Du Fu Poem: To the Swallow Coming to My Boat – 杜甫《燕子来舟中作》













[1] 社日:古时农村春分前后祭社神(土地神)和五谷神的日子。

To the Swallow Coming to My Boat

Du Fu

Another spring in boat I stay;

Again swallows peck clods of clay.

You know me in my native land;

Now gazing from afar you stand.

Ah, here and there you build your nest;

Now and again I find no rest.

You greet me and then leave the mast;

My tears stream down to see you past.

This poem presents a contrast between the swallow building its nest and the poet who could not go home.


A poem in seven lines written by Du Fu, a poet of the Tang Dynasty, is entitled “To the Swallow Coming to My Boat”. It is a poem about the wandering and turbulent thoughts of the poet, seemingly singing about swallows, but actually lamenting the poet’s uncertain life. The poem is a poem written at the end of Du Fu’s life, and it has lost the strong theme of the times and politics of the earlier years, and is instead filled with a sorrowful, desolate and pathos of his life. The first couplet names the time and introduces the object of the poem, the swallow; the middle two couplets depict and confess the image of the swallow, which the poet imagines to be the swallow that used to nest in his house, saying that he is wandering around with no fixed place and is no different from the swallow nesting everywhere; the last couplet says that the swallow has abandoned me, leaving only emptiness, despair and loneliness and I can’t help but shed old tears. This poem expresses the deep and sincere humanity through the image of light swallows, written in a simple, natural and deep way.

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