Home > 1. Famous Poems > Du Fu–“From the Watchtower”

Du Fu–“From the Watchtower”

Image

*

I first heard about Du Fu (712-770) from a poetry buddy of mine, a wandering troubadour. As I started to read his work in translation, I found his words a bit journalistic–and certainly different from the work of other T’ang Dynasty Chinese poets. On reflection, that makes sense: Du Fu is by common consent the best poet China has ever produced. In a poetic tradition as rich as China’s, that is no small honor, and translating a poet as gifted as Du Fu into English requires no small skill (and plain old patience and luck).

A reputation like that is hard for RT to resist, so below I’m posting a first attempt at translating one of Du Fu’s pieces, written towards the end of his life.

*

From the Watch Tower

*

Time’s ovation, the year decamps to autumn–

frost, then snow, gleams in the immense night.

Bugles blare, summoning a profane regiment,

and men fall in; stars climb above the heights.

*

Now sobbing fills the gorge as battle rages,

mingled with raucous song, exultation in death.

Our armies, crouching dragon and leaping horse, crumble–

scatter our words on water; in silence, a depth.

**

Copyright: 2012, The Rag Tree

***

Image: Landscapes Inspired by Du Fu’s Poetry, Wang Shamin (1592-1680); WikiCmns; Public Domain

*.

Advertisements
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: