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Tu Fu

(712-770 / Gong County / China)

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Alone, Looking for Blossoms Along the River


The sorrow of riverside blossoms inexplicable,
And nowhere to complain -- I've gone half crazy.
I look up our southern neighbor. But my friend in wine
Gone ten days drinking. I find only an empty bed.

A thick frenzy of blossoms shrouding the riverside,
I stroll, listing dangerously, in full fear of spring.
Poems, wine -- even this profusely driven, I endure.
Arrangements for this old, white-haired man can wait.

A deep river, two or three houses in bamboo quiet,
And such goings on: red blossoms glaring with white!
Among spring's vociferous glories, I too have my place:
With a lovely wine, bidding life's affairs bon voyage.

Looking east to Shao, its smoke filled with blossoms,
I admire that stately Po-hua wineshop even more.
To empty golden wine cups, calling such beautiful
Dancing girls to embroidered mats -- who could bear it?

East of the river, before Abbot Huang's grave,
Spring is a frail splendor among gentle breezes.
In this crush of peach blossoms opening ownerless,
Shall I treasure light reds, or treasure them dark?

At Madame Huang's house, blossoms fill the paths:
Thousands, tens of thousands haul the branches down.
And butterflies linger playfully -- an unbroken
Dance floating to songs orioles sing at their ease.

I don't so love blossoms I want to die. I'm afraid,
Once they are gone, of old age still more impetuous.
And they scatter gladly, by the branchful. Let's talk
Things over, little buds ---open delicately, sparingly.

Submitted: Saturday, May 26, 2001
Edited: Saturday, May 26, 2001
# 432 poem on top 500 Poems


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Comments about this poem (Alone, Looking for Blossoms Along the River by Tu Fu )

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  • Gold Star - 13,566 Points Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (5/10/2014 9:29:00 AM)

    when the video recitation heard together with the reading I felt innermost feeling of the poet in my mind and heart and what a beautiful poem is it I can't explain in words. The world is beautiful since the nature like blossoms along the river which the loss of it more felt by the poet which created a beautiful poem and gift to us. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 261 Points Stephen W (5/10/2014 7:55:00 AM)

    I'm not sure how well-translated this poem is. Bits of it don't make much sense. (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 4,978 Points Lorraine Margueritte Gasrel Black (4/1/2014 3:08:00 PM)

    I guess life never changes no matter what century we live in....WINE! ! ! ! ! and fun! ! ! ! great poem and a the chance it gave me to view a window in his time on earth... (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 2,996 Points Is It Poetry (5/10/2013 1:58:00 PM)

    And the grave impatient it waits.
    Butterflies and daffodils,
    each soul that knows it's place....iip (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 239 Points Warren Falcon (5/10/2013 10:24:00 AM)

    Tu Fu loved his wine, his dancing girls, the moon...and spring blossoms always woo an old Fu's wino heart and ancient groin so he purloins some music and makes some lovely image-poems full of nostalgia and a sweetness toward nature that we Westerners can only dream of...old Tu Fu has difficulty being nature himself, listing dangerously, listening to Orioles sing easily where his own singing is not so easy for the song derives from his all too human position...wine gets Tu Fu into some luxuriance but even that overwhelms him, thus:

    Let's talk
    Things over, little buds - -open delicately, sparingly. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 16 Points Robert Wynn (5/10/2013 7:10:00 AM)

    Great poem about growing old, getting drunk, stopping by a couple brothels, taking in the scenery, Fear of dying an experience unto itself, and he wants it to be just as beautiful as this life. The fact that his old friend enjoys wine also may lead to another brothel. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,391 Points Kevin Patrick (5/10/2012 8:26:00 PM)

    I love the rustic imagery in this, its such a pleasent read, the blossoms are wounderful symbolism of the state one sees of youth when one is older, the bitterness of knowing one can never feel the same feeling attained in their aura, and feeling desperatly alone (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Carlos Echeverria (5/10/2012 10:59:00 AM)

    The nature imagery is so finely and exquisitely rendered, with a soulful, beatific power which is life-affirming. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Joanne Reed (5/10/2012 4:32:00 AM)

    Yeh nice im new to site but i like poems but im more into romance poems but ths is good x (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 356 Points Juan Olivarez (5/10/2011 8:00:00 AM)

    Kevin Straw made the point that the same old poems are being recycled a year to the day, the past few days(I have been on this site a year now) I see what he was talking about. Some new blood might be appropriate. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Gone Away (5/10/2010 5:32:00 PM)

    This is what poetry does for me, captures a moment long gone and even in translation makes it as real and relevant as if it happened in my own life. Except he could write it with skill and beauty! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 356 Points Juan Olivarez (5/10/2010 10:15:00 AM)

    i am glad that mr. Craddock can analyze this poem. He is an obviously well read and learned man whose reviews i always look forward to and appreciate. i however am neither and i feel like a protestant minister trying to analyze the bible written in ancient greek having no knowledge of the subject. Therefore i pass on this one. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Terence George Craddock (5/10/2010 3:11:00 AM)

    Any Chinese poetry critics to help with the symbolism of this poem?
    The line ‘The sorrow of riverside blossoms inexplicable’ seems to be a lament for the dead during the An Lushan Rebellion. ‘A thick frenzy of blossoms shrouding the riverside, / I stroll, listing dangerously, in full fear of spring.’ Seems to easily fit a symbolic reference to a riverside battle or life as a river and the fear of spring arriving, implies the renewed Summer battles which will follow. The gentle breezes of spring do not explain the line ‘In this crush of peach blossoms opening ownerless, ’ but a crushing death toll of two thirds of the total tax roll population at the time, an estimated 36 milion people would. Linked with ‘Spring is a frail splendor’ these phrases can symbolically record the dead and missing due to suppression and famine.
    ‘To empty golden wine cups’ is symbolic of a longing for joy, the eternal symbol during this Tang Dynasty of love, friends, and happiness which like life is fleeting. Tu Fu transcends the ravages of his time by creating beautiful artistic poets and indicates social dishevel by incorretly drinking lone in a formal poem.
    A rebellion which spans the reigns of three emperors, impacting upon the last fifteen years of the life of Tu Fu, with almost constant unrest, could be poetically described ‘blossoms fill the paths: / Thousands, tens of thousands haul the branches down.’ The blooms ‘impetuous./ And they scatter gladly, by the branchful.’ Might imply the break down of traditional systems at this time of crisis while ‘Let's talk/ Things over, little buds -open delicately, sparingly’ is the wisdom of peace negotiations. To grasp the extent of suffering at this time, only World War II, nearly 1200 years later, surpasses this time of social crisis. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 294 Points Ramesh T A (5/10/2010 2:29:00 AM)

    The richness of natural surrounding with full of pageantry makes it a compelling reading! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Daniel Partlow (5/11/2009 6:40:00 AM)

    I use Tu Fu's (aka Du Pu) greatest poem in this piece:
    http: //www.poemhunter.com/poem/on-route-from-the-capital-to-fengxian-to-damascus/ (Report) Reply

Read all 25 comments »

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