Let the Season of Summer Reading Begin!

Yi Ming, "Reading the Book 'The Three Kingdoms' at Midnight" (1991)

Yi Ming, “Reading the Book ‘The Three Kingdoms’ at Midnight”

My father alerted me to a good June poem that should appeal to anyone looking forward to vacation and a time to read. It’s by the 4th-5th century Chinese poet T’ao Chi’en. Enjoy.

In the month of June the grass grows high
And round my cottage thick-leaved branches sway.
There is not a bird but delights in the place where it rests;
And I too—love my thatched cottage.
I have done my ploughing;
I have sown my seed.
Again I have time to sit and read my books.
In the narrow lane there are no deep ruts;
Often my friends’ carriages turn back.
In high spirits I pour out my spring wine
And pluck the lettuce growing in my garden.
A gentle rain comes stealing up from the east
And a sweet wind bears it company.

My thoughts float idly over the story of the king of Chou,
My eyes wander over the pictures of Hills and Seas.
At a single glance I survey the whole universe.
He will never be happy, whom such pleasures fail to please! 

–From Reading the Book of Hills and Seas



A note on the illustrator: The artist Yi Ming, born in 1991, grew up in a Chinese orphanage where the children are encouraged to paint in the tradition of ancient scrolls. More on Yi Ming and other artists from the orphanage can be found at www.scrollsfromchina.com/aboutartists.htm#yiming.

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  • Barbara

    Lovely, Robin! That’s my plan for the summer aside from house restoration and a bit of research!

  • I love that poem! It’s particularly fitting considering I come from a farming family in the countryside. Thank you so much for sharing – I predict it will become a favourite of mine.

    I’m also very excited about the start of summer reading!

  • Hieu

    Hi Robin. “The Three Kingdoms” was my very first book/novel! Thanks for reminding me of such pleasant memories.

  • Ah! The joy of the summer novel! I recommend Jiles and her historic fiction!


  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

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