Du Fu Poems: Boating after Cold Food Day – 杜甫《小寒食舟中作》














Boating after Cold Food Day

I try to drink, but food’s still cold on festive day;

In hermit’s cap, at table, drear and bleak I stay.

My boat is drifting on above a mirrored sky,

The flowers look veiled in mist to wrinkled eye.

The listless curtains see butterflies dancing past;

Over the rapids gulls on gulls are skimming fast.

For miles and miles outspread cloud on cloud, hill on hill,

But the imperial town lies farther northward still.



The poem “Boating after Cold Food Day” is a seven-rhyme poem composed by the Tang poet Du Fu in the fifth year of the Dali period (770) when he was wandering in Tanzhou (present-day Changsha). The poem expresses the poet’s deep concern for the safety and security of the Tang dynasty even though he was in his twilight years in the rivers and lakes. The first couplet summarizes the author’s life story, the first couplet describes what the poet saw and felt in the boat, the neck couplet describes the scenery on the river in the boat, and the last couplet summarizes the poem’s thoughts and feelings. The language of the poem is natural and refined, and the style is pale and melancholy.

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