Hot Best Seller

Du Fu: A Life in Poetry

Availability: Ready to download

Du Fu (712–770) is one of the undisputed geniuses of Chinese poetry—still universally admired and read thirteen centuries after his death. Now David Young, author of Black Lab, and well known as a translator of Chinese poets, gives us a sparkling new translation of Du Fu’s verse, arranged to give us a tour of the life, each “chapter” of poems preceded by an introductory pa Du Fu (712–770) is one of the undisputed geniuses of Chinese poetry—still universally admired and read thirteen centuries after his death. Now David Young, author of Black Lab, and well known as a translator of Chinese poets, gives us a sparkling new translation of Du Fu’s verse, arranged to give us a tour of the life, each “chapter” of poems preceded by an introductory paragraph that situates us in place, time, and circumstance. What emerges is a portrait of a modest yet great artist, an ordinary man moving and adjusting as he must in troubled times, while creating a startling, timeless body of work. Du Fu wrote poems that engaged his contemporaries and widened the path of the lyric poet. As his society—one of the world’s great civilizations—slipped from a golden age into chaos, he wrote of the uncertain course of empire, the misfortunes and pleasures of his own family, the hard lives of ordinary people, the changing seasons, and the lives of creatures who shared his environment. As the poet chases chickens around the yard, observes tear streaks on his wife’s cheek, or receives a gift of some shallots from a neighbor, Young’s rendering brings Du Fu’s voice naturally and elegantly to life. I sing what comes to me in ways both old and modern my only audience right now— nearby bushes and trees elegant houses stand in an elegant row, too many if my heart turns to ashes then that’s all right with me . . . from “Meandering River”


Compare

Du Fu (712–770) is one of the undisputed geniuses of Chinese poetry—still universally admired and read thirteen centuries after his death. Now David Young, author of Black Lab, and well known as a translator of Chinese poets, gives us a sparkling new translation of Du Fu’s verse, arranged to give us a tour of the life, each “chapter” of poems preceded by an introductory pa Du Fu (712–770) is one of the undisputed geniuses of Chinese poetry—still universally admired and read thirteen centuries after his death. Now David Young, author of Black Lab, and well known as a translator of Chinese poets, gives us a sparkling new translation of Du Fu’s verse, arranged to give us a tour of the life, each “chapter” of poems preceded by an introductory paragraph that situates us in place, time, and circumstance. What emerges is a portrait of a modest yet great artist, an ordinary man moving and adjusting as he must in troubled times, while creating a startling, timeless body of work. Du Fu wrote poems that engaged his contemporaries and widened the path of the lyric poet. As his society—one of the world’s great civilizations—slipped from a golden age into chaos, he wrote of the uncertain course of empire, the misfortunes and pleasures of his own family, the hard lives of ordinary people, the changing seasons, and the lives of creatures who shared his environment. As the poet chases chickens around the yard, observes tear streaks on his wife’s cheek, or receives a gift of some shallots from a neighbor, Young’s rendering brings Du Fu’s voice naturally and elegantly to life. I sing what comes to me in ways both old and modern my only audience right now— nearby bushes and trees elegant houses stand in an elegant row, too many if my heart turns to ashes then that’s all right with me . . . from “Meandering River”

30 review for Du Fu: A Life in Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Farren

    I really appreciate how Du Fu writes about getting drunk. A lot.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jee Koh

