Du Fu – Day of Clear Brightness

Du Fu - CheongmyeongDu Fu (杜甫, 두보, Du Bo, 712-770) was one the most prominent Chinese poets of the Tang Dynasty. His courtesy name (字, 자) was Zimei (子美, 자미, Ja’mi); and his pen name was Shaoling (少陵, 소릉, Soreung). He is called the “Saint of Poetry” (詩聖, 시성, Shiseong), and is said to have written remarkable poems as early as his teens. Du Fu’s poetry was also quite influential in Korea and Japan. He was also a contemporary of the Li Bai (李白, 이백, Yi Baek, 701-762), another very famous Chinese poet.

In the poem below, he writes about the Festival of Clear Brightness, or Cheongmyeong (淸明, 청명), one of the twenty-four solar terms on the traditional calendar. This festival always falls on April 5th on the Western Gregorian Calendar, as it is when the sun’s celestial longitude is at 15 degrees. In Korea, the day was associated with the start of spring work for farmers.

淸明 청명

Day of Clear Brightness

淸明時節雨紛紛 청명시절우분분
路上行人欲斷魂 로상행인욕단혼
借問酒家何處有 차문주가하처유
牧童遙指杏花村 목동요지행화촌

During the Clear Brightness Festival, the rain was tumultuous and uneasy.
On the road, a traveler intended to sever his spirit.
He inquired where the tavern was.
The shepherd boy pointed in the distance to the apricot blossom village.

Characters:

  • 斷魂(단혼) – Refers to someone mourning till the point of severing the spirit.
  • 借問(차문) – Refers to asking a stranger randomly.

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