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Mike James: Tu Fu, In Exile, In Middle Age

calm lake a mirror to the mountains

at the center a fisherman’s boat rests


tu fu, so long away from the capital,

envies the fisherman and his net


wife crying in another room

not a bowl of rice in the house


not one persimmon for the children

of course, no wine for late hours alone


he wishes for a gift or a letter

drinks water from his gourd cup


the mountains are large, but no closer

that fisherman always works alone


Authors note: Tang Dynasty poet Tu Fu (712 – 770) worked as a government official for various Chinese emperors. On several occasions he fell out of favor and was sent into exile where he lived in great poverty and loneliness. During one of those exiles, his son died from sickness brought on by malnutrition. I actually wrote the poem shortly after the election thinking about how the ancient Chinese poets responded with calm to the many invasions, plagues, droughts and wars.


Copyright 2017 Mike James


Poet Tu Fu (Du Fu)

Tu Fu (712 – 770)

One comment on “Mike James: Tu Fu, In Exile, In Middle Age

  1. triciaknoll
    May 16, 2017

    Thank you, Mike, for this poem.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on May 16, 2017 by in Poetry, Social Justice and tagged , .

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