Li Po |
A jade cup was broken because old age came
too soon to give fulfilment to hopes; after drinking
three cups of wine I wiped my sword and
started to dance under an autumn moon first
singing in a high voice then unable to halt
tears coming; I remember the day when first
I was summoned to court and I was feasted splendidly
writing poems in praise of the Emperor, making
jokes with officials around several times changing
my horse, taking the best from the
imperial stables; with my whip studded with
jade and coral presented to me by the Emperor,
my life was free and easy, people calling me
the "Banished Immortal.
" Hsi Shih was good
at smiling as well as frowning, useless
for ordinary girls to try and imitate her.
Surely it was only her loveliness the king adored,
but unfortunately jealousy within the palace
led to her death.
Li Po |
I take my wine jug out among the flowers
to drink alone, without friends.
I raise my cup to entice the moon.
That, and my shadow, makes us three.
But the moon doesn't drink,
and my shadow silently follows.
I will travel with moon and shadow,
happy to the end of spring.
When I sing, the moon dances.
When I dance, my shadow dances, too.
We share life's joys when sober.
Drunk, each goes a separate way.
Constant friends, although we wander,
we'll meet again in the Milky Way.
Ezra Pound |
After Li Po
While my hair was still cut straight
across my forehead
I played at the front gate, pulling
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing
You walked about my seat, playing with
And we went on living in the village of
Two small people, without dislike or
At fourteen I married My Lord you.
I never laughed, being bashful.
Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
Called to, a thousand times, I never
At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with
Forever and forever and forever.
Why should I climb the lookout?
At sixteen you departed,
You went into far Ku-to-en, by the river
of swirling eddies,
And you have been gone five months.
The monkeys make sorrowful noise
You dragged your feet when you went
By the gate now, the moss is grown,
the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away!
The leaves fall early this autumn, in
The paired butterflies are already
yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden;
They hurt me.
I grow older.
If you are coming down through the
narrows of the river Kiang,
Please let me know beforehand,
And I will come out to meet you
As far as Cho-fu-sa.
More great poems below...
Li Po |
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.
Li Po |
There was wine in a cup of gold
and a girl of fifteen from Wu,
her eyebrows painted dark
and with slippers of red brocade.
If her conversation was poor,
how beautifully she could sing!
Together we dined and drank
until she settled in my arms.
Behind her curtains
embroidered with lotuses,
how could I refuse
the temptation of her advances?
Li Po |
See the waters of the Yellow River leap down from Heaven, Roll away to the deep sea and never turn again! See at the mirror
in the High Hall Aged men bewailing white locks - In the morning, threads of silk, In the evening flakes of snow.
Snatch the joys
of life as they come and use them to the full; Do not leave the silver cup idly glinting at the moon.
The things that Heaven made
Man was meant to use; A thousand guilders scattered to the wind may come back again.
Roast mutton and sliced beef will only
taste well If you drink with them at one sitting three hundred cups.
Great Master Ts'?en, Doctor Tan-ch'iu, Here is wine, do not
stop drinking But listen, please, and I will sing you a song.
Bells and drums and fine food, what are they to me Who only want
to get drunk and never again be sober? The Saints and Sages of old times are all stock and still, Only the might drinkers of wine
have left a name behind.
When the prince of Ch'?en gave a feast in the Palace of P'ing-lo With twenty thousand gallons of wine
he loosed mirth and play.
The master of the feast must not cry that his money is all spent; Let him send to the tavern and fetch
wine to keep our tankards filled.
His five-flower horse and thousand-guilder coat - Let him call the boy to take them along and
pawn them for good wine, That drinking together we may drive away the sorrows of a thousand years.
Li Po |
Since yesterday had throw me and bolt,
Today has hurt my heart even more.
The autumn wildgeese have a long wing for escort
As I face them from this villa, drinking my wine.
The bones of great writers are your brushes, in the school of heaven,
And I am Lesser Hsieh growing up by your side.
We both are exalted to distant thought,
Aspiring to the sky and the bright moon.
But since water still flows, though we cut it with our swords,
And sorrow return,though we drown them with wine,
Since the world can in no way answer our craving,
I will loosen my hair tomorrow and take to a fishing-boat.
Li Po |
To wash and rinse our souls of their age-old sorrows,
We drained a hundred jugs of wine.
A splendid night it was .
In the clear moonlight we were loath to go to bed,
But at last drunkenness overtook us;
And we laid ourselves down on the empty mountain,
The earth for pillow, and the great heaven for coverlet.
Li Po |
My friend is lodging high in the Eastern Range,
Dearly loving the beauty of valleys and hills.
At green Spring he lies in the empty woods,
And is still asleep when the sun shines on igh.
A pine-tree wind dusts his sleeves and coat;
A peebly stream cleans his heart and ears.
I envy you, who far from strife and talk
Are high-propped on a pillow of blue cloud.
Li Po |
Amidst the flowers a jug of wine,
I pour alone lacking companionship.
So raising the cup I invite the Moon,
Then turn to my shadow which makes three of us.
Because the Moon does not know how to drink,
My shadow merely follows the movement of my body.
The moon has brought the shadow to keep me company a while,
The practice of mirth should keep pace with spring.
I start a song and the moon begins to reel,
I rise and dance and the shadow moves grotesquely.
While I'm still conscious let's rejoice with one another,
After I'm drunk let each one go his way.
Let us bind ourselves for ever for passionless journeyings.
Let us swear to meet again far in the Milky Way.
Li Po |
Under the crescent moon's faint glow
The washerman's bat resounds afar,
And the autumn breeze sighs tenderly.
But my heart has gone to the Tartar war,
To bleak Kansuh and the steppes of snow,
Calling my husband back to me.
Stanley Kunitz |
Reading in Li Po
how "the peach blossom follows the water"
I keep thinking of you
because you were so much like
naturally with the sex
and the figure slighter.
Loving you was a kind
of Chinese guerilla war.
Thanks to your lightfoot genius
no Eighth Route Army
kept its lines more fluid,
traveled with less baggage
so nibbled the advantage.
Even with your small bad heart
you made a dance of departures.
In the cold spring rains
when last you failed me
I had nothing left to spend
but a red crayon language
on the character of the enemy
to break appointments,
to fight us not
with his strength
but with his weakness,
to kill us
not with his health
but with his sickness.
Pet, spitfire, blue-eyed pony,
here is a new note
I want to pin on your door,
though I am ten years late
and you are nowhere:
are you stillmistress of the valley,
what trophies drift downriver,
why did you keep me waiting?
Li Po |
When I was a boy I called the moon a
white plate of jade, sometimes it looked
like a great mirror hanging in the sky,
first came the two legs of the fairy
and the cassia tree, but for whom the rabbit
kept on pounding medical herbs, I
just could not guess.
Now the moon is being
swallowed by the toad and the light
flickers out leaving darkness all around;
I hear that when nine of the burning suns out
of the ten were ordered to be shot down by
the Emperor Yao, all has since been quiet
and peaceful both for heaven and man,
but this eating up of the moon is for me
a truly ugly scene filling me with forebodings
wondering what will come out of it.
Li Po |
Drunk on Dragon Hill tonight,
the banished immortal, Great White,
turns among yellow flowers,
his smile wide,
as his hat sails away on the wind
and he dances away in the moonlight.
Li Po |
On Marble Stairs
still grows the white dew
That has all night
soaked her silk slippers,
But she lets down
her crystal blind now
And sees through glaze
the moon of autumn.