Tu Fu

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Tu Fu

(do͞o fo͞o), 712–70, Chinese poet. In Pinyin, his name is romanized as Du Fu. Tu Fu is often considered the greatest of Chinese poets. He did not pass the imperial civil service examinations and, although he held a few official positions for brief periods, he spent many poverty-stricken years as a wanderer. His poetry expresses his bitterness concerning his life. It laments the corruption and cruelty that prevailed at court and the sufferings of the poor. Tu Fu's work is pervaded by an ironic awareness of spiritual and social decay, yet maintains humor and a sense of hope. His autobiography was translated (1929–34) by Florence Ayscough.


See biographies by W. Hung (2 vol., 1952) and A. R. Davis (1971); Li Po and Tu Fu, ed. and tr. by A. Cooper (1973).

Tu Fu


Born in 712, in Kung District, Hunan Province; died in 770. Chinese poet.

Tu Fu was the son of an official. He traveled widely in China and knew the life of the people well. He was close to Li Po. In his poems “Song of the Fighting Chariots” and “On a March Beyond the Great Wall” (750’s), Tu Fu protested against the ruinous wars that were being waged by the government. His “Song of a Beauty” ridicules the dissolute life of courtiers. In his poem “What Was in My Soul When I Set Off From the Capital to Fenghsien” (755) he expressed the dream of equality between people. In “Song of a Young Man” he condemned the self-interest of officials. During the feudal revolt of An Lu-shan, he fled from the capital, saving himself from the invaders. In his verses of that period, Tu Fu wrote about the defeat of the T’ang army and the suffering of the people. His cycles of accusatory verses, Three Rulers and Three Partings, achieved wide renown. The poet spent the last years of his life wandering and died in solitude and poverty. Tu Fu was a master of lyrical landscape poetry and extolled the joy of man’s union with nature (“Spring Waters,” “I Rise Early,” and others). The verses of Tu Fu had a tremendous influence on the development of the poetry of the entire Far East. In China he was called “the coryphaeus of poetry.”


Tu Shao-ling chi hsiang chu, vols. 1-4, Peking, 1955.
In Russian translation:
Stikhotvoreniia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962.


Serebriakov, E. A. Du Fu: Kritiko-biogmficheskii ocherk. Moscow, 1958.
Feng Chi. Tu Fu chuan. Peking, 1953.
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