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WANG WEI (699-761)

LI BO (701-762)

China during Du Fu's Time:
The An Lushan Rebellion
Xuanzong, the Tang emperor also known as Ming Huan (enlghtened emperor), reigned from 713-756 and was patron to Wang Wei, Li Bo, and Du Fu. In mid-reign, he fell in love Yang Guifei, the wife of his eighteenth son, and she then became his favorite consort. It was the struggle for power between Yang Guifei's brother and a general named An Lushan that caused the latter to rebel in 755 and occupy the capital, Chang'an. The fleeing Xuanzong could not make his soldiers fight back until he agreed to the execution of Yang Guifei and her brother. This turbulent but romantic story is a well-known favorite in Chinese history.

Stephen Owen :: Du Fu is associated with Confucianism perhaps because he is yet another version of the poet of the Classic of Poetry, the Shi Jing, bearing witness to history.

In his case, the history he bore witness to was the An Lushan rebellion, in which An Lushan, who was a half Chinese, half Sogdian general, who commanded all the northeastern armies, because of political bickering with the minister in the capital, rebelled against the dynasty.

And with surprising quickness, the dynasty's armies collapsed. An Lushan came down, took Loyang and then moved on the road west from Loyang to Chang'an, the capital. The imperial armies collapsed in front of him.

Robert Oxnam :: As An Lushan laid siege to the capital, the Tang emperor Xuanzong, along with his famous concubine, Yang Guifei, was forced to flee and abdicate in favor of his son.

Du Fu fled also with his family, then attempted to make his way back to join the exiled court of the new emperor. The rebels captured Du Fu, however, and held him prisoner in Chang'an.

Paul Rouzer :: During this time, Du Fu wrote a large number of very powerful poems, most of them expressing his sorrow about his separation from his family, his fear for the Tang dynasty, and his sympathy over the destruction and anguish caused to the Chinese people by the results of the war and the rebellion.