Tu Fu

(712-770 / Gong County / China)

Overnight at the Riverside Tower


Evening colors linger on mountain paths.
Out beyond this study perched over River Gate,
At the cliff's edge, frail clouds stay
All night. Among waves, a lone, shuddering

Moon. As cranes trail off in flight, silent,
Wolves snarl over their kill. I brood on
Our wars, sleepless here and, to right
A relentless Heaven and Earth, powerless.

Submitted: Saturday, May 26, 2001
Edited: Saturday, May 26, 2001

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  • Rookie Ian Fraser (5/12/2011 4:04:00 PM)

    It is always difficult to comment the poetry of non-english writers, things like tone must be very difficult to bring across and I wonder how far the translator is responsible for the truly amazing tonal quality of these astonishing poems. Truly if ever a voice speaks across the ages and from far distant lands it is Tu Fu.

    What is perhaps most remarkable compared to anything produced in the west at this period (or indeed until well into the 19th century) is their personal tone. One hears the voice of the poet as if he was in the same room and he also reproduces dialog (in the longer prose poems) with absolute authenticity and accuracy. Another thing that is utterly remarkable about these poems is the complete lack of a need for an audience. The feeling that is so often present in western writing that the writer is producing some kind of public performance (until the modern period) is here completely absent, though this may be partly because Tu Fu did spend most of life distant from the Emperor's court. Vivid, natural, personal and utterly authentic, these are the 4 adjectives I will choose to describe the work of a very remarkable writer. (Report) Reply

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