The thin grass feels the breeze on the shore;
The tall mast looms over my lonely boat tonight.
The stars hang over the field's expanse;
The moon 2 pushes the mighty river's flow.
Do I write poetry for fame?
Perhaps I should retire because I am old and sick 3.
As I lead a wandering life in this small boat,
I feel like a lonely gull circling in the dark sky.
1 Du never passed the Advanced Exam, but the emperor appointed him to
a position in his court. Later, he became a consultant of Governor Yan. Du wrote
1440 poems that reflected the contemporary social life broadly and deeply. His
poems excelled in the classic form, varied in style, and featured tranquility,
sorrow and frustration. Many Chinese scholars valued Du's work highly and felt
that his poetry combined the merits of past generations and became the pioneer
work for later generations. It can be said that Du's work had a far-reaching
influence on the development of Chinese poetry.
2 The moon refers to the reflected image of the moon in water.
3 Du's colleagues were envious of his fame and hated that it put them into obscurity. Du was under pressure to resign his position. Here Du tries to explain that he writes poetry for a mission: pursuing truth, virtue and beauty. However, his colleagues could not understand his vision. Consequently, he found an excuse to resign.