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).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
As Hung clearly points out, the general theme of his monograph is "Tu Fu's life and time, interpreted according to my understanding and appreciation and illustrated with my translation of 374 of his poems" (China's Greatest Poet 12).
Charles quietly, quietly walked under the bamboo and plum trees outside Tu Fu's cottage.
The original "Autumn Inspirations" were of course the eight poems written by Tu Fu toward the end of his life, in which he meditates on the dark days following the rebellion of An Lu-shan, which almost brought down the T'ang dynasty in the middle of the eighth century.
A quick perusal of the Permissions List gives evidence of choices as old as the 8th-century Confucian poet Tu Fu ("Random Pleasures: Nine Quatrains") to poems and essays published by contemporary American writers in 2005.
When I'm trying to figure out what Tu Fu has to say, I have to kind of impersonate Tu Fu.
After all, Rexroth had published three collections of translations of Chinese poetry and been a lifelong enthusiast of the T'ang master Tu Fu. Why not, then, elaborate on Ferlinghetti's image and argue that Rexroth's entire canon represents an attempt to slough off the materialism of the West for the mystical traditions of the East?
So we can only speculate on the Chinese whisper that one wife told police she liked her sexy new man, Wan Hung Lo, better than her old alcoholic husband, Tu Fu Tu Woo.
Second, Goebel examines Kafka's letters to Felice Bauer (particularly those of 1912 and 1913), highlighting references and possible allusions to Yuan Mei, Li Po and Tu Fu. Third, he investigates the 'intertextual affiliations' of the short story 'The Great Wall of China' (1917).
Among the most famous poets are Wang Wei, Li Po, Tu Fu, Po Chu-i, Li Ho, and Li Shang-yin.
For instance, where one poem reads, in translation, "Daily life / began with an epic ended in tragedy," the original reads, "The tragedy of daily life / beginning with an epic ending in mediocrity." At times, the translation process has created odd effects, such as one poem in which "Tu Fu lies on the operation table / waiting for a sex change," where in the original he awaits an unspecified "excision, once and for all." Whether one sees these introduced resonances as enrichment, alteration, or new creation depends on perspective.
If Tu Fu were an Episcopal genius from Tennessee, he might have written these poems.