- Poetry of Du Fu


- Last updated: 2024-03-25 10:30:08

Sunset by Du Fu





English Translation

The cows and sheep are moving slowly down,

Each villager has shut his wicker gate.

The wind and moon disturb the clear night,

This landscape of rivers and hills is not my homeland.

A spring flows from the stones of a darkening cliff,

The autumn dew drips on the grass's roots.

My white head is within the brightness of the lamp,

What need for the flower to flourish so?

This poem dates from 767. The flower of the last line can be interpreted both as Du Fu's own past achievements, and as a twisting of the candlewick said to foretell good fortune.

Why Chinese poems is so special?
The most distinctive features of Chinese poetry are: concision- many poems are only four lines, and few are much longer than eight; ambiguity- number, tense and parts of speech are often undetermined, creating particularly rich interpretative possibilities; and structure- most poems follow quite strict formal patterns which have beauty in themselves as well as highlighting meaningful contrasts.
How to read a Chinese poem?
Like an English poem, but more so. Everything is there for a reason, so try to find that reason. Think about all the possible connotations, and be aware of the different possibilities of number and tense. Look for contrasts: within lines, between the lines of each couplet and between successive couplets. Above all, don't worry about what the poet meant- find your meaning.

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