Most of what is known of Du Fu’s life comes from his own poems. His paternal grandfather was Du Shenyan, a noted politician and poet during the reign of Empress Wu. He was born in 712 in Gong county, near Luoyang, Henan province. In later life he considered himself to belong to the capital city of Chang'an, ancestral hometown of the Du family.
Du Fu's mother died shortly after he was born, and he was partially raised by his aunt. He had an elder brother, who died young. He also had three half brothers and one half sister, to whom he frequently refers in his poems, although he never mentions his stepmother.
As the son of a minor scholar-official, his youth was spent on ... more »
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Tu Fu Poems
Above the tower -- a lone, twice-sized moon. On the cold river passing night-filled homes, It scatters restless gold across the waves. On mats, it shines richer than silken gauze.
Oxen and sheep were brought back down Long ago, and bramble gates closed. Over Mountains and rivers, far from my old garden, A windswept moon rises into clear night.
Alone, Looking for Blossoms Along the Ri...
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.
Tonight at Fu-chou, this moon she watches Alone in our room. And my little, far-off Children, too young to understand what keeps me Away, or even remember Chang'an. By now,
A slight rain comes, bathed in dawn light. I hear it among treetop leaves before mist Arrives. Soon it sprinkles the soil and, Windblown, follows clouds away. Deepened A slight rain comes, bathed in dawn light. I hear it among treetop leaves before mist Arrives. Soon it sprinkles the soil and, Windblown, follows clouds away. Deepened Colors grace thatch homes for a moment. Flocks and herds of things wild glisten Faintly. Then the scent of musk opens across Half a mountain -- and lingers on past noon. A slight rain comes, bathed in dawn light. I hear it among treetop leaves before mist Arrives. Soon it sprinkles the soil and, Windblown, follows clouds away. Deepened
Dreaming of Li Po
After the separation of death one can eventually swallow back one's grief, but the separation of the living is an endless, unappeasable anxiety. From pestilent Chiang-nan no news arrives of the poor exile. That my old friend should come into my dream shows how constantly he is in my thoughts. I fear
Roads not yet glistening, rain slight, Broken clouds darken after thinning away. Where they drift, purple cliffs blacken. And beyond -- white birds blaze in flight.
Gazing at the Sacred Peak
For all this, what is the mountain god like? An unending green of lands north and south: From ethereal beauty Creation distills
By the Lake
The old fellow from Shao-ling weeps with stifled sobs as he walks furtively by the bends of the Sepentine on a day in spring. In the waterside palaces the thousands of doors are locked. For whom have the willows and rushed put on their fresh greenery?
As bamboo chill drifts into the bedroom, Moonlight fills every corner of our Garden. Heavy dew beads and trickles. Stars suddenly there, sparse, next aren't.
Ballad of the Army Carts
The carts squeak and trundle, the horses whinny, the conscripts go by, each with a bow and arrows at his waist. Their fathers, mothers, wives, and children run along beside them to see them off. The Hsien-yang Bridge cannot be seen for dust. They pluck at the men's clothes, stamp their feet, or stand in the way
To the Recluse, Wei Pa
Often in this life of ours we resemble, in our failure to meet, the Shen and Shang constellations, one of which rises as the other one sets. What lucky chance is it, then, that brings us together this evening under the light of this same lamp? Youth and vigor last but a little time. --- Each of us now has
On Seeing a Pupil of Kung-sun Dance the ...
On the nineteenth day of the tenth month of the second year of Ta-li (15 November 767), in the residence of Yuan Ch`ih, Lieutenant-Governor of K`uei-chou, I saw Li Shih-er-niang of Lin-ying dance the chien-ch`i. Impressed by the brilliance and thrust of her style, I asked her whom she had studied under. ``I am a pupil of Kung-sun'', was the reply.
Ballad of the Old Cypress
In front of the temple of Chu-ko Liang there is an old cypress. Its branches are like green bronze; its roots like rocks; around its great girth of forty spans its rimy bark withstands the washing of the rain. Its jet-colored top rises two thousand feet to greet the sky. Prince and statesman have long since paid their debt to time; but the tree continues to be cherished among men. When
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Above the tower -- a lone, twice-sized moon.
On the cold river passing night-filled homes,
It scatters restless gold across the waves.
On mats, it shines richer than silken gauze.
Empty peaks, silence: among sparse stars,
Not yet flawed, it drifts. Pine and cinnamon
Spreading in my old garden . . . All light,
All ten thousand miles at once in its light!