This poem was written by Du Fu who is considered to be one of China’s greatest poets of the Tang dynasty.
Du Fu was born to a minor scholar-official in Henan Province. His mother died while he was young, and an aunt helped raised him.
Du Fu is often described as a poet-historian, and his works convey the emotional impact and import of political and social issues and register a range of private concerns, trials, and dramas. His poems are remarkable for their range of moods as well as contents.
Alan and I worked on the translation together on this piece. You may read more of Alan’s translation work on Chinese, Spanish poetry, own poetry and essays here.
After the battle, we mourn for the dead;
I’m old and alone, grief filling my head.
Dark, ominous clouds are filtering down;
The cold wind and snow are swirling around.
There is no wine left in the calabash bowl,
But the stove is still hot from the smoldering coal.
The news cannot reach us from our dearest kin;
I sit down to write, but I cannot begin.