    Like all the other Chinese scholars of his time, Du Fu aspired to serve the court in the country's vast bureaucracy. He was passed over again and again, and lived with his family in poverty for much of his life, intermittently relieved by the generosity of friends and patrons. The country's loss is poetry's gain. Du Fu might have written as much and as well if he were a high-ranking official (although that is very doubtful), but he would not have been as innovative in his subject matter. Struggli Like all the other Chinese scholars of his time, Du Fu aspired to serve the court in the country's vast bureaucracy. He was passed over again and again, and lived with his family in poverty for much of his life, intermittently relieved by the generosity of friends and patrons. The country's loss is poetry's gain. Du Fu might have written as much and as well if he were a high-ranking official (although that is very doubtful), but he would not have been as innovative in his subject matter. Struggling with the various miseries of poverty, he gained a profound sympathy for the weak and helpless, and wrote wrenching poems about commoner families suffering from devastating warfare. Separated from his family in order to find work, he celebrated in verse the simple joys of playing with his son and watching chickens scratch in the backyard, when he was finally reunited with them. Equally new was his expression of romantic sentiments for his wife. Before Du Fu, feelings of affection were reserved, at least in poetry, for courtesans and male friends. But Du Fu wrote, in "Moonlight Night,": Tonight in this same moonlight my wife is alone at her window in Fuzhou I can hardly bear to think of my children too young to understand why I can't come to them her hair must be damp from the mist her arms cold jade in the moonlight when will we stand together by those slack curtains while the moonlight dries the tear-streaks on our faces? The progression of ideas and images is utterly simple and convincing. "Slack curtains" is a masterly touch. It speaks of their financially straitened circumstance as well as their strong longing for reunion, but it does so in an image that gives the opposite impression of tension and strength. David Young's unrhymed couplets, here and elsewhere in the book, capture very effectively the extensive use of parallelism and caesura in Chinese verse. The minimal punctuation--beginning with a capital letter and ending with a period or question mark--also evokes the openness and suggestiveness of Chinese poetry. Yet the translation reads like a successful English poem. The translations are arranged in the book according to the chronology of the poet's life. The eleven section titles sum up its course: Early Years in the East, 737-744, Back at the Capital 745-750, War and Rebellion 750-755, Trapped in the Capital 756-758, Reunion and Recovery 758-759, On the Move 759, Thatched Cottage 759-762, More Disruptions 762-765, East to Kuizhou 765-766, The Gentleman Farmer 767-768, Last Days. Young introduces each section with a paragraph of biographical context that, read together with the poetry, gives the sense of a tumultous life.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Barnaby Thieme

    This is one of my favorite volumes of Chinese poetry. I hold David Young in very high regard for his powers of rendering the observations and verse of figures from such great remove in such vital, lyrical, and lively English. I'm in no position to evaluate the accuracy of his renderings, but they feel to me like the immediate, vivid expressions of a soul living in troubled times, taking beauty where he could find it, and living life as fully as conditions allowed. Its a balm and an inspiration f This is one of my favorite volumes of Chinese poetry. I hold David Young in very high regard for his powers of rendering the observations and verse of figures from such great remove in such vital, lyrical, and lively English. I'm in no position to evaluate the accuracy of his renderings, but they feel to me like the immediate, vivid expressions of a soul living in troubled times, taking beauty where he could find it, and living life as fully as conditions allowed. Its a balm and an inspiration for anyone living in difficult times, and one of my cardinal reference points in literature for thinking about how to live - how, in Voltaire's words, the "cultivate your own garden," in the midst of the sorrows and disasters of history.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Leo

    As a forewarning, I am not a scholar of Chinese literature. I have never studied it and I consider myself very ill-read (in all senses of the word) in all forms of Chinese literature. These are just my thoughts as a casual enthusiast of fiction and poetry in general, so they may be highly misinformed and lacking in insight. With that said, this is my favorite translation of Du Fu's poems by far. In the past, with previous translations, I found that the tone of his words did not match the subject As a forewarning, I am not a scholar of Chinese literature. I have never studied it and I consider myself very ill-read (in all senses of the word) in all forms of Chinese literature. These are just my thoughts as a casual enthusiast of fiction and poetry in general, so they may be highly misinformed and lacking in insight. With that said, this is my favorite translation of Du Fu's poems by far. In the past, with previous translations, I found that the tone of his words did not match the subject matters in his poems, somehow. But with Young, Du Fu has found a new voice--a more restrained, abstemious one--that resonates with his poetry more harmoniously than before. If Du Fu's one distinction that separates him from the rest of his contemporaries is his connection with the non-aristocratic class, as Young notes, then much of what the previous translations seem to miss is that the language--or more specifically, diction--should reflect the portrayals of said common folk. The point is not to disparage their lack of formal education, but display the deceptively simple yet concise uses of everyday words. I feel that Young achieves this quite well. It is also quite helpful to watch the poems "grow," as they've been arranged chronologically. A lot of his earlier poems are rather affected and conventional for his time, but as time progresses and his disposition changes, he flows into a much more composed and sincere voice. I may never get to experience the full breadth of his poems in their original forms, but this highly intimate translation does a fine job of exploring a view at Du Fu like never before.

