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Expressing My Feelings About Historic Sites Through Five Verses (I)

Du, Fu (712-770 CE)

The flame of war burned Middle China into pieces.
I led a wandering life in Southwestern China.
I stayed in the towers by the Three River Gorges 1
And shared the misty mountains with local tribes near the Five Creeks 2.
The generals of Mongolian origins 3 were not loyal to China.
I lament that the chaotic aftermath 4 does not allow me to return home.
The life of Xin Yu was tragic 5.
His poems written during his late life 6 moved the emotions of people in river ports 7.

1 "The Three River Gorges" are Ju-tang Gorge, Wu Gorge and Xi-ling Gorge. They are located in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.

2 "The Five Creeks" were Xiong Creek, Man Creek, Wu Creek, You Creek and Chen Creek. The Annotations of the Book of Rivers says, "The local tribes lived in the area among the creeks. They rubbed bark into threads, dyed with plant dyes, loved colorful clothes, and attached a tail to their clothes."

3 "The generals of Mongolian origins" refers to Lu-shan An, Si-ming Shi, and Huai-en Pu-gu, etc.

4 "The chaotic aftermath" refers to the period after the rebellion led by Lu-shan An and Si-ming Shi was crushed.

5 The essay "The Biography of Xin Yu" in The History of the Kingdom of Zhou says, "Zi-an was Xin Yu's alternate first name. At first he served the King of the Kingdom of Liang. He was promoted to the position of Right General of Defense and made Duke of Wu-kang-xian. During the rebellion led by Jing Hou, Xin Yu went to Jiang-ling City for shelter. He was sent to the Kingdom of West Wei as an envoy. The King of Western Wei detained him for twenty-seven years. Although Xin Yu was offered a high-ranking position in Western Wei, he missed his hometown very much. He wrote 'Lament for the Area South of the Yangtze River' to express his deep feelings." Here Fu Du said that his feelings were the same as Xin Yu's because both of them could not return home for a long period of time.

6 Xin Yu was a famous writer when he was young. He and Ling Xu enjoyed equal popularity in the Kingdom of Liang. During his detention in Western Wei, his poems became mature, strong, and vigorous rather than remaining flowery. Fu Du praised him by saying, "Xin Yu's poems became seasoned and full of vigor as he matured./ While his lofty thoughts moved about with great ease,/ His writing brush flies freely as though it might soar to the skies."

7 "River ports" refers to the ports by the Yangtze River.