Proverbs and Poems in Winter Solstice
By Du Fu (Tang Dynasty)
Every year, I pass the winter solstice alone in a foreign land,
Every day, I suffer from depression and sorrow.
In this place, I am the poorest and oldest one.
Everywhere in the world, families get together this day.
With my walking stick, I climb on the hill to watch the snowy scenery,
Imagining myself in jade, leaving the palace after meeting with the Emperor.
About the poet:
Du Fu (Chinese: 杜甫, 712–770) was a prominent Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty. Along with Li Bai (Li Bo), he is frequently called the greatest of the Chinese poets. His greatest ambition was to serve his country as a successful civil servant, but he proved unable to make the necessary accommodations. His life, like the whole country, was devastated by the An Lushan Rebellion of 755, and his last 15 years were a time of almost constant unrest.
Although initially he was little known to other writers, his works came to be hugely influential in both Chinese and Japanese literary culture. Of his poetic writing, nearly fifteen hundred poems have been preserved over the ages. He has been called the "Poet-Historian" and the "Poet-Sage" by Chinese critics, while the range of his work has allowed him to be introduced to Western readers as "the Chinese Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Shakespeare, Milton, Burns, Wordsworth, Béranger, Hugo or Baudelaire".
Most of what is known of Du Fu’s life comes from his poems. His paternal grandfather was Du Shenyan, a noted politician and poet during the reign of Empress Wu. He was born in 712; his birthplace is unknown, except that it was near Luoyang, Henan province (Gong county is a favorite candidate). Later in his life, he considered himself to belong to the capital city of Chang'an, the ancestral hometown of the Du family.
Du Fu's mother died shortly after he was born, and he was partially raised by his aunt. He had an elder brother, who died young. He also had three half brothers and one half sister, to whom he frequently refers in his poems, although he never mentions his stepmother.
Every piece of my heart is breaking,
I have lost the way to the capital.