Du Fu (ARA Tu Fu, 712-770) was a Tang dynasty poet and social commentator, who led an unhappy life. His fame is probably second only to that of Li Bai, with his reputation aided in modern China by his recorded agitation on behalf of the masses.

Du Fu was born in Shanxi, although his family was from Hubei. He didn't score well in the civil service examinations, but Emperor Xuanzong liked his poetry and was his patron. The An Lushan Rebellion of 755-763 turned him into a refugee, though, and most of the rest of his life was spent wandering. His poems are beautiful but realistic, and in his later life focused more on the troubles of his fellow citizens than on the usual subjects of dreamy Chinese poets.

Du had a cottage outside of Chengdu, where he fished and wrote poetry. The cottage or a semblance of it can be visited in Xi'an, where the willows and streams made me want to return at night just to see the moon as he saw it. The cottage is famously referred to as "the thatched hut," "Du Fu's cottage" and so on. It has been built onto with many memorial halls and such, but is still worth visiting.

Behind the gates of the wealthy
food lies, rotting from waste
Outside, it's the poor
who lie, frozen to death
-- Du Fu

T'ang poet, a more serious contemporary contemporary with Li Po and the other greats of the period (Wang Wei, Han Yu, Chang Chi). Generally speaking, Tu Fu is considered the Confucian counterpart to the zen-like style of Li Po.

Born in 712, passed the highest civil service examination ranks except that of Presented Scholar. Refused a position as a district police commisioner and moved into a thatched cottage in Cheng-tu, Szechwan. Wrote of the political landscape of the day.

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