Tu Fu

Tu Fu (712–770) was a Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty. His poetry prominently features themes of morality and history, and is known for its adherence to strict structural forms. Tu Fu lived during the devastating An Lushan Rebellion and this experience was reflected in his later work.

The Selected Poems of Tu Fu

Poetry by Tu Fu

Translated by David Hinton

Tu Fu (712–770 C.E.) has for a millennium been widely considered the greatest poet in the Chinese tradition, and Hinton’s original translation played a key role in developing that reputation in America. Most of Tu Fu’s best poems were written in the last decade of his life, as an impoverished refugee fleeing the devastation of civil war. In the midst of these challenges, his always personal poems manage to combine a remarkable range of possibilities: elegant simplicity and great complexity, everyday life and grand historical drama, private philosophical depth and social engagement in a world consumed by war.…
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Hinton’s austerely beautiful translations assume that Chinese classical poetry cannot be severed from philosophy. His translations have always gone against the grain. He has been building, translation by translation, an English language for a Chinese conceptual world. His versions get closest to what makes Du Fu sublime for Chinese readers.
—Madeleine Thien, New York Review of Books
The greatest non-epic, non-dramatic poet who has survived in any language.
—Kenneth Rexroth
Tu Fu said ‘A poet’s ideas are noble and simple.’ But Tu Fu does not seem so simple to us. His richly-layered work is well represented in these crisp translations. The background notes are invaluable. One of the world’s finest poets is made available here.
—Gary Snyder
The greatest non-epic, non-dramatic poet who has survived in any language.
—Kenneth Rexroth
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