  5. 5 out of 5

    CLIF

    David Young's chronologically arranged translations of 170 of Du Fu's poems, combined with his introductory notes to each new phase of the poet's life (from 737-770 CE), offer us excellent insights into both the man who wrote the poems and the poems that made the man world famous. Du Fu (or Tu Fu) was truly a man who suffered great losses in his life and who, as a consequence, developed great empathy for all of those who suffer, regardless of social class. This empathy emerges strongly, even in David Young's chronologically arranged translations of 170 of Du Fu's poems, combined with his introductory notes to each new phase of the poet's life (from 737-770 CE), offer us excellent insights into both the man who wrote the poems and the poems that made the man world famous. Du Fu (or Tu Fu) was truly a man who suffered great losses in his life and who, as a consequence, developed great empathy for all of those who suffer, regardless of social class. This empathy emerges strongly, even in translation. Du Fu lived during a time of frequent war and he and his family suffered separation and sometimes great privation. Unlike certain other T'ang Dynasty poets who successfully managed a life at court, Du Fu never succeeded in holding onto court favor for long. His poetry reflects his frequent travels, as he moved in search of opportunities, some of which never materialized, and none of which lasted for long. He frequently compares himself to thistledown blown by the wind. His poems reflect his frequent anxiety, his yearning for the simpler life of a religious hermit, and his not wholly successful attempts to derive solace, at first from Confucianism, and later from Taoism. I don't read Chinese, so I can't speak to the accuracy of Young's translations, though I understand that his versions are more than usually successful at revealing the technical brilliance of Du Fu's poems. Still, Young's versions strike me as a trifle flat. They are less vivid than either Kenneth Rexroth's or David Hinton's. Reading them in these English versions, it is sometimes difficult to understand why these poems are held in such high esteem by the Chinese, who consider Du Fu their greatest poet. Nonetheless, English readers can be grateful for this book of translations, which gives us a unique appreciation of the man behind the poems.

  6. 4 out of 5

    J.M. Hushour

    I'm never a fan of older poetry. I appreciate it the same way I appreciate that someone's lewd act in the back of a wagon on a muddy pagan night brought us later generations of fill-in-the-blank. I take no joy in it itself. A substantive precursor, nothing more. I find the ancient Greek and Roman poets and, well, basically, everything up until the 19th century to be bland and fiercely unimaginative. How pleasantly surprising is this volume of Du Fu, 8th century poetic bad-ass! I love these poems I'm never a fan of older poetry. I appreciate it the same way I appreciate that someone's lewd act in the back of a wagon on a muddy pagan night brought us later generations of fill-in-the-blank. I take no joy in it itself. A substantive precursor, nothing more. I find the ancient Greek and Roman poets and, well, basically, everything up until the 19th century to be bland and fiercely unimaginative. How pleasantly surprising is this volume of Du Fu, 8th century poetic bad-ass! I love these poems. They seem simple and clever, but bear an economy of feeling and meaning that I'd sell my muddy wagon for. Even better, the translator arranged them chronologically and gives you neat little notes on Du Fu's life and meanderings through a turbulent period in China's history. Du Fuck yeah!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hillary

    I learned about Du Fu from the "poem a day" email that I got during National Poetry Month. I really enjoyed this book - it's an excellent modern translation of poetry that still has a lot of relevance/resonance 1200+ years later, and the translator also does a great job of putting each poem in biographical context. I learned about Du Fu from the "poem a day" email that I got during National Poetry Month. I really enjoyed this book - it's an excellent modern translation of poetry that still has a lot of relevance/resonance 1200+ years later, and the translator also does a great job of putting each poem in biographical context.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    One of our sons studies Chinese, so for fun I recently pulled this volume from our shelves and we are reading a poem a night, after grace, just as we begin eating dinner. Who could be a better companion for our evenings than Du Fu (712 - 770)? That river-gazer, that wine connoisseur, that lute-player, friend, philosopher, observer-of-seasons. We marvel at the vitality of his voice, nearly 1300 years later. We're BIG Du Fu fans! One of our sons studies Chinese, so for fun I recently pulled this volume from our shelves and we are reading a poem a night, after grace, just as we begin eating dinner. Who could be a better companion for our evenings than Du Fu (712 - 770)? That river-gazer, that wine connoisseur, that lute-player, friend, philosopher, observer-of-seasons. We marvel at the vitality of his voice, nearly 1300 years later. We're BIG Du Fu fans!

