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LI, Bai (LI Po/LI T’ai Po)


Amongst the flowers


Amongst the flowers I

am alone with my pot of wine

drinking by myself; then lifting

my cup I asked the moon

to drink with me, its reflection

and mine in the wine cup, just

the three of us; then I sigh

for the moon cannot drink,

and my shadow goes emptily along

with me never saying a word;

with no other friends here, I can

but use these two for company;

in the time of happiness, I

too must be happy with all

around me; I sit and sing

and it is as if the moon

accompanies me; then if I

dance, it is my shadow that

dances along with me; while

still not drunk, I am glad

to make the moon and my shadow

into friends, but then when

I have drunk too much, we

all part; yet these are

friends I can always count on

these who have no emotion

whatsoever; I hope that one day

we three will meet again,

deep in the Milky Way.”


Sitting Alone on Jingting Shan Hill


A flock of birds is flying high in the distance,

A lonely cloud drifts idly on its own.

We gaze at each other, neither growing tired,

There is only Jingting Shan.



Question and Answer on the Mountain


You ask for what reason I stay on the green mountain,

I smile, but do not answer, my heart is at leisure.

Peach blossom is carried far off by flowing water,

Apart, I have heaven and earth in the human world.



Ancient Air

I climb up high and look on the four seas,

Heaven and earth spreading out so far.

Frost blankets all the stuff of autumn,

The wind blows with the great desert's cold.

The eastward-flowing water is immense,

All the ten thousand things billow.

The white sun's passing brightness fades,

Floating clouds seem to have no end.

Swallows and sparrows nest in the wutong tree,

Yuan and luan birds perch among jujube thorns.

Now it's time to head on back again,

I flick my sword and sing Taking the Hard Road.


Thoughts in the Silent Night

Beside my bed a pool of light—

Is it hoarfrost on the ground?

I lift my eyes and see the moon,

I bend my head and think of home.


Hard is the way of the world III

Don't wash your ears on hearing something you dislike

Nor die of hunger like famous hermits on the Pike!

Living without a fame among the motley crowd,

Why should one be as lofty as the moon or cloud?

Of ancient talents who failed to retire, there's none

But came to tragic ending after glory's won.

The head of General Wu was hung o'er city gate;

In the river was drowned the poet laureate.

The highly talented scholar wished in vain

To preserve his life to hear the cry of the crane.

Minister Li regretted not to have retired

To hunt with falcon gray as he had long desired.

Have you not heard of Zhang Han who resigned, carefree,

To go home to eat his perch with high glee?

Enjoy a cup of wine while you're alive!

Do not care if your fame will not survive!


Crows Calling at Night

Yellow clouds beside the walls; crows roosting near.
Flying back, they caw, caw; calling in the boughs.
In the loom she weaves brocade, the Qin river girl.
Made of emerald yarn like mist, the window hides her words.
She stops the shuttle, sorrowful, and thinks of the distant man.
She stays alone in the lonely room, her tears just like the rain.


Waking From Drunkenness on a Spring Day

Life in the world is but a big dream;
I will not spoil it by any labour or care.
so saying, I was drunk all the day,
lying helpless at the porch in front of my door.

when I awoke, I blinked at the garden-lawn;
a lonely bird was singing amid the flowers.
I asked myself, had the day been wet or fine?
the Spring wind was telling the mango-bird.

moved by its song I soon began to sigh,
and, as wine was there, I filled my own cup.
wildly singing I waited for the moon to rise;
when my song was over, all my senses had gone.

Translation: Arthur Waley


Changgan Memories

When first my hair began to cover my forehead,
I picked and played with flowers before the gate.
You came riding on a bamboo horse,
And circled the walkway, playing with green plums.
We lived together, here in Changgan county,
Two children, without the least suspicion.
When I was fourteen, I became your wife,
So shy that still my face remained unopened.
I bowed my head towards the shadowed wall,
And called one thousand times, I turned not once.
At fifteen I began to lift my brows,

And wished to be with you as dust with ashes.
You always kept your massive pillar faith,
I had no need to climb the lookout hill.
When I was sixteen, you went far away,
To Yanyudui, within the Qutang gorge.
You should not risk the dangerous floods of May,
Now from the sky, the monkeys cry in mourning.
Before the gate, my pacing's left a mark,
Little by little, the green moss has grown.
The moss is now too deep to sweep away,
And leaves fall in the autumn's early winds.
This August, all the butterflies are yellow,
A pair fly over the western garden's grass.
I feel that they are damaging my heart,
Through worrying, my rosy face grows old.
When you come down the river from Sanba,
Beforehand, send a letter to your home.
We'll go to meet each other, however far,
I'll come up to Changfengsha.


