The Story of Five-Willow Gentleman
By Tao Yuan Ming
The Gentleman’s place of birth is not known, nor is his name or surname. He is called such by the fact that five willow trees grow beside his house.
He is a quiet man, being of little speech. He pursues no glory, nor material gain. He is fond of reading, but indulges not in hair-splitting. Each time he comes to understand something he is so happy that he forgets his meals.
He likes wine; but being poor he cannot obtain it often. His relations and old acquaintances knowing this occasionally invite him to drink; and each time he goes, he is sure to finish all the wine, or become quite drunk; and having not got drunk he would retire, caring little to stay or to depart.
His house is bare around, scarcely good enough to protect him from rain and wind. He is clad in a tattered jacket of hair-cloth, and his kitchen vessels are often found empty, but he is perfect at ease. He often enjoys himself by writing, thereby to show his opinions; and he is determined to remain so to the end, being indifferent about material loss or gain.
Epiloque: Chien Lu says, “Neither grumble about poverty, nor crave for honour and riches.” This is probably said of men of his kind, who, with wine-cup upon their lips, recite poems, and amuse themselves with their own ideas? Are they Wu Hwai’s subjects, or are they Ko Tien’s subjects?