoms stretching for several hundred paces along both banks of the waterway. There were no stray trees mixed among them. There was a fresh and pleasing scent of fragrant grass. Fallen peach blossoms were scattered about in abundance. Amazed at the sight, the fisherman pressed ahead. He wanted to make his way to the end of the forest. The forest ended at the headwaters of the stream, whereupon he arrived at a mountain. There was a small cave in the side of the mountain. It seemed as though light was emitting from it. He abandoned his boat and went inside.

At first it was extremely narrow, allowing for only one person to squeeze through. After walking another twenty or thirty paces, he suddenly exited onto an open clearing. The land became flat and broad. Houses were neatly arranged in rows. There were fertile fields, beautiful ponds, mulberry trees, bamboo groves and the like. Pathways crisscrossed the fields, and one could hear the intermingled sounds of chickens and dogs. There were people walking back and forth, busying themselves with planting crops. The clothing of the men and women was just like those of the ones outside. Old and young alike seemed happy and contented. When they saw the fisherman, they were all shocked and asked him where he had come from. He answered each and every one of their questions. They brought him home with them, setting out wine, killing chickens, and preparing food in his honor. When the other villagers heard about the fisherman, they all came to ask him about where he had come from. They told the fisherman that their ancestors had fled the chaos of the Qin Dynasty, and had led their wives and fellow villagers to this isolated area. No one had left since. As a result, they had become completely cut off from the outside world. When asking about the name of the current dynasty, it became apparent that they did not know about the Han Dynasty, much less the Wei or Jin Dynasties. As the fisherman told them in great detail the news from the outside world, they all sighed with regret. More people invited him to their homes to drink and eat. He stayed on for a few more days before taking his leave. As he was departing, some of them said to him, "No need to tell outsiders about us."

He then left and found his boat, retracing his path and putting up markers as he went. When he arrived at the Commandery headquarters, he paid a formal visit to the Commandery governor and told him what had happened. The Commandery governor then sent people to retrace the fisherman's steps. However, they got lost while looking for the markers that the fisherman had left behind and were unable to find the trail.

Liu Linzhi (style name Ziji) of Nanyang was man of refinement. When he heard about this story, he cheerfully made plans to go look for the village. However, he died of an illness before he got his chance. After that, nobody made any further inquiries.


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