Customer Reviews


9 Reviews
5 star:
 (9)
4 star:    (0)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 
Most Helpful First | Newest First

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First reading of Du Fu, in any language., March 20, 2009
By 
Julie Vognar "Julie" (Berkeley, California United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Du Fu: A Life in Poetry (Paperback)
It is most of a life in poetry--and occasionally, pictures from that life that are startling, both for their strangeness and their familiarity. How much do we know of the the private feelings of a man from 8th century China? David Young ties the story together, with his translation, and his references to people, places, times, and the translators who have gone before him. (All my comments around the three poems are either his, or inspired by his).

Du Fu has already failed the Imperial exam, already met Li Bai, whose poetry he loves, and thinks, but restlessly, of becoming a hermit-poet. At thirty, he looks at a painting--with the eyes of a young man(how many old Chinese paintings can we see today with "white" silk? How many--fragments-- that anyone could have seen in 742?):

Memorable portrait
of a falcon

the white silk
gives off wind and frost

is he watching fiercely
for a rabbit?

angry foreigner
he looks at me askance

he has a chain and ring
ready to unfasten

I could almost
take him off his perch

send him out to find
some of those little larks

scatter blood and feathers
on the prairie.

*

Five years before the An-Lushan rebellion (755), the border fighting which--partly-- inspired it was already underway:

...tax gatherers go back and forth
but where will the taxes come from?

it makes us question whether
there's any sense in having sons

daughters can marry neighbors
boys seem born to die in foreign weeds

have you seen how the bones from the past
lie bleached and uncollected near Black Lake?

the new ghosts moan, the old ghosts moan--
we hear them at night, hear them in the rain.

*

Trapped, as a loyalist in the capital at Chang'an (756-58) Du Fu writes a poem for his wife---perhaps the first to show romantic attachment to a wife--most expressions of affection were written to male companions and courtesans:

Tonight
in this same moonlight

my wife is alone at her window
in Fuzhou

I can hardly bear
to think of my children

too young to understand
why I can't come to them

her hair
must be damp from the mist

her arms
cold jade in the moonlight

when will we stand together
by those slack curtains

while the moonlight dries
the tear-streaks on our faces?

