Tu Fu (712-770)

Tu Fu was a Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty in the eighth century.

Night in the House by the River
Translated by Kenneth Rexroth

It is late in the year;
Yin and Yang struggle
In the brief sunlight.
On the desert mountains
Frost and snow
Gleam in the freezing night.
Past midnight,
Drums and bugles ring out,
Violent, cutting the heart.
Over the Triple Gorge the Milky Way
Pulsates between the stars.
The bitter cries of thousands of households
Can be heard above the noise of battle.
Everywhere the workers sing wild songs.
The great heroes and generals of old time
Are yellow dust forever now.
Such are the affairs of men.
Poetry and letters
Persist in silence and solitude.


The River Village
Translated by Florence Ayscough and Amy Lowell

The river makes a bend and encircles the village with its current.
All the long Summer, the affairs and occupations
       of the river village are quiet and simple.
The swallows who nest in the beams go and come as they please.
The gulls in the middle of the river enjoy one another,
       they crowd together and touch one another.
My old wife paints a chess-board on paper.
My little sons hammer needles to make fish-hooks.
I have many illnesses, therefore my only necessities are medicines.
Besides these, what more can so humble a man as I ask?