  9. 4 out of 5

    pearl

    To Li Bai Autumn again and you and I are thistledown in the wind we haven't found what Ge Hong found-- the fabulous elixir that makes a man immortal I drink, I sing, my days are passed in vain poets are proud and disgraceful and nobody knows quite why. To Li Bai Autumn again and you and I are thistledown in the wind we haven't found what Ge Hong found-- the fabulous elixir that makes a man immortal I drink, I sing, my days are passed in vain poets are proud and disgraceful and nobody knows quite why.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    An outstanding collection of poems from a master poet.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Underground Junko

    these are nice poems :)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jim Coughenour

    Whenever I read the poets of the T'ang, I slip into a kind of reverie, losing myself inside the poem. Nothing exotic about this; I suspect it happens to most readers, but it's still remarkable when you consider that these poems are generally only a few lines long. Maybe it helps to be past a certain age too: these are poems of maturity and their beauty is indissoluble from loss, sorrow, melancholy – the sense of moments passing, bereft to us, evoked by a moon shining in black water or the sound Whenever I read the poets of the T'ang, I slip into a kind of reverie, losing myself inside the poem. Nothing exotic about this; I suspect it happens to most readers, but it's still remarkable when you consider that these poems are generally only a few lines long. Maybe it helps to be past a certain age too: these are poems of maturity and their beauty is indissoluble from loss, sorrow, melancholy – the sense of moments passing, bereft to us, evoked by a moon shining in black water or the sound of rain falling in the night. And, I should add, the "crazy" aspect of being alive, the scrape of futility. I laugh at myself—a madman growing older, growing madder. As a reader, I'd place Young's translations in the company of Burton Watson and David Hinton – although he mars his version of "Facing Snow" with the phrase "aging codger" – I can't picture codger belonging in any but a comic poem. My favorite translations (first love?) remain those of Kenneth Rexroth, who admittedly translates Du Fu's poems into his own, but still manages to convey their pure poetic otherness. The strength of this version is in its presentation - its sequence, exact commentary and unfussy, expressive phrasing. Here's Du Fu on New Year's Eve, drinking pepper wine: my life has started to race downhill, toward its evening and what is the use of caution the value of restraint? better to put my cares aside and just get drunk.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Simona Doneva

    Reading the collection and living through the life of Du Fu with it was a beautiful, humbling experience. For me the poems were like a travel journal, a political account of a the great Tang empire falling into chaos, and a personal diary filled with ambition, self-irony, disappointment, sensibility to the life of others and admiration for nature. Du Fu's work was for me like a window to China in this moment of history. I loved how he gave voices to the common people that suffered the political Reading the collection and living through the life of Du Fu with it was a beautiful, humbling experience. For me the poems were like a travel journal, a political account of a the great Tang empire falling into chaos, and a personal diary filled with ambition, self-irony, disappointment, sensibility to the life of others and admiration for nature. Du Fu's work was for me like a window to China in this moment of history. I loved how he gave voices to the common people that suffered the political turmoils of this period, how he described the greatness of landscape and personalised nature, and above all how he gave voice to his internal intense life and kept going. I really liked how the poemarium was organised. I know there are nuances lost in translation, but having a talk about it with a Chinese friend and comparing the English and Chinese versions of the poems gave me even more insights about the work.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mark Bruce

    Love those old Chinese poets, whose lives were so exotic that they talked about disappointments in career advancement and getting drunk, unlike the more sedate poetry of today. Some achingly lovely moments in this book. I don't speak or read Chinese, so I can't tell you f this is a good translation, but it's damned fine poetry. Love those old Chinese poets, whose lives were so exotic that they talked about disappointments in career advancement and getting drunk, unlike the more sedate poetry of today. Some achingly lovely moments in this book. I don't speak or read Chinese, so I can't tell you f this is a good translation, but it's damned fine poetry.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Richard Rogers

