Tu Fu poem read by Hal Caswell to his classmates on Saturday Evening


Tu Fu (also sometimes Du Fu) was one of the greatest Chinese poets. He lived from 712–770 AD, so his poetry is reaching us from far more than the 50 years we celebrate.

He wrote this poem about visiting an old friend, whom he had not seen in many years. It seemed appropriate, somehow, for our Reunion. Here is a translation (there are several you can find online; all interesting).

With thanks to John Johnson for making it happen!

Hal


To my retired friend, Wei

It is almost as hard for friends to meet
As for the morning and evening stars.
Tonight then is a rare event,
Joining, in the candlelight,
Two men who were young not long ago
But now are turning grey at the temples.

…To find that half our friends are dead
Shocks us, burns our hearts with grief.
We little guessed it would be twenty years
Before I could visit you again.
When I went away, you were still unmarried;
But now these boys and girls in a row
Are very kind to their father's old friend.

They ask me where I have been on my journey;
And then, when we have talked awhile,
They bring and show me wines and dishes,
Spring chives cut in the night-rain
And brown rice cooked freshly a special way.

…My host proclaims it a festival,
He urges me to drink ten cups—
But what ten cups could make me as drunk
As I always am with your love in my heart?
…Tomorrow the mountains will separate us;
After tomorrow - who can say?

- Tu Fu