Official at Stone Moat Village
- Poetry of Du Fu


- Last updated: 2024-02-24 22:49:50

Official at Stone Moat Village by Du Fu













English Translation

At dusk, I stopped to rest at Stone Moat village,

An officer came that night to capture men.

The old man escaped by climbing over the wall,

The old wife went to look outside the door.

How angrily the officer now shouted,

How bitterly the wife did weep out loud!

I heard the words the wife was sending forth:

"Three sons of mine were sent to defend Yecheng.

From one of my sons, a letter has arrived,

The other two have recently died in battle.

The one who survived has kept alive for now,

The dead ones though have met their final end.

Inside this house, there are no people left,

There's just a grandson suckling on the breast.

The grandson's mother also cannot go,

She goes about without a skirt intact.

Although I'm an old woman with failing strength,

I ask you to take me with you tonight.

If you should need workers at Heyang,

I can prepare the morning meal for you."

Her voice then died away into the night,

I seemed to hear her sob and whimper still.

At dawn, before I set upon the road,

It's only from the old man that I part.

This poem dates from 759; Stone Moat village was in Henan province.

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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