Hitting the bottle on the riverside right after returning from the court. Willingly pawning off clothes on drinks when having no money left. Borrowing money here and there to stay drunk.
Where does this man’s obsession with alcohol come from? Old Chinese poet Du Fu claims in this poetry that he has no option but to owe money on drinks, making excuses that only a few have lived to the age of 70 since old times. The author laments that life is too short and harsh on him to afford to worry about growing debts due to drinking. A close look at the dark sides of Du Fu’s life may well explain how hopeless and despairing his confession sounds. He, drunk, only watches butterflies and dragonflies flying beautifully and freely as part of spring sceneries. This only adds sincerity to the poet’s aspirations not to turn each other’s back on the other although delight and indulgence is only an instant moment of life.
Given that Du Fu’s father and grandfather died around the age of 60 and the average age of a total of five thousand people based on their epitaphs of that time was 59.3 years, it may not be an exaggeration for him to say that it has been a rarity to reach the age of seventy since old times. Indeed, his words have widely been used as one of the most famous idiomatic phrases. Nevertheless, public servants in old China had to be at least 80 in order to be eligible for special treatments in the court. Once they turned 80, grains and silk would be offered to them and they were assigned to honorary posts in the main three departments and six ministries for every 10 years onwards.