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Du Fu: Government Agents in Shitao

Government Agents in Shitao

石 壕 吏
暮 投 石 壕 村
有 吏 夜 捉 人。
老 翁 越 墙 走
老 妇 出 门 看。
吏 呼 一 何 怒!
妇 啼 一 何 苦!
听 妇 前 致 词
三 男 邺 城 戊。
一 男 附 书 至
二 男 新 战 死。
存 者 且 偷 生
死 者 长 已 矣。
室 中 更 无 人
唯 有 乳 下 孙。
有 孙 母 未 去
出 入 无 完 裙。
老 妪 力 虽 衰
请 从 吏 夜 归。
急 应 河 阳 役
犹 得 备 晨 炊。
夜 久 语 声 绝
如 闻 泣 幽 咽。
天 明 登 前 途
独 与 老 翁 别。
Shi Hao Li

Mu tou shi hao cun
You li ye zhuo ren.
Lao weng yue qiang zou
Lao fu chu men kan.

Li hu yi he nu!
Fu ti yi he ku!
Ting fu qian zhi ci
San nan ye cheng wu

Yi nan fu shu zhi
Er nan xin zhan wai
Cun zhe qie tou sheng
Si zhe chang yi yi.

Shi zhong geng wu ren
Wei you ru xia sun
You sun mu wei qu
Chu ru wu wan qun

Lao yu li su shuai
Qing cong li ye gui.
Ji ying he yang yi
You dei bei chen chui

Ye jiu yu sheng jue
Ru wen qi you yan
Tian ming deng qian tu
Du yu lao weng bie.

Government Agents in Shi Hao

Sunset, I stay over in Shi Hao village
In the evening the petty government officials search for men.
Old man climbed the wall and ran away
Old woman goes to see who is at the door.

Government agent cries out in anger!
Woman wept aloud with suffering!
She asked him to listen to her explanation
All three of my sons are with the army in Yecheng.

I just got a letter from one of them
He reported that two have been recently killed in combat.
The survivor lives for a while hiding from death
Alas! These dead ones cannot come back.

My house is without any more men
Only have an infant grandchild.
My daughter-in-law remains because she is a nursing mother
She does not possess clothes for going out into public.

As an old woman my power continues to decline
If necessary I can go with you this evening.
I can quickly join the battle in Heyang
Can still prepare a cooked morning meal for you and the army.

Deep into the evening the old man hears no words or sounds
But senses soft weeping and throat clearing.
Break of dawn, the man emerges from the highway
He returned to a house where the old woman has already departed.



Yecheng: Oasis and town located in the province of Xinjiang (far northwest of China)

Heyang: County inside the province of Shaanxi



What a sad and touching story so typical of Du Fu’s best work.  His humanity sets him above so many others.

This poem was written after Du Fu overheard one of his neighbors being harassed by government agents, who were looking for more men to serve in the imperial army.

未经允许不得转载:STUDY IN CHINA GLOBAL (SCG) » Du Fu: Government Agents in Shitao
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