Dean Barrett

Dean Barrett is a writer who currently lives in Bangkok

Posts by Dean Barrett

In Search of Peach Blossom Spring

Arcadia with an entrance ticket – by Dean Barrett


The drive is not particularly picturesque, and some of the risks the driver takes seem almost suicidal, but no more so than the other drivers who barrel straight for us around dangerous curves. I lean forward to suggest to the driver’s wife that just possibly they might want to actually use their seatbelts. The suggestion is greeted with a smile of incomprehension.

I am reaching what could be the end of my journey in search of Peach Blossom Spring, China's mythical arcadian paradise, the ultimate unspoiled community, possibly the product of a poet’s imagination – or possibly real.


Peach Blossom Spring (translation)


"Peach Blossom Spring" (桃花源 táohuāyuán) is a famous passage – in fact the preface to a longer poem – by Tao Yuanming, from the Six Dynasties period at the turn of the 4th century AD. The story has almost mythical status in China. Here's the original text, along with a rather lovely reading of it with an erhu playing the background. And below is a translation, courtesy of Dean Barrett, a writer based in Bangkok.


"At the close of the fourth century AD, during the Taiyuan era of the Jin dynasty, a certain fisherman lived in the village of Wuling. One day, so engrossed in exploring the stream of a river, he failed to notice how far he had travelled.