The Selected Poems of Tu Fu
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For over a millennium, Chinese literati have almost unanimously considered Tu Fu (712-770 A.D.) to be their greatest poet.
Tu Fu radically altered poetry as he found it in the High T’ang period. In addition to making formal innovations in language and structure, he extended the range of acceptable subject matter to include all aspects of public and private experience, thus becoming in the words of translator David Hinton, “the first complete poetic sensibility in Chinese literature.”
This edition of The Selected Poems of Tu Fu is the only comprehensive selection of the poet's work currently available in English. While retaining a scholar's devotion to the text, Hinton has attempted “to recreate Tu Fu's poems as new systems of uncertainty." By reflecting all the ambiguity and density of the originals, he has created compelling English poems that significantly alter our conception of Chinese poetry. Included with the poems are the translator’s introduction and translation principles. as well as a biography of Tu Fu; together these provide a fascinating portrait of a uniquely sensitive spirit during one of the most tumultuous periods in Chinese history.
to return to his family, and the emperor was hardly reluctant to allow the pesky man a leave of absence from the court. After a difficult journey which took over two weeks, he arrived home at the beginning of October. A month later, loyal forces drove the rebels from the capital. They soon recovered Lo-yang, as well, and drove the rebels into the east. Tu Fu, overjoyed by the rebels’ defeat, returned to Feng-hsiang and joined in the emperor’s jubilant return to the capital. In January, 758, his
aristocracy. Its proper occasions were restricted by convention, as were the form and subject matter considered proper to any particular occasion. Although many of Tu Fu’s 1,450 poems are occasional in the conventional sense, he came to see virtually any human situation as the occasion of poetry. At the same time, he superceded restrictions of formal category. He was a master of all forms, and he employed each of them for a wide variety of occasions and thematic concerns, the innovative
Kojiro. “Tu Fu’s Poetics and Poetry,” Acta Asiatica, 16–17 (1969), 1–26. Young, David. Wang Wei, Li Po, Tu Fu, Li Ho: Four T’ang Poets. Oberlin: FIELD Translation Series, 1980. INDEX OF TITLES AND FIRST LINES Poem titles are printed in italic type. Abbot Ts’an’s Room, Ta-yün Monastery, 27 Above K’uei-chou’s wall, a cloud-form village. Below, 78 Above the tower—a lone, twice-sized moon, 80 Above the wall’s corner walkways, pennants and flags, 75 A crescent moon lulls in clear night, 99
warring Three Kingdoms, 76 I hear your home is a mountain monastery, 89 I invade cold dew on a cane, thatch houses, 93 I leave the temple, but stay another, 3 I lie ill here in these gorges, captive. Tung-t’lng Lake, 86 Impromptu, 75 In delicate beach-grass, a slight breeze, 105 In distant woods, summer heat thin, 16 In farmlands outside a lone city, our, 98 In one curve, cradling our village, the clear river, 55 In spring mountains, alone, I set out to find you, 4 In the autumnal, Wu
empty. Moonlit dew flares on failing leaves. Clouds chase wind over a stream. Beyond Indifference, the clear Wei just flows Away east in this time of grief—alone. 2 Through these borderlands, as night falls Across rivers, drums and horns rehearse War. Their cries rise from autumnal earth Everywhere, wind scattering them into clouds Grieving. Leaf-hidden, cold cicadas turn mute. Slowly, toward the mountains, a lone bird Returns. All ten thousand places throughout Alike—how could I