The Old Dust

The living is a passing traveler;

The dead, a man come home.

One brief journey between heaven and earth,

Then, alas! we are the same old dust of ten thousand ages.

The rabbit in the moon pounds the elixir in vain;

Fu-sang, the tree of immortality, has crumbled to kindling wood.

Man dies, his white bones are dumb without a word

While the green pines feel the coming of the spring.

Looking back, I sigh; looking before, I sigh again.

What is there to prize in the life's vaporous glory?


Chuang Tzu and the Butterfly

Chuang Tzu in dream became a butterfly,

And the butterfly became Chuang Tzu at waking.

Which was the real the butterfly or the man ?

Who can tell the end of the endless changes of things?

The water that flows into the depth of the distant sea

Returns in time to the shallows of a transparent stream.

The man, raising melons outside the green gate of the city,

Was once the Prince of the East Hill.

So must rank and riches vanish.

You know it, still you toil and toil what for?




White King City I left at dawn in the morning

glow of the clouds,

The thousand-mile journey to Jiang Ling,

completed in a single day,

On either shore the gibbons' chatter sounds

without pause,

While my light boat skims past thousands of crags.


Witte Koningsstad verliet ik bij zonsopgang in de ochtendgloed van de wolken,

De duizend-mijlen reis naar Jiang Ling,

volbracht in een enkele dag,

Op elke oever onafgebroken de snatergeluiden van de gibbons,

Terwijl mijn lichte boot langs duizenden klippen scheert.




Alone And Drinking Under The Moon


Amongst the flowers I

am alone with my pot of wine

drinking by myself; then lifting

my cup I asked the moon

to drink with me, its reflection

and mine in the wine cup, just

the three of us; then I sigh

for the moon cannot drink,

and my shadow goes emptily along

with me never saying a word;

with no other friends here, I can

but use these two for company;

in the time of happiness, I

too must be happy with all

around me; I sit and sing

and it is as if the moon

accompanies me; then if I

dance, it is my shadow that

dances along with me; while

still not drunk, I am glad

to make the moon and my shadow

into friends, but then when

I have drunk too much, we

all part; yet these are

friends I can always count on

these who have no emotion

whatsoever; I hope that one day

we three will meet again,

deep in the Milky Way.



Before The Cask of Wine


The spring wind comes from the east and quickly passes,

Leaving faint ripples in the wine of the golden bowl.

The flowers fall, flake after flake, myriads together.


You, pretty girl, wine-flushed,

Your rosy face is rosier still.

How long may the peach and plum trees flower

By the green-painted house?

The fleeting light deceives man,

Brings soon the stumbling age.


Rise and dance

In the westering sun

While the urge of youthful years is yet unsubdued!

What avails to lament after one's hair has turned white

like silken threads?


Look Towards Mountain Skygate


Mountain Skygate is rammed open and cut through by River Chu,

Clear water waves roll east then eddy here.

Verdant mountains unfold themselves slowly, at my left and right,

As my solitary sail drifting afar from where the sun is arise.



Long Yearning


Long yearning,

To be in Chang'an.

The grasshoppers weave their autumn song by the golden railing of the well;

Frost coalesces on my bamboo mat, changing its colour with cold.

My lonely lamp is not bright, I’d like to end these thoughts;

I roll back the hanging, gaze at the moon, and long sigh in vain.

The beautiful person's like a flower beyond the edge of the clouds.

Above is the black night of heaven's height;

Below is the green water billowing on.

The sky is long, the road is far, bitter flies my spirit;

The spirit I dream can't get through, the mountain pass is hard.

Long yearning,

Breaks my heart.



Long Yearning (Sent Far)


When the beautiful woman was here, the hall was filled with flowers,

Now the beautiful woman's gone, the bed is lying empty.

On the bed, the embroidered quilt is rolled up: no-one sleeps,

Though three years have now gone by, I think I smell that scent.

The scent is finished but not destroyed,

The woman's gone and does not come.

Yearning yellows the falling leaf,

White dew beads the green moss.



Staying the Night at a Mountain Temple


The high tower is a hundred feet tall,

From here one's hand could pluck the stars.

I do not dare to speak in a loud voice,

I fear to disturb the people in heaven.