Du Fu’s “Orphaned Goose”

This poem was written in the last two years of Du Fu’s life. It is using the orphaned goose as a symbol of noble men separated from society, but longing to be a part of it. He wrote this poem while on a trip, not particularly successful as a government official, and his government as well wasn’t particularly successful at holding the country together. 

The type of wild goose he is referring to, the Dayan, is never alone, which adds to the isolation conveyed in the poem. If the Dayan ends up being alone, he soon commits suicide or dies.

My Translation
Orphaned Goose
The orphaned goose won’t eat or drink,
He feels the cries, the flying flock.
Who pities this lonely shadow,
Lost of his flock in cloudy skies?
Tired, gazing, he seems to see,
Bearing such grief, he seems to hear.
Wild crows too, think not of him;
Chaotic cries of mind surround.

Original Chinese

Gūyàn bù yǐn zhuó
Fēi míng shēng niàn qún
Shuí lián yī piàn yǐng
Xiāng shī wàn chóng yún
Wàng jìn sì yóu jiàn
Āi duō rú gèng wén
Yě yā wú yì xù
Míng zào zì fēnfēn.
Literal translation
Lonely Wild Goose
Lone goose not drink peck,
Flies cries voice think flock,
Who pity one thing shadow
Mutual lost many layer cloud
Look exhaust seems like look
Pain much like can hear
Wild crow not think mind
Cry noise self chaos chaos

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