Du Fu 杜甫

Born: 712 CE (Luoyang, Henan Province)
Died: 770 CE (Changsha, Hunan Province)
Dynasty: Tang

Du Fu, alongside Li Bai, is known as the greatest of Chinese poets.  He is commonly referred to as the "poet-sage" for his moral engagement and as the "poet-historian" because much of the knowledge of ways of life in his age is known through his poetry.  For Du Fu, everything, including the mundane and everyday, was poetic.  He wrote in all poetic forms and in all registers and is praised for being both classical and innovative.
In his youth, Du Fu trained to be a civil servant, but he never passed the required examination.  (It is thought that this is due to his lack of connections in the capital.)  He lived an itinerant lifestyle as he continued to petition the emperor directly for entry into his court.  When Du Fu was finally awarded a position, it was largely ceremonial.  This was during the An Lushan Rebellion (755-763), which was to harry the country and the court for nearly 8 years and was to greatly affect Du Fu's poetry of the epoch.
He was not appreciated in his own time, but his influence has grown to such an extent that it is as impossible for a Chinese writer to not be influenced by Du Fu as for an English one to be ignorant of Shakespeare.  Roughly 1500 of his poems are still extant.

Source: wikipedia.org 03.31.08

春望 Spring Outlook