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December 24, 759 – Tang dynasty poet Du Fu departs for Chengdu, where he is hosted by fellow poet Pei Di

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du-fu

Du Fu (712–770) was a Chinese poet and politician of the Tang dynasty.

Along with his elder contemporary and friend Li Bai (Li Po), he is frequently called the greatest of the Chinese poets.

His greatest ambition was to serve his country as a successful civil servant, but he proved unable to make the necessary accommodations.

His life, like the whole country, was devastated by the An Lushan Rebellion of 755, and his last 15 years were a time of almost constant unrest.

Although initially he was little-known to other writers, his works came to be hugely influential in both Chinese and Japanese literary culture.

Of his poetic writing, nearly fifteen hundred poems have been preserved over the ages.

He has been called the “Poet-Historian” and the “Poet-Sage” by Chinese critics, while the range of his work has allowed him to be introduced to Western readers much as the famous Western poets.

In December 759, he briefly stayed in Tonggu (modern Gansu).

He departed on December 24 for Chengdu (Sichuan province), where he was hosted by local Prefect and fellow poet Pei Di.

Du subsequently based himself in Sichuan for most of the next five years.

By the autumn of that year he was in financial trouble, and sent poems begging help to various acquaintances.

He was relieved by Yan Wu, a friend and former colleague who was appointed governor general at Chengdu.

Despite his financial problems, this was one of the happiest and most peaceful periods of his life.

Many of Du’s poems from this period are peaceful depictions of his life at Du Fu Thatched Cottage.

In 762, he left the city to escape a rebellion, but he returned in summer 764 when he was appointed an advisor to Yan, who was involved in campaigns against the Tibetan Empire.

Tony Simon

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