This passage is outstanding because it illustrates how concrete the poet was in presenting his imagery and how under circumstances of absolute distress, Tu Fu, the man, could well afford to joke with tiny boys and girls. This sense of humor, which was intimately a part of his personality, and a philosophy of living which he had cherished ever since his boyhood days, was also visible in his other poems written during this time. While his long poem, “Northward Travels,” especially in its humorous elements, reminds us of the poetry of Tso Ssŭ; Tu Fu’s shorter poems of this period, especially the three poems entitled, “Chiang Ts’un,” or “Chiang Village,” resemble the poems of T’ao Yüan-ming. Both T’ao and Tu were amply fortified by their appreciation of the humorous in adverse circumstances. Thus fortified, even hunger and penury would not lead to loss of mind, on one hand, and hunger and penury would not lead to loss of mind, on one hand, and degeneracy, on the other.

His trip to Loyang and his observations of the ruins and destitution there inspired him to write numerous narrative poems in which were recorded the different facets of the scars of warfare. Among these masterly poems on social problems, which have been collectively labeled New Lyrical Ballads, probably the most admired was “The Sheriff of Shih-hao Village.” It was a short narrative poem describing how a sheriff was recruiting able-bodied men in a small community. He came to one family where an old man had made his escape by climbing over the yard wall and the aged woman left behind to plead her case with the sheriff.

The literary technique of this poem was unique and surprising. When a draft officer resorting to compulsion decided to kidnap an aging grandmother, the other aspects of social and political injustice may well be imagined.

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