Living by the Brookside
Tired of officialdom for long,
I’m glad to be banished southwest.
At leisure I hear farmer’s song;
Haply I look like hillside guest.
At dawn I cut grass wet with dew;
My boat comes o’er pebbles at night.
To and fro there’s no man in view;
I chant till southern sky turns bright.
The poet sings of his leisurely life after his banishment to the southwest.
The poem “A Residence at the Stream” is an old poem in five lines written by the Tang Dynasty poet Liu Zongyuan when he was relegated to Yongzhou. The poem describes the poet’s relegation to Yongzhou, a place known as the “Southern Wilderness”, where he built a house by a stream and lived a life of leisure. On the surface, the poem is self-indulgent and enjoyable, but in fact it is a twisted expression of the poet’s sorrow and anger over his relegation, and between the lines it implies the author’s bitterness that his ambition cannot be fulfilled. In terms of expression, the poem is written without any pretense of elaboration, and is natural, plain and fresh.