Recluse poetry refers to poems written by literary figures who retreated to the remote mountains or countryside and expressed their sentiments through depicting this kind of life. Some Chinese scholars in the old days, having disdain for taking official position or were dissatisfied with political reality of the day, chose to live in seclusion in mountains and forests or in the countryside. They expressed their pursuit of a state of mind that transcended the worldly through depicting images of mountains, rivers, and other natural scenes. Tao Yuanming is regarded as the forerunner of this genre. Inspired by his recluse lifestyle, many learned men in the post-Tang and Song period also sought solace and peace of mind in the mountains and countryside, thus giving rise to recluse poetry.
While inspired by Ying Qu’s work, Tao Yuanming’s poems also inherited Zuo Si’s powerful expression. His style is simple and lucid, though his poems seem to lack outstanding lines. He devoted himself to expressing simple and unsophisticated ideas by means of analogy in mild, appropriate language. When we read his works, we see in them a man with noble character… He was truly the most distinguished of the recluse poets ever produced! (Zhong Rong: The Critique of Poetry)