The Hope of Spring

March 2022, the Russian war in Ukraine rages without much hope for peace. The winter snow still falls, as do the bombs, but the tanks are strangely silent outside the major cities. The Ukrainian military fights on. There is a hope of spring in the hearts of the freedom loving Ukrainian people.

Du Fu’s poem Chūn wàng, The Hope of Spring concerned the An Lushan Rebellion which began in December of 755, and lasted almost eight years. Du Fu wrote this poem while in captivity in the fallen capital of Chang’an.



The Hope of Spring
Our Land breaks, though the hills and rivers live on,
Spring in the City, where the grass and trees are thick.
At this moment, the flowers are tearful,
I hate goodbyes and startled birds.

Three months on, beacon fires are all that connect us,
And a letter from family is worth ten thousand golden pieces.
Scratching my white head, my hair getting thinner,
Hardly able to hold a hairpin.

Du Fu, 756

Chūn wàng

guó pò shānhé zài, chéng chūn cǎomù shēn
gǎn shí huā jiàn lèi, hèn bié niǎo jīng xīn
fēnghuǒ lián sān yuè, jiā shū dǐ wàn jīn
bái tóu sāo gèng duǎn, hún yù bù shēng zān

Dù Fǔ

I Hate Goodbyes

Sorrow does not leave us as summer blossoms, anguish is not rendered fallow by autumn’s dry winds, nor does hope perish in winter’s deep cold. And nothing can match eternal hope that greets us in spring. I hate goodbyes, we all do. In the Ukraine, millions of mothers with children have fled to safety as husbands stay on to fight.

Gǎn shí huā jiàn lèi, hèn bié niǎo jīng xīn, 感时花溅泪,恨别鸟惊心. One imagines Du Fu wandering about Chang’an’s deserted streets and empty houses, looking at the unattended gardens with their drooping flowers. The morning dew suggesting tears of sadness. Startled birds suggest hurried goodbyes.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Phil H says:

    Beautiful. This is the right way to engage with the poetry of 1000 years ago. It’s still as relevant as it ever was.


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