Distant view of Lushan, Tao Qian's Southern Mountain.
My home's built on a busy street,
But no jarring racket penetrates my ears.
You ask,"How can this be?"
When my mind is elsewhere, the place is rustic.
Plucking chrysanthemums for tea by the east hedge,
I gaze at distant South Mountain.
Mountain mists bonny, early or late,
Darting birds flit, back and forth.
In all this there is true meaning,
I'd like to explain but have lost the words..
Jié lú zài rénjìng,
Ér wú chē mā xuān.
Wèn jūn hé néng ěr,
Xīn yuǎn dì zì piān.
Cǎi jú dōng lí xià,
Yōurán jiàn nánshán.
Shānqì rì xī jiā,
Fēiniǎo xiāng yǔ huán.
Cǐ zhōng yǒu zhēnyì,
Yù biàn yǐ wàng yán.
Tao Yuanming lived in village a few miles southwest of Lushan, in what today is Jiangxi Province.
'A pre-e eminent exponent pf paradox is Tao Qian. Take his "Drinking Wine" poem which reads, in translation by James R Hightower as follows:
I built my hut (lu) beside a traveled road (ren-qing)
Yet hear no noise (xuan) of passing carts and horses.
You would like to know how it is done?
With the mind (xin) detached (yuan), one's place (di)
becomes remote (pian).
Picking chrysanthemums be the eastern hedge
I catch sight of the distant (yao-ran) sountern hills....
Here, several far-reaching paradoxes can be observed, all of which are "imbedded" in the imagery by means of implied comparisons. A hut, or an ordinary dwelling place (lu), is normally found in an "inhabited area" (of men), or ren-qing, not "in the wilds" (which is the meaning of pian); it is, therefore, subject to all kinds of noises (xuan), as of carts and horses. A man's mind (xin; lit., "heart"), when it is not freed from desires and passions (its "noises"), is like a hut located at a busy crossroad. And only when the mind, or heart, makes itself "distant" (yuan) from things, can it become like a place (di, lit. also meaning "earth") situated in the wilds. Then, and only then, the distant Southern Mountains can be seen, from afar (yao-ran), from the eastern hedge. In other words, to a mind (or heart) practised in the Daoist concept of quietism, the distant can be near, and all the noise hushed."
Quoted from Irving Yucheng Lo, in his book on the Southern Song poet Hsin Ch'i-Chi (Xin Qiji 辛棄疾), Twayne Publishers, 1971