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Chinese poem illustration: 石壕吏 Overnight stay in a small village in the war time.

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One of 6 poems written during Du Fu’s trip from Luo Yang(洛阳), the east capital to ChangAn(长安) , the west capital, in the fifth year of the civil war/安史之乱. These 6 poems was so called 三吏三别, which means three poems on officers and three poems on departing. Mainly by these 6 poems , Du Fu is called as Saint of Poem(诗圣), his poems was so call Poem of History(诗史).

With poems like this one, the disaster of the war and the sadness of the normal people was reproduced vividly, as if the night 1300 years ago live again.Never a history book can achieve this .

The night was line drawn of the sounds that Du Fu heard , the situation was in such a tension ,clash between the local officer and the old female host is just like a slideshow flashes in front of my eyes.

This poem not only depicts the sounds Du Fu heard, when you reading it out loud, you can feel the tension of each pair of sentence. Du Fu changes the final sound(押韵, 韵脚) with each paragraph. This technique applied to all 三吏, as the situation depicted is all about conflicts between officers and villagers. On the contrary, 三别 use one same final sound throughout the whole poem, as departing is always sad and low spirit. In this poem, the first paragraph share the same final with 村 人看, the second paragraph is 怒 苦 戍.

石壕吏
杜甫

暮投石壕村,有吏夜捉人。
老翁逾墙走,老妇出门看。
吏呼一何怒,妇啼一何苦。
听妇前致词,三男邺城戍。
一男附书至,二男新战死。
存者且偷生,死者长已矣。
室中更无人,惟有乳下孙。
有孙母未去,出入无完裙。
老妪力虽衰,请从吏夜归。
急应河阳役,犹得备晨炊。
夜久语声绝,如闻泣幽咽。
天明登前途,独与老翁别。

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