My Cottage Unroofed by Autumn Gales
In the eighth moon the autumn gales furiously howl;
They roll up three layers of straw from my thatched bower.
The straw flies across the river and spreads in shower,
Some hanging knotted on the tops of trees that tower,
Some swirling down and sinking into water foul.
Urchins from southern village know I’m old and weak,
They rob me to my face without a blush on the cheek,
And holding armfuls of straw, into bamboos they sneak.
In vain I call them till my lips are parched and dry;
Again alone, I lean on my cane and sigh.
Shortly the gale subsides and clouds turn dark as ink;
The autumn skies are shrouded and in darkness sink.
My cotton quilt is cold, for years it has been worn;
My restless children kick in sleep and it is torn.
The roof leaks o’er beds, leaving no corner dry;
Without cease the rain falls thick and fast from the sky.
After the troubled times troubled has been my sleep.
Wet through, how can I pass the night so long, so deep!
Could I get mansions covering ten thousand miles,
I’d house all scholars poor and make them beam with smiles.
In wind and rain these mansions would stand like mountains high.
Alas! Should these houses appear before my eye,
Frozen in my unroofed cot, content I’d die.
The poem “My Cottage Unroofed by Autumn Gales” is an ancient poem in the form of a song composed by the great poet Du Fu during his stay in Chengdu Cao Tang in the Tang Dynasty. The poem describes the painful experience of the author’s thatched house being broken down by the autumn wind and his family being rained on, expressing his inner feelings and reflecting the poet’s lofty ideology of worrying about the country and the people. The whole poem can be divided into four sections: the first section is about the anxiety of breaking the house in the face of the fierce wind; the second section is about the helplessness of the children holding the hut; the third section is about the pain of suffering from the night rain; and the fourth section is about the hope for a broad building, sublimating the suffering. The first three paragraphs are realistic narratives, describing the suffering of the family, with subtle and depressing emotions; the second paragraph is a sublimation of the ideal, expressing the worries of the people, with exciting and lofty emotions. The layers of narrative in the first three stanzas lay a solid foundation for the lyricism of the second stanza, and such a change of mood in a depressing and tortuous manner fully reflects the style of Du’s poem, “sullen and staccato”.