*

There is poverty, pride of brief ownership, the joys of reading and writing poetry, old age (which seems to begin at about 40!), and many other facets of his life here. I don't know why I chose these three...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Du Fu Translation, March 14, 2009
By 
Louis Petrillo (West Haven, CT USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Du Fu: A Life in Poetry (Paperback)
I've been reading translations of Du Fu's poetry since my undergraduate days when I bought a copy of _ The White Pony _ at my college's bookstore. Since then I've read innumerable translations: Kenneth Rexroth, Burton Watson, William Hinton, Sam Hamill, Red Pine, and who knows how many others. This is the finest of the lot since Rexroth. Already I plan to use one of the poems for a eulogy of a dear friend who's very ill. My only complaint is that he doesn't include the Chinese originals.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Du Fu shall thank Mr. David Young!, August 8, 2010
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Du Fu: A Life in Poetry (Paperback)
Oh, mine! Du Fu in his life time never was praised and respected with such attention, even though he (my idol) deserved all the praise!
A Poet's Biography and his Poetry in one booklet in picturical and musical English!
This is the best way to honor a poet, and all of English poems of Du Fu, that I always telling myself that poetry can be translated when I become a part of that poet, and what's better than a bio and poems on every page in the order of years (timeline). David Young is awesome poet and I can feel how much life he spends to just meditate with the words of Du Fu, I am a Chinese and American too, I could recite most beautiful verses of Tang and Song poets, I have so many poetry dictionaries that categorized by topic, object, style, scene, image... but I have not seen a lot of poet's bio and poems in 'one', but Mr. Young created something new for poets. This way readers may understand the poet more, why he writes curtain poem and how he feels at that moment in his life, and the same journey we are guided by this.
This book is must buy! and Mr. Young's Five Tang Poets too!
If our parent is smart, then we must give our teenage children this book and along some others, these poets are the best teachers in human history, because they condense their life and soul into a few beautiful words that we can obtain the lesson of art, wisdom and humanity thru all the natural English poems. And this translation, all the poems are natural as Chinese aesthetic standard, Natural (Zi Ran ''''the highest standard for art or skill, which the thought and character and action of a person harmoniously meld into one with nature and society, and Wang Wei, Li Po, Du Fu... and many are all natural, and now Mr. David Young's translation and a few other awesome Chinese poetry translators mastered their words and feeling and thought to be natural with my idol Chinese poets, and I guess poets are all stream into the source, the one source, and that's where they all come from. And I believe all these translators are going something great right now, and future will praise them forever!
I hope someone would publish my poems and a short bio in one booklet after I am with all the great poets, oh, so happy about my idol and so much envy too!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Du Fu Lives!, September 12, 2009
This review is from: Du Fu: A Life in Poetry (Paperback)
This book is a wonderful combination: part poetry, part biography. The biographical writing is clean and crisp, the translations read well in English. A great addition to the library of anyone interested in one of the great Chinese poets.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars China's greatest poet lived through history's greatest collapse, September 8, 2009
This review is from: Du Fu: A Life in Poetry (Paperback)
In 754 China had a very wet, cold year and much of the grain rotted in the fields. In 755 a general in charge of northeast China rebelled against the emperor who had been preoccupied with his mistress and not paying enough attention to administration. A year later the emperor's troops made him watch as the concubine was strangled. The census before the rebellion counted 53 million Chinese. Ten years later after the rebellion was put down, the next census counted 17 million. If these numbers are right, 36 million people, two out of three Chinese, did not survive, probably the worst collapse of a human society in history in terms of numbers and percentage. Some of Du Fu's poems give us a window to what it was like to live through such an appalling disaster.

In a long life in poetry, Du Fu captured many emotions and scenes--friendship, happy alcohol drinking, family life, nature, social injustice, political maneuvering. Du Fu saw and wrote it all down with economical language that captured the essence of his world. Translating Chinese poetry presents a huge challenge--the quality of the result has a lot to do with the translator. A little book called "15 translations of a poem by Wang Wei" (another Tang Dynasty poet) shows how the Chinese use of allusions and metaphor allow many different English versions, some more poetic, reflecting the poetic abilities, depth of knowledge and biases of the translator. Gary Snyder and Burton Watson are my favorite translators. But this book is pretty good. These English poems kind of get the job done, rendering the meaning with some grace and beauty and the openness to interpretation where a great poet allows us to draw our own meaning from the elusive words.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Treasure from the T'ang, March 5, 2014
By 
Sye Sye (Perth, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Du Fu: A Life in Poetry (Paperback)
Du Fu: A Life in Poetry is a wonderful emotionally poetic narrative of of the times surrounding the An Lushan Rebellion. Du Fu wrote heartfelt poems about his life, family, current events and his internal philosophical battles. David Young has produced translations that are a model of brevity and simplicity. I read it like a gripping emotional narrative of Du Fu's life. I love this book as much as In Such Hard Times: The Poetry of Wei Ying-wu.

