“Spring Gaze,” by Du Fu
Back to China: 600 to 1000

In this presentation of “Spring Gaze” by Du Fu (712-770), often considered China’s greatest poet, viewers can see the Chinese characters, the romanization for each character, the English meaning of each character, and a literary English translation of the poem.
Text of Spring Gaze

Note: Chinese is a tonal language, with two inflected tones and two level tones. The + and - signs following the romanized Chinese words indicate inflected (+) and level (-) tones. Tang poets followed elaborate rules governing the tonal patterns of words in their poetry. For more on the four tones, see the AFE unit The Chinese Language.

The background, forms, and content of Tang poetry are discussed in the AFE video unit on Tang Poetry. “Spring Gaze” is a “regulated verse,” a form developed by the Tang poet Wang Wei (701-761). This form is discussed in detail in the AFE video unit on Wang Wei.

Acknowledgment: Pauline Yu, translator and calligrapher. Professor Yu is professor and founding chair of the department of East Asian languages and literatures at the University of California, Irvine. This presentation of “Spring Rain” by Du Fu appears in Masterworks of Asian Literature in Comparative Perspective, Barbara Stoler Miller, editor (M.E. Sharpe, 1994). Reproduced with permission.
Back to China: 600 to 1000
© 2009 Asia for Educators, Columbia University | http://afe.easia.columbia.edu