    When evaluating the impact of Tang era Chinese poetry in translation, it's hard for me to separate the poet and his poetry from the translator and his contribution. I do have an opinion of sorts (which I will dare to supply), but speaking first of my holistic take, I have to say that I found the collection as emotionally affecting as it is artistic, and I recommend it to any readers of poetry. This collection is subtitled "A Life in Poetry," and it succeeds on that level, as a sort of biography. When evaluating the impact of Tang era Chinese poetry in translation, it's hard for me to separate the poet and his poetry from the translator and his contribution. I do have an opinion of sorts (which I will dare to supply), but speaking first of my holistic take, I have to say that I found the collection as emotionally affecting as it is artistic, and I recommend it to any readers of poetry. This collection is subtitled "A Life in Poetry," and it succeeds on that level, as a sort of biography. The poetry is organized according to the distinct periods in the author's life, and that is augmented with general biographical information about his career, his moves, and his family. This works well together, as the poet inserts himself in much of his poetry; the political situation, his family life, his career, and his circumstances in general are prominent in these verses. Unusually for his time (as I am informed) he writes about his wife and children and their lives, reflecting on the way his success and failures, his traveling, his uncertain health, his drinking, and his ambition impact his family. Returning from a long posting away from home, he writes: ...thinking ahead to my wife trying to cope with this weather desperate to be with my family I arrive at last to learn my little son has died probably from sheer hunger and I stand and weep in the street the neighbors crowd round me, weeping my shame overwhelms me, a father who couldn't feed his family... He often writes about his friends visiting, drinking wine, and discussing poetry, and he writes about his hikes along the rivers, visiting monasteries, and seeking the quiet of the wilderness. All of this is normal for the time and expected. But then he mentions a sister who he has not seen in years, and writes about brothers who he learns have survived a breakout of war far away, and then he's back to his wife and children, revealing their sorrows after their rising fortunes have fallen again: Well, now I'm coming home from troubles of my own and with my hair gone white I wonder if they'll know me here's my wife at last wearing a much-patched dress crying to see me here sighing like wind in the pine trees sobbing uncontrollably like any tumbling brook and here's my boy, all pale, the jewel that crowns my life he turns his back to me ashamed of his own weeping I see his dirty feet he has no shoes or socks and there are my two daughters their clothes all patched as well too small for them, with images all crazy and mismatched a dragon and a phoenix turned upside down for mending... The pictures he paints of good times and bad times--of a life more fortunate than most but still filled with grief and difficulty--is so human that the distance between us and him is erased. We follow his career ups and downs and watch him as he grows old, losing friends, seeing too many wars, living long enough to learn that everything good eventually is taken away, and our participation in that life is heartbreaking and comforting at once. Du Fu shows a tendency toward liberal thought as he speaks up for the poor and their lot and describes the cruelty of war. He opposes the excess of the court, and he is so uncomfortably aware of his privileged state, even when passing through periods of poverty, that he connects more with the peasants in the country than the scholars and officials of his own class. A lot of his criticisms (surprising takes in a Confucianist society) could still be leveled at institutions today, which gives his poetry additional relevance. As far as the translation, and I speak as an absolute amateur in every way, it is, IMO, good enough. I mean no criticism by this, or not much. If the language isn't exciting, it also doesn't go too far. I might have liked it more if reworked with a little more poetic license, but no doubt that would bother other readers, so--good enough. Comparing poems here with those found in another collection, I'd have to say that they are simpler here, with plainer language, and I was a little disappointed, I'll admit. David Young's translation of "Song of the War Carts" in this volume: have you seen how the bones from the past lie bleached and uncollected near Black Lake? the new ghosts moan, the old ghosts moan-- we hear them at night, hear them in the rain. That's pretty awesome, but here are the same verses in a translation by Peter Harris: Haven't you seen By the shores of Kokonor Lake, The white bones from of old that no one's collected? The new ghosts, they complain and the old ghosts sob, Gibbering in the wet rain under a dull sky? I find the second more compelling, I'll admit. But perhaps that translator's taken more license with the text. I'm not sure. Still, to repeat myself--the translation here is good enough, and maybe that's the best we can hope for. The poet shines through, 1200 years on. His life, his thoughts, his concerns and fears and beliefs, are a gift to us, presented in clear language, with enough contextual aids to make sense of it where it might be difficult. This allows us to make a human connection, which is the art Du Fu excelled at. Recommended.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gregg

    A noble effort to present Du Fu as China's most important poet to contemporary English readers. Unfortunately it left me with a sense of: I guess you had to be there. I remained solidly in 21st century. A noble effort to present Du Fu as China's most important poet to contemporary English readers. Unfortunately it left me with a sense of: I guess you had to be there. I remained solidly in 21st century.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Therese Broderick

    A must-read volume for every poet or lover of poetry. Du Fu (China, AD 712 to 770) was the world's iconic poet of lyricism and humanism, writing during humanity's golden age of poetry. These translations are a labor of love. A must-read volume for every poet or lover of poetry. Du Fu (China, AD 712 to 770) was the world's iconic poet of lyricism and humanism, writing during humanity's golden age of poetry. These translations are a labor of love.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Derek

    From translations of Du Fu's poetry, Young creates a "life" of this T'ang Dynasty poet. From translations of Du Fu's poetry, Young creates a "life" of this T'ang Dynasty poet.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Maryann Corbett

    A wonderful introduction to the work of Du Fu. The introduction, acknowledgments, and notes are every bit as engrossing as the poems and they make me hungry to learn more.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    For those who think time travel isn’t possible, I recommend reading a modern translation of an ancient text. When done correctly, as in David Young’s translation of Du Fu: A Life In Poetry , books transport us through time and place us to ancient, almost forgotten, lands and make us feel like we are there, sitting beneath a sea of stars, listening to the music of crickets. Perhaps it’s because that experience is not so distant from us. We, too, marvel at the simple beauty of nature and the mys For those who think time travel isn’t possible, I recommend reading a modern translation of an ancient text. When done correctly, as in David Young’s translation of Du Fu: A Life In Poetry , books transport us through time and place us to ancient, almost forgotten, lands and make us feel like we are there, sitting beneath a sea of stars, listening to the music of crickets. Perhaps it’s because that experience is not so distant from us. We, too, marvel at the simple beauty of nature and the mysterious expanse of the universe. We feel longing, disappointment and we suffer, just like Du Fu. To read the thoughts of someone from 1300 years ago and have those thoughts resonate with us is nothing short of magical. Though the places have foreign names, the sentiments are universal. There is still a mild fear that We will have another thunderstorm Who knows what kind of future Providence has in store? Youth gives way as it must To the realities of age Joy and sadness take turns In a dance we don’t control.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cool_guy

    When I read Du Fu, it makes my head spin. He lived 1300 years ago, in a context so different from our own that it might as well have been a different planet, yet he feels the same fear, the same love, happiness, the same anxiety, that we do.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Donn Lee

    I needed this. A lovely collection of poems with great commentary. The translations have for the most part felt authentically Chinese, and was a magnificently organised book that really made me feel for Du Fu. At times I was close to tears myself, the pain coming through the poems so well.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    A pitilessly literal and un-poetic translation of a great poet -- in English, stick with Bynner or Hinton.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    Excellent poems, notes, and translation. It is augmented by the insightful footnotes.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Michael Vagnetti

    LIke hearing an oxidized bell awkwardly rung in a shambolic tunnel, this poetry's characteristics of being "ancient" and "translated" were experienced as elemental, but distant. Did I catch all of the words? Or was I hearing some other sound instead of the words? I might have been hearing my own voice when I should have been hearing the poet's. I'm not sure I yet understand how differently this book responds to "what poetry is for." Put another way, I haven't figured out the % mixture of ingredi LIke hearing an oxidized bell awkwardly rung in a shambolic tunnel, this poetry's characteristics of being "ancient" and "translated" were experienced as elemental, but distant. Did I catch all of the words? Or was I hearing some other sound instead of the words? I might have been hearing my own voice when I should have been hearing the poet's. I'm not sure I yet understand how differently this book responds to "what poetry is for." Put another way, I haven't figured out the % mixture of ingredients that make it up: grandeur, ego, religiosity, image, emotion, et cetera. There is something about the poetry that is almost stealthily understated, so that the "approach to life" is more important than "the words." At times, the attack is almost bland, mundane, but around it, oddly, are clods of husky awareness. As if poetry was not yet fetishized as something profound, commercial, exclusive.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Avi

