Robert Oxnam :: Tao Qian lived from 365 to 427 and gave voice to the tradition of retreat in his poetry.
Stephen Owen :: Tao Qian starts off as someone who is supposed to go and be an official. And he takes an official post, and he discovers he's not happy. Well, the society told him you were supposed to be happy being an official. But he isn't happy, and in this complex process, this new notion of nature, he is able to look inside and say, this is not the way I want to live my life. And he can make a decision: I am going to quit this post, go back to my farm, to my home, and live in a way that makes me happy.
Paul Rouzer :: When Tao Qian decided to abandon public service and become a recluse, this did not mean for him going off and living in a cave and severing all contact with other human beings.
Rather, Tao Qian chose to go back and live on a small farm that he owned and to plow the fields along with his fellow peasants, to form a bond of union and a friendship with those particular peasants.
And this particular union, this particular bond of friendship with these people, served for him a replacement of the bonds of friendship earlier poets had formed with members of their own particular class.