The poems of Du
Fu (712-770), the exemplary realist poet in the history of Chinese
literature, mirror the social outlook of the once prosperous Tang
Dynasty (618-907) in decline. Du's poems are rich in
social content, and have a distinct epochal character and a definitive political
inclination. His poetry fervently appeals to the nation in the uplifting spirit
of self-sacrifice. Du
was, therefore, called the "The Sage of Poetry" and his
poems are praised as "epic poetry."
Du Fu wrote more than 1,000 poems throughout his life; the famous ones
included "Three Officers," "Three Partings," "A Song of Chariots," "My Thatched
Hut is Wrecked by the Autumn Wind," "A Song of Fair Ladies," and "A Spring
Du Fu's poetry offered great sympathy to common people and revealed the sharp
line between exploiters and exploited in feudal society. "Wine and meat rot
behind vermilion gates, while on the roadside, people freeze to death" has been
a line indelibly inscribed in the minds of generation after generation of
"A Spring View" and "Upon the News of the Recapture of Henan and Hebei by the
Imperial Armies" show the poet's great love for his motherland. "A Song of
Chariots" and "A Song of Fair Ladies" not only praise the people's desire to
serve the country, but also expose the malfeasance of a warlike ruling class.
Some of Du Fu's poems focus on describing scenery or reflecting the love
between couples, and among brothers and friends, while at the same time infused
with the poet's deep feelings for the motherland and the people.
In short, Du Fu's poetry is an artistic recounting of the
turn in the fortunes of the Tang
. In the history of Chinese literature, his poetry
is unmatched in its rendering of enlightenment and elegance.
In writing poems, Du Fu often hid his subjective feelings behind objective
description. For example, in "A Song of Fair Ladies," he did notdenounce Lady
Yang and her brother's wanton way of life directly but described their finery
and diet in great detail, which implicitly unveils the poet's attitude.
The language in Du Fu's poems is simple, easy, and natural. He was good at
accentuating a character's personality through soliloquy and common sayings. He
was particularly skillful at the detailing of characterization, best illustrated
in the paragraph describing the wife and children in "Expedition to the North."
The style of Du Fu's poetry can be summarized as deep, implicit, and modulated
All of these merits have established Du Fu's status as
"The Sage of Poetry" in Chinese literature spanning a history of more than 3,000