T of C
|Personal||email me search me|
|An old depiction of Du Fu 1|
Biographies of Du Fu like to place his poetry into three distinctive periods of his life, not including his childhood. He was born in Henan,5 but his cultured family had its roots in Jingzhao, a region which included the Tang capital, Chang-An.6 During his first productive period, from about 731 to 745, he traveled, mostly in eastern China, though he also went to capital Chang'an, where he failed the Imperial Examinations. From 745 to 759 he lived in or near the capital, finally passing the Exam in 753. After the rebellion of An Lushan in 755, but during its extension by Shi Siming from 757 to 763, Du Fu moved west, spending his third period, 757 - 770, mostly in Gansu, Sichuan and Hunan provinces. Best-known is the period at his thatched cottage in Chengdu.7 He died in Changsha.8
Du Fu as a poet was so prolific that, although many of his poems were lost, almost 1,500 survive. At least 20 of these poems mention the qin.9 However, the collection of qin poems in Qinshu Daquan seems to have only one these:11
Other relevant poems which have been translated include the following,
Lyrics by Du Fu have been used for several qin songs, including,
Xu Jian, Chapter 6 discusses his lyrics later borrowed by Wen Tianxiang.22
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)
|1. Images||Three more images of Du Fu (enlarge)|
杜甫 Du Fu (712-770)
14796.79 style name 子美 Zimei; nickname 少陵野老 shao ling ye lao
4. Collections of his poems in translation include:
Online the translations of Du Fu by L. Cranmer Bing, Lute of Jade, include one called A Night of Song that mentions lute-strings. Perhaps this refers to qin.
By modern 巩義，康店鎮 Kangdian district of
Gongyi, south of the Yellow River between Luoyang and Zhengzhou.
京兆 Jingzhao. His clan was particularly associated with 杜陵 Duling, in the southern part of Jingzhao, and 少陵 Shaoling, within Duling. There is a grave there said to be his, though he died in 潭州 Tanzhou (Changsha), where there is also a grave.
The thatched cottage is now a major tourist site in Chengdu.
Then called 潭州 Tanzhou. There is a grave site north of here in 岳陽市平江縣小田村 Pingjiang, near Yueyang, now being
See Ronald Egan, Music, Sadness and the Qin, HJAS 57, p.53. Compare
Bai Juyi, over 160.
See QQJC, Vol V,
Folio 18 to 20
Qin Terrace also mentions
Feng Qiu Huang
Full title: 《絕句漫興九首（其三）》Nine Quatrains Written on Impulse
There are at least three translations of all nine quatrains
Irving Y. Lo, in Sunflower Splendor, pp. 134-136.
Wu Juntao, op.cit, see p.134 (qin translated as "lute").
Arthur Cooper, op.cit, see p.199.
Only the third (or fourth according to Cooper) mentions qin. The original poem is,
Cooper translates qin as
"lute", but adds explanation. He also translates the title "Wandering Breezes, #4 of Nine Short Songs", saying that what others consider the ninth verse is clearly the first, making this the fourth verse instead of the third.
夜燕左氏莊 Evening Feast at Zuo's Manor
The complete poem is,
Translated in Wu Juntao, op.cit, see p.46; qin translated as "lute". Minford and Lau, p.808, have "zither".
Firefly Glow (螢火 Ying Huo)
David Hinton, op.cit, p.89, translates the poem as "Watching Fireflies". There is also a translation in David Young, Five T'ang Poets.
The original Chinese text is:
16. David Hinton, op.cit, p.98. The original Chinese text is:
Hinton translates "qin" as "koto", a Japanese instrument like the Chinese 古箏 guzheng.
Full title: 風疾舟中伏枕書懷（三十六韻奉呈湖南親友; 1618）
David Hinton, op.cit, p.112, translates parts of this poem, which consists of 36 rhyming couplets ([5+5] x 36). The poem begins,
No known complete translations.
和賈舍人早朝 He Jia Sheren Zao Zhao (Echoing Chancellery Secretary Jia Zhi's Poem on a Morning Levee; 1573)
This poem by Du Fu (full title 和賈舍人早朝大明宮之作) is set for qin in a qin handbook published in 1573 (see in ToC). There it is actually titled Intonation for Poetry (詩吟 Shi Yin), but the preface there writes that the melody was actually designed to go with pretty much any melody in the form (7+7)x4. My recording and transcription are linked here.
Other possibilities for such pairing are linked here.
杜甫，飲中八仙歌 Du Fu, Song of Eight Drinking Immortals; 1618
The yinzhong baxian of the title can also be translated as the Eight Immortal Drinkers, the Eight Immortals while Drinking, Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup, Eight Immortals Indulged in Wine, etc. "Immortals" here is consciously metaphorical and the Eight Immortal Drinkers (45037.3) are not to be confused with, for example, the Eight Immortals. Du Fu apparently originated the appellation, which was again used in Li Bai's original official biography. The poem was later copied by some well-known calligraphers, and it can also be found as a theme in painting in both China and Japan.
The Eight Immortal Drinkers were as follows:
One can find a Song of Eight Drinking Immortals on some old lists of ancient qin melody titles, such as this one, but actual tablature survives only from the qin handbook Lixing Yuanya.
Lixing Yuanya (VIII/290; 1618; see tablature) sets Du Fu's lyrics of this title to a melody that uses a very rare non-standard tuning (seventh string raised a whole tone, meaning most players would instead have to lower the other six strings). These lyrics (i.e., Du Fu's poem) are as follows (see also in Chinese Wiki):
The fourth line of the poem describes 崔宗之 Cui Zongzhi as follows: "A young genius of great beauty. Lifting his cup, he proudly gazes at the blue sky. His features are pure white, like a jade tree caught in a breeze." (Translation from Regina Krahl, Clarissa Von Spee, Chinese ceramics from the Gulexuan collection.) The phrase "jade tree caught in a breeze" (yushu lin feng) was later used as the title of another qin melody, 玉樹臨風 Yushu Lin Feng (21298.742 玉樹 Yushu quotes this poem but omits a phrase so that it reads, "宗之瀟灑美少年，皎如玉樹臨風前"); the dictionary entries make no mention of music. And although this reference suggests that "jade tree in a breeze" describes the appearance of a handsome person, later (modern) introductions to the melody of that name may ignore this and say it actually describes a beautiful tree.
杜甫 Du Fu, 兵車行 Bing Che Xing (original tablature; 1618)
"Song of the War-Chariots": Li Xing Yuan Ya (1618) has a 5-string melody set to and named after this famous poem by Du Fu. It divides the lyrics into three sections, as follows:
Often translated, e.g., here.
Early Morning Intonation (早朝吟 Zao Zhao Yin; 1664)
This is a piece in three sections. Each section sets for qin a poem in the form (7+7) x 4, with the second poem being by Du Fu. Details are here
The story concerns Wang Yuanliang and Wen Tianxiang meeting in prison shortly before Wen's execution.
Return to Biographies, or to the Guqin ToC.