My Cottage Caught Fire in Midsummer
Living in thatched cot down shabby lane,
I loved it more than house of golden frames.
A mid-summer blast blew with might and main,
My hut in the glade was swept by the flames.
My rooms were all burned up and lost to sight,
So in a boat I sought for shelter soon.
Long, long lasts the new autumn night,
Bright, bright shines the nearly full moon.
Again vegetables begin to grow,
But frightened birds won’t come back here.
Far, far away my thoughts at midnight go,
When I gaze on the ninth celestial sphere.
While young, I loved to hold my own,
In that way I’ve passed forty years.
My body follows up and down,
My mind to independence steers.
It’s pure and strong in its own way,
Like jade or stone which is fire-proof.
Looking up, I think of old day
With crops not stored under the roof.
People well-fed were carefree then.
They rose at dawn and slept at night.
Such golden age won’t come again,
I would till my land if I might.
The poem “My Cottage Caught Fire in Midsummer” is a five-line poem written by Tao Yuanming, a literary scholar of the Jin and Song dynasties. The poem describes the author’s life and mood before and after the “fire”, and uses his ordinary life beliefs to resolve the effects of the disaster. The poem is sincere and natural, and the author’s mood changes from calm to unsettled before and after the fire, with several twists and turns and many changes, but all of them seem to be sensible and reasonable, without giving people a sense of pretentiousness. The poet uses the hidden farming as the main line, and the poem is perfected by the poet’s ebullient and clear description of his feelings.