Du Fu: Without Family Departures

Without Family Departures

无 家 别
寂 寞 天 宝 后
园 庐 但 蒿 藜。
我 里 百 余 家
世 乱 各 东 西。
存 者 无 消 息
死 者 为 尘 泥!
贱 子 因 阵 败
归 来 寻 旧 蹊。
久 行 见 空 巷
日 瘦 气 惨 凄。
但 对 狐 与 狸
竖 毛 怒 我 啼!
四 邻 何 所 有?
一 二 老 寡 妻!
宿 鸟 恋 本 枝
安 辞 且 穷 凄。
方 春 独 荷 锄
日 暮 还 灌 畦。
县 吏 知 我 至
召 令 匀 鼓 鼙。
虽 从 本 州 役
内 顾 无 所 携。
近 行 止 一 身
远 去 终 转 迷。
家 乡 既 荡 尽
远 近 理 亦 齐。
永 痛 长 病 母
五 年 委 沟 谿。
生 我 不 得 力
终 身 两 酸 嘶。
人 生 无 家 别
何 以 为 蒸 黎。
Wu Jia Bie

Ji mo tian bao hou
Yuan lu dan hao li.
Wo li bai yu jia
Shi luan ge dong xi.

Cun zhe wu xiao xi
Si zhe wei chen ni!
Jian zi yin zhen bai
Gui lai xun jiu xi.

Jiu xing jian kong xiang
Ri shou qi can qi.
Dan dui hu yu li
Shu mao nu wo ti!

Si lin he suo you?
Yi er lao gua qi!
Su niao lian ben zhi
An ci qie qiong qi.

Fang chun du he chu
Ri mu huan guan qi.
Xian li zhi wo zhi
Zhao ling yun gu pi.

Sui cong ben zhou yi
Nei gu wu suo xie.
Jin xing zhi yi shen
Yuan qu zhong zhuan mi.

Jia xiang ji dang jin
Yuan jin li yi qi.
Yong tong chang bing mu
Wu nian wei gou xi.

Sheng wo bu de li
Zhong shen liang suan si.
Ren sheng wu jia bie
He yi wei zheng li.


Without Family Departures

After An Lushan’s reign of terror, nothing of worth is left
Gardens and thatched roofs full of wild wormwood and lamb quarters.
One soldier can go back to an empty neighborhood of one hundred houses
Society’s chaos expressed from west to east.

Who and what that has survived is unknown
All of the dead have been interred.
Humble soldier regrets being a part of defeated battle formations
Long time traveling, sees only empty alleys.

Sliver of sun, air cold, bleak and miserable
Foxes and pumas have freedom to roam.
All their fur standing up, my turn to weep and cower!
Look in all directions, what neighbors remain?

Only one or two old widows are still around!
Birds search for familiar stems and branches to spend the night.
For now, the old widows stay on the their old perches
Early spring, by themselves they cultivate lotus.

Sunset, they come back from irrigated rectangular ridged fields
County petty official knows the soldier has returned.
Want him to play the drums to muster more troops if necessary
Although he works for Benzhou, there are no personal items left for a new campaign.

If sent outside again, he would be lost and confused
If sent nearby, no family here to send him off.
Hometown family and houses all gone
Areas close by or far away all the same for him.

Long time pain thinking of his ailing mother
For five years fighting or hiding out in the canals and ditches.
Did not have the opportunity to repay his mother’s devotion
Two lives sour and sobbing till the bitter end.
Human experiences without family departures
How can the multitudes help but to simply fade away.



An Lushan:  (709-757) Famous general of the Tang army protecting the empire from the northern invaders. In 755 he turned against the empire and led a rebellion that invaded and occupied the capital cities of Chang’an and Luoyang.

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