    I guess it's historically important... As far as joy in reading it goes... I was tempted to give it two stars. Still... There were some poems in it I liked. I remember liking Song of the War Carts a lot. I also remember not liking *any* of his work prior to his son's death. He comes off as very petty and self-absorbed. Very into his feelings and his honor, and his blah blah blah (which would be somewhat okay if I felt like he cared about other people too, but I didn't until a certain point in th I guess it's historically important... As far as joy in reading it goes... I was tempted to give it two stars. Still... There were some poems in it I liked. I remember liking Song of the War Carts a lot. I also remember not liking *any* of his work prior to his son's death. He comes off as very petty and self-absorbed. Very into his feelings and his honor, and his blah blah blah (which would be somewhat okay if I felt like he cared about other people too, but I didn't until a certain point in the poems). He's a bit like that at times in the poems afterwards, but at least he sometimes has broader concerns... I generally enjoyed his poems about apathy (from his point of view, of the rich against the poor, from my point of view, about people who view others as other). Eight Gods of the Wine Cup was also pretty funny, "on drinks he drinks the way a whale takes in the ocean" and a good portrait of absurdity and hypocrisy.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tien Tran

    This sounds nothing like Du Fu! It's too chatty and colloquial, and there's too much editorializing that leaves the words and the poetry behind. I think the two best English-language introduction to Du Fu are William Hung's biographical anthology, Tu Fu: China's Greatest Poet, which contains wonderful prose translations, and David Hawkes' A Little Primer of Tu Fu, which is a great way to approach some of the best known poems in the original. A better alternative is David Hinton's The Selected Poem This sounds nothing like Du Fu! It's too chatty and colloquial, and there's too much editorializing that leaves the words and the poetry behind. I think the two best English-language introduction to Du Fu are William Hung's biographical anthology, Tu Fu: China's Greatest Poet, which contains wonderful prose translations, and David Hawkes' A Little Primer of Tu Fu, which is a great way to approach some of the best known poems in the original. A better alternative is David Hinton's The Selected Poems of Tu Fu, which also struggles to be faithful to the poet, but more successfully presents real poetry. The arrangement of this volume is derived from Hinton's volume.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    One challenge I have realized it that poetry is hard to check out from the library because it is difficult to not savor and think and slowly wind your way through a book of poetry. That being said this book was interesting for the footnotes and the added commentary about the poems as the poetry itself. I enjoyed the poetry somewhat but it didn't resonate too deeply for me a few good lines. I might pick it up at some used book store sometime to slowly wander through this poets life. One challenge I have realized it that poetry is hard to check out from the library because it is difficult to not savor and think and slowly wind your way through a book of poetry. That being said this book was interesting for the footnotes and the added commentary about the poems as the poetry itself. I enjoyed the poetry somewhat but it didn't resonate too deeply for me a few good lines. I might pick it up at some used book store sometime to slowly wander through this poets life.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chris Jones

    The thing that's both nice and frustrating about Chinese poetry is that you basically get a new book with each translation. This new, more spare interpretation of Du Fu's self deprecating odes to nature and getting wasted takes a bit of getting used to but is very relaxing and replenishing. Dude seemed like a really likable asshole The thing that's both nice and frustrating about Chinese poetry is that you basically get a new book with each translation. This new, more spare interpretation of Du Fu's self deprecating odes to nature and getting wasted takes a bit of getting used to but is very relaxing and replenishing. Dude seemed like a really likable asshole

  30. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Kass

    I wanted to read this slower, so I could luxuriate, but I also wanted to read fast so I could see all his poems. Good poems, and a nice way of laying them out and showing how the artist's life affected them. I wanted to read this slower, so I could luxuriate, but I also wanted to read fast so I could see all his poems. Good poems, and a nice way of laying them out and showing how the artist's life affected them.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...