The feel and lay out of the print version are lovely and simple also. If you love Tang poetry, or just Du Fu, I doubt you will be disappointed. Try out Red Pine's Wei Ying-wu also.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars and shortly after I read Kenneth Rexroth’s beautiful renderings in his 100 POEMS FROM THE CHINESE (New ..., November 20, 2014
This review is from: Du Fu: A Life in Poetry (Paperback)
TRACKING DU FU. My introduction to Du Fu (or Tu Fu, as his name was then transliterated) was in Robert Payne’s charming and still valuable anthology THE WHITE PONY (John Day, 1947), a text in my first course in Oriental literature at school in the early seventies; and shortly after I read Kenneth Rexroth’s beautiful renderings in his 100 POEMS FROM THE CHINESE (New Directions). Both books spoke of Du Fu as the great master, not just of the poetic efflorescence of the T’ang Dynasty, but perhaps of Chinese poetry. This mountain-peak reputation seems to have been resistant to all changes of taste and style; the loftier levels of his work are reportedly just as resistant to translation, his easy and varied perfection of expression as much the bane of such attempts as the beauties of Racine and Baudelaire. Some of his accomplishments can be enumerated or explained: the new tragically personal note he brought to Chinese verse, the vivid and tough realism, the vast mastery both of theme and prosody; Du Fu, said one critic, “could do all the things that present-day poets do only singly.” But other qualities, of Du Fu as man and as poet, translators must seek to express within the verse. William Hung wrote that Du Fu “appeared to be a filial son, an affectionate father, a generous brother, a faithful husband, a loyal friend, a dutiful official, and a patriotic subject.” As Rexroth has pointed out, the number of writers who owe their reputation to their personal characters are not many. But to experience the truth of Du Fu’s poetic reputation we must be convinced of his goodness as well as his poetic gifts. Tall order.
One of the limitations of anthology choices of Du Fu is that we read them without context—isolated jewels. As the presentation of his work in English has grown, we’ve come to know more of Du Fu’s life and of his historic background—the disruptions and dangers of the period of the An-Lu Shan Rebellion in the eighth century. David Hawkes’s A LITTLE PRIMER OF TU FU (Oxford, 1967) is a fine study of the language and technique of the poems. Florence Ayscough’s two-volume work (Houghton Mifflin, 1929) was an ambitious early attempt at both translation and biography and is still worth reading. William Hung’s TU FU: China’s Greatest Poet (Harvard, 1952) is a historical study with prose renderings—not an easy or inexpensive book to get hold of, alas. David Hinton and Burton Watson have both done book-length selections in chronological order and biographical notes. I suspect that many of the technical marks of Du Fu’s verse in the original—end-stop lines in particular, strict parallelisms—are particularly resistant to contemporary poetics and may best be approached with a free hand. David Young in his recent DU FU: A Life in Poetry (Knopf, 2008) says, “I have evolved a kind of middle way, whereby the Chinese line (which is also a complete syntactic unit, comparable to the sentence) is treated as a free verse stanza, usually a couplet, with a minimum of punctuation.” My sense is that Young’s couplets are as successful in this as Merwin’s triadic stanzas are in translating Muso Soseki, and that his versions have given Du Fu his most convincing voice so far in English. The discovery of Du Fu in English will no doubt go on, but here, right now, is candor, sharp observation, the noise of war, the sound of laughter, the lacerating silences of sorrow—all the voices attributed to Du Fu as he has been studied and loved for a thousand years. It’s a lovely book.

Glenn Shea, from Glenn's Book Notes, at www.bookbarnniantic.com
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars I remember when we fled the rebels heading north through ..., October 22, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Du Fu: A Life in Poetry (Paperback)
I remember when we fled the rebels
heading north through danger and hardship
starting out on foot
in the middle of the night
with the moon shining
over White Water Mountain
a very long journey
all of it walking
when we met people on the road
we felt ashamed
now and then birds sang in the ravines
no one was headed in the opposite direction
my silly little daughter
bit me in her hunger
afraid that her crying
might attract tigers
I held her mouth against my chest
she wriggled free and cried louder
my son acted as if he knew
what it was all about
but he kept trying to eat
the bitter plums on the roadside trees. Page 77
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Du Fu is always great!, May 19, 2014
By 
Dennis E. Donham (Wexford, PA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Du Fu: A Life in Poetry (Paperback)
This is simply a beautiful translation of one of the greatest poet who ever lived. A nice range of his poetry is presented.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Du Fu: A Life in Poetry
Du Fu: A Life in Poetry by Fu Du (Paperback - November 4, 2008)
$22.00 $15.96
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.