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Du Fu

(xixianxinqu.gov.cn) 2016-10-12 Print Mail Share

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Du Fu (AD 712-770), who styled himself "Zimei", was a great Tang Dynasty poet. He was born in Gongxian county, Henan province and had an ancestral home in Xiangyang, central China’s Hubei province. He was a descendant of Du Yu, a famous official of the Western Jin Dynasty (AD 265-316) from Xi’an, Shaanxi province. In 746, Du Fu went to Chang’an (today’s Xi’an) to pursue an official career but failed during his stay in Shaolinyuan’s Duqu, or Duling (in today’s Chang’an district in Xi’an) because of the obstruction of Li Linfu, a Tang Dynasty (618-907) chancellor. Du Fu took Duling as his hometown. 

Du lived an extremely poor life and saw the political corruption, chaos and suffering caused by war, which inspired him to write a group of great poems, including Bing Che Xing, Li Ren Xing, Qian Chu Sai, Hou Chu Sai, and Fu Feng Xian Yong Huai. These poems voiced the pain of the people and reflected the reality of the fall of the Tang Dynasty.

In 752, Du Fu submitted three examples of his writing and was appointed a minor official. After the outbreak of the An Shi Rebellion, he was kept in Chang’an by rebel forces. He fled to Fengxiang (in today’s Shaanxi province), where Emperor Su Zong was trying to recapture Chang’an from rebel forces. Du was appointed as an imperial censor, but was subsequently demoted to Huazhou (today’s Huaxian county in Shaanxi) due to involvement in factional conflict. The experiences of these two years led to such poems as Ai Wang Sun, Bei Chen Tao, Chun Wang, Ai Jiang Tou, and Bei Zheng. In 759, Du Fu left Huazhou and headed for Henan to visit his relatives. That move brought about six more famous poems, namely, Tong Guan Li, Xin An Li, Shi Hao Li, Xin Hun Bie, Chui Lao Bie, and Yuan Jia Bie.

In the autumn of that year, Du gave up his position and lived in Chengdu for four or five years, later moving to Kuizhou (in today’s Fengjie county in Chongqing). In 768, he arrived in Hubei and then went to Changsha, Yueyang, and Hengyang in Hunan province. The poor and sick poet died in a boat on the Xiangjiang River at the age of 59.