Father’s Day: Ode to fathers

Father’s Day is celebrated worldwide to honor fathers and fatherhood and to recognize the contribution that fathers make on their children’s lives. The festival falls on June 16 this year.

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Many poems have been penned to celebrate fathers and fatherhood since ancient times by poets around the world. Today we will share with you some fantastic ones by, for, and about dads.

Fathers in traditional Chinese culture have been noted as stern disciplinarians, who spur their kids on by enforcing strict rules at home to help them thrive and flourish.

Lu You (1125–1209), a prolific poet from the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), was one of such fathers. A line from one of his “to my son” poems has become a time-honored precept, which reads “What’s learned from books is superficial after all. It’s crucial to have it personally tested somehow.”

Su Dongpo (1037-1101), is a great romantic poet from the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). Amid the ups and downs of his political career, the poet wrote a poem titled “On the Birth of His Son”.

Here is a translation by the British sinologist and poet Arthur Waley.

Families, when a child is born
Want it to be intelligent.
I, through intelligence,
Having wrecked my whole life,
Only hope the baby will prove
Ignorant and stupid.
Then he will crown a tranquil life
By becoming a Cabinet Minister.

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