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Du Fu

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 Fu 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 View."

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 Chinese people.

"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 Dynasty . 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 in tone.

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 years.