Du Fu Poems: Songs of Eight Immortal Drinkers  (Excerpts) – 杜甫《饮中八仙歌  (节选)》





















Songs of Eight Immortal Drinkers

Zhizhang feels dizzy on his horse as in a boat.

Should he fall in a well, asleep there he would float.

Without restraint, Zongzhi is a gallant young guy;

Wine cup in hand, he turns white eyes to the blue sky,

Like one of the jade trees standing in vernal breeze.

Li Bai would turn sweet nectar into verses fine.

Drunk in the capital, he’d lie in shops of wine.

Even imperial summons proudly he’d decline,

Saying immortals could not leave the drink divine.

In cursive writing Zhang Xu’s worthy of his fame.

After three drinks he bares his head before lord and dame,

And splashes cloud and mist on paper as with flame.


“Songs of Eight Immortal Drinkers  (Excerpts)” is a poem written by Du Fu, a poet of the Tang Dynasty. The poem links the eight “Eight Immortals of Wine”, Li Bai, He Zhizhang, Li Shizhi, Li Last Night, Cui Zongzhi, Su Jin, Zhang Xu and Jiao Sui, from the perspective of “drinking wine”, and uses a narrative style, refined language and sketches of characters to form a vivid group portrait. The poem is a lifelike group portrait. The whole poem rhymes in one line, and there is no need to start at the beginning and close at the end; the poem is divided into eight people side by side, and the number of lines varies, but two lines are used at the beginning, at the end, and in the middle, and three or four at the front and back. Among the eight, He Zhizhang is the oldest, so he is placed first. The rest of them, according to their official titles, range from princes and chancellors to the clothiers. The author writes about the drunkenness of each of the eight men, using a purely cartoonish sketching technique to write about their drunkenness, fully expressing their alcoholic and unrestrained personalities, and vividly reproducing the optimistic and liberal spirit of the literati and scholars of the Tang Dynasty.

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