T’ao Ch’ien

Begging Food

Hunger came and drove me out. No
idea where I’d end up, I went on

and on, and coming to this village,
knocked at some door. Seeing in my

senseless muttering why I’d come,
you gave all I needed, and more:

we chatted on into the evening, pouring
cups of wine we downed in no time,

and savoring the joy of new friends,
we chanted old poems and wrote new.

You’re kind as that woman who fed
half-starved Han Hsin. But I’ll never

rise to glory, never have anything but
gifts from the grave to send in thanks.

translation by David Hinton

T'ao Ch'ien