Du Fu Poems: To Swallows Coming to My Boat – 杜甫《燕子来舟中作》
















To Swallows Coming to My Boat

It is the second spring I stay on Southern shore,

To build their nest, the swallows peck twice clods of clay.

“Friends to my garden, you should have known me before.

Why should you gaze at me on this festive spring day?

It is a pity you should build nest here or there.

Does it not look like my boat floating far and nigh?

I should tell you to leave the mast without your stare.

Don’t wrinkle the water and bring tears to my eye!”



A poem in seven lines written by Du Fu, a poet of the Tang Dynasty, is entitled “The Swallow Comes to the Boat”. It is a poem about the wandering and turbulent thoughts of the poet, seemingly singing about swallows, but actually lamenting the poet’s uncertain life. The poem is a poem written at the end of Du Fu’s life, and it has lost the strong theme of the times and politics of the earlier years, and is instead filled with a sorrowful, desolate and pathos of his life. The first couplet names the time and introduces the object of the poem, the swallow; the middle two couplets depict and confess the image of the swallow, which the poet imagines to be the swallow that used to nest in his own house, saying that he is wandering around with no fixed place and is no different from the swallow nesting everywhere; the last couplet says that the swallow has abandoned me, leaving only emptiness, despair and loneliness and I can’t help but shed old tears. This poem expresses the deep and sincere humanity through the image of light swallows, written in a simple, natural and deep way.

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