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Ch'ien T'ao

T'ao Ch'ien (365 - 427 A.D.), equally well-known by his given name, T'ao Yuan-ming, stands at the head of the great Chinese poetic tradition like a revered grandfather: profoundly wise, self-possessed, quiet, comforting. T'ao was the first writer to make a poetry of his natural voice and immediate experience, thereby creating the personal lyricism which all major Chinese poets inherited and made their own. The outlines of T'ao Ch'ien's life-his struggle to free himself from the constraints of official life and his eventual commitment to the life of a recluse-farmer, despite poverty and hardship-became one of the central, organizing myths in the Chinese tradition.

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