PEACH BLOSSOM SPRING


PEACH BLOSSOM SPRING

Archival Ink Jet Prints, variable sizes, 2014

 

During 
the
 reign‑period 
T’ai
yuan 
[326‑97] 
of
 the 
Chin
 dynasty 
there 
lived
 in
 Wu‑ling 
a 
certain fisherman.
 One
 day,
 as
 he
 followed
 the
 course
 of
 a
 stream,
 he
 became
 unconscious
 of
 the
 distance 
he 
had
 travelled. All
 at
 once
 he 
came
 upon
 a
 grove
 of
 blossoming 
peach
 trees
 which
 lined
 either
 bank
 for
 hundreds
 of
 paces. 
No
 tree
 of
 any
 other
 kind
 stood
 amongst
 them,
 but
 there
were
 fragrant
 flowers,
delicate 
and
 lovely
 to
 the
 eye,
 and
 the
 air 
was
 filled 
with
drifting
 peach bloom.

The 
fisherman, 
marveling, 
passed
 on
 to
 discover 
where 
the 
grove 
would 
end. 
It 
ended
 at 
a
spring;
 and 
then 
there 
came
 a
 hill. 
In 
the 
side 
of 
the
 hill 
was 
a 
small 
opening
 which 
seemed
 to
 promise 
a 
gleam
 of 
light. 
The 
fisherman
 left 
his 
boat 
and 
entered 
the
 opening. 
It 
was
almost
 too
 cramped
 at
 first
 to
 afford
 him
 passage;
 but
 when
 he
 had
 taken
 a
 few
 dozen
 steps
 he
 emerged 
into 
the 
open 
light 
of
 day.
 He
 faced 
a
 spread 
of 
level 
land. 
Imposing 
buildings
stood
 among
 rich
 fields
 and
 pleasant
 ponds
 all
 set
 with
 mulberry
 and
 willow.
 Linking
 paths
 led
 everywhere,
 and
 the
 fowls
 and
 dogs
 of
 one
 farm
 could
 be
 heard
 from
 the
 next.
 People
were coming 
and
 going 
and 
working 
in
 the
 fields.
 Both
 the 
men
 and
 the
 women 
dressed
 in
exactly
 the
 same 
manner
 as 
people 
outside;
 white‑haired 
elders 
and 
tufted
 children 
alike
were
 cheerful
 and 
contented.

Some,
 noticing
 the
 fisherman,
 started
 in
 great
 surprise
 and
 asked
 him
 where
 he
 had
 come
 from.
 He
 told
 them
 his
 story.
 They
 then 
invited
 him
 to
 their
 home,
where
 they
 set
 out
 wine
 and
 killed
 chickens
 for
 a
 feast.
 When
 news
 of
 his
 coming
 spread
 through
 the
 village
 everyone
came 
in
 to 
question 
him.
For
 their
 part
 they
 told
 how
 their
 forefathers,
 fleeing
 from
 the
 troubles
 of
 the
 age
 of
 Ch’in,
 had
 come
 with
 their
 wives
 and
 neighbors
 to
 this
 isolated
 place,
never 
to 
leave 
it.
From 
that 
time
 on
 they had
 been 
cut
 off
 from 
the 
outside 
world.
They
 asked
what
 age 
was 
this:
 they
 had
 never
 even 
heard 
of
 the Han, let 
alone 
its 
successors 
the 
Wei
 and
 the
 Chin.
 The
 fisherman
 answered
 each
 of
 their
 questions
 in
 full,
 and
 they
 sighed
 and
 wondered
 at 
what 
he 
had
 to
 tell.
The
 rest
 all 
invited 
him
 to
 their 
homes
 in
 turn,
 and 
in 
each
 house 
food
 and
 wine 
were
 set 
before 
him.
 It 
was 
only 
after 
a 
stay 
of 
several 
days 
that 
he 
took
 his 
leave.

“Do
 not
 speak 
of 
us 
to 
the 
people 
outside,” 
they 
said. 
But 
when 
he 
had 
regained 
his 
boat
 and
 was
 retracing
 his
 original
 route,
 he
 marked
 it
 at
 point
 after
 point;
 and
 on
 reaching
 the
 prefecture
 he
 sought
 audience
 of
 the
 prefect
 and
 told
 him
 of
 all
 these
 things.
 The
 prefect
 immediately 
despatched 
officers 
to
 go 
back 
with 
the 
fisherman.
 He 
hunted 
for 
the 
marks 
he
had
 made, 
but 
grew 
con
fused 
and 
never 
found 
the 
way 
again.
 The 
learned
 and
 virtuous
hermit 
Liu
Tzu‑chi 
heard 
the 
story 
and 
went 
off 
elated 
to 
find
 the
 place. 
But
 he
 had
 no
 success,
 and 
died
 at
 length
 of
 a
 sickness.
 Since
 that
 time
 there
 have
 been
 no 
further
“seekers 
of 
the 
ford.”

The Peach Blossom Spring, byTao Qian (T’ao Ch’ien, or Tao Yuanming), 421
Translated
 by
 Cyril 
Birch

 

Archival Inkjet Prints, Lana Z Caplan 2014