It is argued here that Tao Yuanming recognized a tension between being himself (ziran 自然) and the natural transformations of the world (hua 化). While he advocated a kind of ziran zhuyi 自然 主義 ("naturalism"), he did not believe that he, or human beings in general, were predisposed to accept the inevitable changes of the world. Hence, his "naturalism" is not necessarily about fitting into his natural surroundings; despite the fact that he relies on these surroundings in his poetry, and that contemporary scholars sometimes see his work as "pastoral." Through an examination of "Returning to Live on the Farmstead" and several other poems, this article demonstrates: (1) that Tao saw human beings as distinct from other things in the world that otherwise accept or fit into the natural transformations of the world, and (2) that while Tao understood ziran as "being himself," he often saw hua as threats to him being himself.


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pp. 395-418
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