Du Fu, the "Poet Sage"-Sequel І
Du Fu (712-770) has enjoyed similar popularity to Li Bai; and the two are often ranked side by side in the history of Chinese poetry. Du Fu lived long enough to experience the decline of the Tang Dynasty, as it fell from its greatest heights. His poems mirrored the reality, people's misery, therefore, he was a great realistic poet.
Du Fu was precociously gifted. It was said that he had been able to compose poems from the age of 7. At age 14 to 15, he "came into contact with literary circles," socializing or exchanging works with men of letters. In 736, for the lst time in his life, Du Fu took the imperial examination, with the hope of obtaining the academic title of jinshi but failed. After that, he became contemptuous of the practice of vying for success in imperial examinations, and embarked on a journey of the plains lying across Shandong and Hebei provinces. At that time, his father happened to be the Simac2] of Yanzhou Prefecture, and Du Fu spent between four and five "pleasant" years there, leaving us his earliest extant poems:
"Ascending the Gate Tower of Yanzhou," "On a Painting of a Vulture:' "A Hu Horse - to General Fang," among others. Of these, "Mountain Viewing" is the masterpiece, the final line becoming one of the best-known of all time: "I resolve to climb up to the summit / when all the other peaks around look insignificant" - revealing the extraordinary aspirations of the poet still in his teens.
Later on, Du Fu spent ten years in Chang'an, acquiring a deep understanding of the decadence of the ruling class and their ugly traits, as well as the hardships of the impoverished folk. His poems in this period include: "22 Lines to His Excellency Wei," "Soldiers and Chariots upon Departure," "Fair Ladies," "A Lyric of 500 Characters - Trip from the Capital to Fengxian County," and other masterpieces.
In the llth month of 755, An Lushan rose in rebellion in Fanyang. In the 12th month, the rebels seized Luoyang; and in the 6th month of the following year, they stormed through Tongguan Pass. Emperor Xuanzong fled to Sichuan, and Chang'an fell. At that time, Du Fu and his family were on a journey up to Sanchuan from Fengxian (today's Pucheng, Shanxi Province).