I am reading this poem by Tao Yuanming.












I have a general idea, because I found the translation below on Wikipedia. But the most difficult line is 心遠地自偏

Must I understand 偏 as a verb, that means secluding, like in 偏僻? And 遠地 as 遠的地方? Is the whole rest about creating a wilderness, then, added by the translation?

i built my hut in a zone of human habitation,

Yet near me there sounds no noise of horse or coach.

Would you know how that is possible?

A heart that is distant creates a wilderness round it.

I pluck chrysanthemums under the eastern hedge,

Then gaze long at the distant summer hills.

The mountain air is fresh at the dusk of day:

The flying birds two by two return.

In these things there lies a deep meaning;

Yet when we would express it, words suddenly fail us.

  • In a more micro sense,as we don't need translation,its intone about 'we can isolate in the sound and fury '
    – user36440
    Commented Jul 26, 2023 at 2:31

3 Answers 3


i would suggest:

if one's mind (心) is isolated (遠), one's physical location (地) would automatically (自) becomes remote (偏)


Understand what kind of people Tao Yuanming was would help you understand his poem.

Tao Yuanming was a solitary. He spent his whole life to practice his creed -- “不为五斗米折腰”,Never bow down for five dous of rice. He prefer to live far way from worldly people, especially shame on live for making money. He wish he can live alone in the wild, but he can't escape from living pressures, he need all kind of materials like other worldly people need. He had to live near other people although he really hate to live with them. But he can't stop yearning for that. So he wrote that

心遠地自偏 : 

Let heart roam to the faraway (which I wish to live), then I am there.

It means when you abandon worldly desires in pursuit of power, money, etc, which corresponds to 心远. You are consequently moving far away from the populous urban areas, which corresponds to 地自偏 and you will find more peace in your heart.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.