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Tao Yuanming
- Qin Shi #94
 
陶淵明 1
琴史 #94 2
Image of Tao Qian3                  
Tao Yuanming (365 - 427) is "generally considered one of the two or three greatest pre-Tang poets."4 He used quite a few names, including 元亮 Yuanliang, 陶潛 Tao Qian, 陶五柳 Tao Wuliu (五柳先生 Mr. Five Willows) and 陶靖節 Tao Jingjie (靖節先生 Mr. Aloof). His was originally from 潯陽柴桑 Chaisang in Xunyang, an area near Jiujiang, on the south bank of the Yangzi river in Jiangxi province.

Tao Yuanming once wrote the following famous couplet, called Poem on a Stringless Qin:5

但識琴中趣, If one just knows the inner significance of the qin,
何勞絃上聲? Why make the effort to put on the strings and make sounds?
This attitude has often been criticized. Comments about him in Qinshu Daquan include the following.

Folio 16, #53 (Su Dongpo criticizes this couplet in his Collected Writings)
Folio 20B, #115 (Wen Xiang writes about a beautiful qin said to have belonged to Tao)

Tao Yuanming is connected to a number of qin melodies:

Gui Qu Lai Ci
Tiantai Yin
Tao Yuan Chun Xiao
Peilan (very tangential)
Zhao Yin (very tangential)

His biography in Qin Shi begins as follows,6

Tao Qian, style name Yuanming, was from Chaisang in Xunyang.... Further details in preparation.

 
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Tao Qian
42642.181 陶潛,晉潯陽柴桑人,侃會孫,字淵明,或曰名淵明.... (See above as well as ICTCL, Giles, etc.)
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2.
琴史 #94: 6 lines
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3. Image of Tao Qian
Copied from ZWDCD 42642.181, which does not identify the source.
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4.
ICTCL p.766
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5. Poem on a Stringless Qin
Qinshu Daquan has a number of entries on this theme. See

Folio 18, #15 and #25
Folio 19A, #24 to #30
Compare also the idea of there being no need to play the qin when already have the sounds of nature (see image).
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6. Original text
The Chinese text in in Qin Shi is as follows:

陶潛,字淵明,潯陽柴桑人。懷忠履潔,忘懷於得喪之境。古之伯夷原憲榮啓期之徒歟?性不解音,常畜素琴一張,每(日)有酒適,常撫弄以寄其意。每曰:「但得琴中意,何勞弦上聲?」蓋得琴之意,則不假鳴弦而自適矣。嘗有詩云:「弱齡寄事外,委懷在琴書。」又云:「樂琴書以消憂,」非虛言也。

卒謚靖節先生。

The three quotes here are:

  1. "但得琴中意,何勞弦上聲?" (also written "但得琴中趣,何勞絃上聲".)
    This is said to be from a poem by Tao Yuanming called "無絃琴 Stringless Qin", but it seems to survive only as a couplet.

  2. 《始作鎮軍參軍經曲阿作》 弱齡寄事外,委懷在琴書。 (In my youth I looked beyond the affairs of men, And found peace in the zither and books)
    被褐欣自得,屢空恆晏如。
    時來苟冥會,宛轡憩通衢。
    投策命晨裝,暫與園田疏。
    眇眇孤舟逝,綿綿歸思紆。
    我行豈不遙,登降千里餘。
    目倦川途異,心念山澤居。
    望雲慚高鳥,臨水愧游魚。
    真想初在襟,誰謂形跡拘。
    聊且憑化遷,終反班生廬。
    (Translated by Roland C. Fang in Gleanings fom Tao Yuan-ming", HK, Commercial Press, 1980)

  3. 歸去來辭 Gui Qu Lai Ci:

    "樂琴書以消憂 happy to have my qin and books to dispel melancholy."
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