Fu Xuan

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Fu Xuan (pinyin; 傅玄; Fu Hsüan, Wade-Giles; 217–278) was a politician, scholar, writer, and poet during the period from the Cao Wei to Western Jin Dynasty and was one of the most prolific authors of fu poetry of his era. He was the grandson of Fu Xie (傅燮), the son of Fu Gan (傅幹), and the father of Fu Xian (傅咸). His courtesy name was Xiūyì (休奕).[1][2][3]


Although he lost his father early and grew up poor, Fu Xuan eventually become famous in literature and music. As a standout in his province, he became a [clarification needed] (郎中), and was appointed to be in charge of managing the compilation of the Book of Wei (魏書). Later he became a subordinate of Sima Zhao. He rose to be Prefect of Hongnong(弘農太守) and Colonel of Agriculture (典農校尉). In 265, Sima Yan became the King of Jin (晋王). Fu Xuan was promoted to Attendant of Scattered Cavalry (散騎常侍), and to Viscount (子爵), also becoming Imperial Son-in-Law Commandant (駙馬都尉).

Fu Xian was recommended to the position of Palace Attendant (侍中), but was dismissed from consideration after a falling-out. In 268, he became Palace Assistant Imperial Clerk (御史中丞), and in 259 Minister Coachman (太僕). He authored a memorial to suggest ways of preparing for floods and external invasions. He later became a metropolitan commandant (司隷校尉).

He also once wrote an essay praising the Chinese mechanical engineers Ma Jun and Zhang Heng, where he lamented the fact that extraordinary talents of natural geniuses were often ignored or neglected by those in charge.

He rose to be Censor and Chamberlain under Emperor Wu of Jin. He was of such an impatient disposition that whenever he had any memorial or impeachment to submit, he would proceed at once to the palace, no matter what the hour of the day or night, and sit there until he had audience the following dawn. It was while thus waiting that he caught a chill from which he subsequently died.[4]


According to his biography in the Book of Jin, Fu Xuan wrote "文集百余巻" and Fu Zi (傅子) 120 books, however only a small fraction of his books survived to this day. According to the Fu Zi (傅子) books, which survived only in the form of annotations of Records of the Three Kingdoms by Pei Songzhi. Fu Xuan expressed in his writings a critical view of a number of his contemporaries, including both supporters and enemies of Sima Zhao.


Fu Xuan's poems, primarily in the yuefu style, are noted for their powerful and empathetic portrayals of women. Translations of several of his sixty-odd surviving poems can be found in the book New Songs from a Jade Terrace by Anne Birrell (ISBN 0-04-895026-2).

One of the more famous poems by Fu Xuan is "Woman":

How sad it is to be a woman!!
Nothing on earth is held so cheap.
Boys stand leaning at the door
Like Gods fallen out of Heaven.
Their hearts brave the Four Oceans,
The wind and dust of a thousand miles.
No one is glad when a girl is born:
By her the family sets no store.
When she grows up, she hides in her room
Afraid to look at a man in the face.
No one cries when she leaves her home—Sudden as clouds when the rain stops.
She bows her head and composes her face,
Her teeth are pressed on her red lips:
She bows and kneels countless times.
She must humble herself even to the servants.
His love is distant as the stars in Heaven,
Yet the sunflower bends towards the sun.
Their hearts are more sundered than water and fire—A hundred evils are heaped upon her.
Her face will follow the years changes:
Her lord will find new pleasures.
They that were once like the substance and shadow
Are now as far from Hu as from Ch'in [two distant places]
Yet Hu and Ch'in shall sooner meet
That they whose parting is like Ts'an and Ch'en [two stars][5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Matsuura et al. 1999 : 36.
  2. ^ Britannica Kokusai Dai-Hyakkajiten article "Fu Xuan" (Fu Gen in Japanese). Shogakukan.
  3. ^ Kanjigen entry "Fu Xuan" (Fu Gen in Japanese). Gakken 2006.
  4. ^ Herbert Allen Giles, A Chinese Biographical Dictionary, p. 240. (copyright expired).
  5. ^ (http://acc6.its.brooklyn.cuny.edu/~phalsall/texts/c-poet2.html)